Saint Drogo was the Bilocating Patron of the Unattractive
Sometimes it really does seem that there is a saint for everything. For among the vast pantheon of saints stands Saint Drogo, a 12th-century Flemish nobleman who, after experiencing an inexplicable physical deformity, has become the unexpected patron for the unattractive. The tale of Saint Drogo sheds light on the diverse and sometimes unusual roles that saints play in the spiritual landscape.
By piecing together historical records and Christian hagiography, it is believed that Drogo—also known as Druon, Dreux or Drogon—was born to a wealthy family in 1105 in Epinoy, Flanders. Tradition holds that his mother died in childbirth and that the young Drogo was riddled with guilt, leading to a life of religious penance.
As a result, Drogo donated his possessions to the poor and left his home to become a shepherd in Sebourg, France. Legend has it that Drogo was able to bilocate, a term used to describe the ability to be in two places at the same time. In Drogo’s case, he was often seen tending to his flock and attending Mass at the same time.
In later life, Drogo took to the road as a pilgrim, supposedly visiting Rome as many as nine times to pay homage at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul. Described as a handsome and virtuous young man, Drogo's life took an unexpected turn after a particular pilgrimage to Rome. Some accounts claim that during his journey, he was afflicted with a hernia that led to a profound physical disfigurement.
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The Anchorite by Teodor Axentowicz. (Public domain)
Drogo returned to Sebourg to live as a hermit and is remembered as an Anchorite. In medieval times, anchorites were individuals who chose extreme religious seclusion. Opting for a life of solitude, they resided in small cells attached to churches, vowing to live in permanent enclosure and committed to solitary communion with God. These cells typically contained two windows—one for receiving necessities and another providing a view of religious services.
One story claims that when the church caught on fire, Drogo refused to leave his cell and continued praying. His survival was deemed a miracle and he went on to live into his eighties. Posthumously canonized in 1612, his feast day is celebrated on April 16th, commemorating his death in 1186 and recognizing his enduring legacy as an advocate for the marginalized.
Even today Saint Drogo is venerated as the patron not only of the unattractive, but also of orphans, shepherds, midwives and those suffering from sickness or mental illness. By some strange twist of fate, he has also come to be associated with coffee and coffee houses, though there is no documented connection on record.
Top image: Representational image of the pious Saint Drogo . Source: nsit0108 / Adobe Stock