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January 8 Saints of the Day – Julian & Vasilissa and Angela of Foligno

Julian and BasilissaOn this day, Charles de Gaulle became the 1st president of the 5th Republic in the 59th year of the 20th century. De Gaulle won great fame by having an airport named after him in 1974.

In the Christian east, we celebrate the feast of, among others, the Holy Martyrs Julian and Vasilissa (d. ca. 313). Julian was born in either Antinoe in Egypt or Antioch in Syria, depending on whom you ask. At any rate it started with “anti,” which is appropriate as he was anti — which is to say opposed to — losing his virginity, hoping to go on living in his rich and well-placed parents’ basement indefinitely.

To his dismay, however, they began to seek a suitable young noblewoman for him to wed, as he was their only child and they were keen to have grandchildren. After a vision in which he was promised an equally continent bride, he consented and was wed to Vasilissa (or Basilissa; the two were hard to tell apart). They went on to form separate monasteries and suffer and die for their faith, which explains why they’re called “martyrs.” They left no children either physical or spiritual, for their monasteries were completely wiped out (in a most gruesome manner which I will not relate) by an overzealous governor with an overdeveloped sense of cruelty. I will not draw any parallels to living officials.

Angela of FolignoIn the west, today is the festival of the Blessed Angela of Foligno (1248-1309), who for her first 40 years lived a life of distraction, raising a passel of kids, which rather explains it. At that age she got serious about her faith and took a long-postponed confession. Her husband and children then promptly died. Nothing was ever proved, however, and she went on to join the Secular Franciscans, help the poor as a nurse, and write her autobiography. For the latter she received the title “Teacher of the Theologians,” although my sources do not indicate exactly which if any theologians read her book. She was beatified in 1693, leading one to think that the book remained in print a long time*. Perhaps “Teacher of the Theologians” was the 13th century equivalent of the Pulitzer.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

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*Indeed, it still is.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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