Looking into the cultural history of stroke I’ve found that, although millions of people have suffered from it, the appearance in literature is not very common, although such attacks – called apoplexy – were recognized starting from classical times.
It’s interesting then that there are two saints regarded as patrons against stroke, or for stroke victims.
The earliest is St Wolfgang of Regensberg (or Ratisbon) in Germany. St Wolfgang lived 924 – 994 and is also considered a patron against paralysis, which ties in with stroke, but also stomach disorders and perhaps surprisingly in this company carpenters. But the reason for the connection with stroke is also unclear.
Wolfgang was an eminent scholar and administrator, who became a solitary hermit towards the end of his life. The cause of his death is unknown. I’ve not been able to find why he patronizes stroke. But there is an interesting legend about him tricking the devil. Wolfgang wanted to construct a church but needed aid, so he made a contract that if the Devil assisted then he could have the first being that crossed the threshold of the new church.
But that first-footer was a wolf, something the Devil hadn’t foreseen, rather short-shortsightedly you might think.
The church that Wolfgang and the Devil built was in Salzkammergut in Austria, a location famous as the setting of the operetta The White Horse Inn.
In the striking picture by Michael Pacher (1435 – 1498) seen below the painter has shown St Wolfgang and the Devil with what is presumably the plan for the new church. I’m intrigued that the observers in the middle distance seem largely unconcerned by the nearby presence of the Devil.
Public domain, from Wikipedia