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April 17 Saints of the Day – Acacius of Melitene and Clare Gambacorta

On this date in 1973, George Lucas began writing the treatment for what would become Star Wars. Han shot first.

Acacius of MeliteneOur eastern saint today is Acacius, bishop of Melitene (d. ca. 435). Child of his parents’ old age, he was presented when young to the bishop, as they had promised God when they were yet barren. Thus Acacius grew up in the church, becoming in turn reader, deacon, priest, and bishop (in exactly that order), the latter coming when his bishop stepfather passed away. He was by all accounts a good bishop, and he argued forcefully for the two natures of Christ at the Third Ecumenical Council.

He obtained the gift of wonderworking “by his firm faith, humility, and deeds,” so impious rumours about mail orders and proofs of purchase can be safely discounted (while supplies last). Anyway, here’s some wonders. During a drought, he decided to move the celebration of the Divine Liturgy out of doors, and before the service was over, rain was falling on the people and the holy table and everything, to the joy of all. During a flood, he took a rake — oh wait, that was Frigidian. He took a rock, placed it on the land, and told the river, “No further.” And there it halted. Finally, one day the dome of a church where he was celebrating Liturgy began to collapse. The people in great haste started testing the adequacy of the fire exits, when Acacius yelled out, “The Lord is the defender of my life! Whom shall I fear?” The dome stopped in mid-collapse, everybody came back inside, the service went on to its natural end, and Acacius’ heel had just crossed the threshold when the dome finally gave way.

Acacius died peacefully, which I have heard highly recommended.

Clare GambacortaOur western saint today is blessed Clare Gambacorta (1362 – 1419). Daughter of the Doge of Pisa (well, since she was seven), married at twelve, and widowed at fifteen, Victoria Gambacorta ran away to the local Poor Clares (there taking the name Clare) to avoid being married off again. Her brother came with some heavies, dragged her back, and locked her up at home for five months. She was not even allowed to take the sacrament, although she did manage to give her jewelry away, instructing her friends to sell it and give to the poor. Finally either her mother or her sister-in-law snuck her to mass on St. Dominic’s Day, while the menfolk were off doing guy stuff.

When a Spanish bishop passed through, the Doge asked him to talk some sense into the girl’s hard head, not knowing that this bishop was none other than the confessor to St. Bridget of Sweden, and as such not at all averse to women choosing the religious life over marriage. He talked some sense into a hard head all right — the Doge’s. Clare was allowed to leave, whereupon she joined the Dominicans, in no time becoming the abbess of her own convent (of course).

Along about then, a political usurper assassinated her father and some of her brothers, and she watched another brother be killed by a mob right outside her convent door. She took ill and many thought she was dying. She called her nuns together and asked that one of them procure food for her from the table of her father’s (and brothers’) assassin. The man’s wife sent a basket of bread and fruit, and when Clare ate the bread, she was healed. Her surviving brother, who had become a hermit about the time she tried to enter the Poor Clares, wanted to abandon his eremitic life and avenge their father’s and brothers’ deaths, but Clare talked him out of it. Eventually the usurper was himself murdered, and Clare gave his wife and daughters asylum in her convent.

Ultimately of course she passed away, and is interred at the convent, but it is said that whenever a sister there is about to die, Clare’s bones will rattle in their crypt, as if to say, “Yep, it’s your time.”


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.


Bibliography
April 17 (Wikipedia)
Star Wars (Wikipedia)
St Acacius the Bishop of Melitene – Main source
Blessed Clara Gambacorta – Main source
Blessed Clare Gambacorta (St. Patrick DC)

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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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