Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 22-30

We have a couple of solemnities this week, the birth of John the Baptist and Ss. Peter and Paul. A solemnity is basically as special as you can get without actually being a holy day of obligation.

#10  Basilides of Alexandria (June 30)
Patronage:  Italian prison guards

So, there’s a guy out there for French prison guards as well? How about Portuguese? Belgian? Lithuanian?

Basilides was a Roman soldier, and a guard for the prefect of Egypt. As such, he participated in the martyrdom of Potomiana, a pious, young virgin. He seems to have gone out of his way to be nice to her, and she repaid him by promising to pray for him in heaven. Sure enough, Basilides then had visions of her, converted to Christianity, and became a martyr himself.

By the way, don’t get this guy confused with Basilides of Alexandria the Gnostic philosopher. I know, I know, happens to us all. 

Or with this character, from a video game
(Corporation: Sky Crawlers / Alliance: Gorgon Spawn)

#9  William of Vercelli (June 25)
Representation:  abbot near a wolf wearing a saddle

Hey, where’s the saddle?

I can’t tell if this is a prayer card or a Surrealist painting.

William was active around the year 1100, and was a hermit, pilgrim, founder (of numerous monasteries and of an order called the Williamites), and miracle worker.

That crazy representation? I’ll let explain:

Legend says that William began mining the stone and digging the foundations for the church on Montevergine [he’s also known as William of Montevergine] when his only companion and helper was a single donkey. One evening, a wolf charged from the forest, killed and ate the donkey. William ordered the wolf to take the donkey’s place. The wolf, understanding that he had interrupted God‘s work, bowed his head, and began hauling the loads of stone. Tradition says that the same wolf still prowls the mountain, ready to help those who are in danger and call upon the name of the Virgin Mary

#8  Etheldreda of Ely (June 23)

Not to be confused with Eli of Etheldreda …

Etheldreda just so happened to be a real, live princess – of the kingdom of East Anglia. She, in turn, was betrothed to Ecgfrith, King of Northumbria, which would make her a real, live queen as well.

When Ecgfrith died, Etheldreda retired to Ely, an island in her home kingdom. There, she would build an abbey, whose marvelous cathedral is still around today.

“Crowds watch the story of Ely's foundress St Etheldreda told in drama and music.”
(from the Ely Standard)

Etheldreda is also known as the rather wild Æthelthryth, as well as the much more everday Audrey. Bet you didn’t know, though, that that last moniker is where the term “tawdry” comes from. 

Turns out there was a fair – called St. Audrey’s fair – near a church dedicated to her in London, that was well known for the cheapness of the goods sold there. In particular, this was applied to lace, which was known as “St. Audrey’s lace,” which would eventually drop the two S’s and end up as “tawdry.” It’s a crazy story, but it’s true!

#7  Toma Toan (June 27)

This gentleman is a little on the obscure side. In fact, I had to translate several pages from Vietnamese to learn all that much about him. Here, for example, is what one page had to say about his martyrdom:

On 09:05, before dealing slashing Joseph Hien, math teacher was taken to court with the father. After two diamond inclination not step on the Cross, the mahout for two elephants herded to the back gore bucket two. The maths teacher and father calmly avoided Shows aside, definitely not step over the Cross. Trinh Quang Khanh transmission angry old teacher in prison, and ordered the priest brought out the processor cutting measures immediately.

One day facetious officer told soldiers: "Directions to here for its aging Math Cross crossed, lest they forget." But he was disappointed, the soldiers this time brave faith strangely, despite severe torture, teachers have an allegiance to Christianity. After a great thrashing dead soldiers dragged through the Cross stepped teacher, teacher dress kneeling down uninterrupted reading up act of contrition, the teacher angrily to detention elsewhere, began fasting, fasting, thirst, and detailed presentation soldier wanted Game operator chooses suffering.

The soldiers are immediately stripped teachers, forcing two small cross on two feet, catching the sun for 13 days not eating anything. Meanwhile, we gathered around teacher tease: pen beard hair pulling, pinching the ear, nose claws ... When finally found him fall into extreme poverty, who faints, the Trinh Quang Khanh conspiracy to move a tray of rice wine delicious meat and said, "Eat it, then walked through the Cross". But the hero of faith would rather starve than to recant their religion teacher said: "If teachers have to produce food that I never ate." I.e., his opinion incarcerated, arrested teachers fasted for five days, died in prison. There is a guard named Detective pity, covertly supplied slightly, but he was detected and the sanctions.

In case you had a little trouble following that, I was able to cobble together from other sources that Toma was basically a lay martyr in Vietnam during the 19th Century.

#6  Nicetas of Remesiana (June 22)

Remesiana? You might know it as the present-day Bela Palanka. You know, in the Pirot District of modern Serbia? In the former Dacea-Mediterranea? Ah, never mind …

Nicetas was a bishop (of Remesiana no less), as well as a missionary, writer, and hymnographer. That last one simply means that Nicetas was a writer of hymns. In fact, he may have been the author of the famous Te Deum. 

Oddly, Nicetas is also the patron saint of Romania. I mean, everyone knows Remesiana is nowhere near there, right?

Looks like he also got himself on an Albanian stamp somehow or other

#5  Febronia of Nisibis (June 25)

Nisibis? Well, you might know it better as Nusaybin. You know, right on the border between Turkey and Syria? In Nardin Province? Ah …

Poor Febronia was one of the many victims of Diocletian, the Roman emperor who definitely had a thing against Christians. A nun, she suffered a particularly gruesome martyrdom (I’ll spare you the details). 

Febronia’s main claim to fame may be being one of the 140 saints in the colonnade that surrounds St. Peter’s, in Rome. That said, she also has a whole website devoted to her (BTW, it helps if you parla Italiano).

#4  Phanxico Do Van Chieu (June 25) 

Well, we’re back to good old Vietnam for this one.

To tell you the truth, Phanxico’s story sounds a lot like Toma Toan. Layman? Check. 19th Century? Check. Martyr under the wonderfully named Minh Mang? Check. Canonized by JP II? Check.

The only real differences seem to be the way they were martyred. As you can possibly tell from #7, Toma was starved to death. Phanxico, on the other head, got his head lopped off.

And here’s what Google Translate had to say about this guy:

The most memorable image of the martyrdom of the Franciscan catechist is a prime Chieu bloody level of teachers, after leaving the neck, was Bishop Ming received, respectfully rises like pure devotion gifts to God. Both measures were ecstatic silence in moments of incomparable sacred, the moment crystallized whole life of a child of God. Master Chieu has mixed his blood with the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, and now joyfully return to the warm embrace of the Father from loving quiet

By the way, Phanxico seems to be a Vietnamese form of Francis.

#3  Hemma of Gurk (June 29)

You might know her better as Emma. Which is much more familiar and pleasant-sounding, don’t you think?

I’m afraid I can’t do anything about Gurk, unfortunately. It’s a small town in Austria, was named after the local river, and has gone by the same name for more than 1000 years.

As for [H]emma herself, she was a noblewoman who, after become a widow, founded 10 churches and the abbey at Gurk. The abbey, where Hemma/Emma is buried, is a very popular pilgrimage site.
Available on Etsy

#2  Vasyl Vsevolod Velychkovskyi (June 30)

Vvvvvvv ….

Vasyl, also known as Basil, happens to be a much more modern saint. Born in 1903 in Ukraine, he was ordained as a priest in 1929. 

Arrested twice by the Soviet authorities, he spent considerable time in the Gulag. With his health broken, though, he was exiled to Canada, where he died and is buried.

By the way, two things I need to point out about Vasyl:
  • He was Greek Catholic (they recognize the pope too, by the way)
  • He’s really just a beatus (i.e., known as Blessed, and still one step away from sainthood)

#1  Moloc of Mortlach (June 25)

I’m pretty sure this guy is an evil troll in some video game somewhere.

I might have never have guessed it, but Moloc was actually Irish. He lived in the 6th Century, and is known mostly as a missionary to Scotland, where he is buried. Moloc was also a student of Comgall, whose praises I have already sung in this blog. 

Now, here’s the fun thing about this guy … He has no less than 15 other alternate names:
  • Lua
  • Luan
  • Luanus
  • Lugaid of Les Mór
  • Lugaidh
  • Lugide Lis Moer
  • Luoch
  • Mallock
  • Molaug
  • Molluog
  • Moloag
  • Molua
  • Moluag
  • Murlach
  • Malew
That may be a record.

Honorable Mention
  • Bilio of Vannes
  • Hidulphus of Hainault
  • Moelial of Nendrum
  • Amphibalus of Verulam
  • Erembert I of Kremsmünster
  • Crummine
  • Henry the Hagiographer
  • Theodgar of Vestervig
  • Perseveranda of Poitiers
  • Ioannes Baptista Wu Mantang

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