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.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 8 -- Feast of Saint Redemptus of Ferentino

The possible explanations for what went wrong are endless, but it seems to me that the initial plan was flawed in two important ways.

Eutychius (lower right corner) as Correggio imagines his death
Redemptus was the bishop of Ferentino, Italy in the dark days of the sixth century.  The Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire was hearty and hale, but the West had been overrun by Goths and Vandals.  [Funny image of mopey kids with too much eyeliner and graffiti artists conquering the Empire, but we know the reality was much more bloody.]  The City of Rome had fallen from more than one million residents to under twenty thousand; the burning, killing, looting, and raping had been bad enough, but the cutting of the aqueducts were the fatal blow for metropolitan life.  Tough time to be a political leader, but I think on the whole, it made preaching easier.  "Vanity of vanities..." "store up your treasure in Heaven..." "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."

So Bishop Redemptus is out on the circuit, preaching words of comfort in times of trouble, and has an idea.  He will hold a vigil at the tomb of Saint Eutychius, one of those guys who died in a batch of thirty or so.  Pirates might have gotten him, or maybe he's just another victim of Diocletian.  Not much is known about him, but his reputation got a little boost when Redemptus bunked on his bones.

I don't disapprove of vigils. but I don't think you should try to force a saint's will.  Hey, Eutychius! Let's go camping and you tell me a secret so I can reveal it, okay?  Maybe that's not what he was doing, but any resulting revelation must surely be viewed suspiciously.  And why Eutychius?  Is he just a blank wall onto which Redemptus could project what he wanted?  Or maybe the Bishop figured that Eutychius, being less famous (less busy?) than Peter, Paul, the BVM, and the other Big Dogs, would be more likely to respond.  I don't know what he was thinking -- maybe somebody just double-dog-dared him to spend all night at a grave because he'd be bragging that he feared no evil because the Lord was his shepherd.

Anyway, sometime past midnight, the fearless bishop heard someone ask him if he was awake.  He answered yes, but the guy asked again, and again.  If it was a test of patience, Redemptus passed because he calmly answered yes three times. Then the saint (it was Eutychius talking) told him Finis venit univsersae carnis -- the end of all flesh is coming.  Just for symmetry, he told him this three times.

Redemptus believed him and  launched a series of apocalyptic sermons, whipping the local population up into an End Times Frenzy.  Or at least a panic.  Every thunderstorm was a sign of the Last Days. I think if four guys had ridden into Ferentino on different colored horses, the whole town would have dropped dead of faith-induced heart attacks.

If Saint Eutychius had been punking him (a distinct possibility in my mind), then Redemptus got lucky.  The subsequent invasion of Italy by the Lombards may not have been the end of all flesh, but it must have felt like it to the Italians.  Thus, he looked like a true prophet just long enough to be venerated locally and backdoor his way into the Canon. Redemptus himself was probably killed by the Lombards, though his pal Pope Greg didn't bother to say how his curtain was drawn. 

In a reinterpretation that would have made me proud (had I thought of it), some unnamed Italian writer tells Redemptus' story and remarks, "If the end of the world should suddenly annunziarsi, we would find ourselves having to answer the question that was posed to the old Bishop, "Elected One, are you awake?'"  [Translation by Google]  

Yeah, I'll be ready... ready to be punk'd by Saint Eutychius the Joker. 

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