Stepney, England — Our Sister City
St. Dunstan, Founder and Patron Saint of Stepney
Dunstan was perhaps the most important churchman in England before the Norman Conquest, becoming virtually “Prime Minister” of the country. Born in 909, he was schooled at Glastonbury Abbey where he later became a monk. Soon he was made Abbott and from then on was always a powerful figure in Church and State. He was made Bishop, first of Worcester and later of London and in 961 became Archbishop of Canterbury. Dunstan did much to revive the monasteries and introduced much needed reforms in the church life.
Dunstan was also a musician, metalworker and bell founder, and much loved teacher. He died in 988 and was canonized in 1029. His feast day is May 19th.
Legends of Dunstan
One legend about St. Dunstan is that while he was doing some metalwork, the Devil came to the forge and began to tempt him to evil pleasures. With his red-hot tongs Dunstan tweaked the Devil’s nose and “saw him off”. The tongs became his symbol and you can see them on the original Stepney Crest and over the main door of the church and today in the Crest of Tower Hamlets.
Another legend is that the Devil asked Dunstan to shoe his horse, but the saint nailed a shoe to the Devil’s hoof instead and would only let him go when he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe was over the door. This was the origin of the legend of the lucky horseshoe.