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Painted in 1531 by a German painter, apparently before they discovered perspective, since the tooth and her head are the same size.

Painted in 1531 by a German painter, apparently before they discovered perspective, since the tooth and her head are the same size.

Way before a dude named Prince was making Purple Rain, there was a martyr in Alexandria, Egypt, named Apollonia.

Nothing, apparently, is known of her life, besides the fact that she was a Christian virgin who lived in Alexandria. Some sources say she was an older lady, but other sources say that’s a mistranslation, and what the letter it’s from actually says is that she was a deaconess. Either way, she was doing her thing in 248 or 249 CE, right after Rome’s first millenial celebration (it was founded in 753 BCE), and during one of the most intense persecutions.

The Emperor Decius, who ruled for all of two years (which was an admirable stretch at the time), decided that Christians were a big threat to the empire because a) they had weird customs, b) they weren’t worshiping the proper gods, and c) they were more loyal to the Christian god than the Emperor. Seeing an opportunity to unite the rest of the Roman people by joining together to beat up the Christians, they all got rounded up and told to convert or die. That’s the point I tried (and failed) to make last week: this is how most organized religious persecutions go, more or less.

A whole lot converted. You don’t hear about this much, because instead of getting sainthood they got to live out their lives, but it’s true. Here and here are some certificates saying former Christians had sacrificed to the Roman gods. Many went back to the church a little later asking to rejoin, which caused a big fuss, but that’s for another day.

That’s the deal they offered Apollonia. She refused, so they beat her, and either punched her and knocked out her teeth, or extracted her teeth as a torture method. When she wasn’t deterred, the mob (remember, it was a family activity) made a fire and told her to change her mind or she’d be burned alive. By pretending to consider, she got the crowd to unhand her, and then jumped in the fire herself.

You may think that this counts as suicide, which is totally a sin. St. Augustine, early father of the church, says it wasn’t, though. Clearly, as a holy person, she was told by the holy spirit to jump in the fire. Since she was just obeying God, it wasn’t suicide, so she was a martyr and therefore holy. It’s a little circuitous.

Apollonia became a saint, and Decius dealt with a huge smallpox pandemic (5,000 people PER DAY died in the city of Rome) right before being the first Roman Emperor to die in battle with barbarians.

Unsettlingly, Apollonia is the patron saint of dentistry, usually pictured with a tooth and sometimes pliers. She has relics all over the place, but her head is in the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is totally near where I lived when I did a semester in Rome, and I went there a couple of times because I was just as crazy then.

Her saint day is February 9, but I recommend the nitrous oxide.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Wikipedia

Butler’s Lives of the Saints

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Why do all Russian dudes look like Rasputin?

Why do all Russian dudes look like Rasputin?

Sometimes I purposefully pick a saint that doesn’t seem to have too much weird stuff going on in the hopes that I can post on him or her in a quick, timely fashion. I’m never right. There’s always too much interesting historical stuff in the way.

St. Nicholas of Japan was, in fact, a Russian. Although I tend to think of Russia as “Eastern Europe” and Japan as “East Asia,” it turns out that Russia is really big and they’re right next to each other, and as such they’ve had lots of contact throughout history. His birth name was Ivan Dimitrovich Kasatkin, and he was born in 1836 to a Russian deacon. He went through the usual priest school, and then volunteered to serve at a chapel in Japan. He went there in 1861.

Until 1873, Christianity was technically illegal in Japan, or at least, proselytizing wasn’t allowed. For some reason, I was surprised to find out that a largely Buddhist nation has a long history of religious persecution. It was first outlawed in the 1500’s, partly to avoid the religious wars Europe was having at the time. The Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu also claimed it was because he feared the Christians would have a greater loyalty to each other than to the Shogunate–sort of like another big empire I can think of.

In 1880, Nicholas became the bishop of Revel, Russia, which he never actually visited.

Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov–later Nicholas II of Russia and the last Czar–visited Japan in 1891, and St. Nicholas was around for it. At the time he was tsarevich, which is like the Russian Prince of Wales. While he was there, one of his police escort attacked him with a saber and his cousin, the Prince of Greece and Denmark, saved him by blocking the blow with his cane. It left a huge scar on his forehead, and he ended up cutting his visit short. It’s now known at the Otsu Incident.

The Japanese totally freaked out when this happened. One town forbade use of the attacker’s family name. 10,000 telegrams were sent. A seamstress named Yuko Hatakeyama slit her throat in front of a government building as an act of public contrition, and the media praised her patriotism. Obviously I’m not a Japanese or Russian history expert, so I can only make stabs at why the Japanese reacted that way. Clearly it’s a big deal to almost have a foreign leader assassinated on your watch, but the Japanese army was also MUCH smaller than Russia’s at that point.

Fourteen years later, the Russo-Japanese war began. It was an imperialist deal, mainly over Korea and Manchuria. Basically, all imperial Russian wars start when someone important says, “You know, guys, we could really use a port that isn’t frozen over half the year.” This time they wanted one on the Pacific.

Being a Russian in Japan, the war was hard on Nicholas. On the one hand, he was Russian; on the other, part of his job was to pray for the Emperor of Japan publicly. The Orthodox liturgy at this time demanded that one pray not only for one’s sovereign, but for the explicit defeat of the sovereign’s enemies. Nicholas didn’t participate in public church services during the war.

He also helped Russian prisoners of war, at one point discovering that 90% of them couldn’t read, and dispatching nuns and priests to help sovle the problem. His attitude and manners during the war impressed everyone, including the Emperor Meiji. Russia lost the war pretty badly, which contributed to the Russian Revolution of 1905.

After all this, in 1907, Nicholas was elevated to the Archbishop of All Japan by the Holy Russian Synod. He was also the first to translate the New Testament and parts of the Old into Japanese–translations which are still used today. He’s considered the first saint of the Japanese Orthodox Church, and his saint day in February 16 if you’re old school, 3rd if you can handle that the earth goes around the sun.

Wikipedia

Orthodox Wiki

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Hello fervent readers of Friday Obscure Saint blogging! Just popping in to say that there won’t be an obscure saint (or, probably, much else) for this week or next week. Henry & I are moving house–literally–and packing all your things and then unpacking them somewhere else is kind of a time suck. Hopefully we’ll be back by the 18th.

While you’re waiting, try out some of these: walking submissively, worshiping triumphantly, witnessing urgently, working fervently, watching expectantly. Wait, no. That’s for the rapture.

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The Obscure Saint Blogging is trickier than you think. It’s a challenge to find an appropriate saint–obscure, yet interesting, enough information to write a good post, but not so much that it could take me a week to read it all. This week I realized, halfway through, that there are two Saint Maximinuses. One killed a dragon, and one was an opponent of the Arian heresy.

This is about the one that killed a dragon. Someday I’ll talk about the Arian heresy, since it was important, but not nearly as interesting as the word “heresy” might have you think.

Maximinus lived around 520 CE, and was the first abbot at the monastery of Micy, in modern France (Gaul at the time). My main source–okay, the only source I could find–was the Life of St. Maximinus of Micy, written in the mid 9th century by Bertholdus of Micy.

On a hill nearby Micy, there was a huge dragon, “depriving people and animals far and wide access to those lands.” Well, I would imagine. Maxminus, with God as his wingman, marches up and kills the dragon in its underground lair. Bert the Biographer manages to reall spare the details here, but another source called him a “thaumaturge,” so I like to think there was some flashy magic-type stuff. Then he declared the hill holy and marched back down.

This page says that he also multiplied wine and grain, healed some blind people, and delivered some possessed people. Great! He died from a fever a few years later, on December 15, which is when you should punch a stuffed dragon, I guess. He was buried on the hill where he killed the dragon.

My favorite part, though, is another text called the Miracle of St. Maximinus of Micy. Its protagonist, a young man named Henry, is in some sort of physical distress and has a vision during which he hears a voice telling him to visit the tomb of St. Maximinus.

And so then he gets confused over the exact same thing I did! He heads to Trier, which is where the Arian Heresy Maximinus is buried. Again he hears the voice, this time saying, “Dude, wrong one. Try again!” though it’s not exactly clear why THAT Maximinus couldn’t just help him. Guy made an honest effort.

Then Henry packs us his bedroll and distress and goes to Tours after asking a bunch of people. When he gets there, of course it turns out that the Max saint there is actually Maximus. Uh, whoops. He hears the voice again, surely getting annoyed by now, and which gives him a hint: GO TO ORLEANS, FOOL.

So he goes to Micy–which is near Orleans–and gets there just in time for December 15, Max’s saint day. He hangs out with the monks for a while, and after lots of prayer sees St. Maximinus walk in the door. St. Max then says, “Where are you going, fool?” and slaps him.

And Henry is cured. The end!

Life of St. Maximinus of Micy

The Miracle of St. Maximinus of Micy

Another Life

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This past Monday, California became an even better place than it already was, because gays and lesbians started getting married legally. So, in honor of that fact, this week we’re talking about Saints Sergius and Bacchus, officially the patron saints of Christian nomads, and unofficially the patron saints of gay marriage and military gays.

I, for one, am super-excited this week because my usually shoddy research methods are a bit better than usual. That’s right: I found a really old translation of the Greek “Passion of Sergius and Bacchus.” It’s public domain, bitches! Yeah!

Sergius and Bacchus were high-ranking Roman soldiers, probably upperclass, during the reign of Maximian and Diocletian (there were two emperors for this period until Constantine took over, so some sources talk about Diolcletian, some about Maximian. Don’t get confused, it’s all cool). They were buddies with Maximian, and also secretly Christian, knowing the official policy about being Christian at that time. (Hint: there are a shitload of martyrs from around 300 CE.)

These two were really close, which is of course why people speculate about whether or not they were lovers. They were apparently fond of saying, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” which is maybe a little gay. In any case, someone else, possibly jealous of their status, found out about their secret. The Christianity, not the possible homosexuality.

This leads to one of my favorite quotes in the Passion. Apparently the guy who reported them to Maximian said, “…they worship Christ, whom those called Jews executed, crucifying him as a criminal…” Way to anachronize, later Roman Catholic Church!

The standard test for Christianness at this point was, “Will they sacrifice?” so it was diligently applied to Sergius and Bacchus. They were asked to accompany Maximian to a temple, and when they avoided going inside, they were dragged in by other soldiers and told to offer something to Jupiter or pay the price. Guess which one they chose.

First, they were bound with heavy chains, dressed in women’s clothing, and made to parade through town. It didn’t work. The next day they reported to another officer, who ordered that Bacchus be severely beaten with chains and whips, while Sergius be chained in solitary confinement for the day. Bacchus died from his wounds–the Passion offers the delightful detail that his stomach and liver were ruptured.

That night, he appeared in angelic form to Sergius, still in solitary, saying don’t give up, bro! The next morning, the prison guards gave Sergius some new shoes, with nails pointing upwards through the soles. Then he got to run eighteen miles in them, and I wondered if that was in any way related to the original Little Mermaid story.

At that point the Romans got bored, and decided to just execute him already. He was beheaded and his body thrown to the wild animals, though a flock of birds kept watch until nightfall, when a conveniently close colony of desert monks could come bury the body. This was in Rasafa, Syria, and in the late 400’s–long after the entire empire was officially Christian–a church to Sergius and Bacchus was built on the site of Sergius’ grave.

Though as always my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt, I don’t think it’s all that likely that they were actually lovers. Early Christians, broadly speaking, were really into brotherhood and the family of Christ being your new family and all that. Plus, they were also in the Roman army, which was another extremely fraternal organization, and one that frowned pretty strongly on its soldiers committing homosexual acts. And, to top it all off, most societies had different ideas about what was appropriate in friendship than ours do now.

I would love to do a bit more wild speculating, but that’s all I’ve got. I found this tantalizing nugget saying that maybe they actually lived under Julian, since he was more into humiliation, but you have to subscribe to get the rest of the article, and we all know my position on doing real research.

But, in conclusion, it is still way cool that gays and lesbians can get married in CA now. If you’re in the state, vote against the constitutional amendment in November, give money to equal marriage organizations if you feel like it, and plan your big gay wedding on Oct. 7.

The Passion of Saints Sergius and Bacchu

Wikipedia

Catholic Encyclopedia

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Since I’m at my parents’ house right now, in lovely Spotsylvania, Virginia where I grew up, I thought I’d do a Southern-type saint. There’s no patron saint of the Civil War that I can find. I did, however, see someone call the Civil War the “War of Southern Liberation” for the first time in my short life. I’ve heard it called the War of Northern Aggression–yes, for real–but this one is new.

I eventually settled on St. Vincent de Paul. I’m not sure he’s quite obscure, since he’s a bigger deal than any other saint I’ve talked about here, but I’d never heard of him so it counts. He’s the patron saint of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, which is the airport I fly into and was the capital of the Confederacy.

And then, dear readers, I wrote an entire post about this man. And then WordPress ate it.

Since I am a little bit lazy, and also since it’s two days late, here are the highlights.

Born 1581 in France. Became a priest; preached in Toulouse; went to Marseilles for some reason. Went back to Toulouse via the sea but on the way was captured by Turkish pirates who sold him in Tunis. Bought by a fisherman who sold him to an old Muslim who’d spent fifty years looking for the philosopher’s stone. Aged Muslim died and his nephew got Vincent. The nephew was a former Christian with three wives, one of whom convinced him to return to the faith.

He did, and escaped with Vincent back to France, leaving his wives behind. I considered an “assholes in the name of God” tag.

Vincent did a bunch of charitable good stuff and I commented that it’s nice for a saint to be canonized for helping the poor instead of guarding her virginity at all costs or whatever. He founded the Lazarists and Sisters of Charity amongst others and does secret missions between the Vatican and Henry IV of France.

I puzzled over why he’s the patron saint of Richmond, and considered that late in his life, he became the spiritual advisor and advocate for the galley slaves of Paris, whose lives sucked really bad. He also used donations from his church in Paris to buy Northern African slaves’ freedom, to the tune of 12,000 people.

I looked him up in the Dictionary of Miracles, and his was a miraculous ability to hold his tongue. Don’t say anything if you can’t say something nice September 27.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Wikipedia

Butler’s Lives of the Saints

Christian History Institute

Eternal Word Television Network (note: probably suspect)

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Yeah, I’m late this week. Also I haven’t posted anything since the last Obscure Saint Blog.

St. Etheldreda, nicknamed St. Audrey, is one of a great many Anglo-Saxon saints from long long ago whose real names are completely impossible to think about, let alone pronounce: Æthelthryth. Yeah, you try it.

She was one of the Wuffings of East Anglia, meaning she lived in what’s now England at one of those times when most laypeople have no idea who ruled what or who was speaking what language. Probably Stonehengese, right? Her father was King Anna of East Anglia, and her mother was Saewara, who was apparently a devout Christian. Born in 636 CE, from an early age she was really into Jesus and being a nun.

Everything was peachy until her father Anna wanted her to marry for political reasons in 652. Taking a different approach from previous Obscure Saint Aldegundis, she agreed to the union on the condition that she be permitted to keep her virginity and live the life of a nun. Her new husband, Tondberct, chief of the South Gyrvians, agreed and gave her the Isle of Ely as a wedding present. They must have had a hell of a registry.

As a sidenote, apparently the name “Ely” was originally “Eel-y,” as in, “It’s a patch of dirt in the middle of a giant swamp full of eels.” Sadly it is no longer eel-y, since the swamp was drained in the 1700’s.

Tondberct died after three sexless years, though of causes unrelated to the sexlessness–namely, killed in battle. Maybe with eels. Afterwards she retired to the Isle of Ely for five years, once more living the nun’s life meant for her.

But again in 660, she was convinced to marry Ecgfrith, prince of Northumbria. At the time he was all of fourteen, so she ruled in his stead for ten years. In 670, when he finally ascended the throne, all hell broke loose in a complicated and tribal way that I won’t go into much. Basically, the Scots and Picts tried to take Northumbria, and Ecgfrith kicked their asses instead. After all this, the Dictionary of Saintly Women says he “had arrived at the age of passions,” the best phrase ever for hitting puberty, and of course wanted to have sex with his wife.

Since virginity = Godliness in these stories, obviously she refused. When Ecgfrith insisted, she ran away to her own lands of Ely. When the king chased her, God sent a high tide that lasted for seven days separating them–enough time for Ecgfrith to decide to give up and go home.

Once on Ely, she founded a famous double monastery there, which lasted until the Danes burned it down in 870. Did you even know the Danes invaded Britain? I didn’t. She died on quinsy, which is like tonsilitis but worse, there in 679. St. Audrey’s in London is the only pre-Reformation Catholic church in Britain.

Her saint day is June 23, so marry someone you’re not gonna have sex with.

ETYMOLOGICAL BONUS: The English word “tawdry” comes from a shortening of “St. Audrey,” since there was a yearly fair on Ely where cheap, tacky stuff was sold.

Æthelthryth on Wikipedia

Catholic Encyclopedia

A Dictionary of Saintly Women

Life of Saint Aethelthryth (fair warning: this is in Old English, so it’s not so much useful as just kinda neat)

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Patron saint of procrastinators, and one who generally hurries things along.

The story of Expeditus is extraordinarily confused, and ends with the Catholic church basically admitting that this guy never lived. He starts showing up in martyrologies–big lists of martyrs–in the eighteenth century in Italy, well before 1781. Unfortunately what the martyrology said was that he was a martyr who died in Turkey a Long Time Ago.  He’s represented in pictures as a young Roman soldier, though.

Add to that, his entry in the martyr list was probably some sort of scribal mistake. It’s been suggested that he was confused with St. Elpidius.

Then, in 1781 as the story goes, a group of nuns in Paris received a big box with the word “Spedito”–“Expeditus” in Latin–with the statue and relics of a saint in it. In a hilarious misunderstanding, the nuns thought that “Expeditus” was the name of the martyr within (rather than a shipping instruction), and started praying to him.

Since their prayers were answered super quickly and efficiently, he was made the patron saint of Getting Shit Done; this is more or less the Scientific Method of the Catholic church. Perhaps next week’s saint will be an example of the research process in the Catholic church. Hint: it involves visions, but no footnotes.

In any case, the cult of St. Expeditus survives until today. Wired claims him as the patron saint of hackers. He’s particularly revered in New Orleans, where a slightly different version of the same story was told: same idea, but with the relics and state being shipped to a church in New Orleans amongst a batch of other Church paraphenalia; since the state wasn’t labeled they decided “Expedite,” written on the outside, was his name.

Even better, he’s the patron saint of the Replubic of Molossia, a micronation in Nevadan desert (with a “colony” in the Mojave, near Twentynine Palms. Having been there, I am not at all surprised).

Finally, on the French island of Réunion (near Madagascar), there are red shrines devoted to the saint all over the place, as well as beheaded statues of the guy. This is what happens when you don’t answer prayers fast enough, Mister Speedy!

In the picture up top, he’s holding a cross with the word “hodie” (Latin for “today”) and stepping on a crow saying “cras” (tomorrow). Maybe this should go above my desk.

His feast day is April 19th, but you can wait until the 20th.

Catholic Online

Wikipedia

Something else useful

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Astonishing. Astonishing!

Also known as Christina Mirabilis, which is fancy Latin, she was born in the town of Saint-Trond in 1150 CE, in the diocese of Liege, in Belgium because apparently if a saint is going to appear in the blog on Obscure Saint Friday, they must be Belgian.

She, along with her two sisters, were orphaned when she was 15. All three were quite religious, and some sources say that due to her intense interior life (i.e., she prayed a lot), Christina was extremely frail and prone to illness. It could also be due to the fact that she was an orphan in the Middle Ages. Just sayin’. Anyway, one day she had a seizure and died.

As she was lying in her coffin during the funeral Mass, she suddenly came back to life while the people attending were singing the Agnus Dei. Not only did she come back to life, she levitated into the rafters of the church and stayed there until the Mass was over, because the scent of sin on the people was too strong. She claimed to have died and gone to Hell, where she had seen many people she recognized, and then to Purgatory, where she saw many more. Jesus gave her the option of staying in Heaven then, or going back and helping more people out of Purgatory. She chose the Right Choice (save more people), prompting me to wonder what would have happened if she’d opted to stay in Heaven. Was this a trick question or something?

Having been revived, she proceeded to cause havoc, under the premise of “saving” people. She would jump up into tree branches and stay there for days or weeks at a time; she would curl up into a ball in the snow to pray, she shut herself in ovens, where the townspeople could hear her screaming*, because she was suffering for the people in purgatory. She would jump into the river mid-winter and allow herself to be dragged under the water by the mill wheel, but during all of this, she was never harmed.

The sources differ a little on why she did this: a few it was to suffer for the people currently in purgatory, some say it was because she could smell sin on people, and would do anything to get away from it. A few modern doctors have tentatively diagnosed her with epilepsy.

Christina also had pretty useful breasts. When she was came back from the dead, she lived in the woods for a few months, nourished only by the milk that suddenly sprung from her “virginal” breasts. Another time, she was in a wooden yoke in town, and oil came from her nipples. When it dripped on her wounds, it healed them, and nourished her.

Unsurprisingly, some people thought she was possessed by demons. Her sisters hired someone to catch her and keep her locked up, and he broke he leg with a cudgel when he did. After chaining her to a pillar they put a splint on the leg, but she escaped during the night anyway, showing up later unharmed. She also had ecstatic visions in which she led the dead to purgatory, and those in purgatory to Heaven.

She spent her last few years at St. Catherine’s convent, where she obeyed the prioress completely. She died in 1224 there. July 24 is the day to put yourself in an oven.

*Why, hello nightmares.

St. Christina Mirabilis, Vita (in Latin; the English translation is a copyrighted book & isn’t free)

St. Christina the Astonishing

A scholarly essay about St. Christina (partly about the spiritual / physical divide in the legend)

Butler’s Lives of the Saints

(more…)

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I think Simeon's on the left.

I think Simeon’s on the left.

I have a serious weakness for the ascetic saints, probably because I think they mine the depths of insanity much more than any others. I mean, helping the poor and all that is just what Christians are supposed to do, right? But starving yourself in the desert while living in a cave on top of a pillar and only standing for forty years really shows a commitment.

The ascetic movement in the early Christian church really started where the martyrdoms left off. There are books and books and books on this topic, but the essential gist of most of them is this: martyrdom was considered a way for the faithful to emulate Christ. Once Christianity was the law of the land–meaning the fifth and sixth centuries–the extremely faithful wanted a new way to emulate Jesus, and thus asceticism was born. There are lots of specific passages in the New Testament that led to specific types, but in all them, one suffered daily, and therefore daily imitated Christ in his last hours on earth.

St. Simeon, fool-for-Christ, was an ascetic. He was of Syrian descent, born in Edessa, and had a lifelong friend named John. Simeon lived with his elderly mother, John was married with a child, and both were from wealthy families. Together they had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and on the way home, were struck by the overpowering desire to become a monk when they saw the monastery of Abba Gerasimus on the way home. Thanks to a minor miracle, they found the gates opened, and were welcomed by Igumen Nikon, the leader of the monastery. Igumen is some sort of title.

After a while, the two decided to go into the desert to live their chosen life even more rigorously. There they fought constantly with demons, who tempted them ceaselessly. Eventually, after lots of praying and fasting, the torments stopped. They stayed on in the desert thirty more years, until Simeon had a calling to go to nearby Emesa, to help the people.

John elected to stay in the desert, and the two bid farewell. On the way, Simeon prayed that God would give him a way to help people that they might not acknowledge him, which, I guess, is a pride thing, or some other sin.

Clearly, the solution to this problem was to enter the city gate dragging a dead dog tied to a length of rope. He acted a madman for the rest of his life: he threw nuts at women in church, blew out the holy candles, ate huge quantities of beans on fast days, dragged himself around on his buttocks, and sexually harassed dancing girls in the streets during festivals. He once punched a man in the jaw, breaking it, allegedly to keep him from the sin of sleeping with a married woman.

According to Wikipedia, though I can’t find another source, he tried to cure a man of leucoma by smearing mustard on the man’s eyes. Instead, the man went blind but eventually was saved. I should make a LOLsaint that says, “Miracles: ur doin it wrong!”

Simeon wasn’t seen on the streets of Emesa for three days before his death, as he shut himself in a cabin with only firewood. When he died and the people carried him to the graveyard, they heard sweet singing but couldn’t place its source. Eventually they began to realize all the saintly good Simeon had done them. This was about 570 CE.

I really wish a psychiatrist would take a good look at some of these ascetic saints, the way Oliver Sacks did with Hildegaard of Bingen. It would be fascinating, if heretical. My best guess about what really went on here is that Simeon was actually just a madman who lived in Emesa–the mentally ill homeless are nothing new. After a while people decided that he was so crazy he must have been holy, and started attributing miracles and the like to him, meanwhile conflating his story with that of the desert ascetic John. I don’t have any proof for that, of course.

As far as I can tell, Simeon, fool-for-Christ is only revered in the Eastern churches (not the Roman Catholic church), where foolishness-for-Christ is much more prevalent anyway. He’s the patron saint of fools and puppeteers. Put your underwear on your head in rememberance every July 1.

Ship of Fools

The Holy Fool of Emesa

Wikipedia

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