Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dec. 8-14

Busy week … and we’re not even into the Christmas stuff yet. The biggies this week are the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Some of the “smallies” are listed below.

#10  Vicelin of Oldenburg (Dec 12)
Representation: bishop with a church sitting on his left arm

Man, that’s gotta hurt, right?

Vicelin lived in the 11th and 12th Centuries, mostly in Germany. From a noble family, he was orphaned at an early age. He would later become a teacher; priest (including Pastor of Wippenthorp); bishop; founder of monasteries; and missionary to the Obotrites, Polabian Slavs, and Wagrian Wends. He was also known as Witzel, as well as the Apostle of Holstein.

A lot of possibilities for names for alt-rock bands here:
  • Obotrites
  • Polabian Slavs
  • Apostles of Holstein
  • Wagrian Wends
  • Pastors of Wippenthorp

#9  Patapius (Dec 8)

Patron saint of platypuses.

Patapius was a 4th Century hermit. He hung out in the Egyptian desert (he’s also known as Patapius of Thebes) as well as in Constantinople. I’m not sure how he managed the latter, as Constantinople was the largest city in Europe at the time. You can still visit his relics there, some of which are still incorrupt. Pat (surely his friends called him that) is particularly popular in the Eastern, or Orthodox, church.

Patapius is also a bug genus

#8  Bruno of Rommersdorf (Dec 10)

Often confused with Rommer of Brunosdorf.

Bruno was a 12th Century German knight. He gave up worldly things, though, to become a Premonstratensian. He would later become an abbot with them.

By the way, that rather interestingly named order simply comes from the village of Premontre, in France. They also are sometimes called the equally odd Norbertines and White Canons.

Some of that Premo style

#7  Severin Ott (Dec 11)

Hey, another Premonsteranian … I mean, Premisaterian … No, Premonstrositeranian … Uh, one of those guys.

Not a lot out there on this dude. He basically lived in 17th Century Germany and was a … er … Norbertine.

Interestingly, the name also seems to be shared by a Swiss BASE jumper (they fly off mountain tops and things and then glide down with wingsuits) who died just a couple of years ago.

Our saint was not known for levitation
(I'm thinking this might be the other guy)

#6  Gunthildis of Ohrdruf (Dec 8)

Patron saint of dandruff.

Another pretty obscure medieval saint, poor Gunthildis was actually a girl. Born in England, she would later move to Germany, where she would become an abbess. She also goes by the equally awful name of Cunihilt.

#5  Eulalia of Merida (Dec 10)
Representation: naked young woman lying in the snow

I want to see the holy card for this one.

Eulalia was a virgin martyr, active in Spain during the 3rd or 4th Centuries. Eulalia was one of those sassy martyrs. When arrested and asked to worship the pagan gods, she threw down an idol, stamped on the sacrifice that they put together for her to offer, and spat at the judge.

Not too surprisingly, she was then stripped, tortured, and burned. When she died, a dove was seen to fly out of her mouth. And when her body was thrown in the street, a miraculous snow then “covered her nakedness.”

According to Wikipedia, “For this reason she is regarded among Catholic school children and teachers alike as the patron saint of snow (inclement weather) days.” Gotta love it.

#4  Corentius of Quimper (Dec 12)

Couldn’t just be John, or James, or Thomas, now, could we? Had to go and add something like Corentius to the already risible Quimper, didn’t we?

Well, we’re back to medieval obscurity again here. All we really know about Corentius is that he lived in the 400s, was born in Britain, moved later to France, and was a hermit and bishop.

#3  Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin (Dec 9)

Patron saint of people with unpronounceable names.

You may already know that this is the guy who saw the Virgin of Guadalupe. That happened in 1531, within the current confines of Mexico City. The basilica that was built on the site includes the cloak Juan was wearing and on which an image of the Virgin was impressed. The basilica is now the number one pilgrimage site in the world. And you’ve probably seen that image in pretty much any place where Spanish speakers gather in the Western hemisphere. 

Born a poor Indian, Juan was baptized later in life. In addition to seeing the Virgin, he also led a very holy life, lived celibately with his wife, and tended the Virgin’s shrine for his last 20-some years. Though the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe was officially recognized in the 17th Century, Juan was canonized only in 2002.


#2  Lucy (eyes on a dish) (Dec 13)

And, yes, those are indeed Lucy’s.

Lucy was martyred in 304, in Syracuse (that’s Sicily, by the way, not New York). A mere 21, she was your classic virgin martyr. Betrayed by a fiancé whom she spurned, Lucy defied several tortures before finally being stabbed to death.

The eyes? Well, we’ve got a couple of stories for that. In one, having her eyes gouged out was simply a part of her torture. In the second, Lucy did the deed herself, as part of  an effort to cool the ardor of her suitor. Given all that, the connection is probably just linguistic. “Lucy” simply means “light.”

In addition to patronages for everything eye- and sight-related, she is some also invoked against dysentery and for lawyers, weavers, peasants, and penitent prostitutes. She has no less than 40-some patronages.

Indeed, Lucy is a very popular saint. Her relics are scattered about Europe, she appears in Dante, her feast is very popular (especially in Scandinavia), and she’s even got a country named after (St. Lucia, in the Caribbean).

And you thought I was making that up, didn't you?

#1  Gorgonia (Dec 9)

Patron saint of gorgonzola makers.

When you Google Gorgonia, make sure you put “st” before your search. If you don’t, all you’ll get is references to a bunch of sea fans (order Gorgonia, family Gorgoniidae).

Be aware that you may still get sea fans,
even when you put in the "st"

St. Gorgonia came from quite the saintly family. She was the daughter of two saints – Gregory the Elder and Nonna – and the sister of two others. She herself married, and is often cited as an exemplar of a married saint. She was active in the Middle East, during the 4th Century.

Honorable Mention
  • Fidweten
  • Carpophorus
  • Pribyslava
  • Anastasia of Pomerania
  • Therapon of Monzja
  • Ludolf van Craeywinckel
  • Romaric of Remiremont
  • Polydore Plasden
  • Protasi Cubells Minguell
  • John Bread-and-Water

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