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 22, 2012

February 22 -- Feast of Saint Baradates of Cyrrhus

Probably not what he was wearing, but still wrong
I am generally not one to make fun of the trials of the saints, even when they were self-imposed and seemed to do no one any good.  I have respect for the desert fathers, anchorites, and hermits who practiced ascetic self-denial in hopes of achieving some spiritual enlightenment.  The practice is not unique to Christianity and makes a certain amount of sense, given certain assumptions. 

I might have been hesitant comment on one particular mortification practiced by Saint Baradates, a fifth century Syrian hermit, if his bishop had not also expressed some concern.  That he lived in a hut too small for him to stand up is all right.  That he ate only what he could forage is fine.  Even that he wore only animal skins is okay.  Couldn't those last two also be said of John the Baptist?  But that he wore a leather mask that exposed only his nose and mouth is... well, troubling. 

On the other hand, he is praised as both a wise and obedient monk.  As proof of his wisdom, consider that Emperor Leo I wrote to seek his opinion on the Council of Chalcedon.  As proof of his obedience, consider that he gave up the hermit's life (and mask) when his bishop ordered him to.

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