September 12 – Julian of Galatia; Guy of Anderlecht

Julian of Galatia (IV cent.), a presbyter, served the divine liturgy for forty laypeople, with whom he lived in a cave near Ancyra (aka Ankara aka Angora of cat, goat, and bunny fame). At some point he was nabbed by the authorities and brought before the governor, who demanded he rat out his companions. Julian, of course, refused. He was then invited to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods. Julian, of course, refused. He was then stripped and placed on a red-hot iron grate, but when he crossed himself, an angel appeared and quenched the flame (and cooled the grate, one presumes). “How did you do that?” the governor asked. “I am a servant of God,” said Julian. “Duh.”

Just then the soldiers dragged in Julian’s aging mother, saying, “Make him sacrifice to the gods, or we’ll torture you.” “As if,” she said. “You forget we Christians think martyrdom is honorable, and denying God is dishonorable.” Humiliated by her defiance, they let her go.

Julian then prayed for strength to endure his sufferings, and that dirt from his grave would have miraculous agricultural insecticide properties (well okay maybe not in those exact words, but same idea). Then, baring his neck for the swordsman, he prayed for God to accept his spirit, and died before the stroke fell, a Voice from on high summoning him Home. The hidden Christians heard the Voice and came forward, confessed their faith, and became martyrs in turn.

Guy of Anderlecht (ca. 950–1012) was also called Guido, but (we think) never worked for the Corleones. His pious but poor (or poor but pious; sources vary) parents brought him up to love God and eschew Mammon (which was easy, as he didn’t have any). After working for a time as a farm laborer (where the angels would plow for him so he could pray), Guido went wandering, and ended up at the church of Our Lady at Laeken, within the Brussels area code. The parish priest immediately hired him as sacristan (janitor), and soon the place was neater than a pin (and pins were much neater in those days than they are nowadays, believe you me). Everyone who visited remarked on how clean and orderly everything was.

Now, Guido lived frugally and gave all his spare change to the poor, but an unscrupulous capitalist seduced him into investing in a “commercial venture” in order that he might have even more money to give to the poor, and (here’s the clincher) more leisure time to himself. Guido, simple soul that he was, turned over his cash, and resigned his post at the church. But their ship sank whilst leaving whatever distant harbor it had been in, and all was lost. Guido blamed himself, saying, “If only I had been content to keep working as a sacristan, this would never have happened.” (We are not told if the new sacristan kept the place as neat and tidy as Guido had. Seems doubtful. But as Guido never went and asked for his job back, we’ll never know.) To atone for his sins, he betook himself to Rome and Jerusalem on pilgrimage. Seven years later he returned to Belgium, exhausted and ill. He died, was buried, and was forgotten.

That’s where the story would have ended had his grave not been discovered some years later by a horse (of all people). Dobbin’s owner hired two neighborhood lads to build a hedge around the grave, but they laughed him to scorn, and themselves to death. Literally. (Moral: never laugh at grave matters.) The grave instantly became a pilgrimage destination, and (less fatal) miracles started happening. Guido’s relics got moved around pretty much continually, and were last seen in 1851. For centuries a fair was held in his honor, at which the cab drivers of Brabant held a bareback riding competition, the winner being crowned with roses by the parish priest. This happy tradition (well, I think it sounds fun) ended with the advent of the Great War (1914). Guy is the patron of, inter alia, sheds, stables, and other outbuildings.