A reader writes:
“A few months ago in our local catholic church, I saw a holy card or [something] similar that depicted a contemporary ‘saint’ or some other ‘venerable’ person. He was pictured standing on a rural hillside in perhaps Switzerland or Germany and was clearly ‘smoking a pipe’ … Several weeks later when I thought to look again, the table had been rearranged and cleared and I could find no trace of him. I was wondering if you might know who this was?”
I have never seen this blessed image and have no idea whom it might portray. Saint Anthony Claret is said to be the patron of tobacconists because of a tobacco-related miracle he perfomed (it escapes me at the moment), but so far as I know he did not smoke a pipe. Of course, there is the apocryphal story of Saint Pius X, who once offered a cigar to a priest, and was refused, the priest claiming that he “has no such vices”, to which the sainted pope replied, “If it were a vice, I would not have offered it to you!” — but I doubt that he’s our man. Neither is it likely to be J.R.R. Tolkien, whose canonization is on hold until it can be determined that he was not himself a “Lidless Eye” radtrad (and I’m only half kidding). Anyone with knowledge of this mysterious pipe-smoking saint is invited to leave a comment.
Incidentally, the same correspondent has recommended with enthusiasm the handcrafted Boswell pipe. I do intend to make the purchase, both for my own smoking pleasure, and in order to support the practitioners of a venerable old craft. (Note to Michael Brendan: If I were your age, I might like to spend a few months in their shop as an apprentice!)