Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sept 22-30

There are a few moderately well-known saints this week – Padre Pio, Ss. Cosmas and Damian, Jerome, the Archangels, Wenceslaus, and St. Vincent de Paul. That last one is actually the patron saint of my local parish. 

#10  Bernardine of Feltre (Sept 28)
Patronage: pawnbrokers

So, this is who Chumlee prays to every night?

That’s Chumlee, by the way – not Bernardine

Bernardine was a 15th Century Italian preacher. He was famous for his “bonfires of the vanities,” where people would toss in things like playing cards, dice, cosmetics, wigs, and fine clothes.

The pawnbrokers? Well, Bernardine was famous for starting a rival institution, called “mounts of piety,” which charged a lot less than the regular ones. You know, kind of like a Vatican version of Pawn Stars. 

#9  Sadalberga (Sept 22)

So, what’s with all the bergas? We’ve got Notaberga and Sexaberga … and now Sadalberga.

The story of Sadalberga is a pretty common one – young noble with religious leanings but forced to marry. She and her hubby eventually separate to live the religious life, with mom, dad, and kids all ending up as saints.

What’s really cool about Sadalberga’s story, though, is all the great medieval names involved. In addition to Sadalberga, we’ve got Blandinus, Anstrudus, Fulcrus, Gundoin, Richramn, Saretrude, Gaulbert, Waldebert, Dagobert, and Bodo.

I have absolutely no clue what this is all about
(but it was the 3rd result on Google Images for “sadlaberga”)

#8  Cleopas (Sept 25)

Wasn’t that the name of the yokel character in the Simpsons?

Nope. That was Cletus. I’m pretty sure Cletus has a cousin named Cleopas though.

Actually, are you familiar with the Road to Emmaus? That’s where the risen Jesus appeared to two of his disciples in disguise. Well, one of those disciples just so happened to be Cleopas. No one knows what the other one’s name was. I’m pretty sure it was not Cletus though.

I had no idea the Road to Emmaus was also a South Park episode

Apart from the Gospel story, Cleopas doesn’t really get much press. He may be the same person as Clopas, believed to be the brother of St. Joseph. Just to muddy the water further, he’s also referred to as Cleophas, Cleofa, Cleopatros, and Alphaeus (Alphaeus?).

#7  Gabriel (Sept 29)
Patronage: television workers

I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with Gabriel. Like the other archangels, he appears in both the Old and New Testatments (as well as the Koran!). He’s famous for being something of a heavenly messenger service, including doing such bigtime gigs as Daniel’s visions, the Annunciation, and dictating the Koran to Muhammad. 

And that may be what’s behind his association with television, as well as with:
  • Broadcasters
  • Communications workers
  • Telecommunications workers
  • Postal workers (and philatelists as well)
  • Messengers
  • Diplomats

Here he is lookin' kinda hunky

#6  Michael (Sept 29)
Patronage:  Greek Air Force

Another archangel, another weird patronage.

Once again, though, there’s some logic behind this one as well. Turns out two of Michael’s main duties include (]: 
  • Escorting the faithful to heaven at their hour of death
  • Calling men from life on Earth to their heavenly judgment

As for Michael’s other 30-some patronages, I’m not so certain. Some of the odder ones include:
  • Bakers
  • Bankers
  • Boatmen
  • Barrel makers
  • Artists
  • Ambulance drivers
  • Radiologists
  • Dying people
  • Police officers
  • Spanish police officers
  • Paratroopers
  • Knights
  • Fencers
  • Swordsmiths
  • Haberdashers
  • Greengrocers

#5  Theodota of Thrace (Sept 29)

Thuffering thucotash!

I love Theodata’s bio on

Repentant prostitute. Convert. Tortured and martyred for refusing to sacrifice to Roman idols during the persecutions of Agrippa.

Short (less than 20 words), sweet – but speaks volumes. 

By the way, Thrace is in modern-day Bulgaria.

#4  Martyrs of the Theban Legion (Sept 22)

No, these guys are not Marvel Comics characters.

What they were were a crack regiment in the Roman army. Originally from the Egyptian city of Thebes, they were all Christians. When posted to what is now France and forced to worship the pagan gods, they refused. Eventually, all 6,666 would be martyred. 

This is their leader, Maurice

By the way, “Martyrs of the Theban Legion” would also be a great name for a (heavy metal?) band.

#3  Herman the Cripple (Sept 25)

Things weren’t so PC, oh, way back in the 11th Century.

Alternate names for this guy, unfortunately, include Hermann von Reichenau (which makes him sound like some Nazi) and Herman Contractus (which just sounds weird).

Herman was actually quite the interesting fellow. Severely crippled from birth and dumped on the local abbey, he would remain there the rest of his life. He would also become a monk, compose hymns and poetry, write histories and math treatises, study astronomy, learn a number of languages, and correspond with other scholars all over Europe. He was something of the Stephen Hawking of his day, I guess.

#2  Maria Carme Fradera Ferragutcasas / Maria Magdalena Fradera Ferragutcasas / Maria Rosa Fradera Ferragutcasas (Sept 27)

Do you think they’re related?

And indeed they are. They were all sisters (i.e., nuns), who just so happened to be sisters in real life as well. Tragically, though, they all died a martyr’s death. 

Their martyrdom was not, however, hundreds of years ago. Nor was it in some faraway pagan land. In fact, they were all martyred during the Spanish Civil War, in the 1930s. 

Actually, it’s rather shocking how many martyrs there were from that particular conflict. lists over 1400.

That should be Maria Carme

#1  Coprio (Sept 24)

How are your Latin and Greek roots? Familiar with “copro”? As in “coprolite,” “coprolallia,” “coprophagia,” “coprophilia”?

Here, I’ll let explain:

Abandoned as an infant on a dungheap (Greek: koprìa) by his parents, the boy was found and rescued by monks of the nearby monastery of Saint Theodosius in Bethleham. The monks named him Coprio, and raised him as their own. He grew to become a model of holiness, living his 90 years in the monastery. Monk.

Yup, that's pretty much everything you get on Google Image for "st coprio"

Honorable Mention
  • Willigod of Moyenmoutier
  • Hilary the Hermit
  • Lupus of Lyons
  • Callistratus of Constantinople
  • Amalia Abad Casasempere de Maestre
  • Zama of Bologna
  • Mewrog
  • Fymbert
  • Purificación Ximénez y Ximénez
  • Pau Bori Puig

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sept 15-21

Nothing special going on this week. It does, however, seem to be a week dedicated to saints whose names sound way too similar and could be way too easily confused. To wit:
  • 15th – Ribert and Ritbert of Varennes
  • 16th – Abundius of Rome and Abundantius of Rome
  • 16th – Vilbetta of Maranza and Vorbetta of Maranza
  • 18th – Ferreolus the Tribune and Ferreolus of Limoges 
  • 20th – Theopistus of Rome and Theopistes of Rome 

#10  Januarius of Naples (Sept 19)
Patronage:  blood banks

As unlikely as it may sound, there’s actually a really good explanation for this one.

Januarius, also known as Gennaro, is the patron saint of Naples. Now, it just so happens that the good people of that city keep a vial of Januarius’s blood on hand in their cathedral. Further, they take it out three times a year. And every time they take it out, the blood liquefies and bubbles.

“So, whaddya think?”

Januarius himself was a bishop and a martyr, succumbing during the Persecutions of Diocletian. Nietzsche, of all people, once wrote a poem about him.

#9  Matthew (Sept 21)
Patronage:  stockbrokers

Well, I guess even guys like Gordon Gecko need a patron.  (Actually, they probably need patrons more than most people.)

Yes, this is indeed Matthew the Apostle (and evangelist). Pretty famous guy.

The stockbroker bit comes from Mathew’s having been a tax collector. As you can imagine, they weren’t any more popular than they were now.  Matthew is also patron saint of other financial types like accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, customs officials, money managers, and even security guards. I understand that there is no truth to the rumor that he is patron saint of the IRS. 

#8  Socrates (Sept 17)

No, not that Socrates. 

It is hard to imagine that someone else would go by that name, but that has actually been a pretty popular name for Greeks over the centuries.

Our Socrates was a soldier in the 2nd Century, in what is now modern-day Turkey (in the Roman province of Pamphylia, to be exact). He was on hand when St. Theodore, who had been conscripted, refused to worship the pagan idols as part of his indcution ceremony.

Poor Ted was stuck on a red-hot plate, dowsed with liquid tar, and dragged through the streets by horses. None of these tortures, however, had any affect.

And that impressed Socrates enough that he himself became a believer. Socrates then went through similar tortures, with similar disappointing results. Like Theodore, he would finally be beheaded, thus earning his own martyr’s crown.

Socrates Restaurant, St. Albert, Canada
(Hey, thanks, Google Images!)

#7  Hildegard von Bingen (Sept 17)

Hard to believe that a saint with such an odd name is actually pretty high profile.

Hildegard was actually something of a medieval Renaissance man (er, woman). And, no, that is not a contradiction in terms.

Hildy was an abbess, writer, artist, composer, architect, philosopher, theologian, mystic, and early scientist. Some people even credit her with inventing opera. In 2012, Benedict XVI made her a Doctor of the Church.

Hildegard lived in the 12th Century, in what is now Germany. Something of a controversial figure, she was only canonized in 2012. She is often seen as something of a proto-feminist figure.

No, Hildy is not on fire
She’s just receiving a vision 
(as interpreted by some medieval artist)

#6  Joseph of Cupertino (Sept 18)
Patronage:  astronauts

Once again, this rather wild patronage actually has a pretty good explanation.

Turns out Joseph was able to levitate. As a result, he’s patron of, not only astronauts, but a number of other high-flying folk as well:
  • Air crews
  • Air Forces
  • Air travellers
  • Pilots
  • Paratroopers

Joe lived in the 1600s and was a Franciscan monk. Cupertino is in Apulia, by the way, in the heel of the Italian boot. And, yes, that is indeed how the town where Apple is headquartered got its name.

#5  Mary de Cerevellon (Sept 19)
Patronage:  Spanish sailors

Hmm, don’t you think those Spanish marines are going to get jealous? I looked and I looked, and I couldn’t find a patron saint for them.

Mary lived in 13th Century Spain, where she started an order, the female branch of the Mercedarians.

As for the patronage, I had to do a little conjecturing, but it probably goes something like this ...  Turns out Mary was particularly devoted to Christian slaves. Back then, Christians were often enslaved as galley crews in the Mediterranean, at that time something of a Muslim lake. Mary’s from Spain, so … there you have it.

She’s usually represented “carrying a ship”

#4  Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski (Sept 17)
Patronage: Scrabble players

Okay, I made that one up. Zygmunt’s not patron saint of anything, as far as I could tell.

He would make a good one though. In fact, he’s something of a national figure in Poland. He figured prominently in independence movements during the 19th Century – when Poland was ruled by Russia and Zygmunt was Archbishop of Warsaw. He would later get exiled for his efforts, but also canonized in 2009 as well.

"Hi, folks!"

#3  Cornelius (Sept 16)
Patronage:  twitching

Cornelius was actually quite the busy guy. In addition to twitching, you can also call on him relative to:
  • Epilepsy
  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Domestic animals
  • Cattle
The last two probably have to do with his name – it means “horn.” The first three? You got me.

I can’t tell if he’s smoking a pipe or “brandishing” a horn

Cornelius was pope back when that was not such a good thing. When he served (in the 3rd Century), being pope was akin to having a big, red target on your back. Sure enough, Cornelius served all of two years, and was then exiled and martyred.

#2  Mirin of Bangor (Paisley) (Sept 15)
Patronage:  Paisley

No, not that paisley. 

Wrong paisley!

Paisley the fabric is actually named after Paisley, a city in Scotland where it was first made. This burg of 80,000 is located just west of Glasgow. Its patron saint is Mirin.

Mirin lived in the 500s and 600s. Born in Ireland, he came to Scotland as a missionary, founded an abbey in Paisley, and became its first abbot. His shrine was something of a major pilgrimage site as well.

Paisley (the town) remembered Mirin by naming the local soccer team after him. St. Mirren FC, is in the Scottish Premier League, the highest level of soccer in Scotland. Not too surprisingly, they are known as the Saints (but also as the Buddies?!?!).

#1  Mercedarian Martyrs of Morocco (Sept 15)

Man, oh man! That’s marvelous! Mucho miraculous! Molto mind-messing!

These guys were part of a religious order (the Mercedarians) who were captured by Muslims during the 13th Century. They were hauled back to Morocco, where they were enslaved. That didn’t stop them from preaching however (or getting martyred for that preaching).

By name, they are John, James, Francis, Sancho, Dionisio, and Ildefonso.

Honorable Mention
  • Brogan of Ross Tuirc
  • María de La Encarnación de La Yglesia de Varo
  • Eumenius Thaumaturgus
  • Evilasius of Cyzicum
  • Hygbald
  • Agathoclia
  • Pomposa
  • Nicetas the Goth
  • Flocellus
  • Rodingus
  • Quadrato of Magnesia

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sept 8-14

Big week for you Marian devotees out there. We’ve got her birth on the 8th and The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 12th. And just over the line into the next week – on June 15th – is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

#10  Martyrs of Bithynia (Sept 10)

Turns out there were only three of them:
  • Menodora
  • Metrodora
  • Nymphodora

The three were actually sisters, and were martyred “in the persecutions of emperor Maximian and governor Fronto” ( We’re talking around the year 300 here.

That’s Nympho on the right; don’t know about the others

Bithynia? It was a Roman province, making up the northwest part of present-day Turkey. Today? Just kind of a funny name.

#9  Hyacinth of Rome (Sept 11)

Now, Hyacinth’s bad enough. But would you believe that Hyacinth was a guy?

Yup. He and his brother Protus were burned alive (or maybe beheaded, or maybe both), way back in 257. 

Interestingly, the flower was actually named after a mythological figure – who was also a guy. I’m assuming our saint was named after this figure as well.

There are actually no less than 9 saint Hyacinths out there, all male. In fact, there are actually two Hyacinths of Rome. And all that’s not even including the 7 Jacintos – the Spanish equivalent of Hyacinth.

#8  Serafina Sforza (Sept 9)

Suffering succotash …

Serafina started out as something of a debutante. You’re probably already familiar with the Sforzas, one of the famous families of the Italian Renaissance. Serafina was also related to two others – the Colonnas and Montefeltros – as well.

Sforza is actually Serafin’s married name. Her husband, though initially quite the nice guy, would later live up to his family’s Machiavellian nature. After suspecting Serafina of a plot against him, he had her put away in a nunnery. There, though, Serafina shone – eventually ending up as the abbess.

#7  Maria Eutimia Uffing (Sept 9)

Unlike our first few saints, Maria is a much more recent one. Born in Germany, she actually lived through WWI (which she spent ministering to POWs). Though crippled in her youth by rickets, and in poor health the rest of her life, she worked tirelessly in some particularly humble occupations. JPII reflected that well in what he said about her for her beatification ceremony:

Her life shows us that seemingly small things can be very important in God’s eyes. From the human viewpoint this sister was not a “star” in the limelight, but her silent work was a ray of light to many people that is still shining today.

She was a member of the wonderfully named Klemensschwestern (Sisters of the Congregation of Compassion).

#6  Pulcheria (Sept 10)
Patronage:  empresses

And our next saint goes out to all you empresses out there …

You’ll be happy to know that Pulcheria was indeed an empress herself. She was originally a princess, the daughter of Byzantine Emperor Arcadius. When Arcadius died, she then became regent for her younger brother, Theodosius II. When Theo came into his maturity, Pulcheria faded into the background (and was then actually forced into exile by her evil daughter-in-law). When Theodosius died himself, Pulcheria and her husband Marcian came back as Emperor and Empress. 

On the spiritual side, Pulcheria was actually quite involved. She guided two very important Councils, Ephesus and Chalcedon; built numerous churches and hospitals; and was involved in battling Monophysites, Nestorians, Eutychians, and various other 5th Century bad guys.

You’d never guess it from the way it sounds, but Pulcheria actually means “beautiful.”

Hey, nice hat!

#5  Notburga (Sept 14)

Like #7, Notburga was another very humble saint. A cook in a noble household, Notburga ran afoul of her mistress when she took scraps of food to the poor instead of to the pigs as directed. After sacking Notburga, said mistress became deathly ill. Notburga, though, remained to nurse her and make sure she repented and got into heaven before kicking the bucket.

A similar story happened at Notburga’s next place of employment. This time, though, she was working for a peasant. I guess that all just goes to you show that both ends of the social spectrum can behave badly.

Notburga lived from 1265 to 1313, in what is now Germany. She is patron saint for peasants, servants, and farm workers. Many miracles are attributed to her, and her burial site is a popular pilgrimage.

Her skeletal remains are on display in Eben, Germany

#4  Paphnutius (Sept 11) 

So, what would the nickname for this one be? Paph? Paphy? Nuti?

Paphnutius was also known as Paphnutius of Thebes, Paphnutius the Confessor, and Paphnutius the Great. And that’s to distinguish him from other notable Paphnutii, such as the Hermit, the Buffalo, of Egypt, of Alexandria, of Jerusalem, of Borovsk, of Tentyra, and of Heracleopolis. Huh! Popular name in 4th Century Egypt, I guess. 

Paphy was a hermit and bishop. He was also tortured and maimed for his faith, as well as getting exiled to the mines. Paph was particularly well known for his participation in a number of early councils. In fact, you may have this guy to blame/credit for priestly celibacy.

#3  Autonomous (Sept 12) tells me that this means “having self-government, at least to a significant degree.”  Hmm …

Autonomous the saint was actually an early Roman bishop. Under the Persecutions of Diocletian, Auto fled to Bithynia (that place again!), where he subsequently became a martyr. Not much more on him out there, I’m afraid.

In fact, when I Google “st. autonomous,” I get a few hits to our guy, but a lot more like these:
  • Wells Fargo Picks the 3 Winners of Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Mobile Intelligent Autonomous Systems
  • Institute of Navigation Sixth Annual Autonomous Snowplow Competition
  • St. Josephs College Of Arts and Science (Autonomous)

And images like this one

#2  Disibod of Disenberg (Sept 8)

Patron saint of disembodied dishwashers and Duesenberg drivers …

Disibod was an Irishman who lived in the 7th Century, leaving the Emerald Isle as a missionary to Germany. There, he founded a monastery, where he became abbot-bishop.

He was written up by no less an illustrious personage of Hildegard of Bingen, though I’m afraid I don’t have a lot from her to add here.

#1  Corbinian (Sept 8)
Representation: bishop making a bear carry his luggage because it has eaten his mule

There’s a story in this.  I just know there is.

Corbinian, originally named Waldegiso, was a Frankish hermit, pilgrim, and bishop who lived in the 600 and 700s. He was also a missionary to Bavaria, where he founded a monastery, performed some miracles, and ran into trouble with the local royals there.

The legend may be symbolic. In fact, there are a number of pious legends where the local pagans are represented as animals to be tamed.

Benedict XVI, who headed Corbinian’s see before becoming pope, used the bear in his own papal arms

Honorable Mention
  • Kingsmark
  • Hedwig of Hreford
  • Gusmeo of Gravedona sul Lario
  • Apolonia Lizárraga Ochoa de Zabalegui
  • Autbert of Avranches 
  • Wulfhilda
  • Pierre-Sulpice-Christophe Faverge
  • Frithestan
  • Barypsabas
  • Macrobius