Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 8-14

This week actually features three of my favorite saints – Clare (best friends with Francis of Assisi), Maximilian Kolbe (a Holocaust victim), and Edith Stein (ditto and also a convert from Judaism). Clare’s the only one who made the list however – for a rather surprising patronage (see below).

#10  Alexander the Charcoal Burner (Aug 11)

Not sure what exactly’s so funny about this one, but it just really struck me.

If you think about it for a second, though, this is just a guy whose occupation was making charcoal. I guess I just had an image of some dude in the backyard with his Weber and a little Kingsford …

Alexander was a 3rd Century Greek. Well-born and well educated, he gave it all up to follow Christ, picking one of the lowliest occupations he could imagine. Indeed, catholicsaints.info says that Alexander was “noted for being exceptionally ragged and filthy.”

That didn’t, however, stop a council from picking him as their bishop. Turns out they had been given directions to “ignore outward appearance, and choose the most spiritual person among them.” When Alexander was dragged in front of the council as something of a joke, he managed to impress them with his knowledge and spirituality.

"Here, let's trade hats"

#9  Werenfridus (Aug 14)

I really like the name on this one, but also think this guy should get some points for his various patronages:
  • Against gout
  • Against stiff joints
  • Vegetable gardeners

He’s also got some pretty interesting representations as well:
  • Priest vested for Mass holding a ship with a coffin in it
  • Dead priest laid in a ship

As for those representations, turns out he was buried in one Dutch town then had his coffin float down an offshoot of the Rhine to another Dutch town where he resides to this day. 

"Do you like my boat?"

#8  Concordia of Rome (Aug 13)
Patronage:  wet nurses

There’s a job description you don’t hear too much of these days. 

In fact, I’m not sure it actually fits Concordia all that well either. I have her down as a “foster mother” for another saint, Hippolytus. Now, “wet nurse” and “foster mother” might actually have been the same thing back in the day. If so, though, why not make Concordia patron saint for both wet nurses and foster mothers?

Here’s everything you need to know about Concordia:

Saint Concordia was the foster mother of St Hippolytus, and she was whipped with olive branches before being executed. Her body was thrown in an unclean place, but was later recovered by Sts Irenaeus and Abundius. She was then buried beside St Hippolytus. (Orthodox Church in America)

#7  Radegunde (Aug 13)
Patronage:  against scabies

I don’t know what it is, but it sure sounds like something I would never want to get.

And I was right!  Here, let Wikipedia explain:

Scabies, known as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infestation by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The most common symptoms are severe itchiness and a pimple-like rash.

Radegunde? She was a 6th Century German royal. Forcibly married to some barely Christian French low-life. she would leave him to became a nun and abbess.

I’m surprised she’s not invoked against strabismus as well 

The really great thing about Radegund’s bio, though, are all the wonderfully odd Anglo-Saxon names it contains, including:
  • Ingund
  • Aregund
  • Chunsina
  • Clothar
  • Chlodomer
  • Berthachar
  • Baderic
  • Theuderic
  • Theudebald
  • Hermanfrid
  • Wuldetrada

#6  Dominic de Guzman (Aug 8)
Representation:  dog with a torch in its mouth

Some dogs get their masters their slippers. Dominic’s, on the other hand …

This is right before the dog set the tablecloth on fire
and they ended up on YouTube

St. Dominic’s kind of a biggie. He started the Dominican Order, which today number over 6,000. He’s also the patron saint of Europe, invented the rosary (maybe), and raised four people from the dead.

The dog? Here’s what catholicsaints.info has to say about that:

While pregnant, Blessed Joan [his mother] had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth; a dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order which he founded.

#5  Lawrence of Rome (Aug 10)
Patronage:  comedians

So, this saint walks into a bar …

Lawrence was a Roman deacon and was responsible for the papal treasury, including alms-giving. He was martyred in the 3rd Century during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian.

That martyrdom was particularly gruesome, with Lawrence tied to a large iron grill that was lowered over some live coals. After cooking there for awhile, Lawrence uttered the immortal line, “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.”

And that is why Lawrence of Rome is the patron saint of comedians. Honestly, I couldn’t make this stuff up.

"I'll be here all week, folks."

#4  Clare of Assisi (Aug 11)
Patronage:  television writers

When Clare of Assisi first came to work for EWTN, the studios were located in Assisi. In fact, that’s where she met Francis, who was working as an assistant executive producer at the time …

Only $98 at catholicchild.com

If you’re not familiar with Clare’s story, it is a wonderful one. She was basically a female St. Francis. In fact, they were very devoted to each other – as close as brother and sister or father and daughter.

Like Francis, Clare started her own order – known today as the Poor Clares. Clare was, in fact, the first woman to write a set of monastic rules.

As for that interesting patronage, turns out Clare, when she was too ill to attend mass, miraculously saw it on the wall of her cell.

#3  Cassian of Imola (Aug 13)
Representation:  man being stabbed by children

Kids these days!

Especially them pagan kids. Let me explain …

Cassian was a teacher in 4th Century Rome. Found out as a Christian, he was put to death … by his students! Sounds like the authorities figured that would be a particularly fitting end for him and invited the students to do what I’m sure every school kid has fantasized about at least once.

And that great story is what’s behind Cassian’s being remembered to this day. In particular, he’s called out in John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces and in Annie Dillard’s The Living. Bethel College, in Kansas, also named one of their faculty lounges after him. I love that last one.

#2  Wigbert of Fritzlar (Aug 13)

Not to be confused with Fritzbert of Wiglar …

Born in 7th Century Britain to a noble family, Wigbert would later become a Benedictine monk. Invited by his friend Boniface, Wigbert would then become a missionary to the Germans. There, he would become an abbot as well.

"Here, have some grapes!"

#1  Smaragdus (Aug 8)

Go ahead, say it out loud. Music to the ears, huh? Pure poetry, right?

But would you believe it’s from the Greek for “emerald”? Further, would you believe it’s the basis for the rather lovely girls name of Esmeralda?

Other than that, unfortunately, we don’t know a whole lot about this guy. It does sound like he was martyred during the persecutions of Diocletian. He was part of a group led by St. Cyriacus. Like Cyriacus, Smaragdus probably ministered to slaves who were building the Baths of Diocletian. His marytrdom was particularly gruesome, including the rack, being beaten with clubs, and beheading.

Lunella smaragdus
(Emerald moon turban)

Honorable Mention
  • Plettrude
  • Thiento of Wessobrunn
  • Francois François
  • Jambert of Canterbury
  • Ust
  • Ultan of Crayke
  • Mummolus of Fleury
  • Chromatius the Prefect 
  • Discolio IV of Vercelli
  • Myron the Wonder Worker

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