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

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 

No comments:

Post a Comment