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.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5 -- Feast of St. Apollinaris Syncletica

 A couple of women may have gotten rolled together in this story, or one woman's story may have been shanghai'ed to become two, or (as is sometimes the case), this is pure fiction.  It gets a little complicated, so bear with me. 
Syncletica -- no false beard necessary
Apollinaris, the daughter of the Roman Emperor Anthemius (who ruled from AD 467 to 472), had a vocation to be a desert hermit.  With apologies to Lou Reed, she hitchhiked her way across the Mediterray, changed her clothes on the way, glued on a beard and then she was a he, he said "Hey Babe, take a walk on the hermetic side"...  Once in Egypt, she lit out for the hinterland and placed herself under the spiritual direction of the great hermit Macarius. 

Her name at this point was Dorotheus, which probably would work back then.  Now of course it would sound like a masculine version of Dorothy, and would conjure an association with the little girl who ran away from home.  Hardly a good cover, but that that's probably just a coincidence. 

At this point in the story, it seems implausible that Apollinaris' dad was the emperor.  Okay, maybe that seemed implausible all along, but it becomes especially problematic when her sister becomes possessed by the Devil.  It's one coincidence too many that the Western Emperor, living in Ravenna, would happen to send his daughter to a hermit in the Egyptian desert, and that of all the hermits out there, his other daughter would happen to be the one she went to.  Another version says that the family were wealthy Macedonians living in Alexandria.  Oh, okay.  I'm back on board.  

Apollinaris Syncletica called Dorotheus received the distressed young girl and exorcised the demon from her.  Out, but not down, the Devil struck back by spreading the rumor that the hermit had taken liberties with the distressed young girl.  Dorotheus was summoned to answer the charge, which she easily did by pulling off her beard and saying, "Hi, Daddy.  Remember me?"  The father, whether he was the Emperor or just a Macedonian tycoon, opted to keep his daughter's secret, so s/he went back to the hermitage and lived as Dorotheus.  Only upon her death was the secret discovered. 

Syncletica, also in the fifth century, was a beautiful woman, the daughter of a wealthy Macedonian living in Alexandria.  She rejected all suitors, having pledged chastity to the Lord.  When her parents died, she cut her hair, gave all their wealth away and moved outside the city with her blind sister.  The two of them lived near the family tomb.  Other women joined them, forming a semi-hermetic convent.  She lived to age eighty-four, acting as a sort of Mother Superior to this community, even as disease disfigured her and damaged her voice.