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.

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21 -- Feast of Blessed Nicholas and Anna Giustiniani

This is not a love story.  It is a nice story, I think, but it is not a love story. 

The Grand Canal of Venice, because I could not find a picture of Nick and Anna
Nicholas Giustiniani, a Venetian aristocrat, entered the Benedictine monastery of San Niccolo del Lido in AD 1153.   He had been there nineteen years when all his brothers (biological brothers, Giustinians) were killed in a failed attack on Constantinople.  [A xenophobic shift in Byzantine policy had led to the arrest of Venetian merchants, triggering an unfortunate war.]  Other members of the family had died of the plague, and there was concern that the House of Giustinian would fall.  A petition was sent to Pope Alexander III, asking that Nicholas be released from his monastic vows and sent home to do right by his people.  So ordered.

Nicholas went home and married Anna Michieli, the daughter of one of the doges of Venice.  They had nine children -- six boys and three girls.  Sometime later, they agreed to separate so that Nicholas could go back to his monastery.  Before he returned, he founded a convent near Venice to which Anna could move, living out her life as a nun. 

Taking a ten year hiatus from celibacy in order to preserve one's patriarchal, aristocratic dynasty may not seem like much of a sacrifice, but the fact that he returned suggests it might have been.  Marrying a monk and then becoming a nun after ten years (or so) of frantic child-bearing can hardly be seen as anything other than sacrifice, in spite of his undisputed aristocratic privileges. I do not feel sorry for them, but I do think theirs is a nice story, one worth contemplating. 

They were never formally beatified, but they are popularly recognized and celebrated on November 21. 

1 comment:

  1. I find nick's pict here :