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 3, 2012

September 3 -- Feast of Saint Aigulf

NB.  If this post seems familiar, it was originally published last September 13.  When I discovered that Aigulf's feast is really September 3, I reposted it here.  The replacement post is here

How about a mystery? A little whodunit? Sadly, I have too little information to lead to a conclusion, but if someone is looking for a seventh century circumstance in which to set an historical novel, they can have this one.

Not really Aigulf, but definitely Benedictine.
Aigulf was an earnest Benedictine monk, and as you know, Benedict was pretty serious about work. Laborare est orare -- to work is to pray. He who works prays twice. That's an uncomfortable thought for a man in his bathrobe, sitting on the couch in the middle of the day, so let's return to the earnest young Aigulf.

As you may recall, the Lombards were pagan SOBs who invaded Italy, pissing on all things Christian every chance they got. Earnest young Aigulf was dispatched on a mission to rescue (or purloin, depending on your view) the relics of Saint Benedict and his sister Saint Scholastica from the Abbey of Monte Cassino, which is way south-east of modern Lombardy but was apparently in peril.  [The few monks who remained at Monte Cassino disputed that claim, then, now, and forever.] The monks of Fleury have a box of bones that they say were once the skeletal system of the founder of western monasticism. The monks of Monte Cassino  (replanted after the conversion of the Lombards) dispute the claim, saying that their box of bones is the authentic Benedict. Pope Urban II even anathematized anyone who denies the authenticity of the bones at Monte Cassino.  Yet wise and wealthy pilgrims visit both shrines, just to be safe.

Monte Cassino -- pretty safe from most Lombards
Aigulf was eventually named to be the abbot of a monastery in Lerins Abbey (off the shore of Cannes, France), which was badly in need of some Benedictine truth. "The brothers have grown lax" is a euphemism for the breakdown from a monastery to a college fraternity. They weren't the brothers of Saint Benedict; they were Beta Delta Tau.

Abbot Aigulf, being earnest, laid down the Rule. Most brothers, being "lax," fought back. A riot ensued and troops were called in. The Governor didn't care about monasticism as much as he cared about peace, so he took the majority's word that Aigulf and four other brothers had caused the trouble. They were arrested and taken to the island of Capri.

And now... the mystery. Aigulf and the others were blinded and then murdered. There were roving bands of Saracens on the island, but were they responsible? The pre-execution blinding was apparently their MO, but does it make sense that no guards would be found dead beside the brothers? Then again, having hauled these monks from the coast of France to Capri (all the way across the Tyrrhenian Sea), was it really necessary to kill them at all? And if you were going to kill them, why take them to Capri? Corsica and Sardinia would have been closer, but a thirty minute cruise and a bag of rocks around the neck would have sufficed.
Band of (Benedictine?) brothers.

There's more to the execution than meets the eye. Aigulf knew something, and knew someone who could use that knowledge, and yet... someone else knew that Aigulf knew, and someone else moved first. But who... whodunit?

The guys in the photo by the way might be the brothers of Beta Delta Tau on spring break, enjoying the sunny beaches and low-priced rum drinks of Saint-Aygulf, France. Or they may be the Benedictine monks of Lerins, celebrating the removal of yet another earnest abbot.

No comments:

Post a Comment