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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21 -- Feast of Saint Wendelin

The Saint, while a shepherd
Continuing with the theme of those born to privileged homes, here's Saint Wendelin, the Crown Prince of Scotland.  His parents were King Forchado and Queen Irelina, but if you've seen Braveheart, you know that every man with five sheep and a change of clothes thought he was entitled to claim the Scottish throne. 

Anyway, the good King and Queen asked the local bishop to tutor their son.  Wendelin was so inspired by the Bishop's lessons that he slipped out the door in the middle of the night and never went home again.  He took off for religious shrines all over Europe, eventually winding up in Rome where he had an audience with the Pope.  He asked what the right thing to do was; not surprisingly, the Pope told him to pursue a religious life. 

He wandered as a monk, living off hand-outs.  In Germany, a wealthy bandit scolded him for being a young healthy man who chose to beg rather than work.  He invited Wendelin to work for him as a swineherd.  Tough work, tending the pigs.  They scramble, and they're tough to catch, even if no one has greased them.  Wendelin asked to be transferred to something that would give him a little more time to pray. 

The Sarcophagus -- note the sheep by the sculpture's head
Tending cattle was easier until the Lord blessed the cattle herd.  It was twice as productive as any herd around Trier ever had been.  That took a lot of work, cutting into the prayer time, so again he asked for a transfer.  Even though he was still young and strong, the boss put him on sheep-patrol, the easiest gig they had to offer.  Here too his flock flourished, twice as fast as any other flock that the robber managed.  The other shepherds complained and told lies in their envy, but Wendelin paid them no mind and the boss didn't care, as long as his wealth was increasing. 

Again the Lord would lend a hand, levitating the flocks and sending them to distant pastures where they could find better food more easily.  This gave Wendelin time to pray, which satisfied everyone until one time the boss spotted his shepherd and sheep a long way from home.  He cursed him out, saying he'd never make it home by dark, and the boss had guests coming for whom he wanted to slaughter and roast a lamb.  Wendelin promised to be home in time, but the boss noted that he -- on horseback -- was cutting it close; how could a shepherd drive sheep the same distance in as little time?  When he got home, of course, Wendelin was guiding the sheep into the fold. 

The Saint -- when the sarcophagus was opened. 
The boss had his conversion.  He promised to give up evil ways and to give Wendelin whatever he wanted.  Wendelin just asked that the boss live a holy life, free of sin.  The boss wouldn't let him tend sheep anymore, but offered wealth and position and all that stuff.  Wendelin took no more than his wages due, which he gave to the poor, and then he went into the woods to live as a hermit.  He roughed it (rude hut; herbs and berries) under the supervision of a local abbey until the Abbot died and the brothers elected him the successor.  He tried to decline, but they persuaded him that it was God's will that he serve -- who was he to thwart God's will, right? 

He had some miracle cures, stopping a livestock plague at one point, and eventually died.  On his deathbed, he confessed all his sins to his friend Bishop Severinus, including the fact that he was the Crown Prince of Scotland who ditched his parents and never went back.  When they buried his coffin, the brothers were surprised to see it back in the chapel the next day.  It happened again, so they buried it again.  After three auto-exhumations, they put it on an ox-cart and let the oxen take it where they chose.  They went straight to the rude hut, where a chapel was built for his relics.  Later, they were moved to a much grander spot with that serious sarcophagus that you see pictured. 

1 comment:

  1. I learned something about my name today thanks to this article. When biking through the Schwabische Alb several years ago, I happened upon a small chapel in a field where shepherds tended their flocks. It was dedicated to St. Wendelin. I always wanted to know more about him and now I do thanks to you.