It was on this day in 1990, when I was at seminary, when someone gave the community a little duckling. The little fellow was something like the above photo, hatched out of an egg a very short time before. As we celebrate the Vigil of St Andrew and St Saturnin of Toulouse, Bishop and Martyr, I remember this day with its long dark night just before Advent.
We named the duckling after this saint of the day and we looked after him, keeping him warm and feeding him with special food for ducklings. It was frightening to see him in the common room, the old private theatre of the Villa Marcelli, amidst so many black shoes and cassocks – lest he be crushed underfoot!
He grew to be a fine duck, not for eating, but as a pet. He swam in the moat of the seminary building and I saw him each time I returned to the seminary in the early 1990’s. I don’t know how long ducks live, certainly not for twenty-four years. We also had a couple of geese, and they all got on together as our seminary pets.
Every time the name comes up each 29th November, a smile returns to my face as I think of the little duckling.