Dunstan - Legacy

Legacy

Until Thomas Becket’s fame overshadowed Dunstan's, he was the favourite saint of the English people. Dunstan had been buried in his cathedral; and when that building was destroyed by a fire in 1074, his relics were translated by Archbishop Lanfranc to a tomb on the south side of the high altar in the rebuilt Canterbury Cathedral.

The monks of Glastonbury used to claim that during the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1012, Dunstan's body had been carried for safety to their abbey. This story was disproved by Archbishop William Warham, who opened the tomb at Canterbury in 1508. They found Dunstan's relics still to be there. Within a century, however, his shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation.

He functions as the patron saint of goldsmiths and silversmiths, as he worked as a blacksmith, painter, and jeweller. His Feast Day is May 19, which is why the date year on hallmarks runs from May 19 to May 18, not the calendar year. St Dunstan's—the charity that provides support, rehabilitation, and respite care to blind ex-service personnel of the British Armed Forces—is named after him, as are many churches all over the world. St Dunstan's, Mayfield, St Dunstan's, Stepney, St Dunstan-in-the-East, London, and St Dunstan-in-the-West, London are four of the more well known in Britain.

English literature contains many references to him, for example in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and in this folk rhyme:

St Dunstan, as the story goes,
Once pull'd the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar,
That he was heard three miles or more.

From this the tongs have become a symbol of St Dunstan and are featured in the arms of Tower Hamlets.

Daniel Anlezark has tentatively suggested that Dunstan may be the medieval author of Solomon and Saturn citing the style, word choice, and Hiberno-Latin used in the texts. However, Clive Tolley examines this claim from a linguistic point-of-view and disagrees with Anlezark's claim.

Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil's hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil's horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Anglican Communion mark his feast day on May 19.

At various passages in "The Deptford Trilogy", the character Dunstan Ramsay is compared with the saint of the same name, and in particular some stormy events in the character's love-life are rather humorously compared to Saint Dunstan's famous struggle with Satan.

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