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 Sorinière
  • 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.

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