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April 30 Saints of the Day – James the Apostle and Mary of the Incarnation

On this date in 1937, the Philippines held a plebiscite asking women whether they should be allowed to vote. The result (90% in favor) was sent back through a wormhole in time to allow the vote to occur.

James the ApostleThe Apostle James (d. 44), brother of John the Evangelist, is sometimes called “James the Greater” to distinguish him from some lesser James. His real name was Jacob but everybody calls him James, for reasons that don’t bear going into. James and John were among Jesus’ first disciples, and are presented as a bit headstrong in the Gospels. Their mother was a little overbearing as well — she audaciously asked Jesus to let them sit in places of honor in His kingdom. Whether this explains why they were so ready to leave home and follow Him when called, we do not know.

James was martyred under Herod Agrippa, the first of the Apostles to wear that crown. It is said that as he went to his death, one of his false accusers begged for his forgiveness. James forgave him and wished him peace, and the man confessed Christ, and was beheaded along with the apostle. Legend says that after his death (James’, not the accuser’s), his body was placed by the angels in a rudderless, unattended boat, and floated to Spain. Rocks grew up around it, and his relics were found centuries later. They are now housed in the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. (“Santiago” is short for “Santo Iago” meaning “Saint James.”) El Camino de Santiago (“the Way of St. James”), the traditional pilgrimage route across northern Spain to the church, was one of the most well-trodden pilgrimages of the middle ages, and remains popular in our own day. According to the guest log, 192,488 pilgrims completed the trip in 2012 (up from just 690 in 1985).

Mary of the IncarnationMary of the Incarnation (1599 – 1672) was widowed at nineteen, and after making her late husband’s floundering business into a profitable concern and selling it, she returned with her young son to her parents’ home, paying the rent by selling embroidery (presumably hers). In 1620 she had a mystical vision in which she was first shown all her faults and sins, then immersed in Christ’s blood. Immediately she desired to live a monastic life, so she went to work for her brother’s shipping company for ten years.

In 1631 she entered the Ursuline convent in Tours, leaving her son with her sister (mother and son later healed this separation epistolarily). In 1634 she had a vision or two telling her to go to New France (Canada) with a companion to be named later and help establish the Catholic faith there. Eager to begin this new undertaking, she remained at the convent another five years. At that point she was introduced to Marie-Madeline de Chauvigny de la Peltrie, who would have come sooner but had trouble fitting her name into her valise. Mary recognized her as the woman in her dream, and together the two set out to Canada by way of Paris and Dieppe. In Paris they signed a contract to not upset the Jesuits running the mission, and Marie-Madeline signed away her life savings to support them. At Dieppe they were joined by Sister Cécile de Sainte-Croix, an Ursuline who had been waiting for an opportunity to live in squalor in the woods of an infant nation.

Once in Quebec City, they founded the first school in what would become Canada (there already being schools in what wouldn’t become Canada), educating both colonist and native (First Nations) girls. They also founded the Ursuline Monastery of Quebec, a Canadian national historic site (well, it is now — back then the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada was still a far-off dream). Despite contracting a liver ailment, Mary taught at the school, led the other nuns, solicited funds, and in her free time wrote reams of letters as well as dictionaries of, and books in, both Algonquin and Iriquois. Her letters are one of our best sources for the history of that part of Canada at that time.


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.


Bibliography
April 29 (Wikipedia)
(Wikipedia) – Main source
North Cornwall Saint to be remembered (BBC)
Endellion (St. Patrick DC)
St Endellion (Wikipedia)
Catherine of Siena (St. Patrick DC) – Main source
Catherine of Siena (Wikipedia)
Doctor of the Church (Wikipedia)

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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.

One comment on “April 30 Saints of the Day – James the Apostle and Mary of the Incarnation

  1. I’d like to know more about the whole “James/Jacob” affair.

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