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, September 10, 2012

September 10 -- Feast of Saint Barypsabas

Bearer of a Relic from the Crucifixion

Caveat:  Although the legend overlaps with events in the Gospel, it is an extra-Biblical story.  That doesn't mean we should automatically dismiss it as fiction, but we should be aware. 

A couple of thieves killing St. B for the Holy Gourd
Let's start at the Crucifixion of Jesus.  A fella named Jacob had the presence of mind to run up with a cup or a bowl (tikva, meaning gourd?) when Jesus was pierced with the pilum.  He gathered the blood and water that flowed from the wound.  Already I am struggling to suspend my disbelief.  Would he really have been so brazen as to collect Jesus' body fluids, even if he revered the Lord?  Consider that Jesus mother and friends were there, weeping.  How tactless would it be to start collecting relics at the moment of death?  Consider also that the Roman soldiers were hanging around, strong-arming locals for their notoriously brutal proconsul.  How inclined would they be to allow Jacob to save some Liquid Lord?  And would he really have the presence of mind to do this just as the spear was coming out?  That's quick thinking -- the body drained, but it didn't pump.

Having raised some objections, let's grant that Jacob has a bowl stained with the Precious Blood and Water.  In time, he put oil into the bowl, and the oil produced miraculous healings.  As Jacob neared death, he entrusted the bowl to two desert hermits.  They in turn entrusted the bowl to today's saint, Barypsabas.  He continued to use oil from the bowl to perform miracles. 

The martyrdom of Barypsabas is variously told.  In one account, he was murdered by a couple of thieves who wanted the magic bowl.  Of course, it availed them nothing.  I can't find the details of this version, but if I were telling it, bad things would befall them and all their works would be undone.  I am not sure if the bowl would be lost with them, or if they would repent, entrust the relic to a monk, and live the quiet lives of holy hermits. 

In another account, he took the bowl to Rome, but then went on to Dalmatia, where he was martyred.  It's a fun story, but I am not sure it highlights any particular virtue or course of action.  Perhaps if more details of his martyrdom had survived. 

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