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 28, 2011

November 28 -- Feast of Saint James of the Marches

James and a cup of Precious Blood
Sometimes I have to acknowledge the saints I would never want to have met, the intolerant, the fanatical, the brutal.  They might be more familiar to us, at least in their two dimensional pop-culture forms, than their tolerant, patient, kind, and generous counterparts, but they are just as real and deserve no less attention.  I don't blame Hollywood for overplaying the stereotype of the religious zealot; they are tailor-made as film villains.  While I share neither their certitude nor their zeal, I must recognize they deserve to be understood better as more than Skeletor-in-a-Scapular. 

Giacomo della Marca (James of the Marches) was a wraith-thin, brilliant legal scholar and Franciscan brother who dressed in a tattered habit and fasted habitually.  As a Doctor of Civil Law, he had been a judge of sorcerers.  As a Franciscan, he became an Inquisitor, charged with rooting out the heresies springing up throughout Europe.  The Fraticelli (Little Brothers: Franciscans who advocated universal clerical poverty), the Hussites (proto-Puritans), the Bogomili (deniers of the sacraments), and others all fell under his withering gaze. 

Yet he advocated compromise and inclusion of the moderate Hussites, many of whom had objections that would later be accepted by the Roman Catholic Church.  Jan Huss himself had remained within the Church and advocated getting prior approval for reforms.  He was also among the pioneers of micro-lending, starting several Montes Pietatis (a mons pietatis is a Mountain of Piety, a pile of money gathered into a non-profit fund to be lent at very low interest to the needy).  And he was among the advocates of reunion with the Greek Orthodox. 
James was recently brought out for a CT scan.  Photo link below. 

Giacomo himself fell afoul of a Dominican Inquisitor, James of Brescia, when he preached that the Precious Blood shed during the Passion was not reunited with the Divinity during the three days in the tomb.  I know -- think of the implications of a heresy like that!  Saint James did not appear before Non-Saint James' tribunal.  Pope Pius II then ordered the whole matter dropped -- not just the dust-up between the Two Jameses, but the whole question of the adoration of the Precious Blood which must surely have been separated from the Savior during his scourging, thorn-crowning, and subsequent perp-walk to Golgotha.  [Yeah, that sounds irreverent, but don't lose sight of the humiliation involved in the sacrifice of the Lord.] 

Giacomo della Marca lived to age 85.  When his fasts began to threaten his health, the Pope ordered him to eat as a matter of public service.  The Dominicans, the sorcerers, hardcore Hussites, Fraticelli, and others might have disagreed, but those who borrowed from the Montes Pietatis -- if no one else -- must have concurred. 

As noted below the photo of his corpse, he was recently taken from his tomb and CT-scanned.  Here's a link to the site where this is discussed.  More photos are presented. 

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