Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 1-7

This week includes the end of the Octave of Easter (the eight days from Easter to the Sunday after Easter), the Feast of Divine Mercy (also on the Sunday after Easter), and April Fool’s Day (actually not on the liturgical calendar).

#10  Edward Oldcorne (Apr 3)

Edward is actually a Blessed. That’s one step down from sainthood. 

It’s also a common title for English Catholic martyrs from the days when England teetered between being Catholic and being Protestant. I’m really not sure why so few of them never make it to sainthood. It’s not like they didn’t live heroic lives and die terrible deaths. 

Edward, in fact, provides a great example of the latter. He was seized after the Gunpowder Plot was uncovered. This conspiracy to blow up Parliament basically offered an excuse to round up Catholics (and is also the source of Guy Fawkes’ Day). Edward was seized and first put on the rack for 5 days. When he failed to reveal anything (he probably knew nothing about the plot), he was then drawn and quartered.

Edward also left us with a particularly gruesome relic
(in case you don’t read Latin, this is his right eye)

#9  Vilmos Apor (Apr 2)

Possible anagrams for this saint include:
  • Limo vapors
  • Violas romp
  • Air solo MVP
  • Ova rim slop
  • Mr. Poi Ovals
All of which, I’m afraid, make a lot more sense than “Vilmos Apor.”

Sometimes, it seems that all the saints lived hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. Blessed Vilmos, however, was someone who was very firmly in the 20th Century. A Hungarian baron, he was made bishop of the town of Gyor during WWII. 

He was one of the few churchmen who stood up for the Jews and criticized the Nazis’ treatment of them. He was also martyred, at the end of the war, by Red Army soldiers who were trying to assault some women who had come to him for shelter.

#8  Mary of Egypt  (Apr 1)
Representation:  naked woman clothed with long hair

Sort of like a saintly Lady Godiva …

Mary of Egypt was a woman of extremes. The first part of her life was basically spent partying and sleeping with pretty much anyone. The second part of her life was spent as a hermit in the desert, continuously doing penance for the first part of her life. We’re talking probably the 500s here.

I was pretty sure this image wouldn’t exist, but there you go …

Mary had a surprising afterlife in the arts. She’s in Goethe’s Faust, a novella by Balzac, a poem by John Berryman, a sci-fi novel, and several operas.

#7  Vincent Ferrer (Apr 5)
Patronage:  plumbers

I understand there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that part of Vincent’s representation includes a butt crack.

Okay, that was pretty sacrilegious. Let’s see if I can do a little better here.

Vincent Ferrer was a Dominican who lived roughly around the year 1400. He was a theologian, but was mostly known for his missionary work. In fact, he was something of a jet setter (for the day), preaching in his native Spain, as well as France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. He worked hard to overcome the Great Schism, when the church had multiple popes.

Hey look, my head is on fire!

The plumbers?  Well, we do know that Vincent is the patron saint of builders, as he did much to help build back up the church. This probably explains the plumbers, as well as his patronage of construction workers, brick makers, tilers, and pavers.

#6  Urban of Langres (Apr 2)
Patronage:  barrel makers

So, for the 20-some guys in the world who are still making barrels by hand … this is your saint!

I see that Urban is also the patron saint of vintners, vine growers, and vinedressers. He’s also invoked against blight, frost, storms, and … alcoholism. So, I’m thinking I’m definitely seeing a theme here. Indeed, tells us the whole story:

During a period of persecution of the Church, Urban hid for a while in a vineyard. There he converted the vine dressers, who then helped him in his covert ministry. Due to their work, and to Urban’s devotion to the Holy Blood, he developed great affection to all the people in the wine industry, and they for him.

Here, have some grapes!

Urban was a bishop who lived in the 4th Century.  Langres is in France, by the way.

#5  Richard of Chichester (Apr 3)
Patronage:  coachmen

Continuing our theme of obscure occupations …

Richard was a 13th Century English bishop. He had a particularly famous shrine, which was – unfortunately – destroyed by Oliver Cromwell. Interestingly, a prayer of his is the basis of "Day by Day," the song from Godspell.

Coachmen? I haven’t a clue.

A modern interpretation
(statue in front of Chichester Cathedral)

#4  Isidore of Seville (Apr 4)
Patronage:  the Internet

So, how does a bishop from around the year 600 become patron of the Internet? (And, no, this has nothing to do with Al Gore.)

Isidore was a Spanish bishop who lived around the year 600. He was a noted author and scholar, often referred to as the “most learned man of his age.”

Hey, that’s not an iPad, is it?

One of his works was the Etymologiae, a compendium of all the world’s knowledge. And that’s what’s probably ties him to Wikipedia, Reddit, Twitter, Snapchat, and Tinder (if he only knew!).

And here's my buddy Alessandro's take on ol' Izzy.

#3  Burgundofara (Apr 3)

Yup, that’s 22 letters, folks!  A new world record.

Not a lot out there on Burgundofara, I’m afraid. We do know she lived in 7th century France, and was a founder and abbess. 

There is a cute story out there about the monastery she founded. Turns out Burgy wanted to be a nun, but her father (who just so happened to be king) wanted to marry her to some prince or something. B was so upset that she made herself sick – deathly sick, in fact.  This upset dad so much that he relented on the marriage thing, allowed Burgs to take her vows, and then went ahead and built her a monastery to boot.

Burgundofara’s bio includes a fair amount of funny names in general, including:
  • Chagneric
  • Leudegund
  • Theudebert
  • Chagnoald
  • Chilperic
  • Theodechilde
  • Ethelburga
  • Agnetrude
  • Chagnulf

She’s also known as the much more reasonable St. Fara

#2  Gandulphus of Binasco (Apr 3)

Surprsingly, Gandulphus and Gandalf (from Lord of the Rings) do not share a common source. Gandulphus is German, and means “the progress of the wolf.” Gandalf is Norse and means “wand elf.” Hmm, I guess they really couldn’t be any more different, could they?

Now, you’re probably wondering how anyone – let alone someone saintly – could be named “progess of the wolf.” Sorry, can’t help you there.

You may also be wondering, “What the heck is a binasco?”  Though it sounds vaguely like a company that makes some sort of obscure widget, or perhaps something you might buy at the drugstore to relieve digestive ailments, it’s really just a town in Italy, close to Milan.

In addition to being from Binasco, Gandulphus was one of the original Franciscans, joining the order when Francis himself was still alive. He died a hermit, in Sicily.

#1  Brychan of Brycheiniog (Apr 6)

Brychan was born in Bryson City, NC. He attended Bryn Mawr College, where he studied botany and biology – bryozoans and bryophytes in particular.  He married a nice girl named Bryanna, and they had a son named Bryan and a daughter named Bryony. He’s a big sports fan, and likes baseball player Bryce Harper and hockey player Ilya Bryzgalov in particular. His favorite hair product is Brylcreem. 

So, what do we really know about this guy? Well, if you haven’t already guessed, he’s Welsh. He was actually king of Brycheiniog (Breconshire in modern parlance). The place, formerly called Garthmadrun, was renamed in his honor. 

Brychan was married three times and fathered 24 children – all of whom became saints. They include:
  • Cledwyn 
  • Cynfran 
  • Dwynwen
  • Endellion of Tregony
  • Nennoc
  • Teath
  • Tydfil
  • Dingad
  • Dogfan
  • Veep

Brychan himself would later retire from his kingly duties, dying a hermit.

Supposedly, those are his kids

Honorable Mention
  • Ulched
  • Agnofleda of Maine 
  • Tigernach of Clogher
  • Cronan Beg of Clonmacnoise
  • Tewdrig
  • Glinglin
  • Aedhan Laech of Cill Aedhain
  • Theodolus of Thessalonica
  • Ferbuta of Seleucia
  • Calliopus of Pompeiopolis

<March 22-30

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