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July 1 Saints of the Day: Angelina of Serbia and Oliver Plunkett

On this date in 1976, Portugal granted autonomy to Madeira. Most other Portuguese wines still await emancipation.

Angelina of SerbiaAngelina of Serbia (ca. 1440 – ca. 1520) was the daughter of an Albanian nobleman who sheltered Serbian Despot (ruler) Stefan Branković when he was blinded and driven out of Serbia by the Turks. Stefan and Angelina were soon besotted and married (in that order), ultimately producing either two or four or five children. Some years later the Turks came roaring through Albania, doing various unpleasant things along the way. The family fled to Italy, where Stefan passed away (unless it was in Belgrade). Angelina buried his body in Serbia, then went to Hungary. She outlived all her children if she only had four; all but one if you include the fifth. One of her sons, Đorđe, was Metropolitan of Ungro-Wallachia from 1508 to 1521, which is a pretty good trick, considering the same source says he died in 1516. Late in life Angelina retired to the the Krušedol monastery (which is shown on the 5 Dinar coin, in case you thought it wasn’t important), where she died peacefully.

Oliver PlunkettOliver Plunkett (1629 – 1681) had more earls and lords in his family tree than a Payday bar has nuts. After early schooling he headed out for Rome, since the Irish Confederate Wars, a lovely set of tea parties between Catholics, Irish Anglicans, English Anglicans, and Protestants [sic], were making being Catholic downright dangerous. When Ireland was captured by the Cromwellians, Oliver decided to stay in Rome, and he became a theology professor (as one does). Sometime after Charles II ascended the throne, and it looked somewhat safer to be Catholic in Ireland, Oliver was made Bishop of Armagh (the “primatial see” of Ireland) and shipped home.

Once there, he set about rebuilding the Church, in particular establishing schools for both youth and the clergy, whom he found “ignorant in moral theology and controversies.” He also fought against drunkenness among the Irish clergy, which is open to so many cheap jokes we’re just going to let it slide under the table. He established a college in Drogheda which was open to Protestant students, making it the first “integrated” school in Ireland.

In 1673 Parliament passed the Test Act, which required anyone holding a public office to swear to the supremacy of the King over the Church (à la Henry VIII), which is bad enough, but also to agree under oath that there is no such thing as transubstantiation. When Oliver spoke openly against the Act, the college was razed, and he was forced into hiding. But when it became clear that the government in Dublin was going to turn a blind eye to the Catholic bishops, he resumed his duties. In 1678 a new wave of anti-Catholicism tsunamied across the Irish Sea in the form of a backlash against the bogus “Popish Plot,” a supposed attempt to invade Britain with French troops. (The real Popish Plot is if course a small patch of garden in the Vatican where they grow peas and stuff.) The whole thing appears to be an attempt by the Earl of Essex, quondam Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to regain control of the island by discrediting his successor, the Duke of Ormond.

Oliver once again went on the lam, but not terribly effectively — between staying in Dublin and continuing to run the archdiocese, he was fairly easy to capture. He was accused of plotting to import 20,000 French soldiers without proper visas, and of attempting to raise funds for a private army. He was moved to England (they knew he could never be convicted in Ireland), tried once and found innocent, then tried again and found guilty of high treason for “promoting the Roman faith.” The King felt convinced of his innocence but feared to intervene, so Oliver was hanged, drawn, and quartered, the last Roman Catholic martyr to die in England. His body was buried in two boxes, then exhumed. His head went from England to Rome to Armagh to Drogheda, and various other relics reside in England, Ireland, France, Germany, the United States, and Australia.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

July 1 (Wikipedia)
St Angelina of Serbia (OCA) – Main source
Saint Angelina of Serbia (Wikipedia)
Stefan Branković (Wikipedia)
Krušedol monastery (Wikipedia)
Oliver Plunkett – Main source
Saint Oliver Plunkett (SQPN)
Test Act (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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