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Posts Tagged ‘historical confusion’

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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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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