Today the Church remembers St. Arnold of Soissons (1040–1087), the patron saint of hop-pickers and beer brewers. Arnold, born in Flanders (Belgium), was a career soldier before settling at the Benedictine St. Medard’s Abbey, Soissons, France. He spent his first three years as a hermit, but later rose to be abbot of the monastery. He became a priest and in 1080, bishop of Soissons, honor that he
At the abbey, he began to brew beer, as essential in medieval life as water. He encouraged local peasants to drink beer, instead of the contaminated village water, due to its “gift of health.” During the process of brewing, the water was boiled and thus, unknown to all, freed of pathogens. There are many depictions of St. Arnold with a mashing rake in his hand, to identify him. His Feast Day is August 14.