Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22-31

Fairly big week this time … In addition to some pretty heavy hitters saint-wise – Augustine, Phillip Neri, Rita of Cascia – we’ve also got the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That’s where the pregnant Mary visited her pregnant kinswoman Elizabeth, with both Elizabeth and her in-utero son (John the Baptist) recognizing Mary’s baby as divine.


#10  Maximinus of Trier (May 29)
Representation:  bishop with bear

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


Maximinus was a 4th Century bishop of the German city of Trier. He spent most of his time attending synods and fighting Arianism. He’s often confused with Maximinus of Aix (try not to get your Maximini confused, okay?).

The story? I’m afraid I couldn’t find much. What I did find merely mentioned that the bear carried Maximinus’s backpack on his many travels.


#9  Bona of Pisa (May 29)
Patronage:  flight attendants

Well, it is nice to see some patrons for some more modern occupations – I mean, compared to all those for lighthouse keepers, barrel makers, and corn chandlers out there.

Bona’s patronage is well earned. She made a name for herself leading pilgrimages along the Camino di Santiago, completing no less than ten trips. Prior to that, she had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, visiting her father the crusader along the way, then being captured  by Muslim pirates on her return trip.


Though she lived in the 12th and 13th Centuries, she was only canonized in 1962.


#8  Walstan of Bawsburgh
Representation:  man with two calves

You know, I have two calves. In fact, I would imagine everyone has two calves. I mean, if they have two legs, that is. What’s so special about that? What? Oh, those kinds of calves? Never mind.

Though a noble and related to the English king, Walstan left home to work as a farm laborer. In general, he also took the hardest and dirtiest jobs. In addition, he tended to give away whatever worldly goods came his way, and generally led a life of extreme denial and piety. Not too surprisingly, he had quite a devotion among the farming community and is today a patron saint of farmers and farm workers. 


The calves? Oh, yeah … Here’s the story from catholicsaints.info:

One of his employers liked him so much that he wanted to make Walstan an heir, but the young man declined, asking only for a pregnant cow. Legend says that the cow had twins, and when Walstan died while working in the fields, the calves carried his body to Bawburgh church, passing through solid walls to leave the body at the altar


#7  Ferdinand III of Castile
Patronage:  authorities

Well, I guess even authorities need a patron.

And Ferdinand was indeed that – an authority, I mean. He was, in fact, a king. Of … wait for it … Castile!

On the face of it, though, Ferdinand doesn’t sound all that saintly. I mean, the guy had two wives and 13 children, and spent a good deal of time killing Muslims. He was also, however, very devout, as well as the builder of numerous churches, hospitals, and monasteries.


Yes, that is an ice skating rink behind Ferdinand (I’m afraid, though I don’t know anything else about this totally random picture I found on the Internet unfortunately)

In addition to authorities, Ferdinand’s also the patron saint of:
  • Rulers
  • Governors
  • Magistrates
  • The Spanish monarchy
  • Seville, Spain
  • Large families
  • Parenthood
  • Paupers
  • Poor people
  • Prisoners
  • Engineers


#6  Nowa Mawaggali (May 31)

No, I didn’t just put my elbow on the keyboard. That’s actually the guy’s name.

Nowa was an African convert who lived  in the 19th Century. He’s one of the Martyrs of Uganda. Others include the equally fantastically named:
  • Gonzaga Gonza
  • Achilles Kiwanuka 
  • Pontian Ngondwe
  • Luke Banabakintu 
  • Mukasa Kiriwawanvu
  • Joseph M. Balikuddembe
  • Denis Ssebuggwawo
  • James Buzaalilyawo
  • Anatoli Kiriggwajjo
  • Bruno Sserunkuuma
  • Athanasius Bazzekuketta

Nowa (who is also known as Noah and Noe) seemed to have had a particularly gruesome martyrdom. According to catholicsaintsinfo.com, he was “stabbed with a spear and torn apart by wild dogs.”


#5  Mechtildis of Edelstetten (May 31)

Ow! I think I just hurt my mouth trying to pronounce this one.

And, yes, Mechtildis is indeed German. I’ll bet you had no idea, though, that Mechtildis was also female. Indeed, it’s not the prettiest name I’ve ever heard.


Not much out there Mechtildis, I’m afraid, so I’ll just repeat what Wikipedia has to say on her:

Mechtildis was Benedictine abbess and renowned miracle worker. Mechtildis was the daughter of Count Berthold of Andechs, whose wife, Sophie, founded a monastery on their estate at Diessen, Bavaria, and placed their daughter there at the age of five …

Count? Andechs!? Diessen?!  Ohmigod! Is she related to Rasso of Grafrath

Indeed she is. Only about 200 years separates them. What a small, saintly world.


#4  Petronilla of Rome (May 31)
Patronage:  treaties between Popes and Frankish emperors

And the award for most obscure patronage goes to …

Petronilla was one of the earlier saints. In fact, there is a tradition that she was the daughter (spiritual or otherwise) of St. Peter himself. The little we truly know about her was that she was what the Catholic Church calls a “virgin martyr” and lived in the very earliest days of the church.

Interestingly, however, her actual tomb was found and positively identified. Her remains were later transferred to St. Peter’s, where there is a small chapel dedicated to her.


I’m sorry, but I have no idea why she appears to be 8 feet tall in this shot

That peculiar patronage? Wikipedia fills us in here:

Her association with the French crown stems from the fact that Charlemagne and Carloman were considered Saint Peter's adopted sons after 800. Petronilla, as the supposed daughter of Peter, became their patroness and of the treaties concluded between the Holy See and the Frankish emperors.


#3  Quadratus the Apologist (May 26)

Not to be confused with Quadratus the Equation …

Sorry about that. Okay, so Quadratus was another early saint. In fact, he was one of the disciples of the Apostles, and also penned the first apology for Christianity. If that last one sounds funny, you probably didn’t know that an alternate definition of “apology” is “a defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine” (dictionary.com). Quadratus was Greek, and was also one of the first bishops of Athens.

Interestingly, when I searched for this fellow, Google suggested quadratus lumborum, quadratus femoris, and quadratus plantae – all muscles. Quadratus is actually Latin, is the perfect passive participle of quadro, and basically means “made square.”


#2  Euphrosyne of Polotsk (May 23)

Now, Anne of Polotsk probably wouldn’t have made this list. And, Euphrosyne of Rome, say, probably wouldn’t have either. But put ‘em together? Wow!

Euphrosyne was a Belarussian princess who lived in the 12th Century. She became a nun and founded a convent, a monastery, and a couple of churches. She died on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.


To return to our funny name theme, Euphrosyne was born Pradslava, and is also known as Efrasinnia, Efrosin, Euphrasinne, Evfrosinia and Yefrasinnya. 


#1  Bobo of Provence (May 22)

Another warrior saint, Bobo fought those pesky Muslims in France, during the 10th Century. According to Wikipedia, however, he also “had a mystical experience [during a battle] and vowed, if victorious, to renounce war and become a pilgrim devoted to the care of orphans and widows.” 

Not sure whether that actually happened or not, as all I could find about his later life was that he became a hermit and died on a pilgrimage to Rome. For some reason I could not uncover, he’s associated with cattle.


Bobo’s of … 
Topeka

Bobo is also known as Beuvon, Beuve, Bobon,  Bovo, and Bobone. Well, I guess those are a little better.


Honorable Mention

These are so good this week, I had to do 12.
  • Acculus of Alexandria
  • Maria Rita Lopes Pontes de Souza Brito (32 letters!)
  • Zota (4!)
  • Epitacius of Tuy
  • Eutychius of Valcastoria
  • Egilhard of Cornelimünster
  • Berengar of Saint-Papoul
  • Felicissimus of Todi
  • Fugatius the Missionary
  • Eutropius of Orange
  • Lupo of Limoges
  • Fulk of Castrofurli

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 15-21

Pentecost is the big day for this week. That’s when the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and put little flames over the heads of all the Apostles, as well as getting them speaking in Telugu, Wolof, Rhaeto-Romansch, and other tongues.


#10  Dunstan of Canterbury (May 19)
Patronage:  lighthouse keepers

Not these guys again! Yup, we already had another patron for them, back on May 4

Fortunately, they’re the only two out there. Seeing how anachronistic the profession of lighthouse keeper is these days, I’m figuring we’ve probably got a 1-to-1 relationship between actual lighthouse keepers and their individual patrons.

Dunstan? He was actually quite the accomplished fellow. Some of his many roles included abbot, bishop, Archbishop (of Canterbury no less), reformer, royal advisor, musician, artist, and metal worker. And, in addition to lighthouse keepers, he’s also the patron saint of:
  • Armourers
  • Blacksmiths
  • Goldsmiths
  • Silversmiths
  • Swordsmiths
  • Locksmiths
  • Jewelers
  • Musicians
  • Blind people

We’re talking pre-Norman England here, by the way.


There’s a story behind this – I just know it


#9  Primael of Quimper (May 16)

I’m not exactly sure how this is pronounced, but you just know it’s gonna be something good.

Not a lot on this dude. We do know he was born in Britain in the 400s, moved to France, and became a hermit. And there are a number of churches named after him. That’s about it, though, I’m afraid.


And, for some odd reason, this is the #5 Google Images result that comes up for this guy


#8  Ubaldus Baldassini (May 16)

This guy is also known as:
  • Ubaldo
  • Ubald
  • Ubalde
  • Ubaldus
  • Ubaldo of Gubbio
  • Ubald of Gubbio
  • Ubalde of Gubbio
  • Ubaldus of Gubbio
All of which are pretty darn amusing.

Ubaldus was a monk who lived in 12th Century Italy. Though he wanted to be a hermit, he was talked into becoming a bishop instead. 


He performed a number of miracles, and so is a fairly popular patron saint. His various patronages include:
  • Against migraine
  • Against neuralgia
  • Against obsession
  • Against autism
  • Against demonic possession
  • Sick children
  • Obsessive compulsives
  • Possessed people

One of his miracles involved saving Gubbio from a sacking by Frederick Barbarossa. That event is still celebrated in Gubbio today, as well as in – for some strange reason or other – Jessup, PA.  

#7  Ethelbert of East Anglia (May 20)

Now, you may prefer to refer to him to Æthelberht or – even more correctly – Æðelbrihte. However you do it, though, you have to admit it’s a pretty funny name. Combine it with East Anglia, and we’ve got a real winner here.

Ethelbert was actually an English king, of the early Anglo-Saxon kingdom of … East Anglia. Interestingly, there’s surprisingly little out there about him. We do know that he was killed by Offa, the king of Mercia, another Anglo-Saxon kingdom. And that was probably all that was needed to turn this pious royal into a martyr. 


And, yes, his martyrdom did indeed involve a beheading

#6  Bernadin of Siena  (May 20)
Patronage:  advertisers, compulsive gamblers, against hoarseness …

Hmm, did we leave anything out here?

Bernadin is indeed a very popular saint. A Franciscan, he was known especially for his excellent oratorical skills. So, that does explain the advertisers and hoarseness. Not so sure about the compulsive gamblers though.


Hey, nice hat!

Bernardin actually had an enormous effect on 15th Century Italy. His fire-and-brimstone calls for repentance went over very well in a country that had recently been wracked by the Black Death. In fact, he’s the one who started the famous “bonfires of the vanities,” where crowds tossed their fancy clothes, cosmetics, playing cards (ah, so there’s the connection), and so on into raging fires in the town squares.


#5  Honorius of Amiens (May 16)
Patronage:  corn chandlers

Why people who chandle corn, of course. Why do you ask?

So … Ever hear of the term “ship’s chandler”? That was someone who, originally at least, handled the lighting needs (i.e., candles) on a ship. From there, he eventually handled most of a ship’s provisions – tar, rope, tools, what have you ... And from there, the term was later extended to any dealer of whatever. Like corn, say.

Whew! As for Honorius, he was a 6th Century French bishop. In addition to corn chandlers, his patronage also extends to:
  • Candle makers
  • Oil refiners
  • Florists
  • Flour merchants
  • Bakers
  • Confectioners
  • Pastry chefs

At least some of these date back to a miracle attributed to Honorius:

Legend says that when word reached the family home in Porthieu that Honorius had been chosen bishop, his old nursemaid, who was baking bread at the time, announced that the boy was no more going to be a bishop that then baker‘s peel she was leaning on would turn back into a tree. The wooden peel promptly grew roots and branches and turned into a blackberry tree what was still be shown to pilgrims 900 years later. (catholicsaints.info)


A typical representations of Honorius is with a baker’s peel and loaves of bread


#4  Bertha of Bingen (May 15)

I [heart] alliteration.

Poor Bertha is mostly known for being someone’s mum. Rupert of Bingen happens to be he heavy hitter in this household. He died young, at age 20, but managed to complete a pilgrimage to Rome and build several churches in his short lifespan. Mum mostly helped him out. They actually share this feast day.


“Where have you been? I told you to come back before April!”

Both of them, however, are outshone by a relative, Hildegard of Bingen. She wrote a bio of the two, but is much better known as an abbess, composer, poet, philosopher, early scientist, and mystic, in addition to being named one of the Doctors of the Church.


#3  Rasso of Grafrath (May 17)

I always get this guy confused with Grafo of Rassrath.

Just to add to my confusion, Rasso also so happens to be another man of many names, including:
  • Rasso of Andechs
  • Graf Ratt
  • Ratho
  • Grafrath
  • Rasso von Andechs
  • Gasso of Rat Trap
Okay, I made that last one up

Rasso / Graffo / whatever was the Count (Graf, in German) of Dießen-Andechs. He led the Bavarians in fighting the Magyars, in the middle of the 10th Century or thereabouts. He would later make a pilgrimage to Rome, then return to Bavaria to found a Benedictine abbey, retiring there as a monk.


Rasso was known in particular for being extremely tall. Exhumation of his skeleton put his height at 6’6”. Considering he lived in the 10th Century, he must have been considered a veritable giant in his time.


#2  Venantius of Camerino (May 18)
Representation:  young man crucified upside-down with smoke coming from his head

Now, there’s a representation that’s going to be hard to beat …

Venantius was a youth who was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Decius. Apart from the smoking head bit, his martyrdom sounds strangely like Glyceria’s, from a couple of weeks ago. Same apostasy before the Roman officials, same miracles (furnace, lions …), same conversion of jailer …

As for the smoke, this is the closest I could find for an explanation:

He was then burnt with torches and suspended over a low fire that he might be suffocated by the smoke. (catholic.org)


For some reason, this guy is also known as Wigand (?!?!).


#1  Dymphna (May 15)
Representation:  praying in a cloud surrounded by a group of lunatics bound with golden chains

… Okay, sounds like we have indeed beat it.

There’s really nothing funny about St. Dymphna. She was an Irish princess who lived in the 7th Century, and was murdered by her own father. Further, she was murdered because she had resisted his advances. Like I say, nothing too funny about this one.


Yes, that does say “Lucky Mojo Curio Co.” (website right here)

As for the “lunatics,” Dymphna has a long tradition of performing miracles for those afflicted with mental illness. There is actually a national shrine to her in Massillon, OH.


Honorable Mention
  • Maildulf of Malmesbury
  • Guy de Gherardesca
  • Adam of Adami
  • Thethmar
  • Maw
  • Waldalenus of Beze
  • Dioscorus of Kynopolis
  • Theopompus
  • Serapion the Sindonite
  • Protasius Chong Kuk-bo

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 8-14

Not much going on this week … except for my birthday! So, if you don’t feel like celebrating the feasts of Solange of Bourges, Comgall of Bangor, or Amalrius of Metz, go ahead and raise a glass to yours truly.


#10  Amalarius of Metz (May 10)

I don’t know, I think I just like the sound of this one (plus it's my birthday).

Metz is a city in northeast France. Amalarius died there. He also did important things like:
  • Arranging a new Frankish liturgy
  • Replacing Agobard at the Synod of Diedenhofen
  • Getting involved in the theological controversies on predestination raised by Gottschalk
  • Having some of his views condemned by the Synod of Quiercy
Hey, thanks Google!


And, for some odd reason, this is what comes up for him under Google Images


#9  John the Silent (May 13)

We’re not kidding here. John got himself walled up and lived as a silent recluse for 40 years. Overall, he lived alone for 67 years total.


Prior to turning his back on the world, John was actually something of a boy wonder, He established a monastery at age 18 and became a bishop at 28. Interestingly, this boy wonder would pass away at the ripe old age of 104.


#8  Karolina Gerhardinger (May 9)

She was a humdinger, that Karolina.

She was also a modern saint, passing away only in 1879. Like a number of modern saints, Karolina was known in particular for starting her own order (in her case, the School Sisters of Notre Dame). 


She’s a tad on the obscure side, though, so I had to rely on
  • On 16 November 1835 put Karolina Gerhardinger in the St. Gallus chapel to Regensburg, the temporary profession from.
  • Soon recognized Mother Mary Theresa that the small and remote monastery in Neunburg in the long run than vorm Wald their growing community Motherhouse could serve.
  • 1985, Pope John Paul II. Maria Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger blessed.
  • In the fall of 1998 after the decision of the Bavarian government her bust in the Walhalla in Regensburg, the Hall of Fame for outstanding personalities of Germany placed.
So, what with Germans and their verbs is it?


#7  Isaiah the Prophet (May 9)
Representation:  old man sawn in two

Now, that’s gonna leave a mark!

There happen to be very few Old Testament saints. Why is that? Well, saints basically serve as models for Catholics (and other Christians as well). So, seeing as believing in Christ would seem to be a pretty basic part of that formula …

That said, there are a handful of OT saints out there. In addition to Isaiah, we’ve also got the archangels (Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael), plus Habakkuk, Daniel, Elias, Abraham, and King David. Now, why these seven and no others became saints is, I’m afraid, totally beyond me.

The representation? Well, there does so happen to be a tradition in Islam and in Judaism that Isaiah was indeed sawn in two, by the evil King Manasseh. Not sure why Catholics might believe that as well though.


That’s Isaiah on the left.
I have no idea who’s on the right.


#6  Solange of Bourges (May 10)
Representation:  girl carrying her severed head

Ditto, I’m sure!

Solange was basically your poor, devout Medieval virgin (as well as a shepherdess to boot). Unfortunately, she caught the eye of the local randy young lord, resisted his advances, and fell a victim to his rage at being rejected. Sounds like said lord really lost his cool, going so far as to actually lop off Solange’s head with his sword. 

Legend has it that Solange then walked back into town with her head under her arm. There, she (or, rather, her head) denounced her murderer; got a little preaching in, for good measure; then finally, truly expired, once and for all.



#5  Francis Patrizzi of Siena (May 12)
Representation:  Servite with a lily growing out of his mouth

Hard to believe, but I swear I’ve seen this representation before, and that it symbolizes that the saint was a particularly gifted homilist or preacher. 

It seems, though, that I was totally, completely wrong. I was able to find two other examples of this representation, William of Montpelier and Angelus of Jerusalem. For neither of these saints, however, was there anything about their being particularly eloquent. Ah well.


Nor could I find an actual image of this particular representation either

We do know that Francis lived in the 14th Century and was a Servite (an order of monks). He’s particularly well-known for his role as a mediator. The lily probably just comes from his love of Mary, whose symbol it is.

Just to make things interesting, there is also a Francis Xavier Patrizi out there as well. 


#4  Comgall of Bangor (May 10)
Representation:  abbot holding a stone, to whom an angel brings a fish

I don’t know, sounds kinda like something Dali might have come up with. All we need are some ants, some floppy clocks, and some flaming giraffes.

Comgall was an early (6th Century) Irish saint. He founded the monastery at Bangor, one of the more famous ones in the Emerald Isle. 

It sounds, however, like Comgall might have been a little on the strict side:

Food was scant and plain. Herbs, water, and bread was customary. Even milk was considered an indulgence. At Bangor only one meal was allowed, and that not until evening. Confession was in public before the community. Severe acts of penance were frequent. Silence was observed at meals and at other times also, conversation being restricted to the minimum. Fasting was frequent and prolonged. (Wikipedia)


Hey, where’s the stone? And the angel? 
And the fish? And the flaming giraffes?


#3  Dominic de la Calzada (May 12)
Patronage:  Spanish civil engineers

Well, how about mechanical engineers? Or Portuguese civil engineers? Or Portuguese mechanical engineers?

Dominic was a young man in 11th Century Spain who, turned down by the Benedictines, decided to become a hermit along the Camino del Santiago, the main pilgrim route in Europe (and still very much alive today). To benefit the pilgrims, Dominic built a bridge, followed later by a causeway (calzada in Spanish) and a hostel (still in use today).

Dominic was also a man of many miracles. One, which is way too involved for this post, involves a pilgrim, a jilted woman, an unjust accusation, a hanging, and a rooster and hen brought back to life. It’s still commemorated to this day.


Pilgirms! Hikers! Step right up! Get your picture taken as St. Dominic right here!


#2  Tudy (May 11)

No, not Judy. Nope, not Trudy. It’s Tudy.

Also, Tudy’s a guy. Just to make things even more confusing, though, he’s also known as Tudec, Tudinus, Tegwin, and Thetgo. (Thetgo? Honestly? Thetgo??)

Be sure, though, you don’t get him confused with the other Tudy, the one who actually is a female. Needless to say, she’s got her own set of additional monikers as well – Tudius, Tudelyd, Tudclyd, Tybie, Uda …

Today, most search results for “Tudy” point to a town in Cornwall that was named after the guy saint. Said town sounds quite quaint, and is also the birthplace of William Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. The town fathers probably should have stopped with him, but do go on to list the following additional “famous sons”:
  • Eddie George, former governor of the Bank of England
  • Richard Lower, early experimenter in blood transfusion
  • Oscar Kempthorne, statistician and geneticist at Iowa State University (Iowa State?)
  • Humphrey Nicholls, MP for Bodmin
  • Vice Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailly who led a campaign for the local pub to be renamed after William Bligh
Hmm, I have this funny feeling the Vice Admiral might have come up with this list himself.


Haven’t a clue what the fish is doing there


#1  Glyceria of Trajanopolis (May 13) 

What’s really ironic here is that Glyceria is from the Greek word for “sweetness.” Not the sweetest sounding names – I mean, if you ask me.

Glyceria was a noble Roman maiden who became a Christian, was found out, and who subsequently became a martyr. She did, however, manage to go out with some major attitude.

Asked to publicly worship Zeus, Glyceria showed up with a cross on her forehead, prayed to Christ instead, and dashed the statue of Zeus to the floor. Needless to say, this did not go over too well with the local authorities. Before eventually succumbing to the inevitable martyrdom, Glyceria also managed to perform more than her fair share of miracles, including getting:
  • Stoned, but without getting hit once
  • Tortured, but having an angel intervene 
  • Thrown in a furnace, but having the fire go out
  • Thrown to the lions, but having the lions turn into puddy-tats


You go, girl!


Honorable Mention
  • Crispoldus
  • Abban of Abingdon
  • Pons of Pradleves
  • Euthymius the Illuminator 
  • Frodoino
  • Arsenio of Mt. Scete
  • Possessor of Verdun
  • Sisinius of Osimo
  • Giusto Santgelp
  • Banban Sapiens

Thursday, May 5, 2016

May 1-7

Several things going on this week … We’ve got Joseph the Worker (kind of a Catholic Labor Day), the Ascension of the Lord (when he went back to heaven), and a couple of apostles, Phillip and James.


#10  Marculf (May 1)
Patronage:  struma

Marculf was a man of many names:
  • Markulf
  • Marculphe
  • Marculfo
  • Marcolfo
  • Marculfus
  • Marculphus
  • Marcouf
  • Marcoul
  • Marcou
  • Marcoen
  • Marcoult

Marculf / Marcoul / Marculfus / whatever was active in France during the 6th Century. He was a noble who became a priest, missionary, hermit, and abbot.

Struma? It’s just an old-timey way to say “goiter.” Marculf also just happens to be the patron saint for the equally strangely named “scrofula.”


I have no idea what the rabbit’s all about


#9  Athanasius of Alexandria (May 2)
Representation:  bishop standing over a defeated heretic

I’m picturing Muhammad Ali over Sonny Liston here …


Athanasius is one of 36 Doctors of the Church. These are saints who the Catholic Church recognizes as particularly influential writers and theologians. Athanasius’s impact is also reflected in some of his many nicknames:
  • Greek Doctor of the Church
  • Athanasius the Great 
  • Father of the Canon
  • Father of Orthodoxy
  • Champion of Orthodoxy
  • Pillar of the Church
  • Holy Hierarch

Another nickname was Athanasius Contra Mundum (“Athanasius Against the World.”). Indeed, Athanasius was a fighter, getting himself exiled no less than five times by Roman emperors, We’re talking 4th Century Egypt here, by the way.


#8  Juvenal of Narni (May 3)
Representation:  bishop with a sword in his mouth

Patron saint of sword-swallowers, I would assume.

I’m afraid we don’t know a lot about this guy. He may have been from the east, or maybe from Africa. He may have been a physician, or perhaps not. He may also have been a martyr. But then again, we’re not totally sure.

We do know he was the bishop of the Italian city of Narni, in the 4th Century. We also know that he may have responsible for a miraculous thunderstorm that saved the city from some invaders.

The patronage? Here’s the classic story from catholicsaints.info:

Another story says that there was an attempt on his life by trying to strike him in the head with a sword; Juvenal caught the blade in his teeth and the would-be killer gave up.


#7  Venerius of Milan (May 4)
Patronage:  lighthouse keepers

All 3 of them …

You know, what we really need are some patron saints for jobs that people actually have these days. You know, marketing manager, barista, Apple “Genius,” social media consultant, pet sitter …

Venerius of Milan was the second bishop of Milan, and was active in the 4th Century. Not that much on him either, I’m afraid. What I could find is mostly his saintly friends and whose side he was on in various early theological debates.

The lighthouse keepers? I couldn’t find anything definitive on that either. Catholic Online does give it the old college try however:

It is not clear why Venerius is the patron of lighthouse keepers. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that St. Charles Borromeo once elevated his relics and placed them for all to see in Milan's great cathedral. As a lighthouse guides the ships through the night, so an elevated saint is a sign and special comfort for all of the faithful.


Hey, is that a lighthouse back there?


#6  Petronax of Monte Cassino (May 6)

I don’t know.  Sounds like a Brazilian oil company to me.

Petronax was actually an Italian monk who lived in the 7th and 8th Centuries. He was known for reviving Monte Cassino, a famous Benedictine abbey (and founded by Benedict himself). The abbey would later be pounded to rubble during WWII, but has since been totally rebuilt.


I understand he also threw a wicked screwball


#5  Benedict of Szkalka (May 1)
Patronage:  sailors on the river Vah

Now, that’s a little particular, isn’t it?

Just in case you’ve never heard of the Vlah before, it’s in Slovakia. In fact, it’s Slovakia’s longest river, coming in at just over 250 miles.

Szkalka? It’s just a little town near where Benedict and his buddy Andrew hung out in a cave and did their hermit thing. Benedict was killed there by thieves who thought he was hiding treasure there (and which officially makes Benedict a martyr). 


That’s Ben on the right, Andy on the left

We’re talking the 11th Century here, by the way.


#4  Klymentii Sheptytskyi  (May 1)

My kingdom for a consonant!

Hey, we’ve got a modern saint here for a change. In fact, Clement (as he’s often called) is one of the Martyrs Killed Under Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe. A Greek Catholic, he was arrested after WWII by Stalin’s goons then sentenced to a forced labor camp, where he would later die, at age 81.


Clement was actually quite an accomplished fellow. In particular, he was:
  • From a noble family
  • A professor of law
  • Elected to the Austrian parliament
  • Named exarch of Russia
  • Elected one of the Righteous Among the Nations by the nation of Israel (for helping save Jews from the Holocaust during WWII)


#3  Aldebrandus of Fossombrone (May 1)
Representation:  old, ill bishop in bed raising to life a cooked partridge

And for my next magic trick …

Fossombrone is a town in Italy. Aldebrandus was one of its bishops. We’re talking the 12th and 13th Century here, by the way.

Oh, the partridge? I’ll let Wikipedia explain:

A miracle attributed to Aldebrandus is that when he was old and bedridden, his servants brought him a cooked partridge, but as it was a fast day he was unable to eat the bird, so prayed over it, whereupon it came to life and flew away.


… I’ll make this tower shrink to a tenth of its normal size!


#2  Florian of Lorch (May 4)
Patronage:  soap boilers

Now, “Florian” is pretty good all by itself.  “Lorch,” though, takes it to another level.  Add in “soap boilers,” and I think we’ve got a sure winner on our hands!

Florian was a Roman officer – and closet Christian – who was stationed in modern-day Austria. When ordered to execute some fellow Christians, he refused, professed his own faith, and – you knew this was coming – became a holy martyr himself. 

In addition to soap boilers, Florian is also patron saint of:
  • Barrel-makers
  • Brewers
  • Coopers
  • Chimney sweeps
  • Drowning victims
  • Firefighters

There is no truth to the rumor that he was also 100 feet tall however

Florian is also a saint of many representations as well:
  • Man with a sword
  • Man being beaten
  • Man on a journey with a hat and staff
  • Man with a palm in his hand and a burning torch under his feet
  • Bearded warrior with a lance and tub
  • Boy with a millstone
  • Man thrown into a river with a millstone around his neck
  • Dead man on a millstone guarded by an eagle 
  • Classical warrior leaning on a millstone, pouring water on a fire
  • Young man, sometimes in armor, sometimes unarmed, pouring water from a tub on a burning church 


#1  Notkar Balbulus (May 7)

What makes this even better is that “Balbulus” is Latin for “stammerer.”

Poor Notkar was a Swiss monk who was also quite an accomplished musician, author, and poet. His most famous work is De Carolo Magno, a book of tales about Charlemagne’s exploits. Notkar was active around the year 1200.


I have no idea what the dog’s for


Honorable Mention
  • Diodorus the Deacon
  • Albian of Albee
  • Gluvias
  • Torquatus of Guadix
  • Exsuperius of Pamphylia
  • Porphyrius of Camerino Rino
  • Echa of Crayke
  • Hydroc
  • Nuntius Sulprizio
  • Quadratus of Herbipolis