Today is the Feast Day of St Arnold of Soissons, the Roman Catholic patron saint of hop pickers and Belgian brewers.

According to the Revue bibliogaphique belge (v. 1, no. 1, 20 January 1889), he was born in about 1040 at Tiegem, the son of a Flemish nobleman. He embarked on a career of arms, earning renown for his valour in tourneying, before “heeding the voice of God” and entering the Abbey of Saint Medard in Soissons.

According to the Revue bibliogaphique belge (v. 1, no. 1, 20 January 1889), he was born in about 1040 at Tiegem, the son of a Flemish nobleman. He embarked on a career of arms, earning renown for his valour in tourneying, before “obeying the voice of God” and entering the Abbey of Saint Médard in Soissons.

Later in life he returned to Flanders, where he helped restore peace to a land torn apart by wars of succession.  He established the abbey at Oudenbourg, where he died and was interred in 1087.  The Revue notes that “Students of his life report a great number of miracles.”

Other sources remind us that at Oudenburg, Arnold brewed beer and encouraged the local peasantry to drink beer, instead of water, citing its “gift of health”. One of his reported miracles was his saving numerous lives by insisting that the populace drink beer during an outbreak of disease from contaminated water.

Arnold of Soissons was canonized by Pope Callixtus II in 1120. He is often depicted carryring a brewer’s mash paddle.