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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30 -- Feast of Saint Irene

Irene tending to Sebastian's wounds.
It is too bad that Irene and her husband, Saint Castulus, don't share the same feast.  He is venerated on March 26 in the west and December 18 in the east.  Together, they opened their home to Christians during the Great Persecution of Diocletian (and his co-emperors).  Castulus also arranged for Mass to be said inside Diocletian's palace for the Christians living there.  That is to say, he arranged for that until he was betrayed by an apostate named Torquatus.  The good news was that he was not tortured to death.  The bad news was that they buried him alive in a sand pit.  (That good news / bad news thing never gets old for me.)

So Irene was left to be a pious widow.  Saint Sebastian, Diocletian's former Captain of the Guards, was shot full of arrows and left for dead.  Pious Irene recovered the body, found there was still life in it, and nursed Sebastian back to health.  Having saved his life, she urged him to head out of Rome, maybe to some desert monastery in Asia Minor.  But of course he wasn't having it.  As soon as he was well enough, he headed straight back to the palace to get himself well and truly martyred. 

Huddie Ledbetter's "Good Night, Irene" includes the lyrics, "Sometimes I live in the country, and sometimes I live in the town, and sometimes I take a great notion, to jump in the river and drown."  Castulus and Sebastian might have been incautious enough to have gotten themselves killed (though neither got thrown in the Tiber River) but Irene herself was probably more careful.  Eventually she too earned the palm and crown of martyrdom, but not by volunteering for it.

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