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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9 -- Feast of Saint Benignus

Saint Benignus
There's a frieze on the North Wall of the US Supreme Court depicting the great lawgivers of the post-Classical World.  Ancient law-givers are on the South Wall -- see the bonus feasture below.  King John is there representing the Magna Carta, even though he signed it at sword-point and then scampered to the Pope to have it nullified.  Muhammad is there, even though some Muslims asked that the image be taken down  (they consider it blasphemous to depict the Prophet).  But do you know who is not there?  Saint Benignus, for starters.  Nor anyone else who worked on the Senchus Mor, including the two men who commissioned it: Saint Patrick and King Laegaire.

Charlemagne, Mohammad, and Justinian
Begun in AD 438 and completed in 441, the Senchus Mor was a compendium of all Irish laws prior to the arrival of Patrick.  It was divided into several branches of law: family & probate law, tenant law, social relationship law, and contract law.  Benignus and eight others worked on this a couple hundred years before Muhammad did his work, and more than a millennium before Hugo Grotius, Louis IX, William Blackstone, or any of the others up on the wall.  But can an Irishman get any respect in the Court?  Justice Kennedy, can you hear me?

The Harp
Benignus, by the way, was more than just a codifier of laws.  He was Patrick's psalm-singer, one of the finest voices on an island noted for its fine singers.  Moreover, he succeeded Patrick as the bishop of Ireland.  So here's my offer: if some folks are aggrieved that Muhammad is represented on the frieze, I'm willing to have him taken down and Benignus can go up in his place.  In lieu of Muhammad's sword, Benignus can carry a harp to represent both his singing and the nation.  And I'll be we can even get Guinness to pay for the switch. 
Sorry, Moses.  Run that past me again?

Bonus Feasture:  Apparently the frieze on the South Wall of the Supreme Court Building shows Moses holding one tablet of the Commandments.  According to this site, Moses' beard covers the Hebrew word for NOT in two of the Commandments, so the tablet translates to "Thou shalt commit murder.  Thou shalt commit adultery.  Steal."  Perhaps someone who knows Hebrew can corroborate.

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