On this day in 1535, twelve Anabaptists (7 men and 5 women) ran naked through the streets of Amsterdam, crying, “Woe!” The neighbors cried, “Whoa!” and 11 of the streakers were arrested. One escaped when she considered just how cold those jail cells can be in February.
Looking eastward today we see Haralambos (Charalampus) (89 – 202), variously a priest in, or bishop of, Magnesia (famous for its milk) in Asia Minor. This is a story of torture so those with weak stomachs might want to skip to St. Scholastica. But we’re not going to talk about what they did to Haralambos. You’ll see.
Local functionaries Lucian and Lucius had Haralambos arrested and convicted of being a Christian. He was sentenced to be tortured and killed — in spite of being (as anyone with a calculator could tell you) 113 years old at the time. “Do your worst,” he said. They tortured him in divers ways, but all he said was, “You are preparing my soul for eternal life.” Seeing this, two soldiers cried out that they wanted to be Christians too, and were beheaded on the spot; the same happened to three women spectators (entertainment was hard to come by in Magnesia in those days). Haralambos healed them all. Lucius was so hacked off (so to speak) that he took up the torture implements himself, only to have his arms hacked off by an unseen sword. Lucian spat in Haralambos’ face, and his head suddenly swung around 180° and faced the other way. Convinced, they both prayed for mercy, were healed by our saint, and became Christians.
The next thing in the narrative is Emperor Severus catching wind of the saint’s many miracles and conversions, and dispatching 300 soldiers to fetch him. Which they did, setting off toward wherever the Emperor was, and tormenting Haralambos along the way, until one of their horses cried that the Emperor was an enemy of God and his soldiers were slaves of the Devil. A silence fell (understandably), and they stopped tormenting him. When he came before the Emperor, the tortures started up again, but again Haralambos was unmoved. Seeking to test him, the emperor brought out a possessed man (who was exorcised) and a dead man (who was raised). “He’s a sorcerer!” cried Prefect Crispus, and the Emperor ordered more tortures, but suddenly found himself suspended in the air, being whipped by unseen hands. His daughter Gallina was converted on the spot and told him to knock it off. When he didn’t, she went into the temple and broke all the idols she could get her hands on. My kinda gal. Finally Haralambos was beheaded. His soul went to its reward, and his head went to Meteora, where it is kept at the Monastery of St. Stephen.
Looking westward we see Scholastica (ca. 480 – 547), twin sister of Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictines. A godly woman from a young age, she was the abbess of a monastery about five miles away from her brother’s. She and Benedict were accustomed to meeting once a year to worship together and talk. One year, perhaps knowing it would be their last meeting, she begged him to stay and pass the night in prayer and discussion, but he rebuked her and said he must return to his monastic cell to sleep. She clasped her hands and bowed her head, and instantly the sky went from being clear and blue to being overcast. Thunder crashed, and it rained down so hard that it was hazardous to even put your head out the door, let alone walk five miles back to your monastery. “What have you done!” he cried. “Well,” she said, “since you wouldn’t listen to me, I prayed to God, and He did.” Bazinga. They spent the night in prayer and talk, and the next day Benedict went back to Monte Cassino. Three days later he saw her soul ascending to heaven in the form of a shining dove. Her prayers are, naturally enough, invoked against rain and storms.
This Day in History for 10th February (History Orb)
The Anabaptist Attempt on Amsterdam 1535
Feast of the Holy and Glorious Hieromartyr Haralambos (GOARCH) –Main source
Hieromartyr Charalampus the Bishop of Magnesia in Thessaly (OCA)
Scholastica (Wikipedia) – Main source
Saint Scholastica (SQPN)
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.