#10 Conrad of Constance (Nov 26)
Representation: bishop holding a chalice with a spider above or in it
You know, there’s a big difference between “above” and “in,” right?
Conrad was a very well-connected individual who somehow managed to avoid politics in a very political time and place (the Holy Roman Empire, during the 10th Century). Bishop of Constance (in current-day Switzerland), Conrad made several pilgrimages to Jerusalem, founded a number of churches, and was known for his charity to the poor.
The spider? Sounds like “in” would have been a much more accurate representation:
This refers to a story that once when he was celebrating mass a spider fell into the chalice. Spiders were believed at that time to be deadly poisonous, but Conrad nevertheless drank the Blood of Christ, which had been transubstantiated from wine, with the spider in it, as a token of faith. (Wikipedia)
#9 Catherine Laboure (Nov 28)
Patronage: pigeon fanciers
Catherine Laboure is a pretty well-known saint. Living in 19th Century France as a simple Sister of Charity, she had several visions of the Virgin Mary, visions which would lead to the issuing of the Miraculous Medal, arguably the most popular religious medal out there.
The pigeons? Turns out Catherine took care of the family’s pigeons as a young girl. I must admit, though, I honestly thought it had to do with Catherine’s wimple. If Sister Bertrille could get airborne with hers, I’m sure it would be easy for Cathy.
#8 Fergus the Pict (Nov 27)
Not too surprisingly, Fergus was a Scot, active during the 7th and 8th Centuries. He was a bishop, founded a number of churches, and attended a council in Rome. Looks like you can also hire him for your next kids party as well:
#7 Amphilochius of Iconium (Nov 23)
Hmm, I might be spelling that wrong. Indeed, my spell check suggests Aphidlocus of Zirconium.
Amphiliochius was active during the 4th and 5th Centuries, in what is now Turkey. He started out as a lawyer, ditched it all to become a hermit, and then was made a bishop. He was very active in the numerous theological debates that went on in this era. In particular, he was known for fighting the Macedonians, Arians, Messalonians, Green Bay Packers, and Sonny Liston. (Okay, not those last two.)
#6 Tudwal of Treguier (Nov 30)
Representation: bishop using his stole as a leash on a dragon
Tudwal was a Breton monk who loved in the 6th Century. He was born in Brittany (the son of a king), studied in Ireland, was a hermit in Wales, and then returned to Brittany to found a monastery.
He was also a man of many names. In addition to Tudwal, I’ve also got him down for Tudgual, Tugdual, Tugual, Tugdualus, Tual, Pabu, and Papu. I think someone might just be having fun with me for those last two.
Though I could find a number of sites that cited that rather interesting representation, I could not find any explanations. I’m assuming Tudwal was probably just a St. George type who just so happened to be fond of animals.
#5 Alypius Stylites (Nov 26)
Representation: an old man on a pillar holding a baby
There’s a story behind this. I just know there is.
What that is, though, we may never know. Once again, all I get are citations of this particular (and particularly weird) representation. Nobody seems to want to come forward and explain what it all means. And this time, I certainly don’t feel comfortable speculating.
Oh, I can explain why he’s on a pillar though. Hard to believe, but playing hermit on the top of a pillar in the middle of the desert was all the rage in the Byzantine Empire around the 5th Century. There were usually called “stylites,” from the Greek word for “pillar,” stylos.
Sorry, no baby
#4 James of the Marches (Nov 28)
Representation: Franciscan with a staff, castanets at his girdle, pointing to HIS
The castanets are bad enough. But what’s with the girdle?
Born James Gangala in 15th Century Italy, this saint would become a lawyer and a Franciscan. He would become involved heavily in the Inquisition, then have the tables turned on him in the last few years of his life.
An alternative representation for him is
"priest holding in his right hand a chalice from which a snake is escaping"
#3 Barlaam (Nov 27)
Representation: man in a tree, which is being gnawed by a mouse, grabbing a beehive while hanging over a dragon in a pit
Forget the story. I’m having a hard time even picturing this.
Barlaam was a Christian hermit in - of all places - India. He converted the king's son, Josaphat, who would later join him as a hermit as well. This legend probably derives from the life of the Buddha. Infact, "Josaphat" is robably derived from "Bodhisattva," one of the Buddha's titles.
Surprisingly, there are multiple St. Barlaams out there, including ones in Russia and what is now modern-day Turkey.
That's it! (though I have no idea what it could possibly mean)
#2 Ekbert of Muensterschwarzach (Nov 25)
I’m thinking that last bit might have something to do with monsters. Or maybe cheese.
Wouldn’t you know, though … “Muenster” is actually German for “monastery.” “Schwarzach”? It’s a river in Bavaria. So, basically, that whole big long mess simply equates to “the monastery on the Schwarzach River.”
Ekbert? He was a monk at – and later, abott of – said monastery. We’re talking the 11th Century here, by the way. Other than that those scant facts, however, all we’re really left with here is that wonderful whopper of a name.
#1 Dimbalac Oghlou Wartavar (Nov 22)
Known to his friends as “Dim” …
Well, it looks like this guy has a lot in common Ekbert. First, we’ve got that mouthful of a name. Second, we’ve got almost next to nothing for a bio. About all I could squeeze out of the Interwebs for this guy was that he was a “a Franciscan and a Martyr of Armenia.”
Actually, a little more digging tells me that Dimbalac was actually part of the Armenian Genocide. They were beatified by JPII in 1982. Some of “companions” include:
- Geremia Oghlou Boghos
- Khodianin Oghlou Kadir
- Baldji Oghlou Ohannes
- Kouradji Oghlou Tzeroum
- David Oghlou David
(If you’re wondering about that “Oghlou,” it just means “son of.”)
Not sure who's who,
but the head honcho in the middle is Salvatore Lilli
- Egelwine of Athelney
- Sosthenes of Colophon
- Paphnutius of Heracleopolis
- Simeon the Logothete
- Pompea of Langoat
- Ferran Llovera Pulgsech
- Banban of Lethglenn
- Sisinius of Cyzicus
- Zosimus the Wonder Worker