Saying that this is a “cool saint” might be a bit redundant since all saints are cool (duh!) but St. Killian really was super cool! Here’s why.
He was called the “Apostle of Franconia”
First of all, he’s got a cool nickname! Franconia is the northern part of Bavaria which is present-day Germany. Even though he was born in Ireland, he traveled to Bavaria to convert the pagans there and had the blessing of the pope. This is how he got his name!
He converted a duke!
In Würzburg, he and his two companions, Colmán and Totnan converted the Duke Gozbert, and, therefore, a large part of his subjects. This was a huge win for him (and for Christianity)! It was here that Killian made his epicenter for his life and activities.
Jealousy got him martyred
Duke Gozbert was married to his brother’s widow Geilana. Killian told him that his marriage was against the precepts of the Church (details here are a little fuzzy) and so Gozbert planned to separate from his wife to live in fully communion. When Geilana caught wind of this, she had her soldiers seek out Killian, Colmán, and Totnan in the square where they were preaching and had them beheaded. She hoped that would put a stop to the duke’s plans! Spoiler alert: her plan didn’t work.
He’s the patron saint of rheumatism??
He certainly is. Why? Who knows! Someone, somewhere decided Killian was the perfect saint to pray for with help or relief from his or her rheumatism and the devotion probably grew from there. Saints have all kinds of weird patronages! That’s the cool thing about Catholics, we have a saint for absolutely everything and sometimes for no real reason at all.
More understandably, Killian is also the patron saint of the parish in Tuosist in County Kerry, Ireland and of Paderborn, Germany.
The beer is NOT named for him
Killian’s Irish Red is certainly delicious and though it bears the same name as this beloved saint, it is not named for him. Drats. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t imbibe some of this authentic Irish stout in his honor anyway. Sláinte!