Saturday, October 15, 2016

Oct. 15-21

We’ve got two biggies this week, Ss. Luke and Teresa of Avila. We’ve also got one of my personal favorites, the North American Martyrs. That was actually the name of the church I attended when I was in junior high and high school. My wife had never heard of them before and thought I was making it up. 

They were actually just some French Jesuit missionaries to the Indians back in the 17th Century. You can probably guess the rest of the story …

#10  Hedwig of Andechs (Oct 16)
Patronage:  duchesses

For all you duchesses out there …

Hedwig was indeed a duchess – of Silesia and then later of Greater Poland, both by marriage. She was born a countess. Andechs was the name of her own noble line.

Both Hedwig and her husband were very pious, devoting much to charity. Upon becoming a widow, Hedwig gave everything she had to the church and retired to a monastery, where she led a very humble life.

You gotta admit, Hedwig’s a pretty awesome name as well.

For some reason, there were no shortage of odd images of Hedwig out there

#9  Frideswide (Oct 19)

“Fried’s wide” or “free-duss-wee-duh”?

Actually, it’s pronounced “fries-wide.” You can find the whole story in gory detail right here (just be sure to scroll down a couple of pages).

So, who was she (and, yes, she was indeed a she)? Well, she was a real-live (Anglo-Saxon) princess. Her main story seems to resolve around her adopting a religious life, but having a suitor pursue her nonetheless. When he tried to abduct her, Frideswide was forced to flee. Various legends have the poor bloke pursue her then either go blind or break his neck in a fall from his horse. Frideswide is the patron saint of both Oxford, where she ended her flight and settled down, and Oxford University as well. All this happened in the 7th and 8th Centuries, by the way.

BTW, she also goes by Frideswith, Fritheswithe, Frithuswith, Frevisse, and Fris

#8  Finnian Munnu (Oct 21)

You may be familiar with his holy brother, the Blessed Finnian Haddie.

Sorry about that (and I hope you’re familiar with that rather obscure reference). Finnian was actually an Irish monk and missionary to Scotland (where he’s known as St. Mundus). He founded a monastery, attended synods, was a famous miracle worker, and suffered without complaint from some horrible skin disease. He was active in the 6th and 7th Centuries.

Actually, there’s no shortage of Finnians out there. In addition to our guy, we’ve also got Lobhar and of Lucca, Moville, Kinnitty, and Clonard. Our guy is also known as Finnian of Tech Mannu, Finnian of Taghmon, Fintan, Finton, Munnin, and Mund.

It’s basically just a smoked haddock (popular in Scottland)
… um, finnan haddie, that is

#7  Augustine Thevarparampil (Oct 16)

Go ahead, try to even pronounce this one.

Well, I guess it’s better than the other name he’s known by – Thevarparambil Kunjachan. 

Augustine (let’s just call him that) was actually quite an admirable fellow – something of a male Mother Theresa. An Indian priest who lived during the 20th Century, he devoted himself to the Dalits, the lowest of the castes. 

He still kinda looks like Mr. Spock though

#6  Jerzy Popieluszko (Oct 19)

This one? I wouldn’t even try.

I debated including this one. There’s really not a funny story behind this one. The events are also very recent, so may still be rather sensitive.

Basically, Father Jerzy was a Polish priest who became associated with the Solidarity movement. He would later be hounded and framed by the government and survive several assassination attempts before finally being murdered, quite brutally.

He was beatified in 2010 by Pope Benedict, 26 years after his death.

#5  Artemius Megalomartyr (Oct 10) 

Is that like a megalomaniac?

Happily, “megalo” merely means “great,” so all this really means is Artemius the Great Martyr.

Artemius, who was born in Egypt, was a general in the Roman army. Quite popular with Constantine the Great (who made him Viceroy of Egypt), he would not do so well under Julian the Apostate.

#4  Luke (Oct 18)
Patronage:  Worshipful Company of Painters

Luke, I think we all know. The Worshipful Company of Painters? Not so much.

Actually, all they were were a medieval London guild company. Their official name is the Worshipful Company of Painters/Stainers. Famous alumni include Joshua Reynolds, Peter Lely, and John Everett Millais.

The association with Luke? Well, legend has it that the evangelist painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary. On the continent, the typical painter’s guild was often called the Guild of St. Luke.

Here they come!

By the way, there are also Worshipful Companies of:
  • Distillers
  • Apothecaries
  • Plumbers
  • Spectacle Makers
  • Tinplate Workers
  • Fish Mongers
  • Cordwainers
  • Environmental Cleaners

#3  Gall (Oct 16)
Representation:  abbot blessing a bear, which brings him a log of wood

Wow! Could we be any more random here?

Like Finnian, Gall was another Irish missionary of the 6th and 7th Centuries. Unlike Finnian, Gall went much further afield. He started out in Gaul (too bad he didn’t stay there or he could have been Gall of Gaul), then continued on to Germany and Switzerland. In that last location, he turned down a bishopric and founded a monastery. The Swiss canton of St. Gallen ultimately gets its name from him.

Oh, the representation? Here’s how the fine folks at Wikipedia explain it:

Another popular story has it that as St Gall was travelling in the woods of what is now Switzerland he was sitting one evening warming his hands at a fire. A bear emerged from the woods and charged. The holy man rebuked the bear, so awed by his presence it stopped its attack and slunk off to the trees. There it gathered firewood before returning to share the heat of the fire with St Gall. The legend says that for the rest of his days St Gall was followed around by his companion the bear.


#2  Proculus of Pozzuoli (Oct 18)

Proculus was a martyr with Januarius and five others during the persecutions of Diocletian (specifically, in 305). The seven were thrown to some wild animals, who subsequently turned into teddy bears. Seeing as that move didn’t go over that well, the authorities then chopped their heads off (which always seems to work).

Proc’s feast day used to be Nov, 19. This meant that he was formerly known in Italy as 'u pisciasotto, “the pants pisser,” as it traditionally rains on that day.

#1  Ursula (Oct 21)
Representation:  maiden shot with arrows, often accompanied by a varied number of companions who are being martyred in assorted, often creative ways

Longest … representation … ever.

And pretty darn weird as well. 

So, here’s the story with Ursula … It’s a bit of a shaggy dog story, so bear with me. Legend has her born a princess in England. Betrothed to the governor of Brittany, she traveled there with a bridal party of 11,000 virgins (her companions in the representation above). Before the festivities, however, she decided to take the party to Rome, where she was then joined by the pope. The group then headed north, being intercepted in Cologne by some Huns. And that’s where everyone gets martyred in those “assorted, often creative ways.”

Honorable Mention
  • Ednoth
  • Ethbin
  • Ethelbert of Eastry / Ethelred of Eastry
  • Gebizo
  • Narcis Basté y Basté
  • Thecla of Kitzengen
  • Conogon of Quimper
  • Gundisalvus of Silos
  • Zoticus of Nicomedia
  • Bernard of Bagnorea

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Oct. 8-14

There’s only one really interesting saint this week, and that’s John XXIII. And the thing that might be most interesting about him is that he was pope when I was born. And I’m not that old! As a very liberal Catholic, I also count him as one of my favorite saints as well.

#10  Colman of Stockerau (Oct 13)
Patronage:  horned cattle

No horns? Forget it then. You’re just gonna have to find somebody else.

In addition to that rather odd patronage, we’ve also got Colman down for:
  • Horses
  • Plague
  • Gout
  • Hanging
That last bit pertains directly to poor Colman’s form of martyrdom. I’ll let explain:

While on a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, Colman was stopped by the Viennese on suspicion of being a Moravian spy; there was continual fighting between Austria, Moravia and Bohemia, and a stranger who spoke no German was immediately suspect. With no evidence other than being a stranger, he was convicted of espionage, tortured, and hanged with two thieves.

What happened next, though, is probably how Colman became a saint however:

In the tradition of the time, the bodies were left to rot as a warning to others. Colman’s body hung there for 18 months, incorrupt, and untouched by animals. Miracles were reported at the site, including the scaffolding taking root and putting out branches.

If you’re ever in the Benedictine abbey at Melk (Austria), 
you can touch part of the stone that Colman was martyred on

#9  Francis Borgia (Oct 10)
Representation:  skull crowned with an emperor's diadem

There’s a story behind this, I just know it.

Unfortunately, though, it’s a pretty common one. The skull may simply represent a memento mori, a classic reminder of the brevity of life. It’s particularly associated with the Jesuits, who Francis joined. The crown may represent a martyr’s crown, or simply reflect Francis’s illustrious background.

Alas, poor Francis …

Indeed. Francis was a Duke, the grandson of a pope, and was raised at the court of Charles V. The emperor took a particular liking to him, making him a Marquess and Vicerory.

When Francis’s wife died, though, he renounced everything and became a simple Jesuit priest. Though exceedingly humble, Francis would go on to found numerous colleges and be made the Jesuits’ Superior General.

All this happened in 16th Century Spain.

#8  Maximilian of Celeia (Oct 12)
Patronage:  Habsburg family

Well, that's a little particular, isn’t it? 

Interestingly, though, Maximillian was not a member of that family. In fact, he lived in the 3rd Century, long before the Habsburgs were around. They did, however, adopt him. In fact, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I was probably named after him. It would be a name that would run through the Habsburg family for the next 500 years.

As for the saint, there really isn’t that much on him. We do know he was a missionary and a subsequent martyr. He also founded the church of Lorch (remember Florian?), which makes him Maximilian of Lorch as well.

#7  Eulampia / Eulampius (Oct 10)

They gotta be twins, right?

Well, we do know they were brother and sister. Not so sure about the twin thing.

The two were martyred during the 300s (not a good time to be a Christian, BTW) in the city of Nicomedia (modern-day Turkey). Seems Eulampius (the brother) was arrested for buying supplies for Christians hiding in caves in the local mountains. When he was whipped, Eulampia disclosed herself by coming to his aid. They would then both be executed – along with 200 soldiers who were so impressed by the siblings’ courage that they converted en masse.

The two are very popular in Orthodox churches, but are recognized by the Catholic Church as well.

Why am I not surprised?

#6  Pelagia the Penitent (Oct 8)

I understand she was from Pennsylvania, and had quite the parental pedigree.

Actually, Pelagia was from Antioch (again, in modern-day Turkey), and lived around the year 300. She was actually a very attractive dancing girl / prostitute who was converted by St. Nonnus. And that’s how she got her other appellation, the wonderful Pelagia the Harlot.

After her conversion, Pelagia went to the Mount of Olives, where she lived a very ascetic life as a bit of a transgender monk. Yup, she dressed like a man and passed herself off as the eunuch Pelagius. The standard story is that she did that so she could hide her beauty and pray without being bothered. As a NC native, I do have to wonder, though, exactly what bathroom she used.

#5  Callistus (Oct 14)
Representation:  pope with a millstone on him or nearby

You know there’s a big difference between those two, right?

Callistus was indeed an early pope, ruling in the 200s. His martyrdom also prominently featured a millstone, with said object tied around Callistus’s neck as he was thrown down a well or off a bridge into the Tiber.

Unfortunately for Callistus, the only record we have of his life came from two of his enemies, one of whom would become the first anti-pope. Amid all the calumny, it sounds like Callistus was born a slave, was exiled for his faith, was the sextant for one of Rome’s more famous catacombs, and was rather liberal during his short papacy (his critics seem to have been just the opposite).

This is actually not his mug shot – 
just something I found on the web

#4  Canice (Oct 11)
Representation:  man ordering birds to stop singing / man ordering mice to leave

Why? What did they do?

Also, did they leave, or did they just ignore him?

Well, it sounds like they did pay attention. He’s famous for stopping those noisy birds from interrupting mass, and for doing a St. Patrick on the mice of the Irish island of Ubdain.

Yup, that’s him

Canice was an Irish monk, priest, and missionary who lived during the 6th Century. He’s one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. The town – and county – of Kilkenny is named after him (with kil meaning “church” in Gaelic). He’s also known as Kenneth, especially in Scotland, where he was a missionary.

#3  Cerbonius of Populonia (Oct 10)
Representation: bishop with a bear licking his feet

Okay, these are starting to get weird.

Cerbonius lived at the same time as Canice, but much further south. He may have been born in North Africa, fleeing to Italy to avoid invading barbarians.

Barbarians caught up with there, though, where the story behind that wonderful representation played out. Turns out one of the barbarian kings ordered Cerbonius to be tied to a stake and set a wild bear upon him. You can guess the rest.

There’s another excellent story about Cerbonius that involves him saying mass too early, being hauled to Rome by his parishoners, performing some miracles along the way, and eventually getting absolved by the pope. Along the way, he tamed some wild geese, which followed him the rest of way. And that’s what’s behind another popular representation of his – “with geese.”

Couldn’t find any bears – 
these gees will have to do

#2  Denis of Paris (Oct 9)
Representation:  beheaded bishop carrying his severed head – the head sometimes wears its mitre, and there is often a vine growing over his neck

What is this, weird week?

St. Denis is actually pretty well known. He was the first bishop of Paris, and was indeed a martyr. He’s also the patron saint of Paris, and is also known as The Apostle of France. The French were so devoted to him that St. Denis, in Paris, is where all the French royalty are buried. Finally, the traditional French battle cry is, “Montjoie! St. Denis!”

As for the head bit, there’s actually quite a saintly tradition of that. In addition to Denis, this blog also features Alban of Mainz and Solange of Bourges. There are so many of these saints that they actually have their own name, cephalophores (from the Greek for “head-carrier”). Like Denis, these folks often walk long ways, preaching all the while.

#1  Abraham the Patriarch (Oct 9)
Representation:  bearded old man holding a blanket containing small people representing the souls of all believers saved since his first reaction to God

Sure, why the heck not?

This guy probably needs no introduction. You know, the guy who wandered around the Mideast? Canaan, Hebron, Egypt? Father of Jacob and Ishmael? Husband of Sarah and Hagar? Promised land? That covenant thing? You know, that guy.

Yup, that’s him

Honorable Mention
  • Lubenzio
  • Lupulo of Capua
  • Sabinus of the Lavedan
  • Ethelburgh of Barking
  • Domnina of Anazarbus
  • Monas of Milan
  • Fulk of Fontenelle
  • Guiadenzio of Gniezno
  • Malo the Martyr
  • Anastasius the Apocrisarius

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oct. 1-7

Couple of biggies this week. Therese of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower, happens to be one of the more popular saints out there. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, has inspired many. 

The other biggie is Francis of Assisi. I think everyone’s familiar with him. He also happens to be my personal all-time fave.

#10  Justina of Padua (Oct 7)
Representation:  young woman with both breasts pierced by one sword

Oh geez. That’s a little too graphic for me.

Now, that particularly gruesome martyrdom happened in the year 304, during the persecutions of Diocletian. Other than that, Justina was famous for converting Cyprian, as well as being a disciple of the Apostle Peter. Needless to say, that last bit is pretty much impossible, as Peter died around 65 AD.

She is (thankfully) also often shown with a unicorn

#9  Leodegarius of Autun (Oct 2)
Representation:  man having his eyes bored out with a gimlet

Aagghh! That’s way too graphic for me.

Leo (which I’m sure all his friends called him) lived in Burgundy in the 600s. He was a noble, the son of St. Sigrada, as well as the brother of St. Warinus. 

Leo was a priest and bishop, but made the fatal mistake of getting mixed up in local politics (hence his very gruesome representation).Oh, by the way, Leo’s eye sockets were also cauterized and his tongue and lips cut off as well. Somehow or other, though, he survived another two years before finally being executed.

Note the gimlet on the right 
(I’m sparing you the actions shots out there on Google Images)

#8  Adalgott of Chur (Oct 3)

Not to be confused with Adalgott the Churl.

Our Adalgott was a monk, and actually a student of St. Bernard at the famous monastery of Clairvaux. He was also an abbot and bishop, and founded a hospital. We’re talking 12th Century Switzerland here, by the way.

Sorry, not a lot out there on him …

There is this weird picture though

#7  Ammon the Great (Oct 4)
Representation:  a man saying the rosary in bed with his wife tells me that Ammon was forced into marriage but that “he and his wife lived as brother and sister for 18 years, then each entered religious life.” So, that explains that …

After he and his wife went their separate ways, Ammon would become one of the “desert fathers,” a bunch of monks living in the Egypt desert beginning around the 3rd Century. As happened with a lot of these hermits, Ammon soon became surrounded by followers. In fact, Ammon had more than 4,000 of them! So much for solitude …

2945 Talmage St, Ammon, ID
(but thanks anyway, Google Images)

#6  Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Christ (Oct 6)

Hey, I think I took her to the sock hop at the CYO. Oh, no, that was Mary Frances O’Flanagan.

MFFWC actually started out life as Anna Maria Gallo. Born in 18th Century Naples, she escaped a forced marriage and abusive father to join the Franciscans as a tertiary (there the ones who live at home). She was a bit on the extreme side, wearing hair shirts, whipping herself, and spending her last 40 years as a recluse. She was famous for having visions and also the stigmata as well.

She has a rather unique patronage. In her home, which was turned into a shrine, there is a chair which childless mothers can sit in to help them become fertile.

Said chair

#5  Dionysius the Areopagite (Oct 3)

That Dionysius! He’s such an areopagite!

So, what exactly is an areopagite? Why, it’s a member of the council of the Areopagus, of course! So, what’s the Areopagus? Well, it’s a hill in Athens … where a bunch of judges sat.

And our guy just so happened to be one of those judges. He was converted to Christianity by St. Paul during a speech he made in front of said judges. Dionysius may also have become the first bishop of Athens. He was also definitely a martyr.

Whatever you do, though, please don’t confuse this guy with Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. That was some guy who wrote some stuff that was previously attributed to our Dio, but was then later shown not to be his at all.

I think this is actually Pseudo’s

#4  Pardulf (Oct 6)

Or, if you prefer, Pardulfus … Yup, he goes by both.

Pardulf was a French peasant, shepherd, and hermit who lived in the 7th and 8th Centuries. He would later become a monk and abbot. 

Another one a bit on the extreme side, Pardulf ate once a week, warmed himself only by the rays of the sun, and – perhaps worst of all – was a vegetarian! A bio of his, Vita Pardulfi, is an important source of knowledge of daily life in the medieval kingdom of Aquitaine.

#3  Marian Skrzypczak (Oct 5)

So, what is it with Poles and vowels? Or are they just under the delusion that Y’s, Z’s & C's are not consonants?

Marian was martyred by the Nazis during their invasion of Poland. Not much out there on him, so I had to resort to translating some pages from the Polish. From those, I found this absolutely classic mistranslation:

His father owned a drugstore, which in Janowiec [Marian’s hometown] led to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

And I thought it all started in Sarajevo

#2  Szilárd István Bogdánffy (Oct 3)

No, I did not just put both elbows on the keyboard. This is really the way this guy spells his name.

Another modern saint, Szilard was martyred by the Communists. Tortured, mistreated, and ultimately refused medical care, he would die in 1953, in his native Romania.

Previous to that, Szilard was a priest, professor, and clandestine bishop. Sounds like he also barely escaped martyrdom during WWII as well.

Perhaps to shed a little light on that rather strange name, I was able to find out that Bogdanffy was a Transylvanian Armenian. Not too surprisingly, that particular combination of words brings up only 350 results on Google.

#1  Iwi (Oct 6)

Short, sweet … and just rather odd.

And just in case that name isn’t odd enough for you, perhaps you’d like to refer to this poor devil by some of his alternate names:
  • Ivi
  • Iwig
  • Ywi
  • Iwigius

Two great stories about this English monk who lived in the 7th and 8th Centuries:
  • He took a ship without bothering to learn its destination, planning to evangelize where it landed (it was Brittany)
  • When some Breton monks later took his relics along with on a pilgrimage to England, the relics were so heavy that they couldn’t be moved (and reside in Wilton Abbey to this day)

By the way, make sure you don’t confuse our guy with acronyms for any of the following:
  • International Womens Initiative
  • Intelligent Web Interaction
  • International Water Institute
  • Israeli Weapon Industries
  • International Workshop on the Internet
  • Index of Watershed Indicators
  • International Worship Institute
  • Innovatie Wetenschappelijke Informatievoorziening

Or Independent Wrestling International, for that matter

Honorable Mention
  • Canog
  • Dubtach of Armagh
  • Crispus of Corinth
  • Erotis
  • Quarto of Capua
  • Hadrianus Takahashi Mondo
  • Crescencio García Pobo
  • Ebontius of Babastro 
  • Vasnulfo
  • Dodo

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sept 22-30

There are a few moderately well-known saints this week – Padre Pio, Ss. Cosmas and Damian, Jerome, the Archangels, Wenceslaus, and St. Vincent de Paul. That last one is actually the patron saint of my local parish. 

#10  Bernardine of Feltre (Sept 28)
Patronage: pawnbrokers

So, this is who Chumlee prays to every night?

That’s Chumlee, by the way – not Bernardine

Bernardine was a 15th Century Italian preacher. He was famous for his “bonfires of the vanities,” where people would toss in things like playing cards, dice, cosmetics, wigs, and fine clothes.

The pawnbrokers? Well, Bernardine was famous for starting a rival institution, called “mounts of piety,” which charged a lot less than the regular ones. You know, kind of like a Vatican version of Pawn Stars. 

#9  Sadalberga (Sept 22)

So, what’s with all the bergas? We’ve got Notaberga and Sexaberga … and now Sadalberga.

The story of Sadalberga is a pretty common one – young noble with religious leanings but forced to marry. She and her hubby eventually separate to live the religious life, with mom, dad, and kids all ending up as saints.

What’s really cool about Sadalberga’s story, though, is all the great medieval names involved. In addition to Sadalberga, we’ve got Blandinus, Anstrudus, Fulcrus, Gundoin, Richramn, Saretrude, Gaulbert, Waldebert, Dagobert, and Bodo.

I have absolutely no clue what this is all about
(but it was the 3rd result on Google Images for “sadlaberga”)

#8  Cleopas (Sept 25)

Wasn’t that the name of the yokel character in the Simpsons?

Nope. That was Cletus. I’m pretty sure Cletus has a cousin named Cleopas though.

Actually, are you familiar with the Road to Emmaus? That’s where the risen Jesus appeared to two of his disciples in disguise. Well, one of those disciples just so happened to be Cleopas. No one knows what the other one’s name was. I’m pretty sure it was not Cletus though.

I had no idea the Road to Emmaus was also a South Park episode

Apart from the Gospel story, Cleopas doesn’t really get much press. He may be the same person as Clopas, believed to be the brother of St. Joseph. Just to muddy the water further, he’s also referred to as Cleophas, Cleofa, Cleopatros, and Alphaeus (Alphaeus?).

#7  Gabriel (Sept 29)
Patronage: television workers

I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with Gabriel. Like the other archangels, he appears in both the Old and New Testatments (as well as the Koran!). He’s famous for being something of a heavenly messenger service, including doing such bigtime gigs as Daniel’s visions, the Annunciation, and dictating the Koran to Muhammad. 

And that may be what’s behind his association with television, as well as with:
  • Broadcasters
  • Communications workers
  • Telecommunications workers
  • Postal workers (and philatelists as well)
  • Messengers
  • Diplomats

Here he is lookin' kinda hunky

#6  Michael (Sept 29)
Patronage:  Greek Air Force

Another archangel, another weird patronage.

Once again, though, there’s some logic behind this one as well. Turns out two of Michael’s main duties include (]: 
  • Escorting the faithful to heaven at their hour of death
  • Calling men from life on Earth to their heavenly judgment

As for Michael’s other 30-some patronages, I’m not so certain. Some of the odder ones include:
  • Bakers
  • Bankers
  • Boatmen
  • Barrel makers
  • Artists
  • Ambulance drivers
  • Radiologists
  • Dying people
  • Police officers
  • Spanish police officers
  • Paratroopers
  • Knights
  • Fencers
  • Swordsmiths
  • Haberdashers
  • Greengrocers

#5  Theodota of Thrace (Sept 29)

Thuffering thucotash!

I love Theodata’s bio on

Repentant prostitute. Convert. Tortured and martyred for refusing to sacrifice to Roman idols during the persecutions of Agrippa.

Short (less than 20 words), sweet – but speaks volumes. 

By the way, Thrace is in modern-day Bulgaria.

#4  Martyrs of the Theban Legion (Sept 22)

No, these guys are not Marvel Comics characters.

What they were were a crack regiment in the Roman army. Originally from the Egyptian city of Thebes, they were all Christians. When posted to what is now France and forced to worship the pagan gods, they refused. Eventually, all 6,666 would be martyred. 

This is their leader, Maurice

By the way, “Martyrs of the Theban Legion” would also be a great name for a (heavy metal?) band.

#3  Herman the Cripple (Sept 25)

Things weren’t so PC, oh, way back in the 11th Century.

Alternate names for this guy, unfortunately, include Hermann von Reichenau (which makes him sound like some Nazi) and Herman Contractus (which just sounds weird).

Herman was actually quite the interesting fellow. Severely crippled from birth and dumped on the local abbey, he would remain there the rest of his life. He would also become a monk, compose hymns and poetry, write histories and math treatises, study astronomy, learn a number of languages, and correspond with other scholars all over Europe. He was something of the Stephen Hawking of his day, I guess.

#2  Maria Carme Fradera Ferragutcasas / Maria Magdalena Fradera Ferragutcasas / Maria Rosa Fradera Ferragutcasas (Sept 27)

Do you think they’re related?

And indeed they are. They were all sisters (i.e., nuns), who just so happened to be sisters in real life as well. Tragically, though, they all died a martyr’s death. 

Their martyrdom was not, however, hundreds of years ago. Nor was it in some faraway pagan land. In fact, they were all martyred during the Spanish Civil War, in the 1930s. 

Actually, it’s rather shocking how many martyrs there were from that particular conflict. lists over 1400.

That should be Maria Carme

#1  Coprio (Sept 24)

How are your Latin and Greek roots? Familiar with “copro”? As in “coprolite,” “coprolallia,” “coprophagia,” “coprophilia”?

Here, I’ll let explain:

Abandoned as an infant on a dungheap (Greek: koprìa) by his parents, the boy was found and rescued by monks of the nearby monastery of Saint Theodosius in Bethleham. The monks named him Coprio, and raised him as their own. He grew to become a model of holiness, living his 90 years in the monastery. Monk.

Yup, that's pretty much everything you get on Google Image for "st coprio"

Honorable Mention
  • Willigod of Moyenmoutier
  • Hilary the Hermit
  • Lupus of Lyons
  • Callistratus of Constantinople
  • Amalia Abad Casasempere de Maestre
  • Zama of Bologna
  • Mewrog
  • Fymbert
  • Purificación Ximénez y Ximénez
  • Pau Bori Puig

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sept 15-21

Nothing special going on this week. It does, however, seem to be a week dedicated to saints whose names sound way too similar and could be way too easily confused. To wit:
  • 15th – Ribert and Ritbert of Varennes
  • 16th – Abundius of Rome and Abundantius of Rome
  • 16th – Vilbetta of Maranza and Vorbetta of Maranza
  • 18th – Ferreolus the Tribune and Ferreolus of Limoges 
  • 20th – Theopistus of Rome and Theopistes of Rome 

#10  Januarius of Naples (Sept 19)
Patronage:  blood banks

As unlikely as it may sound, there’s actually a really good explanation for this one.

Januarius, also known as Gennaro, is the patron saint of Naples. Now, it just so happens that the good people of that city keep a vial of Januarius’s blood on hand in their cathedral. Further, they take it out three times a year. And every time they take it out, the blood liquefies and bubbles.

“So, whaddya think?”

Januarius himself was a bishop and a martyr, succumbing during the Persecutions of Diocletian. Nietzsche, of all people, once wrote a poem about him.

#9  Matthew (Sept 21)
Patronage:  stockbrokers

Well, I guess even guys like Gordon Gecko need a patron.  (Actually, they probably need patrons more than most people.)

Yes, this is indeed Matthew the Apostle (and evangelist). Pretty famous guy.

The stockbroker bit comes from Mathew’s having been a tax collector. As you can imagine, they weren’t any more popular than they were now.  Matthew is also patron saint of other financial types like accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, customs officials, money managers, and even security guards. I understand that there is no truth to the rumor that he is patron saint of the IRS. 

#8  Socrates (Sept 17)

No, not that Socrates. 

It is hard to imagine that someone else would go by that name, but that has actually been a pretty popular name for Greeks over the centuries.

Our Socrates was a soldier in the 2nd Century, in what is now modern-day Turkey (in the Roman province of Pamphylia, to be exact). He was on hand when St. Theodore, who had been conscripted, refused to worship the pagan idols as part of his indcution ceremony.

Poor Ted was stuck on a red-hot plate, dowsed with liquid tar, and dragged through the streets by horses. None of these tortures, however, had any affect.

And that impressed Socrates enough that he himself became a believer. Socrates then went through similar tortures, with similar disappointing results. Like Theodore, he would finally be beheaded, thus earning his own martyr’s crown.

Socrates Restaurant, St. Albert, Canada
(Hey, thanks, Google Images!)

#7  Hildegard von Bingen (Sept 17)

Hard to believe that a saint with such an odd name is actually pretty high profile.

Hildegard was actually something of a medieval Renaissance man (er, woman). And, no, that is not a contradiction in terms.

Hildy was an abbess, writer, artist, composer, architect, philosopher, theologian, mystic, and early scientist. Some people even credit her with inventing opera. In 2012, Benedict XVI made her a Doctor of the Church.

Hildegard lived in the 12th Century, in what is now Germany. Something of a controversial figure, she was only canonized in 2012. She is often seen as something of a proto-feminist figure.

No, Hildy is not on fire
She’s just receiving a vision 
(as interpreted by some medieval artist)

#6  Joseph of Cupertino (Sept 18)
Patronage:  astronauts

Once again, this rather wild patronage actually has a pretty good explanation.

Turns out Joseph was able to levitate. As a result, he’s patron of, not only astronauts, but a number of other high-flying folk as well:
  • Air crews
  • Air Forces
  • Air travellers
  • Pilots
  • Paratroopers

Joe lived in the 1600s and was a Franciscan monk. Cupertino is in Apulia, by the way, in the heel of the Italian boot. And, yes, that is indeed how the town where Apple is headquartered got its name.

#5  Mary de Cerevellon (Sept 19)
Patronage:  Spanish sailors

Hmm, don’t you think those Spanish marines are going to get jealous? I looked and I looked, and I couldn’t find a patron saint for them.

Mary lived in 13th Century Spain, where she started an order, the female branch of the Mercedarians.

As for the patronage, I had to do a little conjecturing, but it probably goes something like this ...  Turns out Mary was particularly devoted to Christian slaves. Back then, Christians were often enslaved as galley crews in the Mediterranean, at that time something of a Muslim lake. Mary’s from Spain, so … there you have it.

She’s usually represented “carrying a ship”

#4  Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski (Sept 17)
Patronage: Scrabble players

Okay, I made that one up. Zygmunt’s not patron saint of anything, as far as I could tell.

He would make a good one though. In fact, he’s something of a national figure in Poland. He figured prominently in independence movements during the 19th Century – when Poland was ruled by Russia and Zygmunt was Archbishop of Warsaw. He would later get exiled for his efforts, but also canonized in 2009 as well.

"Hi, folks!"

#3  Cornelius (Sept 16)
Patronage:  twitching

Cornelius was actually quite the busy guy. In addition to twitching, you can also call on him relative to:
  • Epilepsy
  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Domestic animals
  • Cattle
The last two probably have to do with his name – it means “horn.” The first three? You got me.

I can’t tell if he’s smoking a pipe or “brandishing” a horn

Cornelius was pope back when that was not such a good thing. When he served (in the 3rd Century), being pope was akin to having a big, red target on your back. Sure enough, Cornelius served all of two years, and was then exiled and martyred.

#2  Mirin of Bangor (Paisley) (Sept 15)
Patronage:  Paisley

No, not that paisley. 

Wrong paisley!

Paisley the fabric is actually named after Paisley, a city in Scotland where it was first made. This burg of 80,000 is located just west of Glasgow. Its patron saint is Mirin.

Mirin lived in the 500s and 600s. Born in Ireland, he came to Scotland as a missionary, founded an abbey in Paisley, and became its first abbot. His shrine was something of a major pilgrimage site as well.

Paisley (the town) remembered Mirin by naming the local soccer team after him. St. Mirren FC, is in the Scottish Premier League, the highest level of soccer in Scotland. Not too surprisingly, they are known as the Saints (but also as the Buddies?!?!).

#1  Mercedarian Martyrs of Morocco (Sept 15)

Man, oh man! That’s marvelous! Mucho miraculous! Molto mind-messing!

These guys were part of a religious order (the Mercedarians) who were captured by Muslims during the 13th Century. They were hauled back to Morocco, where they were enslaved. That didn’t stop them from preaching however (or getting martyred for that preaching).

By name, they are John, James, Francis, Sancho, Dionisio, and Ildefonso.

Honorable Mention
  • Brogan of Ross Tuirc
  • María de La Encarnación de La Yglesia de Varo
  • Eumenius Thaumaturgus
  • Evilasius of Cyzicum
  • Hygbald
  • Agathoclia
  • Pomposa
  • Nicetas the Goth
  • Flocellus
  • Rodingus
  • Quadrato of Magnesia