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.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 3 -- Feast of Saint Galganus

Saints Crescentius and Galganus
Sources seem to vary about whether the feast is December 3 or December 5.  You can always celebrate on both days. 

Here's a twelfth century sword in the stone legend, except this time the hero is giving up the weapon rather than arming himself.  This is the more flattering version. 

Galgano Guidotti was a young Tuscan nobleman whose father died early, leaving his mom to raise him alone.  Well, almost alone, because she did have the good counsel of Michael the Archangel, who instructed her to outfit the young lad in the garb of a knight and raise him to be a soldier for God.

In his early manhood, Galgano dreamed that he rode out on a quest to become a true Knight of God; he was guided by visions from Mary the Theotokos.  He passed some symbolic vistas before entering a hut where he encountered a vision of the Twelve Apostles.  When he woke, he realized that he had been called to ride out and establish a hermitage in the place that Michael and Mary had revealed to him.

The Sword of Galgano
He rode until his horse refused to advance, and then he doubled back and spent the night.  The next morning he rode again, and again the horse stopped at the same spot and refused to advance.  He dismounted and uttered a prayer that encompassed a lengthy declaration of faith.  He then remounted the horse, which set out unbidden and did not stop until it reached Montesiepi.  He recognized this as the place that the Archangel has selected, but had neither the tools nor the time to fashion a cross to signify.  Instead, he drew his sword and embedded it in the solid rock, it's hilt serving as the cross.

He dwelt in this place, subsisting on watercress.  The Devil came once to tempt him, but he jumped up and attacked the demon so violently that the Evil One became confused and fled.  Old Nick was accustomed to folks striving and contending with him, but such violence surpassed an previous reception.  

Galgano went to Rome briefly.  While he was away three men attempted to cross-nap the sword.  They could not dislodge it from the rock, so they broke off the hilt and took it with them.  Thief One fell into a river and drowned, but still they carried on.  Thief Two was then struck by lightning, but still the hint was not taken.  Then a wolf rushed up and sank it's teeth into Thief Three's arm, refusing to let go.  Wolf and Thief, tooth in arm, walked back to the hermitage so that pardon could be begged.  Galganus absolved the thief of his crime; the wolf released the arm.  Galgano then placed the shards of the sword together and they immediately repaired themselves.  He immediately constructed a hut for his hermitage and spent the rest of his days there.

A Guardian article linked here reported two things  of note.  First, the metal of the sword suggests it could be from the twelfth century.  Two mummified hands kept in a nearby church (legend said one's arms would be ripped off if one tried to remove the sword) also test from that time. 

Second, Galgano was a selfish and arrogant feudal lord who was unwilling to give up his worldly possessions.  He complained that he could no more give up his material wealth than he could drive his sword into stone.  To prove his point (haha! pun!), he stabbed a rock, into which his blade slipped like a fork into a deep-dish pie, except it stuck there.  Galgano got the message, cut his cloak into a habit, and became a monk on the spot.

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