Monday, November 14, 2016

Nov. 15-21

There’s a solemnity this week, the Feast of Christ the King. Now, a solemnity is a feast day of the highest order – think Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Epiphany ... Interestingly, though, this particular one dates back only to 1925.

#10  Gertrude the Great (Nov 16)

AKA Great Gerty …

Gertrude lived in 13th Century Germany. She was a Benedictine sister, having lived in the convent since the age of 4. She was a mystic and writer, with her works influencing a number of subsequent saints.

So, what made her so great? Well, there are certainly a lot of St. Gertrudes out there (I count 9 others), so it is important that they not get all mixed up.  And our Gertrude did seem to accomplish quite a lot and also act as a major influence over the years. So … Hard to believe, though, but Gert is the only female saint out there to get that particular appellation of “Great.”

Oops, wrong Gerty

#9  Lazarus Zographos (Nov 17)

Lazarus Zographos was an anti-iconoclast. And that actually means something much more specific than someone who’s doesn’t like rebels.

Hard to believe, but whether to use religious images was a huge issue in the Byzantine Empire during the 8th and 9th Centuries.  Those who were against icons were known as “iconoclasts” – literally, “image breakers.”

Those who were for icons – like Laz – were “anti-iconoclasts.” Lazarus was, in fact, a famous painter of icons, and a monk to boot. Under certain iconoclast rulers, he would suffer for his art, being thrown in prison and tortured for refusing to destroy his icons or give up his work.

Oh, almost forgot … “Zographos” is actually just Greek for “painter.”

I think that's him in the hoodie

#8  Edmund of East Anglia (Nov 20)
Representation:  man with his severed head between the paws of a wolf

I’m taking it Edmund was a martyr then …

And sure enough, he was. Edmund was king of East Anglia, in the latter part of the 9th Century. He was martyred by invading Vikings (or perhaps Danes) who, after Edmund refused to renounce Christianity, sliced and diced him up pretty good.

The wolf? Here’s the explanation on Wikipedia:

According to one legend, his head was then thrown into the forest, but was found safe by searchers after following the cries of a wolf that was calling, "Hic, Hic, Hic" – "Here, Here, Here".

At one time, Edmund was the patron saint of England. His shrine, at Bury St. Edmunds, was a very popular patronage site.

There you go!

#7  Hugh of Lincoln (Nov 17)
Representation:  man with a swan at his death bed

So, I’m imagining Hugh’s last words were something along the lines of, “What the heck is that doing here?”

Hugh lived in the 12th Century. Born in France, he would become a Carthusian monk, moving to England when the order sought to establish a presence there. There, he would become a bishop, a builder of churches and monasteries, and one of England’s more well-known and influential saints.

Oh, that swan? Wikipedia is here to help us out again:

Hugh loved all the animals in the monastery gardens, especially a wild swan that would eat from his hand and follow him about and yet the swan would attack anyone else who came near Hugh.

Are you sure that's not a flamingo?

#6  Hélène-Marie-Philippine de Chappotin de Neuville (Nov 15)

Of, if you prefer her religious name, Mary of the Passion …  And seeing that that’s 25 characters, 1 space and 2 dashes less, I would well imagine you would.

Mary was born in 1839, in France. Originally a cloistered nun, she later established a mission convent in India, then broke off from her existing order to found the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. This order, though still contemplative, also offered medical service to women in their local community. The group grew by leaps and bounds, and today numbers 6,700 nuns, the citizens of 80 nations, serving in 76 countries.

#5  Mechtilde of Helfta (Nov 19)

Just rolls right off the tongue …

But would you believe it could have been a lot worse? Mechtilde was actually born Mechtilde von Hackeborn-Wippra, into a well-known noble German family. Entering the convent at age 7, she would eventually become a Benedictine nun. She was particularly known for her musical abilities (she was called the “Nightingale of Helfta”), teaching children (including our #10 this week, Gertrude the Great), and her “extreme amiability” (Wikipeda, again).

#4  Yosafat Kotsylovsky (Nov 17)

Ow, I think I just hurt my tongue!

And if that wasn’t painful enough, I’ll have you know that Yosafat’s official title was Eparch of Przemyśl!

Yosafat was a Ukrainian Greek Catholic. They’re one of a number of Eastern Rite Catholic sects, all of which recognize the Pope. In addition to being an eparch (basically, a bishop), Yosafat is also considered a martyr, having died in a Soviet prison camp.

Relaxing at home, I take it

#3  Josaphata Mykhailyna Hordashevska

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use my tongue again!

First of all, Josaphata is indeed the feminine form of Josaphat. Second, Josaphata was also – like Yosafat – a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church.

Interestingly, though, Jospahata has a lot more in common with #6 on our list, Mary of the Passion. Like Mary, Josie joined a contemplative order, but was then tasked with forming a new order that would move out into the world, serving the local community. And like Mary’s new order, Josaphat’s became wildly popular.

I have no idea what the mini people are all about

#2  Leopold III (Nov 15)
Representation:  armed man with a cross on his coronet, a banner with three eagles, and a model of the church of Heiligenkreuz in his hand

But what was he armed with?  Geez, these descriptions are so vague.

So, let me try to explain all this. First, the coronet … That’s due to Leopold’s being Margrave of Austria. The arms? That’s for defeating Hungarian invaders in battle. Heiligenkreuz was a monastery – one of many – Leopold founded.

I would imagine the cross is because of Leopold’s piety. The three eagles? Sorry, can’t help you there.

By the by, Leopold is the patron saint of Austria.

So, what happened to the eagles?

#1  Florinus of Remus (Nov 17)

Not to be confused with Remus of Florinus.

He is, however, the same guy as:
  • Florinus of Mazia
  • Florinus of Val Venosta
  • Florinus of Matsch
  • Florinus of Ramosch
  • Florinus of Vinschgau
  • Florinus of Vnuost
  • Florinus of Chur
  • Florinus of Finsgowe

Who was he? Florinus (who’s also known as Florin and Florian) was a 9th Century priest, born in Italy but working in Switzerland. He was known for living like a hermit and performing miracles, but otherwise simply being the local parish priest. There’s not much more on him, I’m afraid – he’s rather on the obscure side.

Sorry, not sure how he ended up behind bars

Honorable Mention
  • Machudd of Llanfechell
  • Heliodorus of Pamphylia
  • Nerses the Great
  • Rufus of Rome
  • Maximus of Mainz
  • Dasius of Dorostorum
  • Martyrs of Hippo
  • Mummolus of Lagny
  • Cosmas Takeya Sozaburo
  • Martyred Visitationists of Madrid

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