On this date in 1923, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company began production of balloon tires. They were popular for a while, but eventually they fell flat.
Our eastern saint today is Mark of Trache (Mark the Anchorite of Athens) (d. ca. 400). Mark was a philosopher, but when his parents died, desiring to prepare his soul for the next life, he sat on a plank in the sea and prayed, “God, take me where you will.” God took him to Ethiopia (or Egypt or maybe Libya), where he found a cave on a mountain called Trache (saw that coming, didn’t you?), and dwelt there for 95 years. At first he was plagued by demons who said things like, “You’re not welcome here. Scram.” And indeed, he saw no other people, birds, or beasts. He subsisted on dirt and seawater, which strikes me as perhaps a little too paleo.
After 30 years of this the demons gave up, and an angel began daily to bring bread, fish, and fruit. (Fresh water, too, we hope.) At the end of his life, he was visited by St. Serapion. “So how’s the Church doing these days?” Mark asked, and was delighted to hear that idolatry had been totally eradicated (Serapion only took one paper). “Are there lots of people working wonders, like our Lord said in the gospel, ‘If anyone have faith as big as a mustard seed he shall say to this mountain, “Move from this place,” and it will move’?” As he said that the mountain started moving. “Whoa, what are you doing?” he said. “I didn’t tell you to move.” It stopped. He explained the use/mention distinction (and people question the utility of studying philosophy), and told it to move back. It did. Serapion fell down in fright, but Mark lifted him by the hand, saying, “I take it there aren’t a lot of mountains being moved out there in the world?” Serapion had to admit this was the case. “Then they are Christians in word but not deed,” Mark said sorrowfully.
He then invited Serapion to dine, and the angel brought them food and water. (Oh good.) Serapion admitted that it was the best fish, bread, fruit, and even water he’d ever tasted. But Mark said, “Look at that! Every day I get one fish, but with you here, I get two. God is truly gracious to his servants.” After the meal he prayed for all the world, told Serapion to bury him by sealing the cave, and died. As Serapion was shifting rocks, he saw the angels usher Mark’s soul to heaven. He then hurried to tell the story to somebody else before he forgot it. As you can see, he succeeded.
Today’s western saint is Vincent Ferrer (1350 – 1419). Vincent’s birth was painless, and his childhood was graced with twice-weekly fasting, delivering alms to the poor, and contemplating the Passion of Christ. Then he turned eight and began his studies in the classics, taking up philosophy at twelve and theology at fourteen. At eighteen he entered the local Dominican monastery. In his first year he was sorely tempted to give up and go home (by demons and parents alike), but he stuck it out. He memorized the whole of Scripture, wrote a thesis on Dialectic Suppositions (me neither), and was commissioned to lecture on philosophy — all before he was 21. He was at times a political advisor, a prior, an advocate for the healing of the Avignon/Rome schism, and an itinerant preacher throughout western Europe and the British Isles.
Once some street urchins mocked him: one of their number lay in the dirt, and the others said, “He’s dead, bring him back to life!” Vincent bent over him and said, “He really is dead,” and sure enough he was. (We aren’t told through what agency, which is probably just as well.) “Do something!” they cried, terrified. “Okay,” he said, and he raised the child to life. Vincent died in Brittany (as had been prophesied by St. Colette), and is the patron of the storm-tossed in Brittany, the orphanages in Spain, and builders everywhere.
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
April 5 (Wikipedia)
The Prologue of Ohrid (book on paper) – main source
Venerable Mark the Anchorite of Athens (OCA)
Venerable Mark the Anchorite of Athens (Christian Forums)
Use–mention distinction (Wikipedia)
Vincent Ferrer (Wikipedia) – Main source
Vincent Ferrer, OP Priest (St. Patrick’s DC)
Saint Vincent Ferrer (SQPN)
On this day in 742 and 1941, respectively, Charlemagne and Dr. Demento were born. One is a crazy personality who appeals mainly to bored adolescent males. The other is a disc jockey.
Our eastern saint today is Theodora the (Virgin) Martyr (d. ca. 303). (Or “virginmartyr” as one source will have it.) When Diocletian was thinning the Christian herd, Theodora was brought before the prefect of Alexandria, Eustratius, who asked why she wasn’t married. “I have dedicated myself to God,” she replied. He declared he would put her in a brothel if she didn’t renounce her faith, and gave her three days in prison to think about it. Having thought about it, she again professed her faith, and was taken to the iniquitous den. The ioannes* began to fight about who would be her first, um, customer, when in walked Didymus (a Christian), dressed as a soldier, and cleared them out. (If you can’t hear a blast on a small trumpet, you have no imagination at all.) He gave Theodora his duds and she snuck out the back. Hearing of this, Eustratius had Didymus, who confessed the whole thing, sentenced to death. As he was being led to the axeman, Theodora showed up and insisted on being killed too. She was, of course, obliged. In 1749, Georg Handel wrote an oratorio based on her story.
Our western saint today is Francis of Paola (1416 – 1507). A miracle baby born to elderly parents and named after their favorite intercessor, Francis quite naturally joined the Franciscans at 13. After a year at the monastery, he removed to a solitary cave by the sea in order to start a new order. He was soon joined by two other hermits, and the neighbors built them three cells and a chapel (as memorialized in song by the Four Aces). They called themselves the “Minimi Fratres” (“Least brothers” and not “Mini-Me Frat Boys” as some have styled it) and after a mere 17 years won over the neighbors, who built them a monastery and a church (as not memorialized in song by anybody). After a few personnel and name changes they ended up as the Minim Friars.
They kept a “perpetual Lent,” abstaining from all animal products, in part out of charity for the animals. Indeed there are many stories about Francis’ compassion for animals. In one, his pet trout Antonella was caught by a visiting priest and taken home and cooked. Francis missed the fish, and knowing where it went, had one of his friars go fetch it. The priest was flabbergasted, and threw the fish onto the ground, where it broke into filets, cutlets, and croquettes. The friar gathered the pieces and brought them back to Francis, who threw them into the pond, saying, “Antonella, come back!” The fish was restored to life and swam around happily as if nothing had ever happened (although it never did like pepper after that).
Francis’ reputation as a miracle worker came to the dying King Louis XI of France, who got the pope to send Francis to him will he or no. Louis fell on his knees before the saint and begged to be healed, but, “Dying kings are more than my job’s worth,” Francis said. The king had a change of heart (and this was centuries before Jarvik), and after many long chats in his final days, he died in Francis’ arms. The next king liked him too, and kept him around — in fact he never left France after that. He is credited (in part) for the peace between France and both Brittany and Spain (the famous Brittany Spaniel accords).
After Francis died the brothers buried him in a flood plain, and when they realized their error and dug him up, his body was incorrupt. It was later burned by the Huguenots, who apparently had a thing for desecrating bodies. Because of a time he sailed on his cloak to Sicily, he is the patron of sailors, navigators, naval officers, and other salty dogs.
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
*think about it
April 2 (Wikipedia)
St. Theodora, Virginmartyr, of Alexandria (Antiochians) – Main source
Theodora and Didymus (Wikipedia)
Handel: Theodora (music recording) — source of the picture of Theodora
Francis of Paola (St. Patrick’s) – Main source
Francis of Paola (Wikipedia)
On this day in 1849, Abraham Lincoln applied for a patent, which was awarded, for a boat-raising device to be used at shallow places in rivers. Sadly his invention never went into production, and he was forced to find other work.
Today’s Orthosaint is Anastasia the Patrician (d. ca. 567). A lady-in-waiting to Empress Theodora, Anastasia sat atop Emperor Justinian’s list of “Women I’d Marry If My Wife Were (God Forbid) to Die.” Theodora knew this. (I’ll bet you know where this is going.) When her husband died, Anastasia fled to a monastery near Alexandria. Years later, word came that Justinian was widowed and looking for her. Heart pounding, she headed to the deep desert, where she confided her story to a certain Abba Daniel, saying, “Hide me.”
He gave her a man’s robe, her very own cave, a rule of prayer, and strict warning not to leave her cell or admit visitors. A monk was appointed to bring her bread and water once a week, and for 28 years she lived in seclusion, thought by all the monks in the neighborhood to be the eunuch Anastasius. When God told her her death was approaching, she wrote a message to Daniel on a potsherd and placed it where room service would be sure to find it. Daniel came, confessed and communed her, and at his request she blessed him and the monk who had served her so faithfully. After she died, Daniel gave his cloak to the monk (who quite unfairly has no name, as you will have noticed), and told him to wrap the body in it. The monk “noticed she was a woman” (in the delightful wording of my source), and after the burial, asked the Abba if he was aware of this; Daniel then told him the whole story.
Today’s Catholisaint is Peter de Geremia (1381 – 1452). A brilliant U of Bologna law student, Peter was about to start his (sure to be stellar) career when, dreaming one night about his coming glory, he heard a knock at his inaccessible third-story window. Disconcerted (for some reason), he opened the window with a timorous, “Who’s there?” to find the ghost of a relative, in life a famous lawyer, who was now eternally lost due to the deceit he employed to gain the acclaim his pride craved. In the morning Peter did what any of us would do in such circumstances — he bought a huge length of chain and had it riveted tightly around his body. He then prayed to know God’s will, and was told to join the Dominicans. (Thus ending the oddest recruiting drive in the history of that fine organization.) Back in Palermo, his dad caught wind of Peter’s career change and came to give him a piece of his mind, but when he saw how happy he was, he gave him his blessing instead.
Peter rapidly became such a famous preacher that he had to preach outside — no building in Bologna could hold the crowds he attracted (and this was in the days before Porta-Potties). After he became prior of the abbey, he was told one day that they were running out of food. He went down to the sea and asked the first fisherman he saw if he would give a small donation to the boys at the monastery. He wouldn’t. Grabbing a boat, Peter rowed out into the bay and waved at the fish, which all broke out of the fisherman’s nets and swam over to find out what he wanted. “I’ve changed my mind,” the fisherman called, and the fish all swam back into his nets, which were once again made whole. From that day on, the monastery never ran out of fish.
Peter performed many other miracles, including stopping Mt. Etna from erupting (admittedly he used St. Agatha’s veil), healing the sick, and raising the dead, but sadly his presence and words at the ill-fated Council of Florence could not mend the breach between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. He was offered a bishopric for at least trying, but he turned it down.
This Day in History for 10th March
Martyr Anastasia the Patrician of Alexandria (OCA) – Main source
The Prologue of Ohrid (book on paper)
Blessed Peter de Geremia (St. Patrick’s D.C.) – Main source
Blessed Peter de Geremia (SQPN)
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
This story orginally ran in the Onion Dome on November 29, 2002
SASKATOON, Canada – In a move that still has him kicking himself, non-vegetarian Orthodox believer Tom (“The Apostle Thomas”) Wilberforce accidentally ate nothing but vegetables on a fish/wine/oil day this past week.
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