December 9 – Hannah; Budoc

Hannah (XII cent. BC(E)) (חַנָּה) was barren after ten years of marriage, so she suggested her husband Elkanah take a second wife. Wife #2 was of rabbitesque fertility, and tormented Hannah about it whenever she got the chance. Elkanah was always loving to Hannah, saying, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Apparently he wasn’t, so when the family made a trip to Shiloh to worship the LORD, Hannah found an unguarded moment and prayed for a son, promising to dedicate him to God’s service. The priest Eli saw her lips moving, but she was praying “in her heart” (silently), so, “Go home, woman, you’re drunk,” he kindly suggested. “Actually,” Hannah said, “I was praying in great distress.” “Oh,” came the reply, “in that case, go in peace, and God will grant whatever you were asking for.” Hannah smiled a secret smile, and went home with the family.

Then her husband knew her and the LORD remembered her (the parallelism is in the original, and it’s lovely, if I’m any judge of such things) and she had a son, whom she named Shmu’el, but all his friends called him Samuel (Aug 20). When he was about three, she took him to the temple and gave him to Eli to raise. Shmu’el went on to become a great prophet, and to (reluctantly) anoint the first king of the Israelites, Saul. Hannah went on (in the next chapter) to declaim a beautiful prophetic poem strikingly reminiscent of another prophetess’s poem some 1100 years later (look up Hannah’s in 1 Samuel 2).

This is also the Feast of the Conception by Anna of the Theotokos. The attentive reader will notice the parallels between Hanna and Anna (same name, barren, prays for child, child taken to the temple at three) (that was for the non-attentive reader).

Budoc of Dol (d. VI cent.) was the son of the King (or Count) of Goelc/Goello/Tréguier (in Brittany). His mother Azénor, Princess of Brest (also in Brittany), had a wicked stepmother who resolved to get rid of her. Lacking a poisoned apple, she contrived to have Azénor tried for unchastity, and despite lack of any evidence, the princess was found guilty (once by her husband and once by her father), cooped up in a barrel, and tossed into the sea. She prayed to Brigid of Ireland (Feb 1), and Brigid sent an angel to feed her through the bung-hole. While thus confined, Azénor gave birth to a son, made the sign of the cross over him, and made him kiss a crucifix. In no time she had taught him to talk. (And you thought your grandkids were precocious!)

After five months adrift, the cask washed ashore in Ireland, and was found by a peasant. He was about to open it when a voice said, “Wait! Don’t smash the cask! I am a child who desires baptism! Go get the abbot!” The man ran to the local abbey (Youghal) and told his tale. “Go on,” said the abbot. “Your reverence,” said the man, and I am not making this up, “would I have told you about the cask if there were anything better than a baby inside?” The abbot saw the wisdom of this (it was Ireland), and together they rescued the royal pair.

The wicked stepmother repented her lies on her deathbed, and Azénor’s husband came to find his family, but he died in Ireland before they could sail home again, so Budoc grew up at the abbey. In time he became its abbot, then the Bishop of Armaugh and King of Ireland (simultaneously). After two years of this he wanted to retire, but he was so popular he had to be helped to escape by an angel, who ferried him to Brittany in a stone coffin. (His mother had long since died.) There he wandered a bit until he settled in Dol, where he was made bishop and lived out his days. Budoc is the patron saint of castaways.