Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dec. 8-14

Busy week … and we’re not even into the Christmas stuff yet. The biggies this week are the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Some of the “smallies” are listed below.

#10  Vicelin of Oldenburg (Dec 12)
Representation: bishop with a church sitting on his left arm

Man, that’s gotta hurt, right?

Vicelin lived in the 11th and 12th Centuries, mostly in Germany. From a noble family, he was orphaned at an early age. He would later become a teacher; priest (including Pastor of Wippenthorp); bishop; founder of monasteries; and missionary to the Obotrites, Polabian Slavs, and Wagrian Wends. He was also known as Witzel, as well as the Apostle of Holstein.

A lot of possibilities for names for alt-rock bands here:
  • Obotrites
  • Polabian Slavs
  • Apostles of Holstein
  • Wagrian Wends
  • Pastors of Wippenthorp

#9  Patapius (Dec 8)

Patron saint of platypuses.

Patapius was a 4th Century hermit. He hung out in the Egyptian desert (he’s also known as Patapius of Thebes) as well as in Constantinople. I’m not sure how he managed the latter, as Constantinople was the largest city in Europe at the time. You can still visit his relics there, some of which are still incorrupt. Pat (surely his friends called him that) is particularly popular in the Eastern, or Orthodox, church.

Patapius is also a bug genus

#8  Bruno of Rommersdorf (Dec 10)

Often confused with Rommer of Brunosdorf.

Bruno was a 12th Century German knight. He gave up worldly things, though, to become a Premonstratensian. He would later become an abbot with them.

By the way, that rather interestingly named order simply comes from the village of Premontre, in France. They also are sometimes called the equally odd Norbertines and White Canons.

Some of that Premo style

#7  Severin Ott (Dec 11)

Hey, another Premonsteranian … I mean, Premisaterian … No, Premonstrositeranian … Uh, one of those guys.

Not a lot out there on this dude. He basically lived in 17th Century Germany and was a … er … Norbertine.

Interestingly, the name also seems to be shared by a Swiss BASE jumper (they fly off mountain tops and things and then glide down with wingsuits) who died just a couple of years ago.

Our saint was not known for levitation
(I'm thinking this might be the other guy)

#6  Gunthildis of Ohrdruf (Dec 8)

Patron saint of dandruff.

Another pretty obscure medieval saint, poor Gunthildis was actually a girl. Born in England, she would later move to Germany, where she would become an abbess. She also goes by the equally awful name of Cunihilt.

#5  Eulalia of Merida (Dec 10)
Representation: naked young woman lying in the snow

I want to see the holy card for this one.

Eulalia was a virgin martyr, active in Spain during the 3rd or 4th Centuries. Eulalia was one of those sassy martyrs. When arrested and asked to worship the pagan gods, she threw down an idol, stamped on the sacrifice that they put together for her to offer, and spat at the judge.

Not too surprisingly, she was then stripped, tortured, and burned. When she died, a dove was seen to fly out of her mouth. And when her body was thrown in the street, a miraculous snow then “covered her nakedness.”

According to Wikipedia, “For this reason she is regarded among Catholic school children and teachers alike as the patron saint of snow (inclement weather) days.” Gotta love it.

#4  Corentius of Quimper (Dec 12)

Couldn’t just be John, or James, or Thomas, now, could we? Had to go and add something like Corentius to the already risible Quimper, didn’t we?

Well, we’re back to medieval obscurity again here. All we really know about Corentius is that he lived in the 400s, was born in Britain, moved later to France, and was a hermit and bishop.

#3  Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin (Dec 9)

Patron saint of people with unpronounceable names.

You may already know that this is the guy who saw the Virgin of Guadalupe. That happened in 1531, within the current confines of Mexico City. The basilica that was built on the site includes the cloak Juan was wearing and on which an image of the Virgin was impressed. The basilica is now the number one pilgrimage site in the world. And you’ve probably seen that image in pretty much any place where Spanish speakers gather in the Western hemisphere. 

Born a poor Indian, Juan was baptized later in life. In addition to seeing the Virgin, he also led a very holy life, lived celibately with his wife, and tended the Virgin’s shrine for his last 20-some years. Though the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe was officially recognized in the 17th Century, Juan was canonized only in 2002.


#2  Lucy (eyes on a dish) (Dec 13)

And, yes, those are indeed Lucy’s.

Lucy was martyred in 304, in Syracuse (that’s Sicily, by the way, not New York). A mere 21, she was your classic virgin martyr. Betrayed by a fiancé whom she spurned, Lucy defied several tortures before finally being stabbed to death.

The eyes? Well, we’ve got a couple of stories for that. In one, having her eyes gouged out was simply a part of her torture. In the second, Lucy did the deed herself, as part of  an effort to cool the ardor of her suitor. Given all that, the connection is probably just linguistic. “Lucy” simply means “light.”

In addition to patronages for everything eye- and sight-related, she is some also invoked against dysentery and for lawyers, weavers, peasants, and penitent prostitutes. She has no less than 40-some patronages.

Indeed, Lucy is a very popular saint. Her relics are scattered about Europe, she appears in Dante, her feast is very popular (especially in Scandinavia), and she’s even got a country named after (St. Lucia, in the Caribbean).

And you thought I was making that up, didn't you?

#1  Gorgonia (Dec 9)

Patron saint of gorgonzola makers.

When you Google Gorgonia, make sure you put “st” before your search. If you don’t, all you’ll get is references to a bunch of sea fans (order Gorgonia, family Gorgoniidae).

Be aware that you may still get sea fans,
even when you put in the "st"

St. Gorgonia came from quite the saintly family. She was the daughter of two saints – Gregory the Elder and Nonna – and the sister of two others. She herself married, and is often cited as an exemplar of a married saint. She was active in the Middle East, during the 4th Century.

Honorable Mention
  • Fidweten
  • Carpophorus
  • Pribyslava
  • Anastasia of Pomerania
  • Therapon of Monzja
  • Ludolf van Craeywinckel
  • Romaric of Remiremont
  • Polydore Plasden
  • Protasi Cubells Minguell
  • John Bread-and-Water

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dec. 1-7

Santa Claus is who we celebrate this week. Seriously! He was a real guy. His real name is St. Nicholas of Myra. He got associated with Santa Claus because he gifted some impoverished girls with dowries, and is the patron saint of children as well.

#10  Lucius (Dec 3)
Representation:  plowing with a bear and cattle

I don’t know …  I’ve always been partial to oxen myself.

Poor Lucius. No less a source than the usually up-for-anything calls him an “inadvertent pious fiction.”

According to the “fiction,” Lucius was a British ruler who requested missionaries from Rome in the 2nd Century. Turns out he didn’t even exist, though there was a king Lucius of Edessa (in the mid-East) who requested missionaries for a region in his kingdom called Britium (but, otherwise, never did anything else particularly holy in his life). Oops! Wrong guy. Never mind.

Is this his mug shot?

#9  Barbara (Dec 4)
Patronage:  fireworks, saltpeter workers, against mine collapse, death by artillery, storms, vermin, brewers, construction workers, firemen, gravediggers, hatmakers, dying people, warehouses, Santa Barbara CA …

Yup, Barb may well be the most popular patroness out there. lists no less than 34 different patronages!

Where did they all come from? Well, her pious legend (yup, she probably didn’t really exist either) has her locked up in a tower (prisoners, fortifications, construction workers …), from which she escapes. She is then recaptured, then put to death by her own father (dying people), who is then immediately struck by lightning (storms, fireworks, death by artillery …). None of which, of course, explains vermin, brewers, hatmakers, boatmen, mathematicians …

Did we get it all in?

#8  Sabbas of Mar Saba (Dec 5)

Or, if you prefer, Sabbas the Sanctified of Mutalaska. And, yes, Mar Saba is indeed named after him. It’s also referred to as the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified. So, if Sabbas of Mar Saba isn’t bad enough, how would you feel about:

Sabbas the Sanctified of Mutalaska of the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified

I didn’t think so.

Mar Saba today

Who was he? Sabbas was a monk, priest, and hermit who lived around the year 500, in the Middle East. His hermitage would later become the site of Mar Saba … or the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, if you prefer. Sabbas would also found several other monasteries, write a monastic rule, and become involved in the many theological controversies of the era.

#7  Aper of Sens (Dec 5)

Sounds like the title for a They Must Be Giants song.

Not a lot out there on this oddly named fellow. We do know that he was a priest and hermit who lived in France in the 7th Century. (the only real source for any info on Aper) also shares the following interesting little tidbits:

  • He’s also known as Apre, Aprus, Avre, Epvre, and Evre
  • “After years of bickering among his parishioners and slander from every corner, he retired to live as a hermit .”
  • “Built a cell for private prayers, and a nursing home to care for the poor. Spiritual director of a man later known as Aprunculus (little wild boar).”

Too bad there isn’t a St. Aprunculus. He probably could have made #1 for this week.

Hey, looks like there is!
(St. Aprunculus of Trier)

#6  Ambrose of Milan (Dec 7)
Representation:  baby with bees on his mouth

There’s a story here. I just know it.

And indeed there is. Here, I’ll let Wikipedia describe it:

There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. [He would eventually be known as the “Honey-Tongued Doctor.”]

A 5th Century bishop, Ambrose was actually a fairly important figure. Among his many accomplishments, we have:

  • Fighting Arianism
  • Championing the antiphonal chant
  • Converting St. Augustine
  • Chairing several councils
  • Becoming one of the first Doctors of the Church

You probably won’t be too surprised that Ambrose is the patron of beekeepers and candlemakers and so on. Where the following come from, though, are totally beyond me:

  • Geese
  • Livestock
  • Police officers
  • Starlings
  • French Commissariat

Yoiks! Yup, that's him.

#5  Narcyz Putz (Dec 5)

I really hesitated putting this guy in here (yes, he’s a guy). After all, he died in Dachau. It was a surprisingly common fate for Polish priests in WWII.

BTW, Narcyz is the Polish form of Narcissus. And, yes, Narcissus is a guy’ name. Would you believe there are also some guy Hyacinths out there as well?

#4  Mór of Pécs (Dec 4)

I’m tempted to make some really lame joke about his cousin Les of Abs, but … Oh shoot! I guess I already did.

AKA Maurus and Mauricio, this guy managed to accomplish quite a bunch as well (though he’s nowhere near as famous as Ambrose). Living in 11th Century Hungary, Mor was a priest and bishop. He also was BFF with St. Stephen (Hungary’s patron saint), wrote the first book on Hungarian saints, was the first first prelate in Hungary, and was active in his country’s politics as well (serving primarily as a peace-maker).

Yeah, just what I was afraid of
(thanks, anyway, Google Images!)

#3  Eligius of Noyon (Dec 1)
Representation:  man holding a horse's leg, which he detached from the horse in order to shoe it more easily

Now, there’s a handy trick.

It sounds like Eligius was a metalsmith, as well as doing some more basic smithing on the side. Quite the social climber, Eligius would eventually parlay his smithery into titles such as master of the mint, treasurer, and chief counsellor to the French king. He would also later become a priest and bishop, found several monasteries, and build a couple of churches.

Last but not least, Eligius also stands out for his many aliases:

  • Alar
  • Elaere
  • Elar
  • Elard
  • Eler
  • Eloi
  • Eloy
  • Iler
  • Loy

… and for his many patronages as well. As for the latter, lists about 80, including these genuine oddities:

  • Against boils
  • Basket makers
  • Boilermakers
  • Peasants
  • Livestock
  • Jockeys
  • Cab drivers
  • Scissors grinders
  • Coin collectors
  • Farriers
  • Gas station workers
  • Computer scientists

#2  Ansanus the Baptizer (Dec 1)
Representation:  young man holding a heart and liver

Please tell me these aren’t his.  Please …

Ansanus is the patron saint of Siena, where he lived around the year 300. Coming from a noble Roman family, he was secretly brought up as a Christian by his nurse. Ansanus came out of the closet at age 19, managed to baptize a number of Sienese, but was then quickly martyred.

Ansanus is also a man of many representations. also has him down for:

  • baptizing
  • beheaded
  • boiled in oil
  • cross
  • dates
  • heart with the letters IHS on it
  • palm with dates
  • palm
  • towers in the background
  • man holding towers in his hand
  • richly-dressed young man
  • with a palm and banner
  • young man holding a liver
  • young man holding a cluster of dates

Unfortunately, I have no idea where any of these come from.

#1  Bibiana (Dec 2)
Patronage:  against hangovers

Now, there’s a practical patronage.

Bibiana is actually a tad on the obscure side. All we really know about her was that she was a virgin martyr in 4th Century Rome. Now, there are – of course – a couple of pious legends out there with a few more details.

Oh, my aching head!

Interestingly, though, none of these mention hangovers. The patronage most likely comes from the closeness between Bibiana’s name and the Latin verb for drinking, bibere. Yup, that’s all there is to it. Sorry.

Honorable Mention

  • Simon Yempo
  • Agnofleta
  • Johann Nepomuk von Tschiderer
  • Natalia of Nicomedia
  • Mamas
  • Cawrdaf of Fferreg
  • Pelinus of Confinium
  • Buithe of Monasterboice
  • Nilus of Stolbensk
  • Grwst

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nov. 11-30

Thanksgiving week! BTW, Thanksgiving is not a holy day of obligation. Just in case you were wondering.

#10  Conrad of Constance (Nov 26)
Representation:  bishop holding a chalice with a spider above or in it

You know, there’s a big difference between “above” and “in,” right?

Conrad was a very well-connected individual who somehow managed to avoid politics in a very political time and place (the Holy Roman Empire, during the 10th Century). Bishop of Constance (in current-day Switzerland), Conrad made several pilgrimages to Jerusalem, founded a number of churches, and was known for his charity to the poor.

The spider? Sounds like “in” would have been a much more accurate representation:

This refers to a story that once when he was celebrating mass a spider fell into the chalice. Spiders were believed at that time to be deadly poisonous, but Conrad nevertheless drank the Blood of Christ, which had been transubstantiated from wine, with the spider in it, as a token of faith. (Wikipedia)

#9  Catherine Laboure (Nov 28)
Patronage:  pigeon fanciers

Catherine Laboure is a pretty well-known saint. Living in 19th Century France as a simple Sister of Charity, she had several visions of the Virgin Mary, visions which would lead to the issuing of the Miraculous Medal, arguably the most popular religious medal out there.

The pigeons? Turns out Catherine took care of the family’s pigeons as a young girl. I must admit, though, I honestly thought it had to do with Catherine’s wimple. If Sister Bertrille could get airborne with hers, I’m sure it would be easy for Cathy.

#8  Fergus the Pict (Nov 27)

Not too surprisingly, Fergus was a Scot, active during the 7th and 8th Centuries. He was a bishop, founded a number of churches, and attended a council in Rome. Looks like you can also hire him for your next kids party as well:

#7  Amphilochius of Iconium (Nov 23)

Hmm, I might be spelling that wrong. Indeed, my spell check suggests Aphidlocus of Zirconium.

Amphiliochius was active during the 4th and 5th Centuries, in what is now Turkey. He started out as a lawyer, ditched it all to become a hermit, and then was made a bishop. He was very active in the numerous theological debates that went on in this era. In particular, he was known for fighting the Macedonians, Arians, Messalonians, Green Bay Packers, and Sonny Liston. (Okay, not those last two.)

#6  Tudwal of Treguier (Nov 30)
Representation:  bishop using his stole as a leash on a dragon


Tudwal was a Breton monk who loved in the 6th Century. He was born in Brittany (the son of a king), studied in Ireland, was a hermit in Wales, and then returned to Brittany to found a monastery.

He was also a man of many names. In addition to Tudwal, I’ve also got him down for Tudgual, Tugdual, Tugual, Tugdualus, Tual, Pabu, and Papu. I think someone might just be having fun with me for those last two.

Though I could find a number of sites that cited that rather interesting representation, I could not find any explanations. I’m  assuming Tudwal was probably just a St. George type who just so happened to be fond of animals.

#5  Alypius Stylites (Nov 26)
Representation:  an old man on a pillar holding a baby

There’s a story behind this.  I just know there is.

What that is, though, we may never know. Once again, all I get are citations of this particular (and particularly weird) representation. Nobody seems to want to come forward and explain what it all means. And this time, I certainly don’t feel comfortable speculating.

Oh, I can explain why he’s on a pillar though. Hard to believe, but playing hermit on the top of a pillar in the middle of the desert was all the rage in the Byzantine Empire around the 5th Century. There were usually called “stylites,” from the Greek word for “pillar,” stylos.

Sorry, no baby

#4  James of the Marches (Nov 28)
Representation:  Franciscan with a staff, castanets at his girdle, pointing to HIS

The castanets are bad enough. But what’s with the girdle?

Born James Gangala in 15th Century Italy, this saint would become a lawyer and a Franciscan. He would become involved heavily in the Inquisition, then have the tables turned on him in the last few years of his life.

An alternative representation for him is 
"priest holding in his right hand a chalice from which a snake is escaping"

#3  Barlaam (Nov 27)
Representation:  man in a tree, which is being gnawed by a mouse, grabbing a beehive while hanging over a dragon in a pit

Forget the story. I’m having a hard time even picturing this.

Barlaam was a Christian hermit in - of all places - India. He converted the king's son, Josaphat, who would later join him as a hermit as well. This legend probably derives from the life of the Buddha. Infact, "Josaphat" is robably derived from "Bodhisattva," one of the Buddha's titles.

Surprisingly, there are multiple St. Barlaams out there, including ones in Russia and what is now modern-day Turkey.

That's it! (though I have no idea what it could possibly mean)

#2  Ekbert of Muensterschwarzach (Nov 25)

I’m thinking that last bit might have something to do with monsters. Or maybe cheese.

Wouldn’t you know, though …  “Muenster” is actually German for “monastery.” “Schwarzach”? It’s a river in Bavaria. So, basically, that whole big long mess simply equates to “the monastery on the Schwarzach River.”

Ekbert? He was a monk at – and later, abott of – said monastery. We’re talking the 11th Century here, by the way. Other than that those scant facts, however, all we’re really left with here is that wonderful whopper of a name.

#1  Dimbalac Oghlou Wartavar (Nov 22)

Known to his friends as “Dim” …

Well, it looks like this guy has a lot in common Ekbert. First, we’ve got that mouthful of a name. Second, we’ve got almost next to nothing for a bio. About all I could squeeze out of the Interwebs for this guy was that he was a “a Franciscan and a Martyr of Armenia.”

Actually, a little more digging tells me that Dimbalac was actually part of the Armenian Genocide. They were beatified by JPII in 1982. Some of “companions” include:

  • Geremia Oghlou Boghos
  • Khodianin Oghlou Kadir
  • Baldji Oghlou Ohannes
  • Kouradji Oghlou Tzeroum
  • David Oghlou David

(If you’re wondering about that “Oghlou,” it just means “son of.”)

Not sure who's who,
but the head honcho in the middle is Salvatore Lilli

Honorable Mention

  • Egelwine of Athelney
  • Sosthenes of Colophon
  • Paphnutius of Heracleopolis
  • Simeon the Logothete
  • Pompea of Langoat
  • Ferran Llovera Pulgsech
  • Banban of Lethglenn
  • Sisinius of Cyzicus
  • Zosimus the Wonder Worker

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nov. 15-21

There’s a solemnity this week, the Feast of Christ the King. Now, a solemnity is a feast day of the highest order – think Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Epiphany ... Interestingly, though, this particular one dates back only to 1925.

#10  Gertrude the Great (Nov 16)

AKA Great Gerty …

Gertrude lived in 13th Century Germany. She was a Benedictine sister, having lived in the convent since the age of 4. She was a mystic and writer, with her works influencing a number of subsequent saints.

So, what made her so great? Well, there are certainly a lot of St. Gertrudes out there (I count 9 others), so it is important that they not get all mixed up.  And our Gertrude did seem to accomplish quite a lot and also act as a major influence over the years. So … Hard to believe, though, but Gert is the only female saint out there to get that particular appellation of “Great.”

Oops, wrong Gerty

#9  Lazarus Zographos (Nov 17)

Lazarus Zographos was an anti-iconoclast. And that actually means something much more specific than someone who’s doesn’t like rebels.

Hard to believe, but whether to use religious images was a huge issue in the Byzantine Empire during the 8th and 9th Centuries.  Those who were against icons were known as “iconoclasts” – literally, “image breakers.”

Those who were for icons – like Laz – were “anti-iconoclasts.” Lazarus was, in fact, a famous painter of icons, and a monk to boot. Under certain iconoclast rulers, he would suffer for his art, being thrown in prison and tortured for refusing to destroy his icons or give up his work.

Oh, almost forgot … “Zographos” is actually just Greek for “painter.”

I think that's him in the hoodie

#8  Edmund of East Anglia (Nov 20)
Representation:  man with his severed head between the paws of a wolf

I’m taking it Edmund was a martyr then …

And sure enough, he was. Edmund was king of East Anglia, in the latter part of the 9th Century. He was martyred by invading Vikings (or perhaps Danes) who, after Edmund refused to renounce Christianity, sliced and diced him up pretty good.

The wolf? Here’s the explanation on Wikipedia:

According to one legend, his head was then thrown into the forest, but was found safe by searchers after following the cries of a wolf that was calling, "Hic, Hic, Hic" – "Here, Here, Here".

At one time, Edmund was the patron saint of England. His shrine, at Bury St. Edmunds, was a very popular patronage site.

There you go!

#7  Hugh of Lincoln (Nov 17)
Representation:  man with a swan at his death bed

So, I’m imagining Hugh’s last words were something along the lines of, “What the heck is that doing here?”

Hugh lived in the 12th Century. Born in France, he would become a Carthusian monk, moving to England when the order sought to establish a presence there. There, he would become a bishop, a builder of churches and monasteries, and one of England’s more well-known and influential saints.

Oh, that swan? Wikipedia is here to help us out again:

Hugh loved all the animals in the monastery gardens, especially a wild swan that would eat from his hand and follow him about and yet the swan would attack anyone else who came near Hugh.

Are you sure that's not a flamingo?

#6  Hélène-Marie-Philippine de Chappotin de Neuville (Nov 15)

Of, if you prefer her religious name, Mary of the Passion …  And seeing that that’s 25 characters, 1 space and 2 dashes less, I would well imagine you would.

Mary was born in 1839, in France. Originally a cloistered nun, she later established a mission convent in India, then broke off from her existing order to found the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. This order, though still contemplative, also offered medical service to women in their local community. The group grew by leaps and bounds, and today numbers 6,700 nuns, the citizens of 80 nations, serving in 76 countries.

#5  Mechtilde of Helfta (Nov 19)

Just rolls right off the tongue …

But would you believe it could have been a lot worse? Mechtilde was actually born Mechtilde von Hackeborn-Wippra, into a well-known noble German family. Entering the convent at age 7, she would eventually become a Benedictine nun. She was particularly known for her musical abilities (she was called the “Nightingale of Helfta”), teaching children (including our #10 this week, Gertrude the Great), and her “extreme amiability” (Wikipeda, again).

#4  Yosafat Kotsylovsky (Nov 17)

Ow, I think I just hurt my tongue!

And if that wasn’t painful enough, I’ll have you know that Yosafat’s official title was Eparch of Przemyśl!

Yosafat was a Ukrainian Greek Catholic. They’re one of a number of Eastern Rite Catholic sects, all of which recognize the Pope. In addition to being an eparch (basically, a bishop), Yosafat is also considered a martyr, having died in a Soviet prison camp.

Relaxing at home, I take it

#3  Josaphata Mykhailyna Hordashevska

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use my tongue again!

First of all, Josaphata is indeed the feminine form of Josaphat. Second, Josaphata was also – like Yosafat – a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church.

Interestingly, though, Jospahata has a lot more in common with #6 on our list, Mary of the Passion. Like Mary, Josie joined a contemplative order, but was then tasked with forming a new order that would move out into the world, serving the local community. And like Mary’s new order, Josaphat’s became wildly popular.

I have no idea what the mini people are all about

#2  Leopold III (Nov 15)
Representation:  armed man with a cross on his coronet, a banner with three eagles, and a model of the church of Heiligenkreuz in his hand

But what was he armed with?  Geez, these descriptions are so vague.

So, let me try to explain all this. First, the coronet … That’s due to Leopold’s being Margrave of Austria. The arms? That’s for defeating Hungarian invaders in battle. Heiligenkreuz was a monastery – one of many – Leopold founded.

I would imagine the cross is because of Leopold’s piety. The three eagles? Sorry, can’t help you there.

By the by, Leopold is the patron saint of Austria.

So, what happened to the eagles?

#1  Florinus of Remus (Nov 17)

Not to be confused with Remus of Florinus.

He is, however, the same guy as:
  • Florinus of Mazia
  • Florinus of Val Venosta
  • Florinus of Matsch
  • Florinus of Ramosch
  • Florinus of Vinschgau
  • Florinus of Vnuost
  • Florinus of Chur
  • Florinus of Finsgowe

Who was he? Florinus (who’s also known as Florin and Florian) was a 9th Century priest, born in Italy but working in Switzerland. He was known for living like a hermit and performing miracles, but otherwise simply being the local parish priest. There’s not much more on him, I’m afraid – he’s rather on the obscure side.

Sorry, not sure how he ended up behind bars

Honorable Mention
  • Machudd of Llanfechell
  • Heliodorus of Pamphylia
  • Nerses the Great
  • Rufus of Rome
  • Maximus of Mainz
  • Dasius of Dorostorum
  • Martyrs of Hippo
  • Mummolus of Lagny
  • Cosmas Takeya Sozaburo
  • Martyred Visitationists of Madrid

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Nov. 8-14

This week seems to be a good one for B-level saints.  These are folks that you’ve probably heard of only if you’re Catholic – Martin of Tours, Leo the Great, Frances Xavier Cabrini …

The ten below?  Well, to have heard of them, you’d probably have to be 1) seriously Catholic and 2) possibly also a little odd yourself.

#10  Vitonus of Verdun (Nov 9)

Very vierd.

Vitonis was a French saint who lived in the 5th and 6th centuries. He was a missionary to the region of Lorraine (where Verdun is located). There, he would become bishop, miracle worker, and founder of a seminary and abbey. The latter would be subsequently named after him, and is known today as St. Vanne (other alternate names of his include Vaune and Vitone).

#9  Cunibert of Cologne  (Nov 12)


In addition to the awesome alliteration, Cunibert was also a man of many names. In addition to plain ol’ Cunibert, we’ve also got Cunipert, Kunibert, and Honoberht (?!?!). For the second part, we’ve also got Keulen, Köln, Trèves, and Trier. Put those two together, and we’ve got 16 different permutations and combinations.

Whatever you might call him, he lived in the 600s, was the bishop of the German city of Cologne, acted as co-regent for the Frankish kingdom of Autrasia, and founded many churches and monasteries.

His typical representation is “bishop with a bird (usually a dove or pigeon), often speaking in his ear or leading him somewhere.” This comes from a pious legend where said bird helped Cunibert find the long-lost grave of St. Ursula.

#8  Homobonus of Cremona (Nov 13)

As far as I can tell, that first name is not pronounced “homo bonus.” It seems to be more correctly rendered as “huh-MAH-buh-nis.” Too bad.

Our guy Homo (I’m assuming that’s what his friends called him), was actually born Omobono Tucenghi in 12th Century Italy. That first name means “good man” (“Homobonus” is merely the Latin version). I have no idea what that last name means (but can guess it’s a bear to pronounce properly).

Interestingly, Homobonus was very much a man of this world – he was married, and a well-off merchant as well. That last part explains his patronage of tailors, shoemakers, clothworkers, and business people in general. In fact, Homo’s been something of a hot commodity lately in business circles (if we can believe Wikipedia, that is):

In recent years, statuettes of Saint Homobonus are being sold as novelty items or executive toys in the United States. As the patron saint of business people, Homobonus has become a relevant figure in corporate culture. There is even a digital marketing agency that takes the saint's name. Omobono Ltd is based in Cambridge, UK. A priest was one of the founders of the organization. Another digital company in Texas, specializing in webhosting, combines Sheen (as in Fulton Sheen) with Omo to form Sheenomo [].

Now, Homobonus was also a very devout person and gave most of his riches away to charity. So, you got’s to do ‘em both – okay, you MBA types?

#7  Aedh Mac Bricc (Nov 10)

Odd as it may seem, this is not how someone clears their throat in Gaelic.

Aedh lived in 6th Century Ireland. He was a bishop, founded monasteries, and cured headaches. As for that last bit, he actually cured a particular doozy of St. Brigid’s – making him forever one of about two dozen patrons you can call on when you’re suffering from cephalalgia.

There’s a curious story out there about Aedh:

He frequently visited settlements of holy virgins who received him with the respect due to a man of his position. On one occasion, when he perceived that the girl serving him was pregnant he fled from the building both to avoid the pollution and to shame her. She confessed her sins and did penance. Áed was not one to leave someone under his care in a difficult situation; he blessed her womb and the baby disappeared as if it had never been there.

Not sure what this says about Church doctrine regarding abortion.

#6  Pavel Dzjidzjov (Nov 11)

I’m guessing no one knows how to pronounce this one.

Supporting me in this regard is how Google insists on “showing results for Pawel Dziedzic.” Heck, they are the same guy, right?

Pavel/Pawel is one of our modern saints, martyred in 1952 by the Bulgarian Commies. He’s actually only a beatus, or Blessed. One more miracle, though, and he’ll truly be a saint.

#5  Josephat Chichkov (Nov 11)

You gotta wonder why there aren’t more cute little baby Josephats out there. Got a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

You’re not going to believe this, but Josephat was actually a companion of Pavel. Other companions include Kamen Vitchev and Eugene Bossilkov. Nice try, you two, but I’m afraid your gonna have up your game a little if you want to appear on this list with Pawel/Pavel and Josephat.

#4  Josaphat Kuncewicz  (Nov 12)

It was a good week for Josaphats …

Interestingly, this Josaphat was not pals with all those other guys. In fact, this Josaphat lived back in the 16th and 17th Centuries. He was born a noble in what is now Ukraine. A monk and then a priest and archbishop, his main claim to fame was getting caught in between the Catholic and Orthodox churches and ending up a martyr.


#3  Livinus (Nov 12)
Representation:  bishop holding his tongue with a pair of tongs

But why? Why was he holding his tongue with a pair of thongs?

Well, as it turns out, said tongue was torn out as part of Livinus’s martyrdom. Interestingly, though, that didn’t stop it – Livinus’s tongue kept right on preaching.

Livinus lived in the same rough time as Vitonus, Cunibert, and Aedh. Another Irishman, he would head to the Low (or Benelux) Countries as a missionary (and subsequent martyr).


#2  Five Polish Brothers  (Nov 12)

Also happens to be the name of a polka band as well.

Okay, I’m making that up.

Get this though … These guys happened to be neither Polish nor brothers. Instead, they were Benedictine monks, from Italy, who just so happened to have been martyred in Poland. We’re talking the year 1005 here, by the way.

It's on!

#1  Maria Crucified Satellico (Nov 8)

I’m particularly thankful spell check didn’t correct that last part as “satellite.”  As that would have been weird.

Maria was born in 17th Italy and was raised by her uncle, who just so happened to be a priest. Quiet ambitious, as a child, Maria declared, “I want to become a nun, and if I succeed, I want to become a saint.” She would eventually become a Poor Clare and an abbess, but – unfortunately – not a saint (she’s only a beata).

Two other interesting things about our Maria – she was very musical and also suffered from demons. Not that those two are related, of course …

Honorable Mention
  • Jucundus of Bologna
  • Deodat of Rodez
  • Chillien of Aubigny
  • Rhediw
  • Warmondus of Ivrea
  • Adeltrude of Aurillac
  • Nonnus of Heliopolis
  • Narses of Subagord
  • Veranus of Vence
  • Ymar of Reculver