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July 9 Saints of the Day – Pancratius of Taormina and Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Chiquinquirá

On this date in 1962, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans exhibition opened at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. Nobody thought to refrigerate after opening, but fortunately it didn’t go bad.

Pancratius of TaorminaPancratius of Taormina (I cent.) was taken as a lad by his parents to see Jesus preach. He may well have been one of the children our Lord bade come unto him, although none of our sources mention this, and far be it from me to interpolate. After our Lord ascended, he (Pancratius, not Jesus) was baptized, perhaps by St. Peter himself. When his parents died (Pancratius’, not Peter’s), he gave away his inheritance and lived in a cave for a time, where he was rediscovered by Peter (perhaps on a tour of local caves, or perhaps not), taken to Sicily, and made bishop of Taormina. When a pagan general named Aquilinus heard about the many converts Pancratius was making there, he gathered his troops and set off thither, intent on destroying the city. Pancratius went out to meet them, armed only with the sign of the cross and a double helping of chutzpah (although he didn’t call it that, as Yiddish had not yet been invented).

The soldiers, on seeing his coming and crossing, fell upon each other, their own swords, and the ground, in roughly that order. Finally they ran away in the classic Monty Python style (“Run away! Run away!”), and the town was saved. Sadly the pagans many years later caught Pancratius and stoned him, which is bad, but you can still go to Rome and venerate the relics of this brave martyr of God, which is very, very good.

Nuestra Señora del Rosario de ChiquinquiráNuestra Señora del Rosario de Chiquinquirá (Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá) (XVI cent.) is of course a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in this case as depicted in a portrait by Alonso de Narvaez, a Spanish painter in what is now Colombia, using pigments from the plants and earth he had to hand (or to shovel, perhaps). His canvas was rough cloth donated by the locals, and the portrait (which is about a meter high) shows the Virgin holding the Christ Child and standing on a crescent moon, surrounded by St. Anthony of Padua and St. Andrew the Apostle, patrons of the colonist and monk (respectively) who ordered it. It was foolishly placed in a leaky chapel, until sunlight and water damage obliterated the image entirely. It was moved to a storage room off a chapel in Chiquinquirá, where years later a cleaning woman named Maria Ramos found it. She hung it in the chapel, and loved to sit and contemplate it (wondering, perhaps, what it used to portray). Suddenly one day the canvas was restored, the image shone bright, and even the rips in the canvas were repaired. The miraculous image was hung for all to venerate, and endures to this day, if a little worse for wear. (It was placed behind glass in the XIX century.)

Another miraculous image of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá (or “Chinita” as she is also called) resides in Maracaibo, Venezuela. In the early XVIII century, an old washerwoman (with, coincidentally or not, the same name as the woman in the previous story, Maria Ramos) found a board floating in the water one day. She fished it out and took it home, and the image of Chinita suddenly shone forth from the board. Not long after that, the government in Caracas sent a detachment of soldiers to fetch the board to the capital. They nabbed it, but the farther away from Maracaibo they went, the heavier the 25cm x 26cm board became, until they were quite unable to carry it. As it was carried back to its rightful home, however, it got lighter and lighter. A basilica fronted by a huge square was built, with an open sanctuary, fountains, and a much-larger-than-life statue of Chinita planted right where Maria Ramos’ house once stood. The Venezuelan Chinita is celebrated at a fair beginning October 27.

In 1829, Pope Pius VII declared Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá the patroness of Colombia.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

July 9 (Wikipedia)
Hieromartyr Pancratius the Bishop of Taormina in Sicily (OCA) – Main source
Orthodox Saints commemorated in July (Abba Moses)
Image of St. Pancratius from OCA. (And no, I couldn’t figure out what the burning thing in his hand was.)
Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá (Wikipedia) – Main source
Our Lady of Chiquinquirá (SQPN)
Image of Our Lady from Voz Catolica


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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