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.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February 2 -- Feast of the Ebstorf Martyrs...

and St. Columbanus of Ghen.

The first thing I want to say is that the Vikings were real bastards. They have a couple of things to their credit, like not wiping out the Indians when they invaded North America, and founding Dublin. Of course, I have no doubt they would have wiped out the Indians if they had sufficient numbers, and they probably dropped off some fairly nasty viruses and bacteria that inadvertently depleted the native population (read: killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of people).

So on to the saints. The Vikings were raiding Ireland, doing all those Viking things like killing, pillaging, raping, burning, and praying to the gods named after the days of the week. They'd have been silly if they had not been so lethal. St. Columbanus, an Irish abbot, packed up his community and moved to Ghen, Belgium. After retiring as an abbot, Columbanus became a hermit in a cemetery. I suppose I might go a little nuts if I chose to live in Belgium for the rest of my life because giant, flea-infested, illiterate, blood-crusted, fish-stinkers were swarming over my country too. But his reputation was one of great holiness, and that's probably another year in purgatory I'll get for defaming him. He is one of the patron saints of Belgium.

The marytrs of Ebstorf, however, were not cut-and-runners. Stand-and-diers, maybe, but not cut-and-runners. In 880, the Vikings were raiding Saxony, doing all those rotten things that Vikings do (see above). Duke Bruno gathered up an army and marched out to kick their tick-scabbed butts back to Scandinavia. A snow storm caught them in the field, and then a Viking ambush caught them in the field. Tough luck for Bruno, Bishops Markward and Theodoric, and all the other Saxons slaughtered that day.

I know you're probably confused. When Christians won a battle back in the day, it showed that God was on their side. But just because they lost, and that as a result of a snow storm, we cannot conclude that God was against them, or that Wednes and Thur and the other Norse gods had a hand in it. It doesn't work that way, all right?

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