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, October 9, 2011

October 9 -- Feast of `Saint Luis Bertran

Saints are funny people in lots of ways, and writing about them can create some subtly comic results.  Consider, for example, this sentence from Wikipedia's entry on Saint Luis Bertran: "The plague that decimated the inhabitants of Valencia and its vicinity in 1557 afforded the saint an excellent opportunity for the exercise of his charity and zeal."

I'm sure, given all the other information about Luis, that he did not view the plague as an "excellent opportunity."  Nor was anyone envious as he was hand-mopping the liquid feces and vomit, carrying corpses to mass funeral pyres, and consoling the bereaved, terror stricken as their own glands began to discolor and ache with swelling.  Nope, nobody was saying, "Luis is a lucky little bastard, isn't he?  He gets all the breaks.  I'll bet he makes beatus before I'm even a deacon."

He aspired to be a preacher, as befitted the Dominican Order he joined, but his voice didn't carry well in the large churches and cathedrals of Spain.  Public squares worked better for him, but he had an itch for something more rigorous.  Off to South America, to address the indigenous nations that were under the boots of the conquistadors.   [By the way, he deeply resented the harsh treatment of the natives at the hands of his fellow countrymen, and complained of  it when he returned to Spain.]

He began his mission in present-day Colombia, moved into Panama, back through Colombia, then onto the Leeward and Canary Islands.  He employed a translator because he did not know any native languages, but was reported later to have received the gift of tongues on some occasions.  I don't know a lot of Catholic examples of speaking in tongues -- it generally strikes me as an evangelical miracle.  The whole phenomenon is something I should look into, as it would be good to know if this distinguishes Saint Luis as much as I think it might.

Luis kicked around the New World for thirteen years, with more success in some places than others.  He returned to Spain in 1569 to train more missionary preachers, and hung in at the job until 1581, when he succumbed to an illness that had dogged him for a year and a half. 

No comments:

Post a Comment