June 25 – Peter and Febronia; Moloc of Mortlach

Peter and Febronia (d. 1228) were an unlikely couple. Peter was the young prince of Murom, which is somewhere in Russia. One day he became deathly ill, but one of his courtiers remembered a beekeeper’s daughter whose herbal remedies really remedied. As they did in this case. As she tended him, Peter saw that she was wise, smart, humble, and a real honey. Thus as he recovered his strength, he found himself losing his heart. Once he was well, what was to stop them from getting married? Aside from the fact that he was a prince and she was a beekeeper’s daughter. They didn’t let that stop them, however—they got married. Unfortunately the local boyars each had a daughter or niece or something they thought more qualified, and demanded that Peter dismiss his honey girl. The prince wasn’t about to do this, of course, so the newlyweds were driven out of the city.

They set off for parts unknown in a boat, he sad and she consoling him. Meanwhile, “many hardships” (of unknown (at least to my sources) nature) befell the city. They were bad enough to give the people of the town second thoughts. “This is our fault,” they said. “We shouldn’t have been so snotty.” (They were, of course, completely right.) They repented of their nastiness and sent word to the prince and princess asking them to return. Somehow. Cabled ahead to their next landing place, I imagine, since ship-to-shore communication was very spotty in thirteenth century Russia.

The royal couple returned, and devoted themselves to works of piety, mercy, charity, almsgiving, and such. This endeared them to everyone, except maybe the boyars, but they appear to have been shut up by the aforementioned hardships, and drop out of the story. Peter and Febronia prayed that they might die on the same day, which they did. At the very end of their lives they were monkified and nunnified (respectively), and in accordance with their wishes they were buried in the same casket, with only a partition separating their bodies (they were after all monastics!). It of course goes without saying that they are the patron saints of newlyweds. This, too, goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyhow: Awwww.

Moloc of Mortlach (d. ca. 572) was born in Ireland (2 votes) or Scotland (1 vote). He was educated in Bangor under St. Comgall. Will he or no, the rock on which he was standing one day broke off and floated to Scotland. (At least he wasn’t lashed to it like poor Piran (Mar 5).) When he got there, Comgall (who took the nonstop) introduced him to King Brude, from whom he obtained permission to undertake a mission in his lands. Thus while Columba (Jun 6) was evangelizing the Scottish Gaels, Moloc was working among the Picti. The sources all assure us that legends about bitter rivalry between the two saints are completely untrustworthy. Unfortunately they don’t relay any of these legends, which may have made for pretty good reading. However all that may be, the gentle work of these two great missionaries gradually brought about an end to the various wars, skirmishes, battles and other military brouhaha between these two great people groups. Although it’s almost certain they didn’t use the term “people group” in sixth century Scotland.

Somewhere in there Moloc was made a bishop, but my sources give no details, thereby striking out on three straight pitches. The Pict lands abound with churches and localities named after Moloc (who also went by Lua, Luan, Luanus, Lugaid of Les Mór, Lugaidh, Lugide Lis Moer, Luoch, Luke, Mallock, Molaug, Molluog, Moloag, Molua, Moluag, and Murlach). On the island of Lewis, a service at Teampall Mo Luigh to Moloc persisted well into the nineteenth century, despite centuries of Protestanty attempts to quash it. His relics have been around the block several times, and his crozier is a hereditary trust of Clan Laclea. His prayers are invoked against mental illness.