April 3 – Nicetas of Medikion; Burgundafara

Nicetas of Medikion (d. 824) was abandoned by his parents at the tender age of eight.


His mother left for the afterlife and his father for the cloisterlife, leaving Grandma to raise the boy with the help of a local hermit. When he was old enough, Nicetas joined the Medikion monastery, where he was priested and served as stand-in for the oft-ailing abbot. Not much of a taskmaster, Nicetas preferred to guide the monks by example, and his example was so good the monastery soon burgeoned to 100 monks (although we’re not told the original population, so it’s hard to gauge how impressive this is—maybe they started with 95?). Needless to say, when the old abbot died, Nicetas was chosen to replace him. In addition to being a good example, he was a wonderworker, specializing in healing (with a side of exorcism).

Along about then the empire went iconoclast (again), and Emperor Leo the Armenian called an abbot assembly in hopes of winning them over to the iconoclast side (for values of “winning” approaching “forcing”). Nicetas stood fast, and was tossed in jail. Then the wily emperor said he’d let everybody go free if only they would take communion from the iconoclast patriarch Theodotus (please imagine a loud organ chord here). Nicetas was persuaded to comply, but his conscience soon smote him (with a left uppercut), and he repented. He dashed back to Constantinople and recanted (imagine a Bronx cheer here), recanted (repeat), right in the emperor’s face, whereupon he languished in jail until Leo met his destiny. While in jail, Nicetas performed more miracles—for example, three shipwrecked men were through his prayers thrown up onto the shore. Why there was a shipwreck in his prison cell, we do not know. After his death his relics were returned to the monastery, working miracles all along the way.

Burgundofara (d. ca. 656) (aka Fare) was, at the age of 10 or 15, dedicated to God by (St.) Columbanus “in a particular manner,” although my sources don’t say what that manner was. Her father was Count Agneric, a courtier to King Theodebert II of Austrasia. Agneric had made a “suitable match” (just the right kind of wood) for her, which made her deathly ill (okay wrong kind of wood). Just then (St.) Eustace (Sep 20) popped in, whereupon Agneric said, wrist against forehead, “If only my daughter could get well, I’d let her become a nun and everything.” She was healed that very hour (or so), and Eustace went on his way. As soon as the door shut, Agneric said, “Just kidding. Marry this guy, or die.” It sounded like he meant it, so she fled to Meaux and sought sanctuary in the church. Just as her brothers showed up and were deciding how best to kill her, Eustace reappeared. He reconciled the whole family, and this time it took.

Like Margaret of Hungary’s (Jan 18) father would centuries later, Agneric built his daughter a monastery, only unlike Maggie’s dad, he told the architects, “Make it a double.” Within no time Fare became abbess, and a strict rule was instituted, involving no wine or dairy during fasting periods, daily masses for the dead, thrice-daily confessions, and like that. This was apparently just the thing, for Faremoutiers (“Fare’s monastery”) became a veritable saint factory. Her “heavenly discourses” were so impressive that one man not only joined, but convinced his fiancée to join as well.

We end, as is sometimes our wont, with a miracle. Almost 1,000 years after Fare died, a one-eyed nun came to Faremoutiers and promptly lost vision in her other eye. Because she was in such pain, they (somehow) permanently numbed her upper face. But she got hold of one of Fare’s bones, kissed it, and touched it to her eyes, and the feeling returned. She did it again, and her eyesight was restored. It doesn’t say, but we hope she then put the bone back.