May 11 – Gangulphus of Burgundy; Francis de Geronimo

Gangulphus of Burgundy (d. 760), aka Gangolf, was born, if not in the purple, then at least in the burgundy, being a courtier in the court of Pepin the Short. Well not right after he was born, obviously, but he got there. But we’ll get there.

Gangolf’s rich Christian parents educated him and sent him out into the world, where he was known for “avoiding the company of libertines.” When they died he took over the family estate and donated a lot of money to the church and married just the kind of woman he had hitherto been avoiding. Something in the wine, perhaps. It was presumably about here that he served in the court of the curt king.

On the way home from serving in his king’s wars and preaching the gospel in Frisia (which by all accounts needed it), he bought a property so he could have its spring, but was mocked by his friends because the spring would not serve his own property miles away. When Gangolf got home he rammed a stick into the ground. The next day he had his servant pull it out, and a new spring gushed forth. Which was to come in handy, as we shall see.

While he was out warring and preaching and buying springs, his wife fell in bed with the local priest, although they both denied it. Gangolf demanded a trial by miracle, instructing his wife to place her hand in the cool, clear, cold, delicious, and low-temperature water flowing from the new spring. It was thoroughly scalded (the hand, not the spring), and thus she was caught red—well, you finish that sentence. Gangolf banished the libertinette from his bed and had the priest exiled, and himself retired to his castle and lived as a hermit, if hermits lived in castles. But the priest came back the very next—well, eventually. He and Gangolf’s wife came gunning—er, stabbing—for him, and he succumbed to the wound they made in his thigh. They died ignominiously soon thereafter.

Miracles occurred at G’s tomb, and his relics took yet another tour of the countryside, or rather several, ending up in various places in France, Germany, Benelux, and even Switzerland. There are any number of churches and places named after him in Swabia, Thuringia, Franconia, and places like that, and he appeared in numerous lives-of-the-saints compilations starting in about 960 and ending, so far, right here. He is the patron of unhappily-married husbands, fittingly enough.

Francis de Geronimo (1642–1716), the apostle of Naples, was born near Taranto, Italy, and (as far as we know) never jumped out of an airplane. He fulfilled his life-long dream of becoming a Jesuit by becoming a Jesuit, after serving as prefect of students at the college of nobles in Naples (which is fun to say). He had a yearning to go to the far east, but his superiors told him Naples was about as far east as he ever need go, and they turned out to be right. In Naples he preached in the open air in the seediest districts, as well as in brothels and on slave ships, where he converted many a Moorish slave to Christianity. He also worked to feed and shelter the poorest of the city’s poor, who were pretty poor. He had a special devotion to the Mother of God, which he proclaimed every Tuesday (says my source) in a sermon at the church of St. Mary of Constantinople (an eighth century martyr, not to be confused with Our Lady of Constantinople, who is the Mother of God). When not busy in town, he gave retreats at monasteries and convents in the surrounding countryside.

Francis had a bit of trouble with some jealous Jesuits, who argued that his hanging out with slaves and prostitutes was unbecoming of a priest giving monastic retreats (or vice versa). For a while he was forbidden to do one or the other, but eventually the bishop got wise and he was unfettered. He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.