Sometimes my more anarchic comrades look at me a bit strangely when I start going on about saints, folk weirding and Catholicism and such. A world view that incorporates non-hierarchy as well as reverence might be an odd boat to float, but in the crooked ways of my heart it seems to work.
A recent trip to Cardiff, Cymru, is why.
Down on the dockfront is a metal fence. A regular, rusted sort that you see in every seaside city or town.
But this one, however, is covered with locks, ribbons, charms, poems and votive offerings. It looks very similar to the railings of Catholic churches I’ve wandered across, usually derelict, where people have tied memorial charms. But this particular shrine isnt to Our Lady or any figure from recognized religion.
I am, of course, talking about Ianto’s Shrine.
Ianto was a character in the Cardiff-based spin off from Dr Who, Torchwood. Originally cast as a supporting character, he developed into a main protagonist in his own right, and found cult appeal thanks to the shows exploration of human relationships, shifting sexualities, loyalty and friendship.
Ianto Jones’ story follows every step of the Heroic Dead, from coming out of mundane beginnings, facing hardships, encountering miraculous happenings – and unfortunately – ultimately carking it for his beliefs.
Ianto Jones has become a symbol of courageous love for Cardiff, especially the LGBTQIA community. It’s touching that saints and heroes often rise up from the ground, from the dispossessed and minorities. It makes me wonder if it matters at all if our saints and heroes are entirely mythical beings or not, just so long as they tell the story that needs telling.
St. Ianto of Cardiff
Patronage: Courage, Bisexuality, Pride, Love, the city of Cardiff, Clocks & Timepieces.
Pray for: whenever someone needs more time, courage-of-the-heart, trust, or in supporting their sexual identity.
(The thing that cinched the idea of sainthood idea for me, was the fact that right on the shrine ledge, just a foot away and unperturbed was this little guy. Here is one of two resident boy sparrows. Only a picture of one here, which perhaps fits Jack and Ianto’s story the better…*)