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November 26 Saints of the Day – Innocent of Irkutsk and Leonard of Port Maurice

On this day in 1961, the Pro Baseball Rules Committee voted 8-1 against legalizing the spitball. Quench Gum stock immediately plummeted to 1¢ a piece. Um, share.

Innocent of IrkutskInnocent of Irkutsk, Apostle to Siberia (1680 – 1731), was baptized John (or “Ivan” — why not say “Ivan”?) in Chernihiv (Chernigov), and attended the Kiev (Kyiv) Theological Seminary. Monkified as Innokenty, he was made prefect and professor of theology at the Moscow Slavonic-Greek-Latin-Cherokee-Klingon Academy, later renamed the Moscow Theological Academy (for what should be obvious reasons). Nine years later he was moved to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg, where he served first as naval chaplain, then as vice-regent.

He was then made Bishop of Pereyaslavl and sent on mission to China, where the previous Head Missionary had lately passed away. He arrived at Selingin on the Chinese border (I was unable to find Selingin on any map, and fear it has long been swallowed by the snows), and (literally) cooled his heels, until word came from the Chinese government that this “spiritual personage and great lord” (as he had been billed) would not be allowed in. Apparently China had had a little trouble with Jesuits, and were not kindly disposed toward Christians, especially great spiritual lords. After three years in the snows of Selingin (wherever that was), Innocent was made bishop of the newly-formed diocese of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk on the shores of faraway Lake Baikal. Far away from Petersburg, I mean. It was apparently not far from Selingin. Wherever that was.

Thwarted at being a missionary to China, Innocent instead became a missionary to the native peoples of Siberia. His diocese expanded greatly during his tenure, adding millions of square versts of permafrost. He founded and presided over two schools, one Mongolian and one Russian, and worked hard to keep them in teachers, books, and pastry bags. All this without any financial support from headquarters in Petersburg, due to an unfortunate oversight.

Eventually the climate took its toll and his never-terribly-robust health gave out. He was buried in the stone church that he had built at the Ascension Monastery, and when the church was renovated a generation later, his body was found to be incorrupt. It was stolen by the Soviets (I spit on their name) and displayed in an anti-religious museum (truly those guys had issues) as “some mummified Siberian.” The Church finally received him back in 1990; he is interred in the Irkutsk cathedral.

Leonard of Port MauriceLeonard of Port Maurice (1676 – 1751) was born to a sea captain and a sea captain’s wife (same sea captain), was baptized Paul Jerome Casanuova, and was sent at thirteen to study in Rome under the sponsorship of his uncle Agostino. Ag disowned him when he decided against a career in law, so he joined the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), which is to say the Franciscans, taking the name Leonard. (Every order in the Catholic Church has at least two names: one they use on the stationery, and one they use in the refectory.) Leonard was almost immediately beset with a bleeding ulcer, which kept him bedridden for nearly four years. He vowed that if he were healed, he would devote his life to mission work. He was, and he did.

With the Monastery of San Francesco del Monte (“Canned Fruit of St. Francis”) as his base, he preached across Tuscany (he had a strong voice) for the next 44 years, making many converts (I’d have thought all of Italy was Catholic by this time?). In 1730 he moved to Rome and carried out successful missions to soldiers, sailors, convicts, galley slaves, and the occasional space alien. Following this he had appointments in Genoa, Corsica, Rome again (in the Piazza Navona, not to be confused with the Pizza Navona), and Bologna (which is terrible on pizza). He had promised Pope Benedict XIV that he would die in Rome, so when he knew he was going, he went to the Eternal City, and departed on the same day he arrived (so to speak).

Leonard was devoutly devoted to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and to the Stations of the Cross, of which he set up nearly 600, including in the Colosseum in Rome.


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.


Bibliography
This Day in History for 26th November
Innocent of Irkutsk (Orthodox Wiki) – Main source
Repose of St Innocent the first Bishop of Irkutsk (OCA)
Icon of Innocent via Wikimedia (Public domain according to this rule).
November 26. 1998Leonard of Port Maurice (St. Patrick DC) – Main source
Leonard of Port Maurice (Wikipedia)
Saint Leonard of Port Maurice (SQPN)
Imperia (Wikipedia)
Comune (Wikipedia)
Engraving of Leonard via Wikimedia (Public domain according to this rule).

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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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