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Author(s): Parminder Summon
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"Following on from his successful earlier work, Summon's Christian Miscellany, come this new book looking at the history of saints and sinners. While it is light and accessible, there is enough material here to liven up many a sermon. (...) Whether for fun or as research into a sermon, this book makes fascinating reading." The Church of England Newspaper, 17 March 2006.
PARMINDER SUMMON is the author of Summon's Christian Miscellany published by Lion in the UK and Doubleday in the US. A fundraiser for Cancer Research, he lives in Nene, Cambridgeshire, where he is actively involved in his local church.
Parminder - welcome to the Canterbury Press website.
Tell us about the book - what is a miscellany?
A miscellany is a collection of interesting facts, lost wisdom rediscovered
and ancient traditions designed to entertain and illuminate. Summon's Miscellany
of Saints and Sinners attempts to provide answers to questions you didn't know
you didn't know, such as: 'Who were the Adamites and why did they worship
without clothes? What are Apostle Spoons? Who are the Fourteen Holy Helpers?
What is the Government of Hades? What saints are associated with weather lore?
How did the book come about?
Last year I produced a book called Summon's Christian Miscellany, which was a
quick delve into the nooks and crannies of our faith. I really enjoyed doing the
research and it became apparent that there is so much more still to discover!
Christianity is full of interesting characters, fascinating practices,
historical documents and amazing traditions. I thought it would be good to give
a flavour of of our faith and also show the other side of the coin. It is too
easy for us to be locked into our way of doing things, but there are many
expressions of the Christian faith and this diversity can enlighten us.
We also know we are all sinners, so the book contains information about
notable fraudsters, the world's worst dictators and a digest of popular
How did you decide what went in and what was left out?
As an avid reader, I put myself in the position of a typical reader and
simply sought to research some of the issues I knew about but were on the edge
of my mind. Then I adopted some basic criteria; the contents had to be
interesting, entertaining and designed to elicit the response "I didn't
know that!" The format is deliberately eclectic and gives a great
opportunity to present fascinating snippets to an information rich but often
Has anything surprised you in compiling the book?
Many things! I was delighted to discover that there are loads of fascinating
traditions and stories about saints and sinners; for example, did you know that
some churches perform the lovely ceremony of Blessing The Throat on St Blaise's
Day (3 February) every year? Or that, St Cuthbert was a pupil of St Aidan at
Melrose Abbey and later became Bishop of Lindisfarne in the 8th century. He was
greatly beloved and many miracles are attributed to him. Once, he died from long
prayers and meditation at the shore, but two otters came out of the water and
revived him back to life! Grigory Rasputin prophesied his own death just a month
before the event. Johann tetzel was a Dominican priest and master seller of
indulgences during the 16th century. Armed with papal authority, he would travel
from village to village throughout Germany with printed receipts from the Pope
guaranteeing release from purgatory into paradise in exchange for money, which
was used to make the Vatican look even grander.
Tell us more about the 'Curious Deeds of English Saints'?
England is hugely blessed with many fantastic stories about amazing
saints. Here are just two from the book. St Elphege (or Alphege) became bishop
of Winchester in 1006 and Archbishop of Canterbury. He was imprisoned in
Greenwich by the Danes who overan Kent and Lond in 1011. Whilst in prison the
devil appeared to him in likeness of an angel, and tempted him to follow him
into a dark valley, over which he wearily walked through hedges and ditches. At
last the devil vanished, and a real angel appeared and told St. Elphege to be a
martyr. He was slain by the Danes in 1012 and is buried in St Paul's in London.
St Aldhelm (d.709) founded the abbey of Malmesbury, and was the first
Englishman who cultivated both Latin and English. He lived a life of strict
discipline and used to recite the Psalter at night, plunged up to the shoulders
in a pond of water. His biographers say that whilst in Rome, he turned a sunbeam
into a clothes peg to hang his vestments!
I should point out that I am not making any claims for the veracity of these
stories, but they are interesting!
Tell us a little about yourself? You work in fund-raising?
I worship with Nene Family Church in Peterborough and am married with 2
children. I am a member of Gideons International and a youth leader in my
I work for Cancer Research UK helping supporters to raise money to cure
cancer faster. It is a wonderful charity and I am blessed that we offer hope to
many people who are suffering from cancer.