St. Barnabas, the Patron Saint of the vineyards
In these days is usually celebrate in Italy (especially around Venice) the Feast of St. Barnabas, the Patron Saint of the vineyards.
The life of Barnabas
Barnabas, was an Apostle who lived in the 1st century AD, originally from Cyprus, originally called Joseph of Cyprus. Venerated as a saint by Catholic and Orthodox Christians, he is considered the first bishop of Milan.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, he sold all his possessions and delivered the proceeds to the newly born Christian church.
Sent to Antioch, together with Saul of Tarsus (who will later take his name in Paul, becoming after the holy death), he was the spiritual father of the conversions of the first non-Jewish Christians. Then his journeys of evangelization continued with John Mark (later known as Saint Mark the Evangelist). Subsequently, he continued to spread the Christian religion first with Paul and then with Mark, of whom he returned to Italy after 50 AD. First he resided in Rome, where he met Peter and then moved to Northern Italy, to found the Church of Milan.
Saint Barnabas and the agricolture
Saint Barnabas is revered by farmers as protector of crops (it is no coincidence that it is remembered around 11 June, an important period for the flowering and fruit setting of numerous plants, including the vine and for other it’s the period of the picking the fruits, including cherries and apricots). Numerous popular sayings are associated with his feast:
«If it rains for Saint Barnabas the white grapes go away; if it rains morning and evening, the black and white one goes away. “
The proverb reminds us that white grapes are more delicate than black ones and how bad weather affects the outcome of the farmer’s work.
“From Saint Barnabas to rye you cut your foot.”
It is a Venetian proverb that informs us about the seasonal work of the countryside, in particular about the harvest of summer rye.
“For Saint Barnabas the grapes come and the flower goes.”
June is an important moment for the vine: it is the month in which we can witness the flowering and fruit setting of the varieties of the Venezia DOC denomination, phases in which the plant transforms its flowers into fruits.
Saint Barnabas and the wine
Traditionally considered the first bishop of Milan, before the conversion, he earned a living working in the vineyard of his property whose production he donated to the 12 Apostles of the Lord, as reported by Luca the Evangelist in the Bible.
Saint Barnabas and Venice
Venice has always been strongly linked to Saint Barnabas. The Venetians of the Serenissima Republic, in fact, were devoted to Saint Barnabas, as a protector of crops, for his kinship with Saint Mark the Evangelist, patron of the city, with whom he also shared a long period dedicated to the evangelization of the first Christians.
Over time the devotion has been so strong as to dedicate a church in the city to this saint, and a Campo (Venetian name associated with the squares) in the Sestiere (district) of Dorsoduro, not far from Ca ‘Rezzonico and the Ponte dei Pugni.
The Feast of St. Barnabas, the Patron Saint of the vineyards
Saint Barnabas is invoked by the winemakers of the Venezia DOC denomination in the days around 11 June, as protector of the vineyards against hail.
It is customary to remember him with Eucharistic celebrations at the churches or even to dedicate a prayer to the Saint to protect the crops in view of the future stages of the ripening of the grapes and the harvest in the following months.