by Jurij Dobravec
As the last in the line of "A" panellist on Sunday morning, I’ve introduced the pivot points of the presentation entitled: "To Mitigate or to Adapt? Greening as Reflects in Fairy-tales and Legends. Example of St. Christopher’s Walking-stick," namely, St. Christopher, a patron of travellers.
You are all acquainted with Christianity and the idea of the saints, especially popular at Orthodox and Catholic believers. You as well know that saints are commonly depicted with so-called attributes, which symbolize his or her characteristics.
Perhaps to the less extent, you know that Saint Christopher use to be the most venerated saint in the European Middle age. For example, in the Alps, he was depicted on the outer wall (yes, outer) of almost every chapel or village church. Leaving aside the real life of a soldier in the third century of C.E., and some of his other characteristics inherited from Egyptian, Old-Greek giants (Hermes) and pagan deities, I would focus on his attribute of the greening stick.
The Golden Legend (Legenda aurea, 13 century) – actually the top book of the time – tell us that he planted his walking-stick in the ground after crossing the river. As he did so, the stick grew into a giant tree.
I’m proposing a new interpretation of the stick’s greening that is now explicitly theological, as the flourishing of Christian faith. My ecological perception would be that St. Christopher’s stick planted on a river-bank or sea-shore might hide an instruction, how to encounter soil erosion in places of crossings or boat dockings.
The greening stick of St. Christopher (I found similar but less popular legend for Irish saint St. Patrick) suggests perhaps the idea close to natural reality that a net of tree-roots (like Mangrove forest or willow associations) significantly contributes to a stabilisation of the coast; with its dynamics and plasticity even more than stones or rigid concrete technology.
Hence, the idea learned the ancient and suggests today urbanists that not human but shrubs and forests should be the primary inhabitants of banks of the rivers and oceans since those ‘greening matters’ are able to struggle the floods and raising of the sea level better than buildings.
St. Christopher as a patron of travellers might as well introduce the need for true ‘greening’ in today’s growth of migrations and tourism … and conferences.