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May 20 Saints of the Day – Asclas of Antinoe and Columba of Rieti

On this date in 1899, the first traffic ticket in the U.S. was issued, to cab driver Jacob German for doing 12 mph down Lexington in New York City. Although now legal, achieving 12 mph in Manhattan can still be difficult.

Asclas of AntinoeAsclas of Antinoe (d. ca. 287) suffered under Egyptian governor Arrian, who was under Emperor Diocletian, who was under the impression he could wipe out Christianity through state-sponsored terrorism. Invited to sacrifice to the pagan gods, Asclas refused, and moreover prophesied that Arrias would be forced to call Jesus Christ the true God. Arrias ordered him viciously tortured, but when one of those present said, “I think he’s dead,” Asclas replied, “No, I’m not.”

Arrias had a meeting across the Nile in Antinoe the next day, and ordered Asclas carried across, hoping to pop in on the execution during the lunch break. In answer to Asclas’ prayers, Arrias’ boat stopped in the middle of the river. Strain as they might, the oarsmen could make no headway at all. At the time, the governor was writing (or dictating) the charges against Asclas, and when he wrote (said), “he worships Jesus, the true God,” the boat was freed, and they were able to complete their crossing.

He ordered Asclas burned, and when that didn’t work, drowned, which worked. As he was being hauled to the river, the holy martyr told the Christians encouraging him, “Find my body and the rock, and bury them together.” The soldiers tied a rock around his neck and flung him in. Three days later, the Christians found his body, and the rock, and buried them together.

Columba of RietiColumba of Rieti (1467 – 1501) was serenaded by angels on the day of her birth, and visited by a white dove on the day of her baptism. Her parents were perpetually poor out of charity and almsgiving. She learned to read from the local nuns, and memorized the Little Office by listening to it a lot. Throughout her life she was a devotée of Catherine of Siena.

At twelve she prayed to know her vocation, and had a vision of saints standing around the throne of Christ. Consulting her copy of Dream Interpretation for Italian Adolescents, she took a private vow of chastity, planning a life of solitude. Unfortunately, she neglected to inform her parents of these plans. They of course had procured a nice young man to marry her, neglecting on their part to inform her — until he was actually sitting in the parlor, waiting to take her to dinner and a movie.

In a vision she was informed of a custom by which cutting off all one’s hair and giving it to one’s unwanted suitor would make him realize one desired to be a nun. Fortunately her suitor also knew this custom (presumably through more pedestrian channels), and got the hint. (There is no word about what he did with the hair.) This enraged Columba’s brothers, who tormented her about it (up to and including attempted murder) until she left home.

Throughout her life, Columba had visions and ecstasies, including events from the life of our Lord. After one particularly vivid ecstasy of the Passion, she prayed not to have that one again, lest it kill her. (Mel Gibson, eat your heart out.) In another vision she saw the Christ Child, which made up for the nativity set her confessor had promised her but kept forgetting to give her.

At nineteen she was received into the Dominican tertiaries, and immediately set off on a pilgrimage to Viterbo, about 100 km west on the S S79. Along the way she exorcised a woman who had been possessed by a demon for 18 years, and her fame went before her to such an extent that when she got to Narni, the people there decided to kidnap her and adopt her as their own pet wonderworker. She managed to outsmart them and return to Rieti.

Eventually she was made Mother Superior of a Dominican Tertiary community in Perugia, which she ruled with compassion and tenderness until her death from unspecified “natural causes.” She is called upon in the prayers of those suffering from magic, sorcery, temptation, or living in Perugia.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

May 20 (Wikipedia)
Martyr Asclas of Egypt (OCA) – Main source
Saint Asclas of Antinoe (SQPN)
Blessed Columba of Rieti (St. Patrick DC) – Main source
Blessed Columba of Rieti (SQPN)


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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