On this day in 1845, Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous poem was first published. In this way it is quite unlike a writing desk, as those don’t tend to be published at all. (I’ll bet you thought I was going to say “nevermore,” didn’t you?)
Today in Iconland we are celebrating the translation of the Relics of Ignatius (ca. 35-50 – ca. 98-117), third (or second) bishop of Antioch, and one of the Apostolic Fathers — early second century writers identified by having been gathered into anthologies with “Apostolic Fathers” in the title. He left seven letters immensely important to understanding second-century Christianity. He was the first Christian writer, for instance, to specify the one-to-one correspondence between cities and bishops (known colloquially as the “Hey, you, get offa my Chair” rule), and his reference to “God existing in flesh” gives witness to early belief in the doctrine of the Incarnation. Letters prophesying the Protestant Reformation and the winning of the Ashes in 1877 are now thought to be apocryphal. Witnesses say he calmly and without fear entertained large numbers of decent, law-abiding Roman citizens by getting ripped to shreds by lions in the Coliseum. (We’re so much more civilized these days.)
Now the story of his relics begins. Readers of this series of hagiographies will by now have cottoned onto the fact that some saints’ bodies seem to enjoy a peripatetic afterlife, often putting on more miles than the saint ever did while alive. Ignatius is no slacker in this department. Those parts of his body not eaten by the lions were collected by his disciples, ferried back to Antioch, and buried outside the city gates. Centuries later Emperor Theodosius II (r. 402–408) had a pagan temple inside the walls converted to a Christian church and our saint’s relics translated thither. Centuries later redux, when the Persians took over Antioch (637), Ignatius’ relics were dug up once more and removed to St. Clement’s in Rome, where finally, one hopes, they are able to get a little rest. In the West he is celebrated on 17 October (formerly 1 February). His prayers are invoked against throat diseases.
Statueland today venerates Walloch (Voloc) of Scotland (d. ca. 724 or 733 or 5th cent.), who in the twenty-first century is, like King Arthur or Michael Dukakis, almost more of an archaeological puzzle than a historical figure. He was either a relative of St. Columba, or of no known parentage, and either the abbot of Iona or an emissary of St. Ninian’s Candida Casa. Most of what we do know comes from the Aberdeen Breviary, published in 1507, which states that he lived in a hut made of reeds and wattles (we assume this refers to the “stakes interwoven with branches,” and not the “skin hanging from an animal’s throat,” definition). The Breviary was clearly as impressed as Dr. Johnson with the folks north of Hadrian’s Folly, and goes on to describe Walloch’s flock as “fierce, untamed, void of decency of manners and virtue, and incapable of easily listening to the word of truth.” This, and his humility and self-imposed poverty, are all we know for certain. The rest is riddles.
A standing stone at Logie-in-Mar bears his name (alternately spelled; see picture). A fair named after him was held either two weeks before Christmas or on January 30 for many years (discontinued somewhere between 1824 and 1874); a bit of half-remembered doggerel is all that remains:
Wala-fair in Logic Mar
The thirtieth day of Januar.
Nowt remains of Walla Kirk but the graveyard; the last burial took place there in 1899. St. Walloch’s Well, once a repository of pins tossed by pilgrims seeking healing for eye ailments (I don’t get it either), has been destroyed. St. Walloch’s Bath, an indentation in a rock by the River Deveron where children were brought to be healed, remains, although its last recorded use for that purpose was 1874. Like the contents of the library at Alexandria or next week’s Powerball numbers, we can only wish we knew more about this ancient saint.
This Day in History for 29th January (History Orb)
Ignatius of Antioch (Wikipedia)
St. Ignatius of Antioch (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Theodosius II (Wikipedia)
Saint Ignatius of Antioch (SQPN)
St. Voloc of Scotland, Bishop (Walloch) (CelticSaints.org)
Aberdeen Breviary (Wikipedia)
Wattle (Bing Dictionary)
St Walloch and Walloch Stone (celtic missionary) (Glenbuchat Heritage)
River Deveron (Wikipedia)
The River Deveron (Deveron.org)
Walla’ Kirk Graveyard (Scottish Gov’t)
Photos of Walla Kirk (Geograph.org)
A Calendar of Scottish Saints (January) (Scot Sites)
Saint Ninian (Wikipedia)
The Ashes (Wikipedia)
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (Wikipedia)
Vacation Notes in Cromar, Burghead, and Strathspey (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scotland, 1874)
(This is really, really cool (pdf).)
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.