On Saint Crispian’s Day

Today, the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches remember Saint Crispin, who with his twin brother Crispinian, was born to a noble Roman family in the third century, preached the Gospel to the Gauls, and was awarded the crown of martyrdom by the local Roman governor circa 286. The Roman church dropped them both from the official liturgical calendar after Vatican II, due to lack of evidence of their existence (as was the case with Saint Philomena, to whom numerous miracles are attributed up until the present day -- but, we digress …).

The feast day is still fondly remembered in the British Isles, if for no other reason than that the famed Battle of Agincourt was fought on this day in 1415, along the northern coast of France near Pas-de-Calais. The battle is remembered prominently in the study of military engagements, as well as by William Shakespeare in the play Henry V. It was King Henry who led the English against the overwhelming French forces, and who is remembered by the Bard in this, the “Saint Crispin’s Day Speech” as found in Act IV, Scene 3.

This day is called
    the Feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day
    and comes safe home
Will stand a-tiptoe
    when this day is named
And rouse him at
    the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day
    and live t' old age
Will yearly on the vigil
    feast his neighbours
And say, "Tomorrow is
    Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve
    and show his scars
And say, "These wounds
    I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget;
    yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words —
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester —
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day.

Non nobis,

Not to us,
    O Lord,
Sed nomini,
    tuo da

But to
    your name,
    give glory.

The battle is further remembered by Donald McClarey of The American Catholic.