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.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 5 -- Feast of Saint Angelus of Jerusalem

There are two or three incidents in Angelo's life that I especially enjoy.  I don't want to take them entirely out of context, so bear with me for a quick biographical overview. 

Angelus and his twin brother John were born to Jewish parents in Jerusalem, sometime in the late 1100s.  Jesse and Maria, the proud parents, had a vision that their sons would go on to become great leaders in the Christian Church.  They converted and baptized the boys, but died soon after.  Nicodemus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, raised them until they were old enough to join the monastery on Mount Carmel.  John stuck it out there, rising through the ranks to eventually become the Patriarch of Jerusalem, fulfilling his half of the prophecy. 

Angelus showed some promise at wonder-working: somebody dropped an axe in the river but he made it float until it could be retrieved. He walked across the Jordan River without getting wet, healed a leper, resurrected a dead guy, and called down fire from heaven.  This was all good stuff, but not quite hardcore saint stuff by second century standards.  So one day he walked off into the desert.  Jesus spent forty days and nights there;  Angelus spent five years. 

Then he got the Call to get on the road.  He gathered some relics in Alexandria and took them to Italy, per heavenly instruction and with all proper consent.  He preached in lots of places, filling crowds with fervor.  And he wound up in Licata, Sicily, where he met a martyr's end, fulfilling his half of the prophecy. 

Incident One -- Pirates!

While traversing the Mediterranean, his ship was attacked by a squadron of Saracen pirates.  When Angelo prayed for divine assistance, fire rained down onto the attacking ships, killing seventy of the pirates and blinding the rest.  Given that blind men would be unlikely to steer their ships to a safe harbor, they asked for help.  When they allowed Angelo to baptize them, their sight was restored. 

Incident Two -- The Soothsayer's Duel 

Dominic and Francis -- The Big Dogs of their day
I don't imagine it really was a duel, but it could be played that way.  While in Rome, Saint Angelo met Saint Dominic and Saint Francis.  That's like chancing upon the Dalai Lama hanging out with Nelson Mandela, or maybe running into Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix in a London pub.  Oh, hey -- there's Michael Jordan having a cup of coffee with Michael Phelps -- I should go over and say hi.  We're talking big, big dogs.  Angelo was talking to them, and Francis laid a prophecy on him -- he was destined to be martyred.  I have no idea how to react if someone does that, but I probably wouldn't counter with a prophecy of my own.  Again that's why Angelo is a saint and I am just writing about him. 

"Well, thanks for that, Frank.  I can see that you'll be blessed with stigmata before you die.  You know what stigmata are, Frank?  Five holes in your flesh that won't heal.  One in each hand, each foot, and one in the side.  Hurts to walk, hurts to pick anything up, or to write, or to bend or twist your body.  That's what I see for you." 

No, I don't think that's the way he said it.  But I imagine my description is not far off. 

Incident Three -- Martyrdom in Sicily

Cathars and Catholics -- like pirates and ninjas.
Angelo got the Call to preach against Catharism in Sicily.  The Cathars were heterodoxical Christians (i.e. heretics) who believed in extreme self-denial for salvation.  They rejected (in no particular order) marriage, eating animals, drinking alcohol, owning private property, using weapons, and the resurrection of the flesh.  So they were pretty much a threat to every interest group in society, and yet somehow they attracted enough followers to make nuisances of themselves.

Angelo did pretty well in converting the Cathars, but while he was in Sicily, he happened upon a local lord named Berengar.  Nominally a Cathar, he actually had a common-law wife and three sons.  He should have been an easy conversion, right?  Except that his wife was his sister.  (Ewwww!) She converted quickly (and no doubt with much relief) but Berengar got grumpy and made some threats.  Angelo got louder and more public with his denunciation of the sinful lord, so Berengar came at him outside the Church of Saints Philip and James By the Sea.  Five sword strokes, four days of extended dying scene, and the prophecy was fulfilled.  

No comments:

Post a Comment