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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29 -- Feast of Saint Bona of Pisa

A good girl, this Bona.
You probably know that her name is an adjective; it means good.  Adjectives are called substantives when the noun is implied.  Thus, her name meant Good One, or more specifically, Good Girl, since the form is feminine.  It surprised no one that her sister Mala was not also canonized, and you're not even supposed to mention the third sister, Facilis, in front of the parents.  [Check the alternate translations after following the link.] 

Bona, with a scallop of Santiago
Bona was better than merely good.  As a child, standing before a crucifix in church, she saw the figure on the Cross free his hand and reach out to touch her.  Perhaps the most surprising part of that vision is that she did not run out of the building, screaming in terror.  She did try to run away another time, when Jesus, Mary, Saint James the Greater, and a couple other saints appeared to her.  Saint James pursued her and led her back to Jesus.  Those last five words seem packed with a whole lot of meaning; if I read them correctly, it explains why she was so devoted to him through the rest of her life. 

Bona was an Augustinian tertiary by age ten.  Four years later, while her dad was away on a Crusade in the Holy Land, she went on a pilgrimage to visit him.  That might not have been her best idea, since she was captured by Muslim pirates on the return voyage, put the pirates themselves were captured by Pisans; thus, Bona made it home safely. 

Pilgrims come to her now... in Pisa.
Having taken a taste of the traveling life, she found a way to serve the Lord entering a convent.  Pilgrimage!  Jerusalem?  Check.  Rome?  Check.  Santiago de Compostela?  Check.  [The last was critically important since it is the Shrine of Saint James.]  Now what?  Well, if James led her to Jesus, perhaps she should lead others to James.  Having been appointed an official pilgrimage guide by the Knights of Saint James, she made nine more trips to Santiago de Compostela.  Her work as a leader of pilgrims prompted Blessed Pope John XXIII to name her the patron of flight attendants, travel guides, couriers, and travelers. 

Exhausted by that tenth trip to Spain (1000 miles from Pisa -- much of it on foot), she died around age fifty in AD 1207. 

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