November 10 – Kostanti-Kakhay; Áed mac Bricc

Kostanti-Kakhay (768–853) (Constantine Kakhi) (კოსტანტი კახაი) (768–853) was called “Kakhi” due to his ancestors from Kakheti, and not because of the color of his trousers. He was a ninth century Georgian Christian nobleman (a dangerous combination), and painfully aware of his own sins (which we are not going to go into, mostly because our sources sadly lack details of that sort), believing they were so great that nothing short of martyrdom could atone for them. He undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and nearby monasteries, sketes*, hermitages, and falafel stands, returned to Kartli (a region of Georgia) much refreshed in spirit, and added to his already generous generosity an annual gift of 30,000 pieces of silver to (somebody in) Jerusalem. For these and other reasons he was highly respected by sundry and all.

When he was 85, Kostanti was seized (perhaps in battle) and shipped to Samarra (capital of the Abbasid Empire). The Caliph suggested Kostanti convert to Islam, adding that the alternative would be abrupt and unfun. “Your sword doesn’t scare me,” Kostanti said, adding a good bit more about nature and titles of God. He was thrown in prison, where two apostates from Georgia visited him, one attempting to convert him to Islam via words, and one attempting to convert him to headlessness via sword. Both failed. (Like the parallelism?) Finally the Caliph sent his own executioner, who successfully succeeded in killing our hero, whose body was then hung from a gibbet as a warning to unrepentant Christians. It was eventually taken down and buried. Years later it was returned with honor to Georgia.

Áed mac Bricc (d. 589) (aka Aedh) was disinherited by his brothers, so he kidnapped a girl belonging to them as ransom. (St.) Illann (or Illathan), however, met with him, persuaded him to let her go, and took him on as a disciple. Áed founded a monastery at Cill-áir in Westmeath, and went on to become a bishop and a confidante of Brigid of Kildare (Feb 1). As bishop (or as confidante of Brigid, or both), he acted as a peacemaker between various local chieftains, and spent a great deal of his time instructing and defending women, perhaps in atonement for his earlier crime.

As Áed toured his diocese, he paid especial attention to the convents under his care, looking after their spiritual well-being, and ensuring their safety. In one eye-opening incident, he perceived that a nun was secretly pregnant, and he got up and left her presence. The girl admitted she had strayed, he forgave her, and (I quote here directly lest you think I’m making this up) “he blessed her womb, and the baby disappeared as if it had never been there.” Moving on quickly. He once found three young women washing their hair on a Saturday night (avoiding unwanted suitors? we are not told). He admonished them to not sully the Sabbath so, but they laughed at him. Immediately their hair fell out. They repented of their sin, and he gave them water with which to wash their heads after the Sabbath (Sunday) was over. This of course restored their hair.

Once Áed came upon three milkmaids killed and decapitated by raiders, who subsequently rode off with their (the maids’) heads. . After sitting down and weeping with the women of the community for a time, Áed chased the culprits, retrieved the heads, reaffixed them, and raised the maidens to life. He performed many other miracles for the women of Ireland, including restoring a fancy pin (which some cad had thrown into the sea) to the woman who held it in safekeeping for the king, and who thus stood to be severely punished for losing it. He also cured Brigid herself of a severe headache, for which reason he is counted the patron of those who suffer from this malady.