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, February 15, 2012

February 15 -- Feast of Saint Claude de la Colombiere

Claude the Dry Martyr
Claude was described as a "dry martyr," a new term to me.  [There's so much to learn.]  A dry martyr is one who suffers the whole range of tribulations except death itself.  Well, of course a dry martyr eventually dies, but not at the hands of the persecutor. 

Claude became a Jesuit at eighteen; fifteen years later, he took a solemn vow of absolute obedience.  This was not a big problem for a while.  He was a Catholic priest in a Catholic country (France, devout and respected.  Two years later, he was sent to England as the chaplain to Maria Beatrice Anna Margherita Isabella d'Este, aka Mary of Modena, Duchess of York.  As the Italian wife of an English duke and later King (James II), she devoted herself to her two children rather than to political intrigue.  That, however, did not inoculate her from being a target of grievance and gossip.

Mary of Modena, Mother of the Old Pretender
England had been through a century of religious strife -- well, more than strife, really.   I began to summarize it, but deleted what I had written when I reached the third paragraph of persecutions.  The short of it is that when the Catholics and Anglicans weren't killing each other, the Anglicans were forced to defend themselves against Puritan tyranny.  Lots of dead Englishmen (and women).  Then Charles II ruled as an Anglican, but pushed for religious tolerance.  When the Parliament pushed him on the issue, he at first acquiesced, but later dissolved the legislature.

Charles' Catholic brother James (husband of Mary) came to the throne, much to the distress of hardshell Anglicans.  The problem was exacerbated by James & Mary's son James (aka the Old Pretender), who would perpetuate the Catholic dynasty.  Naturally a gifted Catholic preacher, especially a foreigner, would be a target of popular malignity, especially since he served as the Queen's chaplain, a job he undertook with sufficient zeal to break his health. The Protestants might not have been able to assail the royal family (yet), but they could certainly persecute their near-and-dear.  He was arrested and thrown into prison, where his weakened health worsened.  King Louis XIV leaned on the English to release him.  When they did, he was exiled to France, where he lived for only two more years.

Louis XIV, by the way, not only offered refuge to Claude, who was after all a subject of the French crown, but to James and Mary after they were overthrown by William & Mary in the Glorious Revolution.  I don't think many nice things are said about Louis anymore, but any leader who offers refuge to deposed leaders (in the spirit of peace rather than prolonging conflict) gets props here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment