Not exactly what I was expecting.

There really was a Saint Tropez, you know. Though in Catholic circles we know him as Saint Torpes of Pisa, patron saint of mariners (ship navigators). Almost nothing is known definitively about St. Torpes other than his given name was Caïus Silvius Torpetius and he was a Roman who lived during the time of Nero’s persecutions.

Details are sketchy at best, however it’s thought he was a member of the Roman military who was somehow “outed” to Nero as a Christian. For that he was summarily executed. What happened next is a legend and a weird one at that. It’s said that Nero had Torpetius’ head cut off and thrown into the Arno river. His body he had set adrift in a small boat along with a dog and a rooster as an odd sort of corpse disposal crew.

While all this was happening a woman named Célèrine who lived along what is now the French riviera had a vision: a saint from across the seas was about to visit her. Imagine her surprise when, after she’d shopped for dinner and cut fresh flowers for a centerpiece, the boat containing Torpetius’ headless body washed up at the shoreline. Um…

The surprising thing (well, MORE suprising thing) was that after days if not weeks at sea, the animals hadn’t damaged the body at all. Immediately upon landfall, the rooster ran off in one direction and the dog in the other. The site where the boat lay was named “Tropez.” On the spot where dog stopped a village called “Grimaud” was founded and where the rooster stopped a village called “Cogolin.” I don’t know if those were the animals’ names or not. The Lives of the Saints is oddly silent on the issue.

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