ADVENT SAINTS: CATHERINE AND ANDREW IN FOLK TRADITION (Adwentowi swieci: Katarzyna i Andrzej w tradycji ludowej)
The aim of the paper is to present Saint Catharine of Alexandria and Saint Andrew in the context of country-folk religiosity and traditions. Memorials of these two Saints in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church fall at the end of liturgical year and the beginning of Advent. The Feasts of these two Saints also became the focal point of pre-Christian folk customs and beliefs pertaining mostly to matrimonial fortune-telling along with some magical accents. The vigil of the Feast of Saint Andrew was devoted to matrimonial predictions of young girls, whereas, the vigil of Saint Catharine's Feast Day was related to the same for young men. The author used ethnographic data gathered during field work conducted in the Opoczno region in the years 1990-1993, and in the Opoczno and Radom regions of Poland in the years 1995-2005. The first section contains a short biography of Saint Catharine, further broadened by description of her role in county-folk customs and traditions. In the second section, Saint Andrew was introduced in similar manner. The Feasts of these two Saints are interwoven with a wealth of folk beliefs in supernatural beings both good and malicious, which are believed to dwell on earth and affect human life. Under the influence of Christianity these two Saints have been drawn into the circle of folk beliefs, with some reference to pre-Christian cults. In present day Polish folk culture not much is left of those old beliefs and customs, and Saint Catharine and Saint Andrew are merely perceived as Patron Saints of pre-marital chastity and specific professions. The example set by these and other Saints is relevant to the lives of the contemporary faithful thought, since it shows how one can boldly follow Christ and preach the Gospel.
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