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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29 -- Feast of Blessed Denis of the Nativity

Saint Denis and Saint Redemptus -- not exactly Indonesian scimitars, but we get the point.
As far as I know, mapmakers have no patron saints.  I checked a list but it went from manservants (Adelelmus) to marbleworkers (Clement I), from carriage makers (Eigius) to carvers (Olaf II), from gardeners (Adam the Patriarch) to geologists (Barbara), but no mapmakers, cartographers, or geographers.

I mention this because Denis of the Nativity, known to his mom and dad as Pierre Berthelot, served as pilot-in-chief, cartographer, and cosmographer to His Highness,  the King of Portugal.  That's pretty good for a little French kid who went to sea at twelve, was captured by the Dutch at nineteen, and then escaped to Malacca.  It was while working there, in the service of the Portuguese, that he got knighted and promoted.  It was probably also while there that he made the map of the Sumatran archipelago that is still help in the British Museum.  And further, it was there that he had a profound religious experience, leading him to join the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD... no kidding). 

He joined a delegation to Aceh on the northern end of Indonesia.  That's a Muslim rich environment, and they didn't really welcome a pair of OCDs, or a Portuguese ambassador for that matter.  They were each given the choice of conversion to Islam or death.  Saint Redemptus of the Cross (Tomas Rodrigues da Cunha), also celebrated on November 29, was the first to be killed.  Denis got a second chance at conversion, and got a scimitar in the neck when he declined.

Wikipedia notes that today, Aceh has the highest level of Islam in all of Indonesia, and that it is more conservative there than in much of the country. 

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