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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 16 -- Feast of St. Abraham Kidunaia

Okay, first the stuff about St. Urho, a special request from VKI, from whom I inherited this saint of the day stuff.

There is a real patron saint of Finland, Bishop Henry, whose feast falls on January 19. However, in 1956, while working at Ketola's Department Store, Gene McCavic asked his coworker Richard Mattson why the Finns didn't have a patron saint like Patrick. The two men set about correcting this erroneously perceived inequity, telling how St. Urho drove the frogs from Finland with the power of his loud voice, which he got from drinking sour whole milk. The whole story is recounted here on wikipedia. [Gotta scroll down past the real Finnish mythology to find it.]

So here's my mini-sermon about spurious saints and hokum hagiography. I ought to be outraged that these guys felt they could just make a cheap knock off parody of Patrick, substituting frogs for snakes (later changing it to grasshoppers, thereby saving the grape harvest). But I'm not, because 1) the ancient hagiographers used to do the same thing, 2) the story is an invitation to learn, and that path will eventually lead back to the Bible, and 3) you gotta laugh. So I say, "Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!" ("Grasshopper, grasshopper, go from hence to Hell!")

All right, on to St. Abraham Kidunaia, a runaway groom, an anchorite, and an uncle. Gender-bending the old story, he didn't like the marriage arranged for him any better than most of our female saints do. But after running away, he walled himself up in a small building with only a little window so food could be passed in to him. There he prayed. And prayed. And when his family came to persuade him to come home, get married, and be normal, he declined. And then he prayed some more.

The Bishop came, forced open his hut, ordained him, and ordered him to convert the polytheists living in the village of Beth Kiduna. He walked into town, smashed the idols and scolded the people for not praying to the one true God. They beat the crap out of him.

But still he persisted, living among them and berating them for their idolatrous ways. And still they persisted, beating the crap out of him and urging him back to his little stone shack. Eventually, he wore them down, converted the town, and prayed for a better shepherd than he for them. The Bishop sent another parish priest and allowed Abraham to wall himself back up.

He had an orphaned niece who anchored herself not far from him. He built a little cell for her and together they prayed. And prayed. Then some thirteen years later, she was raped. Believing herself to have been stained with sin, she fled from her holy uncle and went to work in a brothel. He searched until he found where she was, then went in one day, pretending to be a customer. Through the night, he worked to convince her of God's grace, and in the morning, they walked out together and returned to his hermitage. He did not leave again until his death ten years later. I figure this one doesn't really need a mini-sermon; the best stories about saints don't.

No comments:

Post a Comment