St. Adjutor (died 1131)
Feast day: April 30 You've probably never heard of St.
Adjutor. He is one of the thousands of local saints who never
achieved the international fame of St. Anthony of Padua or
St. Therese the Little Flower. But as the only patron saint
for swimmers, he deserves a wider reputation.
Adjutor was born to a family of knights in Vernon, Normandy.
When Pope Urban II came to France in 1095 to launch the First
Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from the Saracens, Adjutor
took the cross and with a company of 200 fighting men set out
The Crusade stalled for a time at Antioch where the Saracens
besieged the city. One day Adjutor led a small party of
knights outside the city walls on a scouting expedition. When
they were far from Antioch, 1,500 Saracens ambushed them.
Adjutor and his men put up a desperate defense, but it seemed
hopeless. In the thick of the battle, as he cut and slashed
at Saracens on every side, Adjutor called upon his favorite
saint, Mary Magdalen. Through her intercession a violent
storm broke over the battlefield. The terrified Saracens
threw down their arms and fled.
Once the siege at Antioch was lifted Adjutor and his men
joined the rest of the Crusaders in the conquest of
Jerusalem, where he remained for 17 years as part of the Holy
City's garrison. While on patrol outside Jerusalem Adjutor
fell into another ambush, but this time he was captured. The
Saracens dragged him off to one of their strongholds off the
coast of Palestine where they locked the knight in a dark,
dank cell and loaded down his wrists and ankles with heavy
chains. From time to time his jailers took him from his cell
to torture him, but Adjutor never lost his faith or his
courage. He prayed once again to St. Mary Magdalen and once
again she came to his help, breaking his chains and showing
him a way to escape. Once he was outside the castle walls, he
dove into the sea and swam for the shore, then walked to
Crusader territory. He returned to his old comrades still
wearing the broken chains from his prison.
Soon thereafter Adjutor returned home to Normandy where he
built a chapel in honor of St. Mary Magdalen and became a
Benedictine monk. The stretch of River Seine that flowed near
Adjutor's abbey was troubled by a whirlpool that had taken
the lives of many boatmen who had been caught in its current.
At Adjutor's invitation, the local bishop came to the abbey
to say Mass. Together the two men climbed into a boat and
sailed toward the whirlpool. The bishop brought along holy
water. Adjutor brought along the chain that had once bound
his legs. At the edge of the whirlpool the bishop sprinkled
holy water and gave his blessing. Then Adjutor took a link
from his chain and cast it into the water saying, "It is as
easy for God to free people from this whirlpool as it was for
him to free me from my chains." Immediately the whirlpool
When St. Adjutor died he was buried in the chapel he had
built for St. Mary Magdalen. He is still venerated by the
people of Vernon as a favorite local saint and the guardian
of swimmers and boatmen.
Craughwell is the author of Saints for Every Occasion
(Stampley Enterprises, 2001) and Patron Saints Catholic
Cardlinks (Our Sunday Visitor, 2004).
(c) Copyright 2007 by Arlington Catholic Herald