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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16 -- Feast of the Benedicts

Yes, April 16 is the birthday of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, the Bishop of Rome, Pontifex Maximus, Vicarius Iesu Christi, Pope Benedict XVI. I do not suppose that the Holy Father will be canonized, but he's a pretty beatific dude. I am convinced that the angels want to wear his red Prada shoes, so happy birthday, your Holiness.

The other Benedict was canonized. Benedict Joseph Labre was a nineteenth century ascetic. He sought to be admitted to monastic brotherhoods but was rejected. He walked thousands of miles around Europe, making pilgrimages to shrines. Sometimes, he'd swoon in ecstatic religious contemplation -- he even floated, soared, and bilocated. He was ragged and unwashed, and though he never begged, he was sustained by handouts from strangers and foraged garbage. If he were given more money than he needed for that day, he gave the surplus to others in need.

Eventually he settled in Rome, sleeping in the Coliseum and praying at all the churches in town. At age 35, he collapsed on the steps of Madonna dei Monti and died a couple hours later.

I suppose a contrast could be made between the Benedict who wore rags and the Benedict who wears Prada. I'm not judging -- you can if you want.

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