Sunday, March 13, 2016

March 15-21

Pretty big week. We’ve got St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary (and patron saint of confectioners to boot) and St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland (and also against ophidiophobia – look it up!).

#10  Herbert of Derwentwater (Mar 20)

I always get this guy confused with Derwent of Herbertwater.

Hard to believe, but Derwentwater is an actual place. In fact, the author has been there. It’s one of the lakes in England’s beautiful Lake District.

Herbert lived on an island in the lake, now called St. Herbert’s Island. To survive, he caught fish from the lake and grew vegetables around his tiny cell. 

Pretty, init?

As you may well know, the Lake District is famous for its poets and writers. Not surprisingly, Wordsworth wrote a poem about Herbert ("For the Spot Where the Hermitage Stood on St. Herbert's Island, Derwentwater"). And Beatrix Potter modeled Owl Island on St. Herbert’s.

Interestingly, Herbert was BFF with #1 for this week, St. Cuthbert.

#9  Narcissus of Girona (Mar 18)
Representation:  against mosquitoes

Think of Narcissus of Gerona as kind of a saintly bug-zapper …

Gerona is in Spain, and is where Narcissus was born. It’s also helpful in distinguishing him from Narcissi of Athens and Jerusalem. Our Narcissus would later move to Germany, where he would try to convert the pagan Germans. 

Okay, about the mosquitoes … Turns out one of Narcissus’s miracles was called the Miracle of the Flies, which goes something like this:

In 1286 the army of Philip II of Burgundy laid siege to the city of Gerona. When the troops tried to desecrate the tomb of Saint Narcissus, it broke open, a cloud of stinging flies emerged, chased the soldiers and caused so much havoc that the French troops fled, leaving the city in peace.  (

#8  Gertrude of Nivelle (Mar 17)
Representation:  against fear of mice

Interestingly, has separate saints against fear of mice (Gertrude) and also just against mice:
  • Nicasius of Rheims
  • Servatus of Tongres
  • Ulric of Augsburg

So, I guess you’ve just got to think about it a little. Do you want to just get rid of the darn things? Or do you want to take a little time and work on your mice issues? 

Gertrude is actually quite the active patroness. Here’s the official list:
  • against fear of mice
  • against fear of rats
  • against fever
  • against insanity
  • against mental disorders
  • against mental illness
  • against mice
  • against rats
  • against suriphobia
  • cats
  • for accommodations
  • gardeners
  • hospitals
  • innkeepers
  • mentally ill people
  • pilgrims
  • poor people
  • prisoners
  • recently dead people
  • sick people
  • suriphobics
  • to obtain lodging while travelling
  • travelers
  • widows

I don’t have room to explain all of these here, so let me at least share the story behind the mice:

Offerings of gold and silver mice were left at her shrine in Cologne, Germany; mice represented souls in Purgatory, to whom she had a great devotion.  

#7  Aristobulos of Britannia  (Mar 15)

Rule Aristobulos, Aristobulos rules the waves … 

Aristobulos was the first bishop in Roman Britain and is generally recognized as the founder of Christianity there. He was also one of the Seventy Disciples, actual students of Jesus who He sent out into the world. Ari is also supposedly the brother of the apostle Barnabas and one of St. Paul’s travelling buddies as well. Finally, he married no less a celeb than Salome, the babe who danced for John the Baptist’s head. In other words, Aristobulos was quite the happenin’ guy.

#6  Serapion the Scholastic (Mar 21)

Not to be confused with Scholastic the Serapion …

Well, we all know what a “scholastic” is. Serapion’s not a name you hear every day though.

It actually means “bright,” or “solar,” and was quite a popular name … in, oh, 4th Century Egypt, say. Other Serapions include several additional saints, some early physicians, a couple of philosophers, and other assorted ancients.

Our Serapion was a monk, bishop (of the oddly but correctly spelled Thmuis), and writer. It sounds like he used his scholarly skills in a constant battle against Arianism, Manichaeism, and Macedonianism.

He’s also the subject of a cool painting by the Baroque Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran

Our guy is also known as Serapion of Arsinoc. Now, if only that had been Serapion the Arsinoc, or Serapion the Scholastic Arsonic, or …

#5  Abban of Kill-Abban (Mar 16)

No, this one has nothing to do with suicide. “Kill-Abban” basically means “church of Abban.” So, what we’ve got here then is something along the lines of Abban of Abban’s Church. Tad circular, if you ask me.

Abban was a contemporary of St. Patrick. He founded an abbey, a convent, and a number of churches. 

He also supposedly lived for 300 years, raised a cow from the dead, lit a candle with his breath, slew a dragon with the sign of the cross, and all sorts of other things saints don’t get up to so much these days.

It’s the first result on Google Images, but somehow I don’t think it has to do with him

Abban was also a man of many names, including:
  • Abban of Magheranoidhe
  • Abban of Murneave
  • Abban of Murnevin
  • Abbán moccu Corbmaic
  • Eibbán
  • Moabba

Speaking of names, Abban also had a sister with the lovely, lilting name of Gobnait (her feast day is Feb. 11).

#4  Anselm of Lucca, the Younger  (Mar 18)
Representation:  man standing in front of an army that is in confusion

And, yes, there is an Anselm of Lucca, the Elder. The latter would become a pope but, alas, not a saint.

Our Anselm was a 10th Century bishop, monk, and author. He was also involved in something called the Investiture Controversy (which actually kinda sounds like a Dan Brown novel)

As for his representation, it seems his prayers once routed the army of the evil Matilda of Tuscany. Unfortunately, I could not find any of those. In fact, I found plenty of pix of the much more well-known St. Anselm of Canterbury and also of the city of Lucca, but next to nothing for our Anselm .  

#3  Frigidian of Lucca (Mar 18)

Patron saint of refrigerator repairmen?

Hmm … probably not. In fact, the name may have nothing to do with the Latin word for “cold” (though that is one theory). Other theories include a derivation from a Germanic word for “peace,” frid, as well as its being a Latinate version of the Irish name Finbarr.

In support of the Germanic theory, some alternate spellings of the name include Fridianus and Frediano. As for the Irish hypothesis, the guy was originally from the Emerald Isle.

Probably not the same guy (but thanks anyway, Google Images)

Further bio material tells us that the Fridge (my nickname for him) may have been a prince. We also know that he would later move to Italy (hence the Lucca), where he would become a hermit and a bishop. We’re talking the 6th Century here.

#2  Edward the Martyr (Mar 18)
Representation:  king on horseback, drinking mead, while assassins move toward him

… light clouds, temperature in the 70s, medium to high humidity …

Pretty major dude here. First of all, he was a king of England. He was also quite a popular saint during the Middle Ages. 

As for the representation … Yup, that’s pretty much how it happened. Turns out Edward, who was only 17, was simply an innocent victim of the dynastic machinations of Anglo-Saxon England. 

By the way, don’t get this guy confused with Edward the Confessor, another saint and English king (but not a martyr).

Martyr on the left, Confessor on the right

#1  Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (Mar 20)
Representation:  man rebuking crows

“So, you call yourselves crows? Why, you’re not crows! I’ve seen better crows in …”

Cuthbert continues our English theme. He was, in fact, BFF with #10 on this list, Herbert of Derwentwater. Cuthbert is actually pretty much the patron saint for the north of England. I actually have ancestors (recusant Catholics) who went by this name. Glad no one gave it to me though.

Cuthbert was a monk, bishop, and miracle worker. He was active during the 7th Century.

He’s also a character, known as “Cuthbert the Cudgel,” in Dungeons & Dragons

I’m not totally sure where the crows come from. I do know that this guy was a man of many representations, including:
  • Eagles
  • Bishop accompanied by swans and otters
  • Bishop holding the crowned head of Saint Oswald
  • Hermit with tau staff being fed by an eagle
  • Incorrupt body being found with a chalice on his breast
  • Man praying by the sea
  • Man rebuilding a hut and driving out devils
  • Man tended by eagles
  • Man tended by swans
  • Man tended by sea otters
  • Man with a Benedictine monk kissing his feet
  • Man with pillars of light above him

Honorable Mention
  • Egbert of Ripon
  • Urbitius of Metz
  • Withburga of Dereham
  • Eucarpius of Nicomedia
  • Amantius of Wintershoven 
  • Francis of Fermo
  • Lactali of Freshford 
  • Corbasius of Quimperle 
  • Speciosus 
  • Cyril of Syria

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