Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22 - 31

Some pretty big hitters this week. We’ve all heard of Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis de Sales. You may also have run across Angela Merici, John Bosco, and Timothy and Titus before as well. Yup, it’s a big week.

At the same time, though, we’ve also got Adelelmus, Dwynwen, Eudoxia of Canope, Tortgith of Barking, Projectus, and Poppo. Did I ever mention that there are a heck of a lot of saints out there?

#10  Ladislao Batthy√°ny-Strattmann (Jan 22)

Otherwise known as St. Quite-a-Mouthful.

Ladislao is one of those rare saints (he’s actually only a Blessed) who is not only a layman, but married as well. Sounds like he and his wife did follow the precepts of Natural Family Planning however – they had 13 kids!

Ladislao is probably best known as a doctor. He was a renowned opthamologist and opened his own clinic, where he treated everyone no matter of their ability to pay. 

Ladislao also so happened to be a real honest-to-goodness prince. 

Also, he had a really big head

#9  Angela Merici (Jan 27)
Representation:  tall ladder with young women climbing it

So, yeah, I can picture it in my mind. That said, though, I’m not sure I totally get it.

St. Angela Merici was the foundress of the Ursulines, an order dedicated to the teaching of girls and young women.  She also made a trip to the Holy Land, where she first lost and then recovered her vision. We’re talking 15th and 16th Century Italy here.

Oh, her representation?  It was just a vision she had. You can read all about it right here.

#8  Adelelmus (Jan 30)

Go ahead, say it three times fast.  

So, not only does this guy have the great name, but he also just so happens to be the patron saint of butlers. In fact, he’s the only one they have.

Adelelmus did indeed start life out as a manservant. He then, however, became a soldier. And, finally, on a pilgrimage to Rome, he became a Benedictine monk. Maybe he should be the patron saint of job hoppers as well.

Hard to believe, but there are actually two saints named Adelelmus out there. Ours is the guy “from Burgos” (in Spain) The other dude is “from Flanders.” Don’t mix ‘em up, ‘kay!

Actually, Google, I did not mean “adele music”

#7  Julian of Cuenca (Jan 28)
Patronage:  basket makers

I don’t know why, but basket weaving has always been the butt of many jokes. It’s the class that the lazy or stupid always take. It’s the merit badge that’s the easiest one to take at Scout camp. It’s what they stereotypically give you as occupational therapy at the local loony bin. It just doesn’t get any respect.

That said, it actually was an important job at one point … oh, back in the 12th Century or so. You know, back when ol’ Julian of Cuenca was doing his thing.

“Is it knit one, purl two; or knit two, purl one
… or purl two, knit two; or …?”

Yup, Julian wove his fair share of baskets in his day. A professor and bishop, he actually did basket-weaving as something of a hobby, and largely to raise money for the poor.

Cuenca? It’s in Spain.

#6  Thomas Aquinas (Jan 28)
Patronage:  pencil makers

Pretty well-known guy.  I’ll bet you never associated that pencil you have in your hand with him though, did you?

Interestingly, the rest of his patronage is typically associated with more serious, much loftier things – like learning, and academics, and colleges, and philosophers. 

I also particularly like some of this guy’s nicknames. You may have heard him called the Angelic Doctor before. Bet you didn’t know, though, that he’s also known as the Dumb Ox?!?!

Anyway, he is arguably the most influential and famous philosopher and theologian the Church ever produced.

Not much of a looker though, I’m afraid

#5  Aquilinus of Milan (Jan 29)
Representation:  man with a sword through his neck

Do you mean dead man with a sword through his neck? I certainly hope so, ‘cause, otherwise, this is just kinda creepy.

So, you’re probably wondering how Aquilinus got that particular sword in that particular place, no? Well, turns out he was assassinated in just that manner by some Cathar, Manichaean, or Arian, around the year 650. Seems Aquilinus was raising quite a fuss preaching against these various heretics, and it sounds like one of them did not take too kindly to that.

He’s also known as Aquilinus of Cologne. Cologne is where he went to school; Milan is where he was martyred.

Ah, geez!

#4  Dwynwen (Jan 25)

Hmm, I had a Scrabble rack like this once …

So, first of all, Dwynwen was a girl. In fact, she’s the patron saint of Welsh lovers … er, I mean the Welsh patron saint of lovers … um, the patron saint of lovers in Wales. Yup, that last one.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes her legend:

In the 5th Century, Dwynwen fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill [Dafodrill?!?!]. Maelon returned her feelings but for an undetermined reason, they could not be together. Three hypotheses are that a) Maelon raped Dwynwen despite her wish to remain celibate until after marriage, b) her father forbade the marriage, or c) her father had already promised her to someone else. Dwynwen, distraught by her love for Maelon, prays to fall out of love with him.

After falling asleep, or possibly while still awake in a woods she had run to in her distress, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. First she wished that Maelon be thawed, second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers and third that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God's service for the rest of her life

Her feast day, Dydd Santes Dwynwen, is the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine’s Day. 

Hapus to you!

#3  Constantly (Jan 28)

Weird, but you must admit it’s a little better than St. Unceasingly, or the Blessed Relentlessly, or St. Incessantly the Greater.

Not a lot on this saint, so let me just share her complete bio from

Daughter of Constantine the Great. Healed of an unnamed mortal illness at the tomb of Saint Agnes of Rome, she converted to Christianity. Lived the rest of her life near the tomb with a group of like-minded women that today would be nuns.

#2  Lufthild (Jan 23)
Patronage:  Hoboes

Hey, even chronically unemployable, mentally unstable substance abusers need some protection, right? Actually … they probably need a lot of protection, don’t they?

Once again, we’re dealing with a female here. And, once again, we’ve got a pretty skinny bio, so let me again just quote the whole thing (and from the same source):

Abused by a jealous step-mother for her kindness to the poor, Lufthild left home young to live as an often-homeless hermit in and around Cologne, Germany.

That’s either a torch or a turkey leg

#1  Poppo (Jan 25)

Good name for a clown. Bad name for a saint.

Though originally a knight, Poppo had a vision that caused him to renounce the world and become a monk. He would go on to become a prior and abbot, as well as something of a real reformer. That said, offers him this rather uncharacteristically backhanded compliment:

He practiced severe personal asceticism, cared nothing for literature, and lacked organization, but managed to bring order and devotion to his houses, earning the love of his brothers and the laity

Poppo was also known as Pappan, Poppone, Poppo the Abbot, and Poppo of Stavelot. I think I like that last one best.

See what I mean!

Honorable Mention
  • Tudclyd
  • Anicet Hryciuk
  • Maimbod
  • Blath of Kildare
  • Zoticus of Alexandria
  • Zama of Bologna
  • Publius of Zeugma
  • Eudoxia of Canope
  • Tortgith of Barking
  • Projectus

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 15-21

This week has several somewhat well-known saints, including Agnes, Sebastian, and one of the many Anthonies. In fact, we’ll be learning much more about those last two right here in this post.

#10  Maria Cristina dell’Immacolata Concezione (Jan 20)

That’s a pretty long name for someone who started out as the much more basic Adelaide Brando.

Name aside, MCDIC was actually a simple nun who lived in the 19th Century, in Italy. She was also a foundress, of the equally lengthily named Congregation of the Sisters, Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. 

Oops, wrong Brando!

Actually, founding a new religious order is a pretty safe way to become a saint. There are a surprising number of saints out there who did just that. 

Who knows? Might work for us folks too.  Tell you what … Give it a shot and let me know what happens, alright?

#9  Sebastian (Jan 20)
Patronage:  diseased cattle, hardware stores, racquet makers, etc., etc.

You may have heard of this dude before. He’s pretty famous for his representation – a young, good-looking guy, barely clothed, tied to a tree, and shot full of arrows. 

Not surprisingly, he’s a popular subject for painters and sculptors. In fact, the artists who have done Sebastian include such heavies as Botticelli, Perugino, Titian, Bellini, El Greco, Rubens, Daumier, Dali, John Singer Sargent and Damien Hirst.

Interestingly, though, that’s not actually the way he was martyred. After being made a human pin cushion, he miraculously survived, and was then rescued by St. Irene. He would recover, but later be clubbed to death. Man, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
He’s also the patron saint of athletes

#8  Anthony the Abbott (Jan 17)
Patronage: basket weavers, gravediggers, pigs, etc., etc.

Anthony the Abbott is another big hitter. In fact, he’s also known as Anthony the Great … as well as Anthony of the Desert and Anthony of Egypt (bet you didn’t know they got deserts there, huh?).

He was also famous for being tempted by devils

He is also known as the Father of All Monks, which is quite fitting, as he was pretty much the one who got this whole monk thing going. Seems Anthony started out as a hermit, but was so holy that many other would-be hermits joined him. He tried to chase them away, or move further out into the desert, but still they persisted. Man, what’s a poor anchorite to do, huh?

#7  Fechin of Fobhar (Jan 20)

I have no idea how this is actually pronounced. It does sound like it might be vaguely impolite, though, so please be careful.

My spell check, interestingly, wants me to change the name to Fetching of Foghorn. Fechin itself may mean “little raven.” Wikipedia tells me that he also went by the name of Mo-Ecca, which means “backslider” … but which sounds like something out of Star Wars. Just to make things even more confusing, he’s known in Scotland as Vigeans.

Of royal blood, Fechin was born in the 600s, in Ireland. He lived as a hermit and a monk, and founded numerous monasteries. He died of the plague.

#6  Honoratus of Arles (Jan 16)
Patronage:  for & against rain

Well, I guess we’ve got our bases covered then, don’t we?

The life of this saint is surprisingly similar to that of Anthony. A would-be hermit, Honoratus was so saintly that he too was forced to create a monastery for his many followers. 

Unlike Anthony, though, Honoratus decided to do that in the south of France. Hey, rough!

#5  Ephysius of Sardinia (Jan 15)
Representation:  young man in an oven

Please tell me this guy is not the patron saint of bakers. Whew, we’re safe!

Ephysius is the patron saint of both Pisa and Sardinia. Turns out he was a soldier sent to the island to suppress Christians there. He converted instead, and was later beheaded for doing so. 

Thirteen centuries later, he was invoked by the citizens of Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, to overcome a breakout of plague there. His intercession was successful, and Cagliari celebrates a huge feast in his honor to this day.

Pisa? Seems they simply stole his relics, where they lie to this day. 

Young man in an oven? Haven’t a clue.

#4  Pope Marcellus I (Jan 16)
Patronage:  stablemen

The Stablemen – weren’t they one of those British Invasion groups? You know, early ‘60s … I think they were from London … Ferry Across the Thames?

Marcellus was pope around the time of Ephysius’s death. Things were a little more upbeat for Marcellus though, and he’s mostly known for reorganizing the church and getting things back on an even keel after the persecutions of Diocletian. That said, things were also a bit of a mess, and Marcellus would end up dying in exile.

The stablemen? An alternate pious legend has Marcellus, not only exiled, but condemned to looking after the horses at a public way station.  As a result, he is typically portrayed as:

  • A pope with a donkey or horse nearby
  • A pope standing in a stable

#3  Meinrad of Einsiedeln (Jan 21)
Representation:  dead monk with ravens pursuing his murderers

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

Yup, Meinrad was indeed murdered. The murderers were two thieves who were after the loot that pious pilgrims had left at Meinrad’s hermitage (einsiedeln means”hermitage” in German). The crows are just part of his “pious legend.”

Holy medals usually don’t cost that much

In addition to the above representation, we’ve also got Meinrad down for:

  • Dead monk with two ravens near him
  • Monk being beaten to death with clubs by two men
  • Monk eating fish with a widow
  • Monk holding a club and ciborium (a covered cup holding hosts for communion)
  • Monk with a tau (looks like a T) staff walking into the wilderness

Meinrad is also known as the Martyr of Hospitality.

#2  Gamelbert of Michaelsbuch (Jan 17)

I don’t know about you, but I always get this guy confused with Gamelbuch of Michaelsbert.

This guy is actually the Blessed Gamelbert of Michaelsbuch (that’s one step down from actual sainthood, by the way). He was a parish priest in a small German town for over 50 years during the 700s. He also founded a Benedictine abbey on some land he owned. His typical representation is of a pilgrim surrounded by birds.

Gamelbuch of Michaelsbert?  I have no idea.


#1  Contentius (Jan 19)

Also known as Contentius the Agreeable 

… NOT!

For this one, I will simply repeat his bio from

Bishop of Bayeux, Normandy, France, from 480 until his death. He was so zealous in his preaching the proper way to live that he angered many powerful local people, and occasionally had to withdraw to live as a hermit for his own safety.

No, really, I do know how to spell

Honorable Mention *

  • Isadore the Egyptian
  • Teath
  • Otto of Morrocco
  • Mildgytha
  • Marie de la Dive Veuve du Vernier de la Sorini√®re
  • Branwallader of Jersey
  • Wulstan of Worcester
  • Franciscus Bang
  • Fructuosous of Tarragona
  • Gunthildis of Biblisheim
  • Lawdog
  • Vimin of Holywood (probably my all-time favorite)

* The names were just so good this week, I had to go with a full dozen.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

January 8-14

It’s been a quiet week in the Catholic liturgical calendar. We do have the Baptism of the Lord. Other than that, though, there really aren’t any super big saints or celebrations.

#10  Hilary of Poitiers (Jan 13)
Patronage: backward children

Just to show there’s a patron saint for everyone.

So, first off, Hilary was a guy. He was a convert and bishop, living in France during the 300s.  In addition to looking out for backward children, Hilary will also help you with issues relating to rheumatism, snakebite, motherhood, and sickness in general. 

Oops, wrong Hilary!

Hilary is also a “doctor of the church.” These guys (and gals) are particularly good at theology and elucidating and defending church doctrine. Others include Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and Catherine of Siena. It’s quite an honor.

#9  Saint Arcadius of Mauretania (Jan 12)
Representation: man with his limbs chopped off

You probably remember this guy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, right?

Sorry. Well, we all know that martyrs can suffer some terrible fates. This one sounds pretty bad indeed. 

Apart from his grisly martyrdom, though, we don’t really know that much about Arcadius. 300s, modern day Algeria, rich patrician, closet Christian … that’s about it. 

#8  Felix of Nola (Jan 14)
Representation: young priest with a spider

Now, why this guy isn’t the patron saint of arachnophobes is completely beyond me.

The spider comes from a “pious legend.” Turns out Felix once took shelter from some Roman soldiers in a vacant building. A devout spider helped him out by spinning a cobweb in front of the door. When the soldiers saw the web, they figured no one could be in there, and moved on.

Recipe right here

By the way, Nola is not in Louisiana. It’s a little town near Naples, in Italy. Also, would you believe there’s a second St. Felix of Nola? His feast day is Nov. 15. 

#7  Thecla of Lentini (Jan 10)

Apart from her odd name, we really don’t know a whole lot about poor Thecla. We do know she was a “consecrated virgin,” lived in the 200s, and was related to the interestingly named Saints Neofyta and Neofytus. Oh, almost forgot … Lentini is in Sicily.

#6  Anna of the Angels Monteagudo (Jan 10)

Now, there’s a mouthful. 

Anna is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, she is not a saint, but a Blessed. That’s one step down from being a saint, but one step up from being a Venerable. Yup, almost all saints have a three-step process to go through. How do you get from one to the other? Miracles!

Second, Anna is from the New World – in particular, from Peru. As you can imagine, there are a lot more saints from the Old World than the New. But, heck, they had an extra 1500 years to come up with them, didn’t they? 

Anna was a Dominican nun, wearing the habit for almost 70 years and making Prioress before she retired. She lived in the 17th Century.

#5  Kentigern of Glasgow  (Jan 13)
Patronage: salmon

I’m not sure how many pious salmon there are out there. St. Kentigern’s definitely got you covered, though, guys.

Sounds like we’ve got a special extra bonus with this guy – he also so happens to be known as St. Mungo. In fact, lists no less than 14 names for this dude, including:
  • Kentigern Garthwys
  • Cantigernus.
  • Chentingerno
  • Cyndeyrn
  • Mahoe
  • Mochaoi

Kentigern / Mungo / whatever is the founder and patron saint of Glasgow.

Yup, that’s him up at the top

#4  Theodosius the Cenobiarch  (Jan 11)

“Cenobiarch” sounds vaguely scandalous (“I’d stay away from Theodosius, if I were you. I understand he’s a cenobiarch!”). It’s really, though just a fancy way of saying “monk.”

Theodosius is a surprisingly popular name – at least saint-wise. In fact, there happen to be no less than six other Theodosiusses … Theodosii … whatever out there. There’s a plain vanilla one (also called The Great); others from Rome, Auxerre, Antioch, and Vaison; as well as one who happened to be a Soldier. It means “giving to God,” by the way.

Our Theodosius lived in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), around the year 500. Oh, yeah, almost forgot … he was a monk!

From an early comic book, as far as I can tell

#3  Appolonaris the Apologist  (Jan 8)

Astonishingly awesome alliteration.

Appolonaris was a bishop in the 2nd Century. He was famous for his writings – including two “against the Jews” and five “against the pagans."  

“Alright, already.  I said I’m sorry.”

And that last fact explains this guy’s rather interesting moniker. Apologetics is the branch of theology that focuses on “reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.” So, someone who engages in apologetics is known as an “apologist.” It has nothing whatsoever to do with leaving the toilet seat up, I assure you.

#2  Pega of Peakirk (Jan 8)

Even more so.

Pega was a hermitess, hanging out in the English fens (a marshy area on the east coast) around the year 700. Her only neighbor was her brother Gurlach, who had also renounced the world. She later moved to Lancashire, where the site of her hermitage is now an Anglican convent. 

Pega is actually a nickname for Margaret. It’s where “Peggy” comes from. Our Pega was also known as “Pee,” “Pea,” “Pegue,” and “Pegia.”

#1  Erhard of Regensburg  (Jan 8)
Representation: bishop with a book on which sit two eyes

Holy optokinetic nystagmus!  I hope these things aren’t Erhard’s.

Thankfully, they’re not. They probably represent his curing St. Odilia of Alsace of her blindness. It’s an odd way to represent that, but – what the heck – it just might work.

Dr. Erhard Strohm, Univ. of Regensburg
(Thanks for nothing, Google Images!)

Nor surprisingly, Erhard is the patron saint of people suffering from eye problems. More surprisingly, his patronage also extends to:
  • Bakers
  • Blacksmiths
  • Cattle
  • Cobblers
  • Hospitals
  • Miners
  • Shoemakers

Honorable Mention
  • Petrus Donders
  • Gumesindus of Cordoba 
  • Enogatus of Aleth
  • Elian ap Erbin
  • Tipasio of Tigava
  • Stratonicus
  • Caroticus
  • Glaphyra
  • Michael of Klopsk
  • Theodora of Cora

Friday, January 1, 2016

January 1-7

The first week of the year includes a couple of biggies. New Year’s Day is the feast day of Mary the Mother of God, a holy day of obligation (for you non-Catholics out there, that means ya gots to go to church). It also includes the feast of the Epiphany – AKA the Feast of the Magi, or the Three Wise Men.

#10  Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar  (Jan. 6)
Patronage: playing card manufacturers

Yup, it’s the Three Wise Guys. Other than their names, their gifts, and that they were coming from the East and were really smart, we really don’t know that much about them. Caspar is, however, typically portrayed as being Black. 

In addition to playing card manufacturers, patronage for the three also includes epilepsy sufferers, motorists, and sawyers (i.e., people who saw wood). Who woulda thunk it?

#9  Raymond of Penyafort  (Jan. 7)
Patronage: medical record librarians

Well, that’s a little particular, isn’t it? Other occupations under Raymond’s patronage, though, include attorneys, barristers, and lawyers (hey, aren’t those all the same thing?). 

St. Raymond was head of the Dominicans in the 13th Century and also codified a fair amount of church law. He lived to be 100. A fairly well-known saint, he has his own line of medals and such like.

#8  Macra of Rheims  (Jan. 6)
Representation: shears with which her breasts were cut off

Now, I realize half of the saints were martyrs, and usually become martyrs in some rather gruesome ways. That said …

We actually don’t know much about poor Macra other than the particularly grisly way she died. Oh, we are talking a pretty long time ago – 287, to be exact.

I’ll spare you any pix.

#7  Gerlach of Valkenburg  (Jan. 5)

Gerlach is here for the awesome name, but also because of his patronage (against cattle disease) and for his representation (man living in a hollow tree) as well. It’s pretty much a saintly trifecta!

Interestingly, there are a surprising number of patron saints for sick cows out there. In addition to Gerlach, we’ve also got:
  • Amand of Maastricht
  • Beuno Gasulsych
  • Charalampias
  • Erhard of Regensburg
  • Roch
  • Sebastian
Valkenburg is in the Netherlands, by the way.

#6  Dafrosa of Acquapendente  (Jan 4)

Another martyr from the early days, Dafrosa also made saintliness something of a family business. Her husband Flavian and daughters Bibiana and Demetria were saints as well. 

Now, Dafrosa was decapitated. Bibiana was committed to a madhouse, then flogged to death. Flavian died of unspecified “torture and abuse.” Demetria was the lucky one, dropping dead before they could actually do anything to her.

Acquapendente is in central Italy. It means “hanging water” (i.e., “waterfall”).

#5  Macarius the Younger  (Jan. 2)

Like Gerlach, Macarius has some great patronage (pastry chefs) as well as a very interesting representation (flies stinging a desert hermit). 

Macarius was a bit on the extreme side, I’m afraid – avoiding eating, drinking, sleeping, and sitting down. He also liked to punish himself by having insects bite him all over (hence the interesting representation). 

And, yes, there is a St. Macarius the Elder (January 15)

#4 Fulgentius of Ruspe  (Jan. 1)

So, not only is your name the pretty risible Fulgentius, but you also so happen to be from some place with the rather odd name of Ruspe (pronounced “ruspy,” I’m assuming). I feel for you, dude.

St. Fulgentius was a monk (and short-term bishop) who spent a good deal of the 400s and 500s wandering around the Mediterranean, arguing with or fleeing from Monophysites, Arians, Vandals, Moors, and Semipelagians. Ruspe is actually in North Africa, in modern Tunisia.

#3 Fintan of Doon  (Jan. 3)

Sounds like a character from some video game. 

The real St. Fintan lived quite a long time ago (in the 6th Century, to be exact), in Ireland. As with most saints from so far back, there are no shortage of “pious legends” surrounding him. According to these, Fintan sank pirate ships with storms, fed lepers with corn grown in a single day, and lived to be 260. 

It’s kind of hard to believe, but there are actually two other Fintans, one from Clonenagh and one from Taghmon. By the way, Fintan had a brother with the wonderful name of Finlug. 

#2  Aspasius of Auch  (Jan. 2)

I particularly like the alliteration on this one. Auch is in France, by the by. I actually have no idea how it’s pronounced. We’re talking the 6th Century again. This guy was a bishop. Sorry, not much else out there on him.

Not sure which one is him

#1  Odino of Rot  (Jan. 2)

So, not only is your name the rather odd Odino, but you also so happened to be from some place with the incredible name of Rot. I really feel for you, man.

Now, your first question is probably, “Where the heck is Rot?” And my answer to you is, “It’s in Germany.” I’m guessing your second question is, “Who the heck names their kid ‘Odino’”?  And my answer is, “It’s a nickname for Otto.” You probably don’t even have a third question.

Monk, 1100s, Germany … and that’s about it for Odino.

Odino I, Odino II
(thanks, Google Images)

Honorable Mention
  • Brannock of Braunton
  • Cronan Beg
  • Demetrius of Philadelphia
  • Theopemptus of Nicomedia
  • Mark the Mute
  • Cyrinus of Cyzicus
  • Aedh Dubh
  • Cywyllog ferch Caw
  • Blidulf of Bobbio
  • Blitmund of Bobbio