August 19 – Andrew Stratelates; Louis of Toulouse

Andrew Stratelates (d. 300), Syrian by birth and soldier by trade, was raised to the rank of stratelates (commander) when the Persians attacked and the governor of Syria (Antiochus) needed to send a detachment to face them. Although not yet baptized, Andrew was a believer in Christ, and as they were marching off to war, he explained to his men that the pagan gods were but idols made by man, but Jesus Christ was the Son of the True God, and all that stuff you probably already know either because you’re a Christian, or hang out with Christians, or looked us up once on Wikipedia.

Needless to say Andy and the boys kicked Persian butt, but somebody ratted them out to the governor as Christians. The governor had some of them crucified on trees (perhaps there was a cross shortage that year), while Andrew was tortured on a bed of white-hot copper. (Does copper get white-hot before it melts? Chemistry was a long time ago.) Andrew prayed to God, however, and the copper immediately cooled to room temperature (although admittedly room temperature in Syria this time of year is still pretty warm).

Antiochus then tossed Andrew and the uncrucified soldiers in prison and wrote to Emperor Maximian asking what to do. Max knew Andrew was popular, and feared an insurrection, so he told Antiochus to let them all go, but to find pretext to pick them off one by one. Once free, Andy & Co. booted it up to Tarsus and were baptized. They were then called to battle (or fled town because of persecutions), but as they made their way through the mountains, they were ambushed in a narrow place and killed to a man, all 2,593 of them (it was a very wide narrow place). The bishop (and friends) came along shortly thereafter and buried them. A healing spring sprang up from where Andrew fell (as he had prayed would happen), and one of the clergymen was delivered by it from a demon that had been bugging him for some while. Andrew’s relics, along with those of some of his fellow soldiers, are in Brioude, France. For some reason.

Louis of Toulouse (1274–1297) (which is fun to say) had a pedigree longer than your arm, and I don’t care who you are or how long your arm is. He was the second son of Charles of Anjou “the Lame” (and you’ll find out just how lame very soon) and Maria Arpad (predecessor of Maria iPad) of Hungary, who was the daughter of King Stephen V of Hungary, and related in various ways to St. Louis, Mary of Hungary, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and St. Margaret of Hungary (Jan 18). He was also related to countless famous people on his dad’s side.

When Chuck the Lame was taken prisoner in battle, he bravely bought his freedom by selflessly sending his three sons to be prisoners in his stead. (Lame, Dad. Totally lame.) The boys were kept under house arrest in Barcelona for seven years, and raised by Franciscans. Louis was made Archbishop of Lyon when he “reached his majority” (more than half of him was … something) even though he was still in captivity. When his older brother died, he became heir to dad’s throne, but upon obtaining his freedom, he renounced his titles in favor of his younger brother, Robert of Anjou, and joined the Franciscans.

Two years later he was made bishop of Toulouse, which at the time was in a state of political uncertainty due in part to the late count (Louis’ uncle) having lately become, well, late. Louis served the poor and hungry to the detriment of his health; after six months he retired, and shortly thereafter died from typhoid (or something like it).

He was canonized on the fast track (1317), and became a favorite saint in Hungary via his nephew Charles I of Hungary. His relics reside in Valencia, of which he is the patron.