Guthlac. That’s one you don’t see in your typical baby name book …
I’m afraid this guy didn’t start out too saintly. Prior to a conversion experience, he was a soldier. In fact, catholicsaints.info notes that “the freedom to loot led to him amass a large fortune.”
Guthlac gave that all up to become a hermit in the Fens, a wild, marshy area in the east of England, “rumoured to be the haunt of monsters and devils” (catholicsaints.info). Croyland is actually an island, and is now the location of a monastery built on the site of Guthlac’s cell.
By the way, Guthlac was the brother of Pega of Peakrik. Remember her?
Guthlac and Pega
(with those glasses causing no small amount of controversy here)
#9 Walter of Pontoise (Apr 8)
Patronage: against work-related stress
I think we can all call on Walter at some point …
A surprisingly popular figure on Etsy
Walter lived in 11th Century France, and was a scholar, teacher, and abbot. All he really wanted to be, however, was a simple monk. In fact, he went so far as to run away several times and even submitted his resignation directly to the pope. He also got into hot water taking the clergy to task for their lax ways. All in all, I think you can probably understand the logic behind this particular patronage.
#8 Joseph Moscoti (Apr 12)
Representation: lab coat
I’m used to robes, and staffs, and lilies, and even eyes on a plate (that would be St. Lucy), but lab coats?
Joseph was indeed an MD – in fact, an internationally known one. He practiced in Naples, in the first few decades of the 20th Century. He was particularly well known for work he did there during the eruption of Vesuvius.
Continuing our Etsy theme
Joseph was also very pious – doing much of his work without pay, going to mass every day, taking a vow of chastity, and even performing his share of miraculous cures.
#7 Scubilion Rousseau (Apr 13)
As if Guthlac wasn’t bad enough …
Scubilion was a Christian Brother who lived during the 19th Century. Born in France, he spent most of his life ministering to slaves on Reunion Island, a French colony in the Indian Ocean.
It’s the name, of course, that got Scubilion into this blog. Interestingly, this fellow was born Jean, taking the name Scubilion when he joined the Christian Brothers. He probably got that name from a very obscure saint who lived in the same area during the 600s.
The guy here thought Scubilion reminded him of this particular cartoon character
#6 Martin (Apr 13)
Representation: pope with geese surrounding him
Geese and popes – a natural combination …
Martin I was pope from 649 to 655. He summoned the Lateran Council, which got him in trouble with the emperor Constans. In fact, Constans had him kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured. Martin died soon after, which makes him officially a martyr.
The geese? Catholicsaints.info says that this might have come from “possible confusion by artist with Martin of Tours.”
What’s the connection between Martin of Tours and geese? Wikipedia explains:
The goose became a symbol of St. Martin of Tours because of a legend that when trying to avoid being ordained bishop he had hidden in a goose pen, where he was betrayed by the cackling of the geese. St. Martin's feast day falls in November, when geese are ready for killing. St. Martin’s Day was an important medieval autumn feast, and the custom of eating goose spread to Sweden from France. It was primarily observed by the craftsmen and noblemen of the towns. In the peasant community, not everyone could afford to eat goose, so many ate duck or hen instead.
Not exactly "surrounded" (and not exactly "geese"), but hey ...
#5 Benezet the Bridge Builder (Apr 14)
This one’s a bit like an onion. The more you peel away, the more layers there seem to be.
So, first thing I did was to type “Benezet the Bridge-Builder” into Google. There, under a Wikipedia link, I found out that Benezet is “considered the founder of the Bridge-Building Brotherhood.” O-k-a-y …
Clicking the Bridge-Building Brotherhood link, I then learned that “a Bridge-Building Brotherhood is a religious association whose purpose is building bridges.” A-l-r-i-g-h-t …
They then go on to say that:
Bridge-Building Brotherhoods reportedly existed during the 12th and 13th centuries. Not much is known about their origins.
They do then point out – finally! – that, back in those days, there weren’t a lot of bridges around. Building one was considered a major benefit to society (and especially pilgrims), and was considered a significant charitable work.
Benezet himself was a shepherd boy in northern France who had a vision to build a bridge across the Rhone River at Avignon (in southern France). Legend has it he built it all by himself.
Just to increase the mystery, this is the 2nd result on Google Images for “Benezet the Bridge Builder” (and I have no clue about this one)
#4 Zeno of Verona (Apr 12)
Representation: bishop holding a fishing rod
Not sure what I like better – the crazy name or the crazy representation.
There’s a lot about Zeno that we’re not totally sure about. He may have been African. He may also have been a slave. He may have been a bishop. And he may have been a martyr. We do know he lived in the 300s. Probably.
Hey, that’s just a crozier with a fish on it
The fish? Don’t be surprised that there are two competing explanations. In one, he simply fished to feed himself. In the other, the fishing rod is emblematic of his ability to bring people to baptism (i.e., his being a “fisher of men”).
#3 Barsanuphius of Gaza (Apr 11)
Like there’s another Barsanuphius out there …
Actually, I do see a Barsanuphius of Egypt, as well as a Barsanuphius of Palestine and a Barsanuphius the Great. Wouldn’t you know, though – they’re all the same guy.
Yup, you can find it on Amazon
Barsanuphius seemed to have had something of a split personality. On the one hand, he spent 50 years in the desert as a hermit. At the same time, he also wrote thousands of letters, over 800 of which survive to this day.
By the way, my spell check suggests “balsa nephews” for this one.
#2 Lydwina of Schiedam (Apr 14)
Patronage: roller skaters
Poor Lydwina is a very unlikely patron saint for roller skaters. She was mostly known for her suffering. Modern-day hagiographers (people who write about saints) speculate that she was a victim of untreated multiple sclerosis. Her suffering did seem to start with a fall while ice skating, though – hence her peculiar patronage.
Schiedam is in The Netherlands by the way.
She's the one with the halo
#1 Symforian Ducki (Apr 11)
Symforian is bad enough. But Ducki?
Symforian’s a modern saint. He was a Polish Capuchin who was martyred at Auschwitz.
The first return on Google for Symforian is in Polish. Using Google’s automatic translator, we learn that:
- He May 10, 1888 - born in a family craft
- 1918 - Capuchins recover Monastery Street. Of honey, deleted by the tsarist authorities in 1864.
- May 20, 1921 - consists of profession time on your hands this year. Fidelis Kalinowski.
- Tassach of Raholp
- Eberwin of Helfenstein
- Phlegon of Hyrcania
- Papylus of Pergamus
- Ardalion the Actor
- Fronto of Nitria