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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17 -- Feast of Saint Walter of Pontnoise

This was one of those days when I really wasn't sure which saint to go with. There were the Seven Founders of the Servants of Mary, some Italian clerics who established a mendicant confraternity and took Augustine's rule. No doubt good work, and probably with some drama, but I had no details.

There were some early Irish saints, reputedly relatives of St. Patrick. Listed with them are the oddly-named counties that they evangelized. Good work, boys, but again, no interesting details.

Walter of Pontnoise's story is brief, but sort of cool. He was a professor of rhetoric and philosophy, but joined the Benedictines to escape the temptations of the world. Then King Phillip I appointed him abbot of his monastery. He resisted with more than the customary false modesty; the King invoked the divine right argument, contending that the appointment was the will of God, not the will of a man. Poor Walter's rhetorical skills failed him and he took up the role of the abbot.

In that job, he fought against the many corruptions that would plague the Church for centuries. The corrupt fellows fought back, and poor Walter ran from his abbey. In an earlier age, he might have established himself in the wilderness and become a holy hermit, in the eleventh century, he was simply returned to the abbey with orders to man up and do his job. He was beaten and imprisoned by his enemies. He fled to Rome, but the Pope himself said, "Grow a pair and do your job." He went back and kept shoveling; but as we know, the tide was still washing it back in for centuries after Walter's death.

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