On this date in 1930, Constantinople and Angora become Istanbul and Ankara. Reports that the costs of changing highway and airport signage were paid for by royalties from the hit song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” have been discredited.
Our Orthosaint today is Taxiotis of Carthage (no date). A life-long sinner, at some point Taxiotis repented, quit the army, and started trying to live right. Unfortunately it didn’t quite take, and on a visit with his wife to their property near the city (Carthage, we suppose), he had an unfortunate dalliance with the wife of one of his hired hands. Unfortunate inasmuch as he was immediately bitten by a snake and died. (No word on what happened to the workman’s wife; ain’t it just that way?) Six hours later he came back to life, but was mum for four days. Then the dam broke and he told his tale: he had passed through the toll-houses (note to non-O readers: this refers to a sometime popular metaphor (or is it?!) for the post-this-life judgment, in which the soul after death passes through a number of toll-houses corresponding to various sins, at each of which one is accused by the demons and defended by the angels of that particular sin — if one makes it through all of them, one enters the heavenly realm) until he came to the one for adultery. There the demons grabbed him with an “Aha!” but an angel interceded and sent him back to earth (without cookies) to atone for his wrongdoing. For 40 days he went around to all the churches he could find, banging his head against the doors and thresholds, and weeping (it hurt). He implored everyone he met to repent of their sins and not commit any more. On the 40th day he died again, and this time we are assured he passed into the joy of the Kingdom of God.
It’s no Occident that our western saint today is Guntram (ca. 532 – 592), son of King Chlothar of Burgundy, and king of the same in turn. He started his interesting marital career with a concubine from among the slaves, Veneranda, who bore him a son, Gundobad. Later he married Marcatrude, but after she had a son she became jealous on his behalf, and had Gundobad snuffed out, reportedly by sending poison for some drudge to pour in his drink. When Guntram found out about it, he divorced her noisily, whereupon she went off and died (her son had died shortly after Gundobad). Finally he married Bobilla, who (for obvious reasons) had another name, Austerchild.
At some point, Guntram realized he had not done right by Veneranda or Marcatrude, and repented in a big (and public) way. He fasted, wept, prayed, wept some more, fasted a lot more, and then prayed again, then did it all over, for about 30 years. He founded churches and monasteries, tended the sick, fed his subjects during times of famine, and all of this while doing kingly things like making war on his heir. But when the opportunity came to add to his tale of womanly woes, in the form of his elder brother’s widow throwing herself at him, he very temperately demurred, and sent her (over some protest) to a nunnery.
After his remaining children died, he adopted his undernephew (or whatever you call your nephew’s son) Childebert as son and heir. In thanks, Childebert allied himself with one of Guntram’s enemies and invaded his own inheritance. They made peace, but three years later Guntram invaded Childebert’s lands, taking two cities. He called off the campaign, though, to attend his other nephew’s baptism. When that ended up not happening, he invaded Septimania (“six crazy guys plus one”) as a consolation prize. The invasions and wars go on for another three or four paragraphs, but suffice it to say he was a medieval Frankish king. Nevertheless, he performed many miracles and was hailed as a saint shortly after his death. The Huguenots scattered his ashes in the sixteenth century, but didn’t destroy his skull, which now resides in Chalon-sur-Saône in a silver box.
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reseved.
March 28 (Wikipedia)
The Prologue of Ohrid (book on paper) – Main source
The Near Death Experience of Saint Taxiotis
Tale of Taxiotis & theTerbl Toll houses (song by Wise as Serpents) – the music is excellent but I had a hard time making out the words.
Guntram (Wikipedia) – Main source
Guntramnus, King (St. Patrick DC)