Saint Guinefort Addressing Thomas Aquinas’s Shadow


  • Marie-Madeleine Van Ruymbeke Stey Capital University



In 1250, the French monk and inquisitor Etienne de Bourbon described a strange cult he had found in the Dombes, a poor agricultural region North of  Lyon in France. In confession, he had heard many women who recognized that they had prayed to Saint Guinefort, Martyr.  Upon inquiring on the saint unknown to him, de Bourbon found out that Guinefort was a dog. Taking into account Jung's reflections on animals and his notion of conjunctio oppositorum, this paper will examine the reasons why, in the thirteenth century France, the peasants' piety canonized a dog, a fact unique in Christian history. This question will be addressed here in two steps: why did the French peasants include a dog among the Christians saints, and what does today's anthropozoology have to say about animals' healing powers.