On this date in 1643, four-year-old Louis XIV became King of France. Initially called the “Pluto King,” he changed his name to “Sun King” when he learned Pluto was not a planet.
Isidore of Rostov (d. 1474), of either Slavic or Prussian extraction, was born near Brandenburg. It bothered him that Slavs in the area were pressured to convert to Catholicism, so he foreswore his inheritance — gold rings, parents, power yacht — and took to wandering, searching for the perfect swamp to build a hut in. He finally found it in Rostov (near Moscow). Choosing a spot just above mean higher high water, he stuck some bulrushes together and called it home. By then he had become Orthodox, and he took to wandering the streets committing random acts of foolishness, sleeping on dung heaps, decrying wickedness, and dispensing spiritual advice to those who approached him from upwind.
One day a ship was foundering at sea (somewhere), and the crew cast lots, determining that a merchant from Rostov was their Jonah (let the reader understand). They chucked him overboard and tossed him a plank, and as he sank with a prayer, he saw Isidore walking on the water. “Isidore! Save me!” he cried. “This is just between us, okay?” said the saint, hauling him onto the board. The two of them surfed on it back to the ship, and before he could say, “Thanks, Isidore,” the merchant was back on board and the saint had disappeared. Whenever they met after that, the merchant would prostrate himself, and Isidore would say, “Not a word.”
Another time Isidore heard that the archbishop was coming to the prince’s house. Wanting to bless the prince à la Matthew 10:42, he hurried to the house and asked one of the servants for a cup of water in the name of the Lord. The servant drove him away, and when the family sat down to dine, they found they were all out of wine. The prince asked the servants if anything, you know, different had happened that day, and he learned how Isidore had been refused a drink. He sent a servant to find the fool, but the fool wasn’t findable. Then, as the meal was ending, Isidore appeared. He handed the archbishop a piece of prosfora, saying, “I just got this from the Metropolitan in Kiev.” And suddenly the wine casks were full again.
When Isidore died, his body immediately gave off a sweet scent which could be smelt throughout the town. The merchant related the whole story of his rescue, and with the bishop’s blessing built a wooden church on the site of the little hut. It was later replaced with a stone church.
Boniface of Tarsus (d. 307) was (ostensibly) the servant of noblewoman Aglae. She liked to put on shows for the local citizenry, and Boniface liked to drink, although he was also generous to strangers. Mostly the two of them liked to spend time in each other’s company, if you get my drift. This went on for some years, when Aglae said, “You know, we’re not getting any younger, and we’re going to have to stand before God and answer for our, um, actions. Why don’t you sail off and bring back some saints’ relics, so we can pray and repent and all?”
Boniface did not say, “Why do we need relics to pray and repent?” and we do not know why. He did say, “What if they make relics out of me?” whereupon Aglae laughed at him, apparently not being as familiar with foreshadowing as you and I. The longer Boniface sailed the more penitent he became, and when he finally found some real, live martyrs (in Tarsus), he yelled to them, “Pray for me, for I too am a Christian!” This resulted in his being tortured in various ways, mostly involving molten things that are usually solid at room temperature. In the end he was decapitated, and his relics were gathered and returned to Aglae by her servants. She built a church to bury him in, lived fifteen to eighteen years longer in simplicity and repentance, and was buried next to him.
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
May 14 (Wikipedia)
Saint Isidore of Rostov the Fool For Christ (Mystagogy) – Main source
Venerable Isidore the Fool-For-Christ and Wonderworker of Rostov
Boniface of Tarsus (St. Patrick DC) – Main source