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, August 23, 2012

August 23 -- Feast of Blessed James of Bevagna

Crucifixion on the Coast
Did you ever have the problem of giving your kid money for something, but the kid bought something else instead?  Or the related problem of your kid arguing that he actually followed your instructions, even though appearances suggest the contrary? Even though  James of Bevagna's mom had grounds for such complaints, he got beatified a little less than four centuries after his death in 1301. 

Umm, thanks.  You can stop now.
James joined the Dominicans in 1236.  He was only sixteen years old, and with all the confidence and enthusiasm of adolescence, he embraced a life of extreme poverty.  You know how kids can be competitive about anything, even who can live on the fewest lentils per day.  A more aggressive prior or abbot might have smacked him for his proud, ostentatious demonstration of virtue.  James, however, was permitted to run his course. 

His mom had a pretty hard time seeing him there in Church in a frayed, threadbare habit, looking more like a freeloader than a friar.  (Yes, there is a difference, even if we're talking about mendicant friars.) She gave him money to buy a new habit.  James, however, got permission from his prior to buy a crucifix for his cell instead.  When his mom saw him in the same old rag, she called him on it.  He replied that Saint Paul told us to 'put on the Lord Jesus,' so that was the habit he wore.  Smart ass kid. 

This is indefensibly wrong
As a mature monk, he founded the monastery in Mevania, and did much to alleviate the suffering of refugees after Emperor Frederick II sacked the place in 1248.  He was also instrumental in shutting down the Nicolaitan heresy. 

But the purchase of the crucifix proved to be a very good investment.  In a period of spiritual crisis, he knelt in prayer before it.  In a scene worthy of South Park, the crucifix spurted blood onto his face and James heard the voice of Jesus saying "This Blood is the sign of your Salvation."  No one could argue with a sign like that. 

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