On this date in 1953, Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge while practicing for the Olympics. His death was later ruled a suicide by people who missed the issues of “Divers Quarterly” in his bedroom.
Dmitry of Uglich (1582 – 1591), Tsarevich of Russia, was the son of Ivan the Terrible, but that’s not his fault. When Feodor Ivanovich was nominally Tsar and Boris Godunov (who wasn’t nearly good enough) was his regent, Godunov sent Dmitry, his mother, and her brothers into exile in Uglich. On 15 May 1591, he was found in the palace courtyard, dead from a knife wound in the throat.
An official investigation at the time ruled that the death was an accident. He was playing with his knife, it was said, and suffered an epileptic seizure. Astute mathematicians, however, added two twice and got five. Epileptic seizures (they argued) result in the palms being opened, making it difficult to stab oneself. Also, Godunov’s motives were questioned: with Dmitry out of the way, Godunov became heir to the throne, and indeed became Tsar when Feodor died seven years later. “When the political circumstances changed” (it doesn’t say in what way), the lead investigator recanted his report and said that Godunov ordered the murder. (“I admit the deed!”) Be that as it may, the immediate aftermath of Dmitry’s death was a riot in Uglich in which forty “accomplices” were lynched. After the investigation, Dmitry’s mother was forcefully tonsured and exiled to a monastery.
After his death, Dmitry appeared to a monk and (accurately) foretold Godunov’s death. When his tomb was opened fifteen years after the murder (if murder it was), his body was found incorrupt. It was reinterred at the Church of the Archangel Michael in Moscow.
Clotilde (475 – 545) was the daughter of the king of Burgundy, and was surrounded by crimson. Her father was killed by his brother, her mother was sent swimming with a stone necklace, and then there’s her kids (about whom more anon). She caught the eye of Clovis, King of the Franks, and they were married within a year of their first date. Keen to have a Catholic family, she had their first child baptized, but when he died shortly thereafter, the pagan (or Arian?) Clovis blamed Clotilde and her religion. Nevertheless she succeeded in having their second son baptized as well, and after an initial sickness (time to disinfect the baptismal font, guys?) he recovered. Clovis was finally convinced during a battle with the Alemanni which he was sure he was about to lose. He prayed to “Clotilde’s God,” promising to be baptized if he could just win this one eensy teensy little battle. He won, and was duly baptized. The two of them subsequently founded the Church of the Apostles in Paris (I’ll bet you didn’t know there were Apostles in Paris), which later was renamed after St. Genevieve .
Once Clovis dies it becomes confusing. Sons Chlodomer, Childebert, and Chlothar split up their dad’s kingdom, and attacked Clotilde’s cousin Sigismund of Burgundy, ultimately resulting in his assassination. Clotilde either provoked them to do this, or castigated them for it afterwards, although there’s no reason it couldn’t be both. Clotilde’s daughter Clotilde Jr. was bargained away as a wife to Amalaric, a Visigoth Arian (or Arian Visigoth), to buy peace. It didn’t work. Chlodomer was killed in battle, and Clotilde took his sons under her protection, but when two of them were killed by Chlothar, she put the third, five-year-old Clodoaldus (or Cloud), into a monastery. Meanwhile Clotilde Jr. was being abused by her husband Amalaric, so Childebert killed him. Unfortunately Clotilde Jr. died on the way home (wherever exactly “home” was at that point).
Clotilde entered the convent at St. Martin’s at Tours, and did penance for her sons (and presumably for herself). She cared for the sick and poor, built churches and monasteries, and prayed for the Frankish kingdom(s). It is said that when she died, a dazzling light and heavenly incense filled the room. She is the patron saint of people with abusive husbands, and “disappointing children.” (Children who disappoint? Or the act of making children feel disappointed? Both could surely use a patron saint.)
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
Ode to Billie Joe (Wikipedia)
Dmitry of Uglich (Wikipedia) – Main source
Orthodox Saints commemorated in June (Abba Moses)
Clotilda of France, Queen Widow (St. Patrick DC) – Main source
Saint Clotilde (SQPN)
Hagiography, Lives of Saints, Miracles, Monasticism, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, Saints, Saints’ Lives, Christianity, Ode to Billy Joe, Olympics, Diving, Dmitry of Uglich, Tsareviches, Russia, Ivan the Terrible, Feodor (Tsar), Boris Godunov, Uglich, Accidents, Deaths, Knives, Epilepsy, Seizures, Riots, Investigations, Monasteries, Incorrupt relics, Relics, Moscow, Church of the Archangel Michael, Clotilde, Fratricide, Clovis (King), Franks, Catholics, Pagans, Arians, Baptism, Battles, Alemanni, Paris, Genevieve, Chlodomer (King), Childebert (King), Chlothar (King), Sigismund (King), Burgundy, Amalaric, Clodoaldus, St Martin’s at Tours, Penance, Poor