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June 15 Saints of the Day – Doulas of Egypt and Vitus

On this date in 1844, Charles Goodyear received a patent for vulcanization, a process to strengthen rubber. You might say vulcanization allows rubber to live long and prosper.

Doulas of EgyptDoulas of Egypt (no date – let’s just say “Egyptian Monk period”), unpopular due to his humility, meekness, obedience, and so on, endured the mockery of his fellow monks (and there’s no mockery like monk mockery) for twenty years. But worse was to come, otherwise his story would be boring and I’d have picked some other saint. Some holy vessels (goblets not gondolas) went missing on the one day in his entire life he was down with the crud and so not in church. Witnesses testified they had seen him take the goods, and when he saw he was doomed, he said only, “I am a sinner. Forgive me.”

Forgiveness, however, was off on pilgrimage somewhere. Doulas was stripped of his robes, dressed in street clothes, and sent to the secular authorities. They demanded he produce the silver, but he replied, “I don’t have it, and if I said I did, I’d be lying, and that’s diabolical, so I shan’t.” He was sentenced to have his hands cut off. At the last minute the actual thief confessed his sin, which was handy for Doulas. (We’re not told what happened to the limbs of the lackey who lifted the luggage.) Nevertheless he was banished from the monastery for twenty years, on account of, well, on account of something. The perennially popular “blaming the victim,” perhaps.

After twenty years he returned to the monastery, and all the monks asked for his forgiveness. “Well,” he said, “I have suffered for my sins, which has done me good.” He forgave them, and prayed for God to forgive them. After he’d been home for three days, they found him locked in the cathedral, apparently dead, but everyone who had a key was off visiting. When they finally unlocked the church, they found only his robe and his sandals. “Thus,” says the source, his accusers “were shown to be unworthy of burying his holy body.” So there.

VitusVitus (d. 303) was born in Sicily to upstanding pagan parents, who took it poorly when, through the influence of his tutor Modestus and his governess Crescentia, he was baptized a Christian and, at the tender age of twelve, took up an ascetic life. He was attended by angels, which is more than I can say, and he was radiant and handsome as an angel, which leaves me in the dust. When his father was blinded from seeing shining angels in Vitus’ room, he healed him by his prayers. In thanks, his father tried to kill him (fathers aren’t always logical), so he fled (with Modestus and Crescentia) to Lucania, where he healed the sick, the insane, and people who don’t like chocolate (if that’s not redundant).

They then went to Rome, where Vitus was brought before the Emperor Diocletian, whose son he dispossessed of a demonic demon. When he (Vitus, not the demon) refused to worship the pagan gods, the miracle was attributed to sorcery, and the three Christians were subjected to a number of execution attempts, including a cauldron of molten lead (from which they escaped unscathed), lions (who didn’t find them appetizing), and finally hot oil (which worked). At the moment of their deaths, a supernatural derecho destroyed a number of pagan temples in the neighborhood, wreaking havoc on insurance rates for temples throughout the city.

Many years later, Vitus was counted among the Fourteen Holy Helpers, whose prayers were sought for any number of things. In particular, sixteenth century Germans for some reason (other than that they were sixteenth century Germans) thought that if they danced before his image, they would obtain a year’s good health. This dancing took on a somewhat jerky form, which resembled chorea, as a result of which Sydenham’s Chorea is referred to as St. Vitus’ Dance. Vitus is of course the patron saint of people suffering from this ailment, as well as epilepsy. He is also the patron saint of comedians, for (one hopes) some other reason.


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.


Bibliography
June 15 (Wikipedia)
St Doulas the Passion-Bearer of Egypt – Main (only) source
Orthodox Saints commemorated in June (Abba Moses) – Main source 1 of 2
Saint Vitus (SQPN) – Main source 2 of 2
Vitus (Wikipedia)
Fourteen Holy Helpers (Wikipedia)
Sydenham’s chorea (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.

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