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May 10 Saints of the Day – Thais of Egypt and Cataldus of Taranto

On this date in 1975, Sony introduced the Betamax videocassette recorder in Japan. The name “Betamax” was a last-minute change from the original “Textbook Case for Marketing Disaster.”

Thais of EgyptThais of Egypt (fifth cent.) is not the fourth century Thais of Egypt commemorated on October 10. Although their stories have similarities, the October Thais had an opera written about her, and ours didn’t. As for ours, she blew through her inheritance feeding the poor, and found herself penniless. Having no way to earn a living but the oldest one, she pursued that one. News of her fall came to the monks at Sketis, who said, “She helped us; time to return the favor.” So they sent John the Dwarf (who did not grumble, “Why do I always get these jobs?”). He was turned away at the door, but when he said, “Tell your mistress I have something very valuable,” he was let in. “Perhaps this random desert monk is bringing a pearl he’s found by the sea to a prostitute he’s never met,” Thais thought. (Why she thought anything like this isn’t addressed at all.) Once inside, John sat down and started weeping. “You have forsaken your bridegroom, Christ,” he sobbed. “Moreover you’re making Satan happy, which sucks.”

Thais’ soul was pierced as if by a fiery arrow (says the source). “Can Christ possibly forgive me?” she asked. “One way to find out,” said John. Of course I kid. He said, “He came to save sinners. He will accept you with love and the angels will party.” So she repented with both ventricles, and followed John into the desert, although with what destination in mind, we are not told. When night fell he made her a pillow out of sand (do not ask me how that works), and went a little farther and lay down himself. He was awakened by a bright light shining down from heaven on the place where Thais was sleeping. Looking closely he could see the angels bearing her soul to heaven, and when he walked back to the sandy pillow, he found her dead body. Immediately he fell down in prayer, asking, “She was saved, right? God? Right?” An angel came down and told him, “She repented with her whole heart and soul.” John buried her (without, so far as we know, help from any lions at all) and, singing “Heart and Soul,” went to tell the monks at Sketis about the woman who, like the thief on the cross, was saved in a moment by heartfelt repentance.

Cataldus of TarantoCataldus of Taranto (d. prob. ca. 685) was an Irish monk, first a student and then headmaster of the monastic school at Lismore, Waterford. Feeling spiritually restless, he went on pilgrimage to Jersusalem, but on the way back, his ship foundered near Taranto, Italy. At that time or shortly thereafter (the sources are deplorably silent on timing), Taranto found itself in need of a bishop, and the people of the town called upon Cataldus, who was by that time dry again. He accepted the post on condition that the mainland Italians and Sicilians each name a town “San Cataldo” after him, which offer was accepted joyfully and has since been fulfilled. He went on to become Archbishop, and then dead. Little is known of his time in Taranto except a couple of miracles: he protected the city against plague, and against floods that had devastated nearby towns. Which, I’m sure, is more than enough to acclaim someone for, if you live in a low-lying area.

Strangely the fact he was from Ireland was either not known or was rapidly forgotten by the locals, and didn’t come to light again until three centuries after his death, when his body was moved, and the casket found to contain a gold cross of seventh century Irish workmanship. A bit of Latin doggerel is associated with the saint — it doesn’t bear repeating, except the first line: “Me tulit Hiberne,” which being interpreted means, “Ireland gave me birth.” The claim that an ancient bottle of Guinness was found with his relics could not be substantiated.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

May 10 (Wikipedia)
Blessed Thais of Egypt (OCA) – Main source
Catald of Taranto (St. Patrick DC) – Main source
Catald (Wikipedia)
Taranto (Wikipedia)


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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