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, July 23, 2012

July 23 -- Feast of Saint Liborius of Le Mans

 Front-Loaded Fun Fact
J-C Juncker, making St. Liborius proud
Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, is currently (7/23/2012) the longest-serving head of government in Europe and the longest-serving democratically-elected head of government in the world.  He has been in office since January 20, 1995.  He has been very active in the promotion of European unity, leading the Archbishop of Paderborn, Germany to award him the Saint Liborius Medal for Unity and Peace.  

Saint Liborius, for whom the medal was named, was a fourth century Gaul who served as the second bishop of Le Mans.  He served forty-nine years, from 348 until his death of natural causes in 397.  Saint Martin of Tours was a good friend and helper to Liborius, and was present to offer him comfort at his death.  During his time as bishop, he was active in establishing new churches and ordaining new clergy -- during the 96 ordinations at which he officiated, 217 priests and 186 deacons took holy orders.

Apart from a forty-nine year term of office, there's nothing very miraculous or remarkable about his life.  However, the water in the the area is high in limestone, and his grave (and later, just his shrine) became a good place to pray for relief from gallstones and kidney stones. Miraculous relief was reported, though one has to wonder if the wall behind the cathedral is permanently discolored.  In icons and images of him, Liborius is depicted with a few small stones (though of course they'd be huge if you had to pass them) on top of the Bible he is carrying. In 1267, Archbishop Werner von Eppstein was the first to find relief from his stones, but as word spread, stone-sufferers came from all over. 

In 799, Pope Leo III and Charlemagne jointly founded the town of Paderborn.  Since it had no saint of its own, and Le Mans had two (Saint Julius, the first bishop of Le Mans, was lying right beside Liborius in the cathedral crypt), Bishop Aldrich of Le Mans boxed up the Liborian relics and sent them to Bishop Badurad of Paderborn.  A sister-city relationship was begun that has lasted 1,100 years and survived countless Franco-German wars. 

The saint's relics on parade for the feast
The procession carrying the saint's relics was guided from Le Mans to Paderborn by a peacock.  The bird flew a little above and ahead, lighting nearby whenever the party rested.  As they marched into Paderborn, it flew to the top of the highest spire of the cathedral.  Then, its mission completed, it came to the road in front of the cathedral and died.  Peacock artwork is all over the Paderborn Cathedral, including in stained glass, a fountain in the town square, a smaller fountain in the cloister, and even a door handle to one of the chapels. 

1 comment:

  1. Jean Claude Junker resigned over a scandal involving illegal wiretapping on July 11, 2013. You could read about it here if you want to.