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, July 19, 2012

July 19 -- Feast of Saints Justa and Rufina

Justa and Rufina, martyrs from the Seville, Spain, are the patron saints of potters. 
Not Colonel Sherman Potter
Not Harry Potter
Not even Grace Potter nor her Nocturnals
They are the patrons of folks who make pots out of clay.  In fact, that was how they supported themselves and the recipients of their charity.  They made some of the best clay pots, bowls, and cups in third century Seville.  
Then a customer came along and offered to buy most of their stock-on-hand.  They were pleased, of course, until they learned that the vessels would be used in pagan rituals.  They declined the deal.  What happened immediately after is a little unclear, but the upshot is that every pot in their market stall was smashed.  Either they smashed them to prevent a forced sale or the angry pagans in the market smashed them to punish these wayward Christians.  Folks who tell the latter version add that the sisters then smashed an idol of Venus. 

The local magistrate, a fellow named Diogenianus, was confident he could get them to apostatize.  He gave them some quiet thinking time in jail, followed by some time on the rack to help them concentrate.  When they still weren't getting it, he used iron hooks to drive the point home.  He further assisted their spiritual journeys with those time-tested vehicles, hunger and thirst.  A barefoot hike to the Sierra Morena mountains didn't help either.  When Justa died of the abuse, Diogenianus was sure that Rufina would see the error of her ways.  Since she stubbornly refused to honor the pantheon, he had her tossed to the local lion.  The cat was hardly interested in such a meager portion, so it just laid down and slept.  
When you're beat, you're beat.  There was nothing Diogenianus could do except have the girl's head cut off and her body burned. 

On the left, Goya shows them with smashed pottery and a docile lion.  If you look closely, you'll also note the fragment of Venus' head on the floor.  On the right, Murrillo shows them with the Giralda, a former minaret that was converted to the bell tower for the Cathedral of Seville.  Murrillo also shows a martyr's palm in Justa's hand and some pottery they failed to smash on the floor. 

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