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published by the Yoder Family Newsletter, Goshen, Indiana

St.Joder and the Anniversary Stamp

This data was translated in 1997 by Mr. Fred Haines from the collected German text of Karl Joder and Ottmar Jotter. The YNL wants to express it's deep appreciation to Mr. Haines for his translating AND typing skills and for his willingness to volunteer his time for the benefit of all Joder/Yoder descendants around the world (particluarly those of us who speak English!)

Typescript on side of photocopy:

Photocopied extract from the Newspaper of the Principality of Liechtenstein in Vaduz, from Wednesday, 10 June 1981

This 80-rappen postage stamp is the fourth 'Saint Joder' stamp published by the Postal Service in Vaduz.

In a box at upper left: Bishop Saint Joder with a bunch of grapes. Patron saint of farmers and vintners.

Main article: Wednesday, 10 June 1981

--- On the postage stamp issue of June 9

Saint Theodul or Saint Joder

The patron saint of Triesenberg, Saint Theodul (or Saint Joder) is once again appearing on a Liechtenstein postage stamp, in especially impressive form. Once again a worthy jubilee is a legitimate occasion for the issuance of a special stamp, this time in celebration of the 1600-year festival of this legendary saint. His history, going back to the year 381, is presented by a scholar, former Deacon Engelbert Bucher (Triesenberg). The horizontal stamp shows the Theodul statue from the parish church of Laterns. The sculpture, of about the year 1500, from the old Vorarlberg forest settlement indubitably belongs to the most beautiful visual images of the saint. The stamp was designed by Bruno Kaufmann and Walter Wachter.

The original historical picture

Bishop Saint Theoduls, or Saint Joder, many times changed in legend, is the first Bishop Theodore of Wallis known to history. He lived in Octodurum (Martigny). In 381 he took part in the bishops' synod of Aquileja. His presence is preserved on the attendance list as 'Theodorus episcopus Octodorensis,' which is why we celebrate his 1600 th jubilee this year. He is probably the same Bishop Theodor who took part in a collocation of bishops in Milan called by Ambrosius in 390. We have still another notice of him: he found and reinterred the bones of Saint Mauritius and his cohort, the Theban Legion, and had the first church built over their graves in 360-70.

His celebration

When Octodurum became unsafe because of the massive migrations of the sixth century, the Bishop's seat was moved to the fortified town of Sitten. The bones of the first bishop had to be taken along and were later exhibited to the admiration of believers in a burial niche. This burial niche, an arched grave similar to a sarcophagus, was rediscovered in the early sixties by excavations in the crypt under Saint Theodul's Church in Sitten. Four hundred years after his death the German-speaking Oberwalisers who had migrated into the area were particularly devoted to the cult of Saint Theodul. Four hundred years after that, when these Walsers left their homeland, they took Saint Theodul over the mountains with them as a father figure and patron saint. They dedicated altars and bells to him, founded eternal seasons to his honor, and erected statues of him. The adoration of Saint Theodul is still alive among the Walsers today. Unfortunately, the relics of Saint Theodul, which wound up in the fortified Valeria Church, were lost to the plundering of French troops in the year of the revolution, 1798.

The cult of Theodul is today found not only in Wallis [Canton of Wallis or Valais] and among the Walsers but in the rest of Switzerland as well. He cult radiates even to upper Italy, France, southern Germany, and Austria. The festival of Saint Theodul is celebrated on August 16.

The name

The actual and oldest name of our saint is 'Theodorus.' This is how he is called in the records of the bishops synod of Aquileja, as well as in the oldest church books. The Chapel at Masescha- Triesenberg was christened 'Chapel of Saint Theodor on the Mountain' at the time of the Visitation of 16 October 1595.

The popular Alemanic form of the name, 'Saint Joder,' stems from 'Saint Theodorus.' This probably took place in Oberwallis. The progression was: Sanctus Theodorus - Sanctus Tjordorus - Sankt Tjoder - Sant Tjoder - Sant Joder. This form of the name has become rooted in the rest of Switzerland and is thus widespread.

The name 'Saint Theodul' on the other hand is probably the work of book scribes. In the handwriting of the Middle Ages, a new spelling, 'Sanctus Theodolus,' suddenly emerges along with the old Latin form 'Sanctus Theodorus.' This double form accords with a not infrequent transformation of r to l in the Latin of the Middle Ages. Finally, perhaps around the seventeenth century, the name took the new form 'Theodol.


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Yoder Newsletter - © Christopher K. Yoder, 1992, 1994