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February 15 Saints of the Day – Onesimus of the Seventy and Sigfrid of Sweden

Onesimus of the SeventyOn this day in 1946, ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, was formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Experts disagree on how many hours lapsed before the support staff first uttered the words “Have you tried rebooting?”

Orthodox today commemorate Onesimus of the Seventy (d. ca. 109), who is proof that even a slave, if he eats all his vegetables and washes behind his ears, can grow up to be a bishop. Onesimus first enters the scene as the subject of St. Paul’s Epistle to Philemon. Apparently Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, and had run away to Rome after stealing something from him. There he somehow bumped into Paul, learned about the Christian faith from the great apostle, and was baptized. Somewhere in there Paul let fall that he knew Philemon, and he allowed that he should probably try to reconcile the two men, proposing to send Onesimus back to Philemon with a letter. We can picture Onesimus waving his hands and saying, “I can cook. I can clean for you. I can run errands. . . . ”

Nevertheless Paul did write to Philemon (as witnessed by the book in the New Testament of the same name), imploring him to forgive Onesimus and welcome him as a brother. Hint, hint. Philemon got the letter, took the hint, and gave Onesimus his freedom, sending him back to Paul. After Paul died, Onesimus become bishop of Gaza, Byzantium, and/or Ephesus. One source says he traveled around the Mediterranean preaching the Gospel, which seems a bit odd for a bishop. Sometime after he became eligible for the senior citizen discount, he was arrested and tried and sentenced and executed, either by stoning, or beating, or beheading, or some combination of the above. (Sources. You can’t live with ’em, you can’t live without ’em.) After his death an “illustrious” (but otherwise anonymous) woman buried him in a silver casket. No word on where his relics might be.

Sigfrid of SwedenCatholics today commemorate Sigfrid of Växjö, the Apostle of Sweden (d. 1045), or “Sigfrid of Sweden” for short. Born in Glastonbury (despite what the Germans say; they’re just jealous), Sigfried was sent to Norway by Æthelred the Unready (not to be confused with Eveready the Unread, illiterate inventor of the “D” cell). Somehow the archbishop of Bremen got involved in this (hence the German claim), but the sources are murky on this point. After converting lots of Norwegians, Sigfrid moved to Sweden, which had sadly lapsed back into paganism after Saint Ansgar’s heroic effort in the ninth century. He built a wooden church in Växjö, and used it as a base for his missionary jaunts around the area. King (later Saint) Olaf heard about the rich fabrics and fancy vessels Sigfrid had schlepped with him from England, and came to see what it was all about. When he saw the exemplary lives Sigfrid & Co. were living, he was baptized in Sigfrid’s Spring, which wasn’t called that until later.

Sigfrid’s constant companions were his three nephews, Unaman, Sunaman, and Winaman. (His sister clearly bought the baby name book from the wrong end of the shelf.) Sadly when Sigfrid was on a missionary trip to Denmark (and boy could they use it), a band of bad guys came in and killed them. Their heads were placed in a box and thrown into a lake. Upon his return Sigfrid found the box, and with a little ventriloquism convinced the onlookers that his dead nephews were prophesying the avenging of their murders. The heads were placed in a shrine, and the murderers were placed in jail. The king wanted to execute them, but Sigfrid forbade it. The king then proposed a heavy fine to be paid into the coffers of Sigfrid’s church, but again Sigfrid turned it down. This apparently awed the neighbors even more than the ventriloquism, because we are told that from that point on, nobody messed with Sigfrid. He died an old man, and rests beneath the high altar at in the Växjö cathedral. Needless to say his relics are associated with many miracles. Needless to say, our sources don’t relate any.


Bibliography
February 15 (Wikipedia)
ENIAC (Wikipedia)
The Prologue of Ohrid (book on paper) – Main source
Orthodox Saints commemorated in February
Saint Onesimus (SQPN)
Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy (Wikipedia)
Sigfrid of Wexlow (St. Patrick’s, D.C.) – Main source
Sigfrid of Sweden (Wikipedia)
Saint Sigfrid (SQPN)


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

About Your Intrepid Blogger

I'm a guy. I live in the Seattle-Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I'm vainly attempting to teach pre-algebra to 8th graders at a local prep school.

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