St. Severus’ Feast Day: June 27/July 10

The Machiavelli! Snape post here at Hogwarts Professor last month continues to travel around fandom sites and I have waited until today to post the “equal and opposite” Potions Master allegiance possibility. What could counterbalance the idea that Severus is a Machiavellian power player?

That he is named for a beloved Saint in the Orthodox Christian Church. I waited until today because June 27th (July 10th on the secular calendar) is the Feast Day of St. Severus.

My gratitude to Nicholas Steinhoff for tracking this down for me.


Severus lived in central Italy and was a man of extraordinary sanctity. Once he was summoned to hear the confession of and to administer Holy Communion to a man who was dying but because of working in his vineyard, he was late. The news reached him that the sick man had died. Completely frightened as though he had killed the man, Severus began to weep bitterly over the deceased. By his fervent prayer, God restored life to the dead man. Then Severus heard his confession, gave him Holy Communion and prepared him for a Christian departure from this world. On the eighth day, the man again died.



When a dead person came to life, men asked him;

Tell us, where were you and who awakened you?

In the place of fear and horror, I was,

In the company of black ones, wolves and dogs,

In the depths, full of every uncleanness,

In the bottomless pit of darkness, without a single ray.

And when my soul, despair overcame

By the hand, a radiant young man took me.

Then, from the depths, a cool current blew

And against me charged black ones with heads of dogs:

This one, he is ours, he is ours, where are you taking him now?

As a citizen of Hades, do you not recognize him?

To that the angel said: Severus, for him, is praying!

And by the will of God, I am taking him,

In the body once more he must appear,

Behold, to confess him, Severus is seeking!

To confess him and Holy Communion to administer to him.

Armies of evil and recalcitrants, stay away!

Thus the angel said and, with me, flew away

Throughout the cold Hades, throughout the bottomless darkness,

Until at holiness arrived, even to my body.

That is the history of me, the deceased.

O, to be confessed, what a treasure it is

And Communicated to enter into the world of eternity!

If the possibility that the sadist in the dungeon is modeled on this life of a saint who raised the dead by his intercessions before God, I have to admit, “I’m with you.” There are convincing arguments for Good!Snape from canon and literary precedent (I’ve made a few myself) but I’ve never read a Holy!Snape argument yet (unless the “Holy!” was something like what teevee Robin used to say to Batman in pique).

It seems just as likely that Severus was named for an anti-Chalcedonian Christian that is revered by the Oriental Orthodox Christians. Now that would be a spin the theologian mavens would love, eh, Travis?


  1. Interesting.

    But I will have to admit that I am a bit more impressed to learn that one of the several days attributed to the Feast of Janus is January 9, the very day that Rowling has assigned for Snape’s birthday.

    Janus, the *two-faced* god of the Romans, is the patron God of openings, of gateways, the Lord of endings and beginnings, he whose favor must be petitioned for an auspicious start (and end) of all enterprises. According to the Romans, should an enterprise go awry, then it must be started over from the beginning, with a *fresh* start, for there is no sure recovery of a lost situation.

    I am mildly astonished that the fans have not made more of that information. But they seem to have cast their eyes across the Mediterranean and are determinedly squinting at the Anubis archetype.

  2. Travis Prinzi says

    Indeed, John, it would. And perhaps it would do a good deal for our prejudices to have a thoroughly unlikable, nasty character like Snape turn out to be a saint! How often are we the Pharisee, happy we are not “like this tax collector,” and how much would a Holy!Snape rattle our preconceived notions of redemption and goodness? That, indeed, would be a story we theologians would adore.

  3. Arabella Figg says

    My metaphorical see-saw on “if you think it’s butter, but it’s not”/Snape has dug holes in the ground at both ends.

    Churned, whipped or cubed, whatever Snape is, I believe he will be considered one of the most intruiging characters of 21st century literature, if not the ages.

    And without one gram of trans-fat!

    Got to give the kitties their hairball lube….

  4. John, I have, in fact, argued that Severus is a saint. I thought I’d offered to send you those papers? However, I wasn’t arguing from any precedent, but merely from what I’d observed in the books themselves. This hymn is really fascinating! Thanks for posting it.

    (Actually, Swythyv’s recent “Severus as phoenix” essay shows him as a saint of sorts, IMHO. It’s quite brilliant, and what she points out is also right there in the text.)

  5. bubbygirl1972 says

    I’m going to be up all night reading this blog.

    this is just wonderful.


  6. Saint or not, Snape will be on the side of the Order in the end. Since GoF, Snape has had to periodically face Voldemort. He could not make it obvious that he was hiding memories from Voldemort or he would be dead. So, he has had to be careful to be totally nasty and abusive towards any enemies of Voldemort including Harry, Neville, and Sirius. His own survival depends making these memories!

  7. Brigid Courtney says

    St. Severus is definitely on my list as a Saint to pray to. I Believe Snape to be a Christ symbol.

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