|St. Giles, in his chapel|
In the General Roman Calendar (adopted in 1969), May 14 has become the
feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle. I don't like to be out of step,
but I think I will stick with his traditional feast and celebrate him
next February 24.
The canon is full of folks who wanted religious lives, but their parents
preferred something more lucrative. For women (and a few men), this
meant marriage. For men, this meant law, commerce, or military or
political careers. Giles' parents, however, had him pegged for a
religious life, and since dad had a lot of political juice in Portugal,
Giles had a headstart on every other prospective priest of his
generation. King Sancho I gave him prebendaries (minor cathedral posts
with income) in Braga, Coimbra, Idanha, and Santarem.
|Chapel of St. Giles, Santarem, Portugal|
Giles set off for Paris and on the road, he met a very persuasive stranger with a very tempting contract. Knowledge of all the healing arts ("Necromancy, even?" "Of course, young man. Necromancy's simple to master.") in exchange for... his soul! [I'll bet you didn't see that coming.] Giles signed, went to Paris, and became a great physician.
|The Devil and Robert Johnson|
I love the idea of redemption, but as an American, I am uncomfortable with a superior power negating contracts. Good faith is an odd word to use with the Devil, but it seems he has the higher ground in this case. Maybe we're not legally entitled to the disposition of our own souls and so the contract was unenforceable from the beginning.
American blues pioneer Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads in order to become a master musician. If I am onto something, perhaps Mr. Johnson is not in the satanic grip today, because the rest of his life was not inordinately sinful, in spite of his deal. The contract itself may only be a way of rationalizing abandonment of God, a misconception that ultimately becomes true by all the subsequent choices. And speaking of sinning, this fine picture, done by Brandt Hardin and posted on Dreg Studios, is used without permission. Get at me, Dreg; I'll take it down if you want.