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

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