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, May 20, 2012

May 20 -- Feast of Blessed Columba of Rieti

Columba with dove
There are lots of things we can learn from Saint Columba, a fifteenth century Italian beata.  Here is a partial list.

1.  It's a good sign if a dove shows up at your baptism.  This might seem obvious, given Luke 3: 21-22, but it's probably worth making explicit.  Columba was being christened Angelella Guardagnoli, but the sudden appearance of a dove at the baptismal font got her the nickname Columba, the Latin word for dove. She wound up a beata, so that's a pretty good sign.

2.  Here's an easy way to decline a marriage proposal.  Columba's folks were trying to arrange a marriage, but she had decided to become a nun.  When she got a proposal, she cut off her hair and sent it to the suitor.   He took the hint, as did her folks.

Lucretia's wardrobe malfunction

3.  Pilgrimages are easier if you can bilocate.  Columba entered an Italian convent at age nineteen, but that did not stop her from touring the Holy Land.  Although her body stayed in Italy, her spirit departed for Palestine.  She was able to walk the whole Via Dolorosa with no wear and tear on the shoes. 

4.  Be careful not to become a victim of your own holiness.  Folks from the town of Narni, the place after which C.S. Lewis named the land beyond the wardrobe, decided they wanted to have a wonder-working Dominican tertiary in their town.  So they organized a posse to kidnap her.  Silly Narnians -- she's a miracle-worker!  Don't you think she could see a clumsy plan like that unfolding?

Pope Alexander VI 
5.  Keep the Dominicans close, but the Borgias closer.  Columba  irritated the less-than-holy Lucretia Borgia.  In fact, the stories say that she actually made it onto the hit list.  Fortunately, Ms. Borgia's list was a long one, and Columba was not what is currently known as a high-value target, so the hit never went down.   Still, when the Pope's daughter says you're practicing witchcraft, you've got to be looking over your shoulder so you don't get Joan of Arc'ed.  Fortunately, Pope Alexander VI thought more of Columba than he did of his daughter.  He sought Columba's advice on matters, and even tolerated her telling him that he was a sinner (which he was) and needed to repent (which he did). 

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