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 5, 2012

July 5 -- Feast of almost-Blessed Elias of Bourdeille

almost-Blessed Elias
You probably know enough about Saint Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) to understand that she was a victim of international politics and rival patriarchal systems.  Within twenty-five years of her death, Pope Callixtus III concluded an inquiry with a declaration of her innocence and martyrdom.  Much good it did her, of course, but at least they admitted the error.

One of the folks who worked on the report that vindicated her was a bishop named Elias of Bourdeille (Helie de Bourdeille).  He was born the son of a viscount and rose rapidly through ecclesiastical ranks, eventually getting a red cap.  While he did not scruple to accept preferment in the Church that no doubt resulted from noble birth, neither did he exploit his position to indulge his appetites.  In fact, he was a devout Franciscan, so he lived in personal poverty and used the Church's available resources to aid the poor. 

Saint Zoe of Rome
Elias must have had some empathy for Saint Jeanne (even though she wasn't recognized as a saint back then).  He too had been a prisoner of the English armies that occupied France.  He was held for several years, despite his objections of ecclesiastical immunity. 

Elias is almost-Blessed because the Vatican has yet to finish the paperwork.  He was nominated for beatification in 1526, but, well, they just never got around to it.  They call him Blessed Elias anyway, and for defending Jeanne (albeit posthumously), that seems appropriate. 

Since the only picture I have of Elias is not very interesting, I am including this picture of Saint Zoe of Rome.  Zoe was the wife of Nicostratus, a court official working for Diocletian.  Nic, Zoe, and a host of others became converts through the work of Saint Sebastian.  In short, they got busted and when Zoe's turn for execution came up, they tied her to a tree branch by her hair and lit a fire underneath her.  The artist here gives her a beatific pose, but my guess is she was somewhat less comfortable than that.

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