Here’s what you need to know about the Ice Saints
These three saints are known as the Ice Saints.
They are St. Mamertus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius.
St. Mamertus was the bishop who led us to the days of prayer and fasting known as Rogation Days. And he died in 475 A.D.
St. Pancras is a beloved boy saint (especially in Europe). He was beheaded in the year 313 during the persecution of Christians under the emperor, Diocletian. He was just fourteen years of age still he refused to reject his Christianity. So, he paid the ultimate price.
Finally, there is St. Servatius who was the Bishop of Tongeren (now known as the Netherlands). The early biographies of Servatius says he was born in Armenia and was a cousin to John the Baptist.
And that made him a distant cousin of Jesus (Though this is not documented). And he died in 384 A.D.
The three saints have their feast days respectively on May 11, May 12, and May 13.
So why are they called the Ice Saints?
The reason is so obvious as it seems; and it is because of the weather. What comes after may be true but more than likely it is a documented folklore with millions of believers.
Plenty of this has to do with Northern Europe. In this side of the world, the month of April can have a few days that are warm and sunny. Then there comes the month of May.
This ongoing weather deviation in Europe has a long history known as “Eisheligen.” And this refers to the period in May, according to the stories told by farmers, when the weather is not too stable to plant crops.
But this whole business of the Ice Saints started, when students of Galileo examined weather documents and they realized that the days from May11 through May 13 often brought a spell of cold weather.
This variations in weather caused frost which would be the last frosts of spring.
The legend of the Ice Saints in Germany led people to believe that there were special “iron nights” that was prone to frost but they were confused with dates, ten days apart from the others.
So they believed the dates ranged from May 22 through May 24. Their mistake was that they failed to take into account the change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1582. And the change caused ten days to be removed. So, the dates moved to May 11 through May 13.
So as it is, Saints Mamertus, Pancras (aka Pancratius) and Servatius, are therefore known as the Ice Saints. All of them had their individuality compromised by the legend.
There is this proverb in England that says, “Never cast a clout till May is out.” Here, a “clout” meant clothes, and the saying only meant “don’t take your clothes off until the end of May.
Ironically, scientists have not been able to determine if the legendary weather patterns really cause frost in May.
Not minding, even with all the disturbance over climate change, when the month of May comes around, most Europeans will continue to talk about the Ice Saints.
However, Saints Mamertus, Pancras (Pancratius), and Servatius were real people and they are venerated saints.
Even, there is a Major Shrine which was dedicated to St. Pancras in Rome and a Major Shrine at the Basilica of St. Servatius, that located in the Netherlands.
Therefore, we humbly ask the Ice Saints to pray for all of us.