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October 9 Saints of the Day – Andronicus & Athanasia, and Denis

On this day in 1594, the Portuguese army was defeated by the Kingdom of Kandy, bringing an end to the Campaign of Danture (seriously). People who don’t want to lose their Dantures would do well to limit their exposure to Kandy.

Andronicus and AthanasiaAndronicus & Athanasia (V cent.), a craftsman (of undisclosed variety) and his wife, lived in Antioch with their son John and daughter Mary. They divided their (after-tax or pre-tax, we’re not told) income into three parts, giving one third to the church, one third to the poor, and one third to the landlord, creditors, butcher, greengrocer, interior decorator, cable provider, etc. When their children died, Athanasia was thrown into inconsolable grief. The couple held a pow-wow (which wasn’t hard as there were only two of them), and decided to give their wealth to the poor, and dedicate their lives to God.

So it was that they were soon hiking it (or boating it, or something) to Alexandria, the hub for flights to Egypt’s many monasteries (see what I did there?). Andronicus settled into Abba Daniel’s skete (in, of course, Scetis, where the sketiest sketes were located at the time), and Athanasia entered the famed Tabennisiota Monastery.

After twelve years of ascetic life, Andronicus decided to tour the holy places of Jerusalem and environs. While on the way he met a fellow pilgrim, a monk (kof) who gave his (kof kof) name as Athanasius. It was safer on the road in those days (as well as in ours, alas) for men than for women, so Athanasia had donned men’s attire. (Whether she had bought a beard from Eric Idle, my sources do not divulge.) Anyway, neither recognized the other, long years of asceticism having altered their appearances (and voices?) beyond — well, beyond recognition.

After a pleasant pilgrimage (they got along famously), they decided their ascetic labors would benefit from their sharing a cell, so with the permission of Abba Daniel, that’s what they did. They lived in silence for another twelve years, whereupon Athanasia, knowing she was dying, wrote a letter to Daniel, took communion, and closed her eyes for the last time. The letter, of course, told her story, and thus did Andronicus learn who his longtime cellmate had been. He died ten days later. Their kontakion (in the eighth tone) says they showed to the world what lawful wedlock is like, and became divine examples of monastic life — an odd, interesting, and eminently edifying combination.

Denis of ParisDenis of Paris (d. 250, 258, or 270) may be the same guy as Dyonisius the Aereopagite, or not. He was bishop of Paris, living on the Île de la Cité in the River Seine, which was considerably less posh in those days (it was mostly trees) (not that there’s anything wrong with trees, of course). He converted many pagans, which apparently greatly peeved the ones he didn’t convert. These dragged him off to the highest hill they had, which doubled as a druidic worship spot (altar, lotsa nice trees (druids liked trees), hot tubs, etc.). The hill is nowadays called Montmartre, “Mountain of the Martyrs,” due to the fact that Denis and his companions were martyred there, and the Parisians had a somewhat optimistic view of what constitutes a mountain (130 metres? pish-posh). It is reputedly the place where the Society of Jesus (Jesuit order) was founded, but that’s not Denis’ fault. My source says it’s now a hot nightclub district, but that’s not even Ignatius’ fault.

Upon that hill (if you will) Denis was executed (as mentioned) by decapitation (as not mentioned). Not wishing to fall down dead on a pagan mountain (or even a pagan hill), he picked up his head and walked some 10 km (ca. 64 stadia), preaching all the way. “There’s just no shutting that guy up,” thought the pagans (possibly). He was buried where he fell, and the spot became a cemetery and, centuries later (at the insistence of Geneviève of Paris), a basilica dedicated to Denis. He is one of the Patrons of France, and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.


Bibliography
October 9 (Wikipedia)
St. Andronicus and His Wife, St. Athanasia – Main Source
Life of Brian (IMDb)
Icon from Andronicus-athanasia.org (copyright unknown).
The Life of Saint Denis (from The Golden Legend) (Catholicism Pure and Simple) – Main source
Denis (Wikipedia)
Saint Denis of Paris (SQPN)
Montmartre (Wikipedia)
Basilica of St Denis (Wikipedia)
Image of Denis from Catholicism Pure and Simple (copyright unknown)

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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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