This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 15 -- St. Venatius Fortunatus

Here's a there-by-the grace-of-God example. Not as much as some folks, but surely more than others. I mean, no one lopped off his head or burned off his bollocks, but still, he goes down in history as a flatterer and a parasite, in spite of his service as a chaplain to high-minded, austere women. Given the gift of poetry, he chose to trade his verses for dinners, selling sycophantic sonnets for his suppers. Well, perhaps that too is unfair, since he wrote fine hymns to celebrate Justinian II's donation of a fragment of the true cross to the Holy Cross Monastery. He also overwrote some legionary marching songs to make them sacred hymns.

Still, as chaplain to a nunnery, he lived a comparatively soft life in a civilized enclave surrounded by the perils and deprivations of the late Roman empire. Since his nearly blind eyes had once been healed by rubbing them with oil from a lamp burning in front of St. Martin of Tours, it made me wonder about blind poets. What if Homer had recovered his sight and been willing to sell out his verses for a (comparatively) luxurious life? What might civilization have lost by Venatius' recovery of his sight and subsequent life among the ladies of the cloister?

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