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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 -- Feast of Saint Serapion the Sindonite

"Nice cloak, S.  Can I have it?"
In spite of his holiness, Saint Serapion played the long con pretty well.  He was grifting for God, so I am sure it's all jake, but a scam's a scam and you have to give credit to those who put the art in bunco 

First, let's get square about his bona fides as a holy man.  They didn't call him the Sindonite because he came from a place called Sindon.  Sindon's a what, not a where.  Basically, it is a light linen nightshirt -- it covers enough for modesty, but it wouldn''t keep you warm on a cloudy day in May.  Yet the only thing Serapion ever wore, day and night, indoors and outdoors, was his sindon.  If you gave him a tunic or a cloak or even a ratty old pair of gallic trousers, he'd find someone less fortunate than himself to give it to.  The picture to the right depicts him as way overdressed.
"Of course.  Want a tunic, too?"

Now for the long con.  Let's start with the goal: in Matthew 19:21, Jesus says "If you want to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give your money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me."  Taking the Word literally, Serapion gave away what he owned and then sold himself into slavery for twenty gold pieces.  That money was of course also donated to the poor.

For sale: one pious slave, used. 
So far, he's on the level.  But then, he converts the master to Christianity and gets his freedom.  Away he walks with a tunic, a cloak, and a little severance package jingling on his belt.  Right away he goes to skid row and starts handing it all over until he's down to his bare sindon again.  Then he came across a widow deep in debt.  So he finds another rube to sell himself to and gives his price to the widow.  The he converts the poor sap and walks away with another set of vines, a couple caesars in his pocket, and a copy of the gospel.  The clothes and money he ditched on the wretches living under the first bridge he crossed, but he kept the book long enough to make a point.

He met an old pal walking down the street.  His buddy asked him who stripped him of all his clothes.  He puts the finger on the Gospel as the culprit so his friend can make the acquaintance. A little later, the book is sold and the a few more people had dinner that night.

He kept the con running until he was too old to be sold as a slave.  Then he retired to live as a hermit in the Egyptian desert, confident that his penion account with the First Bank of Heaven was fully funded for all eternity.

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