(St.). Patron saint of goldsmiths, being himself a noted
worker in gold. He is represented generally in pontifical robes, but
carrying a pair of pincers in his right hand. The pontificals refer to
his office as Archbishop of Canterbury, and the pincers to the legend
of his holding the Devil by the nose till he promised never to tempt
St. Dunstan and the devil.
Dunstan was a painter, jeweller, and blacksmith. Being expelled
from court, he built a cell near Glastonbury church, and there he
worked at his handicrafts. It was in this cell that tradition says the
Devil had a gossip with the saint through the lattice window. Dunstan
went on talking till his tongs were red hot, when he turned round
suddenly and caught his Satanic Majesty by the nose. One can
trace in this legend the notion that all knowledge belonged to the
Black Art; that the “saints” are always more than conquerors over the
spirits of evil; and the singular cunning which our forefathers so
delighted to honour.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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