Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Saints: A Handy Roundup

I haven't done a Saint of the Week in a long time. Here's a good one:

Saint Genesius of Rome
An Actor hired to work in a play that made fun of Christian Baptism. In the middle of the performance he suddenly received a word from God, suddenly realized the truth of Christianity, and converted on stage. He refused to renounce his new faith, even at the emperor's orders, and was beheaded by order of emperor Diocletian.

Talk about stealing a scene! The other actors must have wanted to kill him. Is that why he's the patron saint of comedians?
Wait, here's more:
Two actors then entered, one playing a priest and the other an exorcist. When they asked Genesius what he wanted, again he repeated his heart’s true desire for baptism. He said, “I wish to receive the grace of Christ. I long to be reborn and set free from all the sin that lies around me.” The actor priest then baptized Genesius. The Emperor Diocletian could not stop laughing, and began to send small gifts of gold, food and wine up to the players. Genesius was then dressed in white and led before an actor playing a Roman judge. As other actors played soldiers, Genesius was now interrogated just like an actual Roman trial of Christians. But Genesius was no longer acting.

The Oscar of saints - a beheading!
Sts. Crispin and Crispinian

Patron saints of cobblers and shoes!

Martyrs of the Early Church who were beheaded during the reign of Diocletian; the date of their execution is given as 25 October, 285 or 286. It is stated that they were brothers, but the fact has not been positively proved. The legend relates that they were Romans of distinguished descent who went as missionaries of the Christian Faith to Gaul and chose Soissons as their field of labour. In imitation of St. Paul they worked with their hands, making shoes, and earned enough by their trade to support themselves and also to aid the poor.

Naturally they suffered horrible torments, otherwise they wouldn't be saints:

Under the order of Rictiovarus they were stretched on the rack, thongs were cut from their flesh, and awls were driven under their finger-nails. A millstone was then fastened about the neck of each, and they were thrown into the Aisne, but they were able to swim to the opposite bank of the river. In the same manner they suffered no harm from a great fire in which Rictiovarus, in despair, sought death himself. Afterwards the two saints were beheaded at the command of Maximianus.
Oh my lord! So when you buckle your sandals or slip on your pumps - think of C & C.

Saint Friard

Saint Paul (aka Saul) is for fear of snakes as well as the patron of Hospital Public Relations workers, but any Patron Saint of fear of wasps appeals to me more, and that is one Saint Friard:

Saint Friard
Born 511 at Bresne, France/Died 577 of natural causes (I know, no fun)
Memorial 1 August

Hermit on the island of Vindomitte, France. Friend of Saint Secundel. When tormented for his piety, a cloud of wasps attacked his tormenters; when Friard prayed for them, the wasps left. (So many questions! How can a hermit have a friend? Well, the friend was a saint too, so I guess that's a fine exception. Did Friard pray for the tormenters, or the wasps? And how do you get a cloud of wasps to attack tormenters, anyway?)

Patronage: against spheksophobia (fear of wasps) spheksophobics

I couldn't find any images of him, so here's Susan Cabot in The Wasp Woman directed by one of my favorites, Jack Hill (and Roger Corman, who got credit.)
I know I usually post Saints who have died grim deaths, so here's a handy list of people tormented for their piety.

Padre Pio

... doesn't mean you can't be well groomed! "Do you want a manicure to go with that stigmata?"

ROME (Reuters) - The body of the mystic monk Padre Pio, one of the Roman Catholic world's most revered saints who died 40 years ago, has been exhumed to be prepared for display to his many devotees.

The body of the Capuchin friar, who was said to have had the stigmata -- the wounds of Christ's crucifixion -- on his hands and feet -- is to be conserved and put in a part-glass coffin for at least several months from April 24.

A Church statement said the body was in "fair condition", particularly the hands, which Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, who witnessed the exhumation in the southern Italian town where Pio died, said "looked like they had just undergone a manicure".

A spokesman for the monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo said he believed morticians would be able to conserve the face of the bearded monk well enough for it to be recognizable.
Word of the Day

Hagiography is the study of saints.
A hagiography refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people


Adapted from Franz Werfel's book, the 1943 film of "The Song of Bernadette" , was nominated for twelve Academy Awards; and Jennnifer Jones won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Bernadette. The film begins with: "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible".

So now I can put my profession as "hagiographer."

St. Phonus (!)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
ROME (Reuters) - If you are a Catholic looking for a saint in heaven to protect you, you no longer have to carry a small "holy card". You can get the image sent to your cellphone.

A company in Italy started offering the service on Tuesday but ran into opposition from some Catholic Church leaders who think the idea is crass and commercial.

"We found a need and filled it," Barbara Labate, who came up with the idea with her business partner in a cellphone services company based in Milan, told Reuters by telephone.

Many taxis, private cars and trucks in Italy have a small picture of a saint -- known as a "santino" or little saint -- taped to the dashboard. Millions of Italians also keep wrinkled and worn "santini" in their wallets or handbags.

"We are merely catching up with the times. I think this will appeal to young people as well as grandmothers," Labate said.

The company started the service with 15 saints on offer and Labate said the hallowed catalogue will grow. The downloading service, done by sending a text message to a phone number, costs three euros ($4.42). The Web site is santiprotettori.com

Nearly every shop near the Vatican sells paper "santini" but not everyone in the Church thinks cellphones and saints are a marriage made in heaven.

"This is in really bad taste," Bishop Lucio Soravito De Franceschi, a member of the Italian bishops conference committee for doctrinal matters, told the Turin newspaper La Stampa.

"It is a distortion of sacred things ... selling 'santini' for cell phones is horrifying," he said.

But Labate, who is Sicilian and recalls how her mother gave her a "santino" to put in her luggage when she traveled, rejected the criticism.

"We are simply offering a service to the faithful. We are doing this with the maximum respect, dignity and professionalism for believers," she said.

One popular saint in Italy is St Christopher, the patron saint of safe travel. Other favorites are St Lucy, patroness of good eyesight and St Pio of Petralcina, the 20th century monk who was said to have had the wounds of Christ.

Labate has also put "possible future saints" in her initial catalogue. They include the late Pope John Paul, who has already been put on the road to sainthood, as well as the current pontiff, Pope Benedict.

Jesus and the Madonna are also for sale.

Now, wait - didn't they get rid of St. Christopher? What's wrong with a santini on your phone? I'd get one ... I put little saint stickers all over everything anyway.

Saint Agatha

Patron saint of bells (tho it really should be breasts, in honor Natl Breast Cancer month) and fire! Hell's Bells!
Following a familiar theme, our Saint of the Week starts out with the usual born-into-privilege-and-pledged-to-God business:

She belonged to a rich, important family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her. One of these men, Quintian, was of a high enough rank that he felt he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had her arrested and brought before the judge - - himself. He expected her to give in to when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God by praying: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil."

I don't think calling yourself a sheep is a good way to avoid sex with a guy that would take you to court. He's obviously not in his right mind to begin with! Look what smarty-pants Quintain does next:

Quintian imprisoned her in a brothel in order to get her to change her mind. Quintian brought her back before him after she had suffered a month of assault and humiliation in the brothel, but Agatha had never wavered, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus. Quintian sent her to prison, instead of back to the brothel -- a move intended to make her more afraid, but which probably was a great relief to her. When she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, Quintian had her tortured. He refused her any medical care but God gave her all the care she needed in the form of a vision of St. Peter. When she was tortured again, she died after saying a final prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul."

Who is this guy Quintian and wasn't anyone else around? Imprisoning someone in a brothel is not really the way to get someone to have sex with you. One entry says:

"On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew."
I like this version better, at least she's with other women and they have food. The good thing with saints is that you can shop for the versions you like. One says she got away without any torture at all:

Legend has it that Agatha was arrested as a Christian, tortured and sent to a house of prostitution to be mistreated. She was preserved from being violated, and was later put to death.

That's no fun, so let's get back to the bad news:

Because one of the tortures she supposedly suffered was to have her breasts cut off, she was often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that blessing of the bread that takes place on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread. Because she was asked for help during the eruption of Mount Etna she is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire. She is also considered the patroness of bellmakers for an unknown reason -- though some speculate it may have something to do with the fact that bells were used as fire alarms.
Saint Erasmus

aka Saint Elmo, yes, he of the fire. But I bet what you didn't know is that Saint Elmo/Erasmus is the Patron Saint of Ammunition/Ordnance/explosive workers (and more)! Next time someone dynamites through rocks, uses a jackhammer, or tears down a building, offer up a little prayer to Saint Erasmus, who is also the patron saint of abdominal pains (presumably, which occur when an explosion goes wrong.) Actually, that's because "at one time he had hot iron hooks stuck into his intestines by persecutors under Emperor Diocletian. These wounds he miraculously endured." Ouch! How do persecutors think these things up?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
St. E gets hooked.

Our S of the W is a busy fella with lots of nicknames:

abdominal pains, ammunition workers, appendicitis, birth pains, boatmen, childbirth, childhood intestinal disease, colic, danger at sea, explosives workers, Gaeta, Italy, intestinal disorders, mariners, navigators, ordnance workers, sailors, seasickness, stomach diseases, storms, watermen, women in labour.

(No, I don't see erasers in the list.)

Also known as Elmo; Eramo; Erarmo; Ermo; Herasmus; Rasimus; Rasmus; Telmo .

Bishop of Formiae, Campagna, Italy. Fled to Mount Lebanon in the persecutions of emperor Diocletian; was fed by a raven so he could stay in hiding. Discovered, he was imprisoned; an angel rescued him. Recaptured, he was martyred. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Namesake for the static electric discharge called Saint Elmo's Fire. Disemboweled c.303 at Formiae, Italy
Who are the Fourteen Holy Helpers and can I buy some at my local supermarket?

St. Isidore of the Internet

Now, he's a "proposed" Saint. How do you do that? Do they have a little wooden box at the Vatican that you can fill with ideas?

Saint Isidore of Seville Sanctus Isidorus Hispalensis
Proposed Patron Saint of Internet Users

(c.560 - 636)

A Prayer before Logging onto the Internet and the Catholic Online Forum (which is where i found this.)

Almighty and eternal God,
who created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is good,
true and beautiful,
especially in the divine person of Thy only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech Thee that,
through the intercession of Saint Isidore,
bishop and doctor,
during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee
and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter.
Through Christ our Lord.

St. Apollonia, Patron Saint of Dentistry

I promised the guys at World Famous in SF that I would do a Saint of the Week. Doesn't St. Christina rock? I forgot to mention that Nick Cave thinks so, too. It seems that female saints tend to get their tongues and teeth ripped out. Check out St. Apollonia and invoke her during your next root canal - and remember, suicide is unsaintly!


St. Apollonia, Patron Saint of Dentistry

Apollonia was born in Egypt in the 3rd century, and died in the year 249. She was an elderly deaconess, living in Alexandria, who lived in a refuge for Christians. She was martyred for not renouncing her faith during the reign of Emperor Philip. The account of the life of St. Apollonia was written by St. Dionysius to Fabian, Bishop of Antioch. One night, angry pagans began a riot and violently attacked believers of the faith. Apollonia had all her teeth knocked out after being hit in the face by a Christian persecutor. After she was threatened with fire unless she renounced her faith, Apollonia said a prayer and jumped into the flames voluntarily—which St. Augustine adamantly defended as an act of heroic faith and not suicide, which would be unsaintly. She is considered the patron of dental diseases and is often invoked by those with toothaches. Ancient art depicts her with a golden tooth at the end of her necklace. Also in art, she is seen with a pincers holding a tooth. Parts of her jaw and many of her teeth are presently housed in churches across Europe. Her feast day is February 9th.

Damn - I wanna see some parts of her jaw and her teeth! If they were knocked out, how did they end up in churches? Did she pick them up and give them to someone? Is her jaw all charred from the fire? Questions!

Apollonia illustration
Original image from a 14th century wood carving (4.5 x 6 in.)

"This illustration of Apollonia depicts her with her insignia: a tooth held by a forceps. It is unusual, however, since it shows the saint in sympathetic gaze with a toothache sufferer. Typically, Apollonia stands alone."

Saint Christina the Astonishing

... the Francine Fishpaw of Saints! I want friends named "The Count of Looz." Will someone teach me to levitate as an excuse to avoid contact?

oops - wrong Christina*

Christina the Astonishing
[Saint Christina the Astonishing]
Also known as Christina Mirabilis
Memorial: 24 July

Born to a peasant family, orphaned as a child, and raised by two older sisters. At age 21, she experienced a severe seizure of what may have been epilepsy. It was so severe as to be cateleptic, and she was thought to have died. During her funeral Mass, she suddenly recovered, and levitated to the roof of the church. Ordered down by the priest ("Young lady, get down here this instant!"), she landed on the altar and stated that she had been to hell, purgatory, and heaven, and had been returned to earth with a ministry to pray for souls in purgatory.

Her life from that point became a series of strange incidents cataloged by a Thomas de Cantimpré, Dominican professor of theology at Louvain who was a contemporary recorded his information by interviewin witnesses, and by Cardinal Jacques de Vitny who knew her personally. She exhibited both unusual traits and abilities. For example, she could not stand the odor of other people because she could smell the sin in them, and would climb trees or buildings, hide in ovens or cupboards, or simply levitate to avoid contact. She lived in a way that was considered poverty even in the 13th century, sleeping on rocks, wearing rags, begging, and eating what came to hand. She would roll in fire or handle it without harm, stand in freezing water in the winter for hours, spend long periods in tombs, or allow herself to be dragged under water by a mill wheel, though she never sustained injury. Given to ecstasies during which she led the souls of the recently dead to purgatory, and those in purgatory to paradise.

People who knew her were divided in their opinions: she was a holy woman, touched of God, and that her actions and torments were simulations of the experiences of the souls in purgatory; she was suffering the torments of devils - or she was flatly insane. However, the prioress of Saint Catherine's convent testified that no matter how bizarre or excessive Christina's reported actions, she was always completely obedient to the prioresses orders. Friend of Louis,Count of Looz(!), whose castle she visited, and whose actions she rebuked. Blessed Marie of Oignies thought well of her, and Saint Lutgardis sought her advice.

Born 1150 at Brusthem near Liege, Belgium
Died 24 July 1224 at Saint Catherine's convent, Trond of natural causes
popular devotion existed and continues, but no formal beatification has taken place; unknown if any cause is before the Congregation; because of lack for formal designation, she is sometimes listed as Saint Christina, sometimes as Blessed Christina
insanity; lunatics; madness; mental disorders; mental handicaps; mental health caregivers; mental health professionals; mental illness; mentally ill people; psychiatrists; therapists
Just what on earth "natural causes" would be when you can levitate and smell sin is beyond my imagination ...

*okay, so that image is the WRONG CHRISTINA. But check HER bio out - wowsa! Daddy Urban was one bad motherfucker!

Saint Christina was the daughter of a rich and powerful magistrate named Urban. Her father, who was deep in the practices of paganism, had a number of golden idols. His young daughter broke them, then distributed the pieces among the poor. ("Here kids, have some busted statues!") Infuriated by this act, Urban became the persecutor of his own daughter. He had her whipped with rods and thrown into a dungeon. Christina remained unshaken in her faith. Her tormentor brought her forth to have her body torn by iron hooks, then fastened to a rack beneath which a fire was kindled. But God watched over His servant and turned the flames back toward the onlookers, several of whom perished.
The torments to which this young girl was subjected would seem as difficult to devise as to imagine; but God was beside her at all times. After a heavy stone was attached to her neck, Saint Christina was thrown into the lake of Bolsena, but was rescued by an Angel and seen wearing a stole (!) and walking on the water, accompanied by several Angels. Her father, hearing she was still alive, died suddenly amid atrocious sufferings. A new judge succeeded him, a cruel pagan experienced in persecuting the Christians. He tried to win her by reminding her of her nobility, suggesting she was in serious error. Her reply infuriated him: “Christ, whom you despise, will tear me out of your hands!” Then Saint Christina suffered the most inhuman torments. The second judge also was struck down by divine justice. A third one named Julian, succeeded him. “Magician!” he cried, “adore the gods, or I will put you to death!” She survived a raging furnace, after remaining in it for five days. Serpents and vipers thrown into her prison did not touch her, but killed the magician who had brought them there. She sent them away in the name of Christ, after restoring the unfortunate magician to life; he was converted and thanked the God of Christina and the Saint. Then her tongue was cut out.

The Saint prayed to be allowed to finish her course. When she was pierced with arrows, she gained the martyr’s crown at Tyro, a city which formerly stood on an island in the lake of Bolsena in Italy, but has since been swallowed up by the waters. Her relics are now at Palermo in Sicily. Her tomb was discovered in the 19th century at Bolsena, marked with an inscription dating from the 10th century.
Do her relics include her stole?