Posts Tagged ‘maidens’

St. Aldegundis, also known as Aldegonde, Aldegund, or Adelgondis, was born in Flanders in 639 CE, in the county of Hainaut, which straddled the borders of modern Belgium and France. Her parents, Walbert and Bertilia, and her sister, Waldetrudis, are also all saints. In fact, her nieces and nephews by Waldetrudis: also all saints. They were all closely related to the Merovingian dynasty, who ruled the Franks until 751 CE.

The story of Aldegundis is, in part, your classic vow-of-chastity story. At a relatively young age she began having visions of Christ, and came to understand that she was to take no other husband but him. Predictably, her parents, saints though they were, had other ideas and wanted her to marry an English prince named Eudon. To solve this problem she ran away from home, but had to stop when she came to the Sambre river.

Showing excellent problem-solving skills, she called on God to help, and he sent two angels who told her to walk across the river on water, which she did, not even wetting the soles of her shoes. On the other side she continued a little way into the forest, then stopped to build a cabin. She received the veil-i.e., was made a nun-by St. Amandius, the bishop of Maastricht.

Her cabin in the woods eventually became a convent, which became the Benedictine monastery Mauberge, which in turn was taken over by canonesses.

She had visions all her life, but near the end she had a vision of Satan as a wolf. Her two hagiographers had different takes on how she handled this: according to one, she got angry and kicked him out. According to the other, she was compassionate and asked why he hates people so much (jealousy), before kicking him out.

In 684 CE she died of breast cancer. Her saint day is January 30, and she’s the patron saint of cancer, wounds, and sudden death.

I realize that I’m late on this bandwagon, but I finally discovered Google Books, and holy shit you guys. There is a ton of stuff there-public domain, some scholarly stuff, some regular books. The best part is that my academic fantasy has come true with Google Books: you can search inside a book instead of using an index or whatever. Wow.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Dreams, Visions, and Spiritual Authority in Merovingians Gaul, by Isabel Moreira

A Dictionary of Miracles: Imitative, Realistic, and Dogmatic by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer

A Dictionary of Saintly Women by Agnes Baillie Cunninghame Dunbar

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Whatever else I think about the notion of abstinence until marriage, this picture of the “Abstinence Rose Pin” offends my writerly sensibilities. I saw it on Feministing a while back, and I knew there was something wrong with that simile that I couldn’t exactly name.

I solved that problem the way I solve all my problems, by looking up “simile” on Wikipedia. That actually didn’t help much, so I looked up “metaphor” and found it: it’s an absolute, paralogical or anti-metaphor. This is a metaphor in which the two things compared have no point of discernible similarity. Wikipedia’s example is, “The couch is the autobahn of the living room,” which is so becoming a throw pillow if I ever learn needlepoint.

Now, I did pass high school, so I know the difference between similes and metaphors, but I still say this is an anti-simile. Similes, you will recall from 10th grade English, allow for more precision in the comparison process, allowing the writer to point out exactly how the two things are alike, where metaphors tend to let the reader assume the similarities more. This is where the abstinence rose pin fails: women aren’t really like roses in any immediately apparent way, particularly in a way related to sex, and the card fails to qualify exactly how the two things are alike.

The rest of the card doesn’t help. The comparison gets all confused by dropping the “like” from the second sentence, now saying that the lady is in a fact a rose, a statement we still haven’t seen any evidence for. Furthermore, sex isn’t anything like petals being plucked from a flower (and if it is, you’re doing it wrong). Last but not least, is “bare stem” code for “penis?” Maybe having lots of sex will turn blushing young ladies into dudes. Hey, the abstinence movement just solved the problem of my senior thesis for me.

I give the abstinence rose a mere point. It espouses a philosophy with which I strongly disagree in a grammatically indefensible manner. But, I did get a post out of it.


Therefore, as a special favor to the abstinence-only movement, I’ve tried to come up with a few metaphors that make a little more sense.


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And now for a fun and exciting weekly feature of the Illegiterati: Friday Obscure Saint Blogging. Every Friday, I’ll pick an obscure saint, usually from either Roman Catholicism or some sort of Christian Orthodoxy, and write about them.

Sadly, not Our Lady of the Carnivals

First up is St. Wilgefortis. I can’t tell when she lived, but her cult came about sometime in the 14th century, during the gothic period. Ms. Fortis was a young princess from Portugal, daughter to a pagan king. Her father bethrothed her to another pagan king, possibly the King of Sicily, and arranged for their wedding. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the young Wilgefortis had already taken a vow of chastity, and so to avoid the marriage she prayed that God would make her somehow unappealing to her future husband. Lo and behold, within the day she sprouted a beard and moustache, and her fiance decided he didn’t want her anymore.

Because the patriarchy is awesome, her father flew into a rage and had Wilgefortis crucified. She’s now prayed to by women who wish to be “unencumbered” of abusive husbands.

The very best part is that even the Roman Catholic church admits it’s totally untrue.


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