Thursday, June 2, 2016

June 1-7

The theme for this week is hearts. On the 3rd, we’ve got the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And on the 4th, we’ve got the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Like I say, hearts.

#10  Hannibal Mary di Francia (June 1)

Girl? Guy? What?

It doesn’t happen much in English, but Mary is not an uncommon middle name for male Catholics. Just off the top of my head, I can think of French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, patron saint of Vienna Clemens Marie Hofbauer, and scientist Andre-Marie Ampere. And let’s not forget Pope Francis, who began life as Jorge Maria Bergoglio. 

You’ve got to admit, though, combining Mary with Hannibal is a tad odd. Hannibal’s not that unusual in Italy, though, where it’s typically rendered as Annibale.

Hannibal is one of our modern saints, passing away only in 1927. He was a pretty busy guy, starting a group of orphanages (the Anthonian Orphanages), a priestly order (The Rogationist Fathers), and an order of nuns (the Daughters of Divine Zeal). He was canonized in 2004.

#9  Maturus the Novice (June 2)

I guess this sounded better than Maturis the Rank Amateur …

Also, doesn’t the name kind of seem like a contradiction in terms? 

Not a lot on this guy, apart from a particularly gruesome martyrdom. Wikipedia states that he was “mauled by animals in 177 in the amphitheatre of Lugdunum.”

The “Novice” bit? It really just signifies that Maturus was a recent convert.

#8  Kevin of Glendalough (June 3)
Patronage: blackbirds

So, blackbirds have their own patron, huh? What do you suppose they pray to St. Kevin for? A safe migration? Glossy feathers? Extra grubs?

Kevin was a hermit who lived in 6th Century Ireland. The cave where he hung out – which you can still check out today – was called St. Kevin’s Bed. As happened to a lot of hermits in those days, he attracted a large number of acolytes and eventually founded a monastery. He lived to the ripe old age of 120.

Oops, wrong bed

Oh, the blackbirds? Turns out Kevin was quite the ascetic. One of his favorite things to do was to pray, on his knees with arms held hand out to his side, for hours on end. Legend has it that he was able to do this so still and for so long that a blackbird built a nest in one of his hands. 

#7  Clotilde (June 3)
Patronage: disappointing children

Not entirely sure who should be doing the praying here, the children or the parents?

Turns out it’s the parents. In Clotilde’s case, it sounds like her disappointing children fought among themselves. Now, this wasn’t just a matter of not sharing toys and being a tattletale. Clotilde just so happened to be the Merovingian queen, so her boys battled each other for a good hunk of northern Europe when their father, Clovis, died. The family seemed to have a thing about names beginning with “cl,” by the way– those rivalrous siblings were called Chlothar, Chlodomer, and Chlodibert.


Fed up with courtly intrigue, Clotilde would eventually concentrate on a saintly life, founding a number of churches and monasteries.

BTW, Clotilde is a saint of many names. In addition to Clotilde, we’ve got:
  • Clotild
  • Clothilde
  • Clotilda
  • Clotichilda
  • Croctild
  • Crotildes
  • Chlodechildis
  • Chrodechildis
  • Rotilde
  • Hlotild
  • Hlodihildi
  • Hroþihildi

#6  Francis Caracciolo (June 4)
Patronage: Italian cooks

So, do I have to be Italian? Or can I just be putting some spaghetti and meatballs together?

A 16th Century Italian priest, Francis is most well-known for founding an order of priests, known today as the Adorno Fathers. He was also miraculously cured of leprosy, having vowed to devote himself to the church if he survived.

Why the patronage? Hard to say. Francis’s hometown, Villa Santa Maria, does just so happen to have a couple of culinary school (including Italy’s first), a museum of cooking, and a Festival of the Cooks. Interestingly, however, that patronage was only granted back in 1996 – less than 30 years ago.

That’s him on the right
(haven’t a clue who the guy on the left is; 
I think we all know the guy in the middle)

#5  Peter the Exorcist (June 2)

Well, you know, it’s truly amazing how many hits I get for the book. That said, the author is generally known as William Peter Blatty.

Our Peter? He was a priest in 3rd Century Rome. Oddly, though, he was not known in particular for exorcisms. In fact, in the early days of the church, an exorcist was simply a minor order of clergy, ranking below deacons and sub-deacons.

Oops, wrong Peter

That said, there are exorcists in the Catholic Church today. In fact, the US has 10 of them, and there might be up to 600 worldwide. Pope Francis is supposedly a big fan.

#4  Boniface of Crediton (June 5)
Patronage: file cutters

Surely, this isn’t referring to software, right?

Boniface was a 7th Century Englishman, who went to Germany as a missionary. He was so successful that he is a national figure in Germany today, as well as a symbol of unified Europe. One legend has him creating the first Christmas tree.

File cutters? According to a site I found on medieval occupations, a file cutter was a “maker of files, involved in the cutting of grooves on the file surface.” Ah, so obvious when you think about it.

Oops, wrong file cutter

#3  Blandina the Slave (June 2)

The wonderfully named Blandina just so happened to be a fellow martyr with Maturus the Novice, #9 on this post. In total, there were actually 48 of these folks, including:
  • Sanctius of Vienne
  • Biblis of Lyons
  • Attalus of Pergamos
  • Ponticus of Lugdunum
  • Photinus of Lyons
  • Epagathus

Blandina stood out as being the last to succumb. Her particular martyrdom took the form of being thrown in a net and then being trampled and gored by a bull. And, no, she is not the patron saint of female bullfighters.

#2  Jean-Baptiste-Ignace-Pierre Vernoy de Montjournal (June 1)

That’s 46 characters, folks! A new world record.

This guy was one of the martyrs of the French Revolution. A lot of people don’t realize it, but the Revolution had some very anti-religious overtones. Church property was seized, saints’ relics were scattered, and religious like Jean (I’m not going to type that again) were severely persecuted.

In particular, Jean was “arrested and sentenced to forced labor for the crime of being a priest. Imprisoned on a ship anchored off shore, he was tortured repeatedly, starved and left to die.” (

#1  Phillip the Deacon (June 6)
Representation: baptizing the eunuch of Ethiopia

Phillip was one of the very earliest saints. In fact, he was one of a group that the Apostles themselves recruited to help them out. He’s also known as Phillip the Evangelist, as he was well known for his preaching. He’s mentioned in Acts 5:8.

The Eunuch of Ethiopia? He was actually the treasurer for the kingdom of Ethiopia. As so happened in a number of Middle Eastern courts (up to and including the Ottomans), public servants were castrated, to help ensure their loyalty. Phillip converted him when the two just happened to meet on the road.

Phillip and Eunuch

Honorable Mention
  • Tudno of Caernarvon
  • Cornelius McConchailleach
  • Glunshallaich
  • Luke Loan
  • Gundisalvus of Azebeyro
  • Jarlath of Tuam
  • Cono the Miracle Worker
  • Felix of Fritzlar
  • Atto of Oca 
  • Waccar
  • Landulf of Yariglia
  • Vulflagius of Abbeville (AKA Vulfy)

1 comment:

  1. Black birds, Italian cooks and file cutters. Oh, the things MacGyver could accomplish with these three saints! Really, it is amazing how specific the beatific portfolios get. As you know, I particularly love the Patron Saint of Disappointing Children.