Guinefort, St.
A strange story was recorded by Father Etienne Bourbon, a
Dominican who died in 1262. He related that while he was
preaching in the diocese of Lyons, many women came to him
confessing that they had taken their children to a St. Guinefort.
Curious to know what sort of saint it might be whose cult called
for confession, Bourbon inquired into the matter and found
that Guinefort was a dog!
It was the dog in the well-known fable of the dog and the serpent,
wherein a dog is killed under the suspicion that it has
slain a child, when in reality it has saved the child from the attack
of a serpent. It was this dog-martyr to whose ‘‘shrine’’ the
women brought their children.
A similar story was told of a dog named Ganelon whose
tomb was in Auvergne, near a fountain. The dog was buried
during the reign of Louis le Debonnaire. Two or three centuries
later it was found that the waters of the fountain possessed
medicinal virtues. Cures were attributed to the unknown occupant
of the tomb—until a certain bishop found among the archives
of the château the anecdote of the dog Ganelon.