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, April 10, 2011

April 12 -- Feast of St. Alferius of La Cava

Saint Alferius provides a good lesson in the power of market-based reform.

Alferius became a monk after promising to do so if he survived a life-threatening illness. He had previously served Duke Gisulf of Salerno as an ambassador. Once Alferius had kept his promise and become a fully sanctioned Cluniac monk, Duke Gisulf recalled him to reform the corrupt and lax monasteries in his duchy.

Alferius showed up with the full power of both Church and State. He promptly failed. The weapons of officialdom wither before the staggering power of indifference and inertia. Discouraged, he retired to a hermitage on Mount Fenestra (Window Mountain?). He lived a simple and holy life.

Here's where the market kicks in. Don't kid yourself -- there's a powerful market for spiritual purity. And Alferius plainly had the good stuff, while the established monasteries were peddling stepped-on, street grade junk. It's like free-range, kosher, organic hot dogs versus Fenway Franks. Folks started taking trips to see the Holy Man of Window Mountain. Then students started hanging around, trying to learn stuff from him. He picked twelve and started a monastery. Cottage industry stuff, sure, but those twelve then went out and started their own monasteries. Window Mountain became the mother house of a rival chain of monasteries, all dealing only only the best prayer and work, 99.44% pure.

They say he died at age 120, on Maundy Thursday, having said Mass and washed the feet of his monastic brothers.

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