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.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14 -- Feast of Saint Castora Gabrielli

The Gabrielli Madonna
The Gabrielli were the feudal aristocrats in the town of Gubbio, in Umbria, Italy.  Wikipedia offers a long list of Gabrielli, among whom I can find only one woman: Castora.  In the two of centuries before her, the family produced a couple of saints, a beatus, and a Crusader; in the successive centuries, it produced bishops and cardinals, ministers of state, military commanders and musicians.  But among them all, Castora stands out as the only woman whom the family pressed for memorial distinction. 

It is a little frustrating not to know why she was so distinctive, nor why the family selected her above all the other wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.  I count seven bishops, five of whom wore little red hats -- surely they had enough juice to beatify a couple more moms or spinster sisters.  But no, Castora alone is canonized, and of her we aren't told much.

She was the widow of a lawyer named Santuccio Sanfonerio.  He might have been a good guy or a jerk -- we don't know. She joined the Third Order of Saint Francis, the lay Franciscans.  And she was "noted for the sanctity that she brought to her everyday work."  It's not much to go on, I'm afraid, but as Isak Dinesan suggests, a blank page can stimulate a lot of contemplation. 

Several decades before Castora was bringing sanctity to her work, her relative Cante Gabrielli brought charges of barratry against Dante Alighieri.  It was a politically motivated charge related to the rival factions in Florentine politics.  Dante was convicted, fined 5000 florins, and exiled from Tuscany.  He got his revenge by depicting barratrists in the fifth layer of the Inferno, suffering under a cruel demon named Rubicante.  Barratry, by the way, refers to secular corruption, especially among lawyers -- buying offices, suing without merit to extort money, and even ambulance-chasing.  There is some irony in this charge against Dante, since he was in favor of reforming the Church to reduce ecclesiastical corruption. 

The painting, which I prefer to call "Connections," above might say a lot about the family. In it, Giovanni Gabrielli is introduced to the BVM by a group of saints.  If you don't find Castora's relatively blank page worth contemplating, perhaps that will put grist in the mill.

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