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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27 -- Feast of the Seven Sleepers

Road map: legend first, then the explanation, and finally a little Qur'an and geography. 
Good night, John-boy (Serapion)

The Legend -- Seven young Christians in the reign of Decius were given a little time and freedom to rethink their unwillingness to sacrifice to Jupiter and the Gang.  Why this would happen while other Christians were being tossed to lions, flayed, and beheaded is not explained.  Take it as it is told.  They decided not to apostatize, but rather to pray in a cave somewhere until their execution.  When the prefect in charge of their case came to investigate, he found them soundly sleeping.  He ordered his men to wall them up in the cave -- a fairly disturbing form of capital punishment, if you think about it. 

the Eighth Sleeper
At least it would have been ugly if they had woken, but God in His Mercy let them sleep for a few centuries.  Finally, a landowner thought he might be able to use the cave as a livestock pen so he busted open the wall.  The young men exited, thinking they had only slept one day, and were amazed to find that the land had Christianized.  They rejoiced, gave thanks, and died soon after.  Rip van Winkle, with a holy overtone rather than a patriotic patina. 

The Explanation (most likely) -- Slept in the Lord is a euphemism for died.  It emphasized the Resurrection and Judgment Day when we will all wake up, jump up, and be judged.  Some of us will suffer second death while others will live in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The way some folks figure it, seven Christians got walled up in a cave as a cruel and unusual punishment.  At some point, the idea that they were sleeping in the Lord was misunderstood and a fantastic story was developed around them. 

A Little Qur'an -- Sura 18, Verses nine through twenty-six recount the same story.  The number of the sleepers whose faith sustained them is not given, but it was certain that the dog who joined them had guarded them for the whole time.  I like the detail about the loyal guard dog -- nice touch. 

Good boy, Kalib.  Sit and stay. 
Geography -- Ephesus, Turkey is commonly cited as the location of the tomb.  A location outside Amman, Jordan is also offered as the location.  And some Uighurs of central Asia (now occupied by the People's Republic of China) suggest that Tuyukhojam, Turpan is the place.  Neopagan mystics will chatter about Glastonbury, England, but it is only a half-baked (actually some of them are quite fully baked) attempt to incorporate every scrap of mysticism they can into one universal theology, the center of which is Britain. 

Oh, and their names -- The Seven Sleepers are named Maximian, Malchus, Martinian, Dionysius, John Serapion, and Constantine.  No word on the name of the dog, so let's just call him Kalib.

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