November 3 – Snandulia of Persia; Alpaïs of Cudot

Snandulia of Persia (III or IV cent.) was one of those devout Christians who visited and encouraged other devout Christians who were jailed for their faith, but who (apparently) never herself got jailed for her faith. When she heard that Joseph and Aithalas (a priest and deacon, respectively) where languishing in jail and waiting to be judged by the delightfully-named Judge Ardarkh (“Stop laughing at me! Stop laughing! Order in the court! Order!”), she and some of her servants bribed the guards with gold, and were allowed to take the martyrs-to-be to her home (they promised to return them in the morning). (The original rent-a-prisoner program?) They were unable to speak, and hardly alive. She got them fresh bedding, bathed their wounds, kissed their shattered hands and feet, and did what she could to comfort them (although if my feet were shattered, I’m not sure I’d want anybody kissing them). Joseph heard her weeping and woke up (or the other way around), and told her she mustn’t lament so; it wasn’t fitting for a Christian. She suggested that weeping moved by compassion is acceptable to God, when you stop and think about it. “Well, yeah, but martyrs are rewarded with eternal joy,” Joseph said.

In the morning the servants returned the prisoners and got their deposit back. Joseph and Aithalas languished there for six months, until a new judge, Zerothus, came to town. He had the men brought before him, and abjured them to sacrifice to idols (geeze these pagan judges are tiresome). When they refused he had them beaten, then thrown into a pit. His soldiers then rounded up all the Christians of the town and forced them to throw stones at Joseph until he died. (Aithalas was dragged off to some other town to be stoned; don’t ask me why.) One of these Christians was Snandulia, but she refused to participate in the stoning. “Okay, if you don’t like rocks, here’s a lance,” they said, giving her one. “I’d rather drive a lance into my own heart than wound that man,” she said. Somehow she walked away from the scene, and went on to do great works among the poor.

Guards guarded Joseph’s body to prevent Christians coming and burying it, but after three days lightning drove off the guards, and his body disappeared.

Blessed* Alpaïs of Cudot (d. 1211) was born poor, and stricken with leprosy young. She lost the use of her limbs, and then lost her limbs. She lived in a hovel located adjacent to a church (or vice versa—one source suggest the church was built adjacent to her hovel apurpose), and took part in the services through a specially-built hole in the wall (they paid extra for a really nice hole) (why am I reminded of Midsummer Night’s Dream?). She subsisted entirely on the Eucharist, which is called, and I’ll bet you didn’t know this, “inedia.” She got so used to living on the Eucharist alone, that if she swallowed any other food, she couldn’t keep it down.

Because she did not eat or drink, rumors arose in town that she was possessed by a demon. She undertook to quell the rumors by occasionally taking some food in her mouth and pretending to eat it. (She then spat it out when no-one was looking.) Any other food given to her, she sent to a poor old woman in town. (Actually she may have sent the spat-out pieces too. I will confess to some first-world squeamishness about this.) Alpaïs was once sent some pieces of pork by the prior, “just to suck on, mind; you don’t have to actually eat them.” She was horrified, and also passed them along to the old woman.

Because of her abstinence, Alpaïs was granted the ability to perform many miracles, none of which my sources record. But there were a lot of them, trust me. At the time of her death, she was cured of all her maladies by Our Lady.