The stories behind the many unique depictions of Catholic saints are truly fascinating. Take Saint Christopher, for example, usually shown with a dog’s head!
The story behind why Saint Ninnoc is depicted with a stag at her feet is one of those times.
Ninnoc was an early medieval abbess (414-467) who was born in Wales and died in Brittany.
When she was fifteen, she rebuffed the marriage proposal of a Scottish prince and instead devoted herself to God.
After being convinced by Germanus, a disciple of Saint Patrick, her father sent her to the southern coast of Brittany, where she founded a religious house for men and women and became it’s abbess.
There, she brought with her agricultural techniques which she taught to the local Britons, and encouraged tree planting to make them all more self sufficient.
She was particularly known for being a protector of women, founding shelters for abused women and caring for them during her 38 years of service at the monastery she founded.
During her lifetime and afterwards, many miracles were attributed to her especially concerning the protection of women. For that reason, she is the patron saint of women and particularly women seeking refuge.
In her iconography, she’s often seen with a stag by her foot representing the vulnerable women she became guardian to.
Her feast day is celebrated on the 4th of June, the apparent date of her death.
🙏 Saint Ninnoc, pray for us!
Photo credit: Mael vreizh, Ggal, Moreau.henri via Wikimedia Commons