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.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13 -- Feast of Saint Carpus of Troas

 Patron Saint for the Thrift Shops

Rembrandt's version of Paul in jail -- note sword, books, cloak
 Saint Carpus is not the patron of thrift shops. Yet.  He's not the patron of anything at all.  But I hope by the end of this post to make the case that your local Catholic Charities Thrift Shop should be named for Saint Carpus, or at very least have a picture of him hanging somewhere -- over the register, perhaps, or better still, near the coats. 

The author of the epistle called 2 Timothy has been the subject of much debate.  For centuries, folks thought that the three pastoral epistles (Titus, 1 Timothy, and 2 Timothy) were all written by Paul.  Then someone did a stylistic analysis and determined that Titus and 1Tim were by the same person, but 2Tim was by someone else.  They speculated that a close friend of Paul's wrote it sometime shortly after Paul was killed.  More recently, someone claimed that the very personal details in 2Tim suggests it is authentic and the other two are pseudepigrapha.  It was a long time ago so I doubt anyone can say for certain. 

for clarity and detail
 The fourth chapter of 2 Timothy is an odd passage.  The author starts off with some sound advice about preaching.  It might be unnecessary for Timothy, in whom Paul had so much confidence, but it could benefit others who got to read the letter.  The passage then moves into a melancholy vein.  "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  He asks Timothy to hurry to visit him, which is sensible given his sense of doom.

At last we come to Carpus.  Paul tells Timothy, "When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments."  I read one scholar's interpretation -- perhaps it is the commonly accepted one -- that Paul knew he was going to get busted in Troas, so he stashed his valuables with Carpus so the guards wouldn't get them.  Naturally he wants the scriptures back, but why does he lead with the cloak?  Why does he need the cloak at all if he is about to die?  Sure, it is probably cold and wet in jail, but Carpus might need the cloak too.  And he's likely to live a little longer.  
I guess that's callous.  It was his cloak, and whether Carpus was just holding it for him or he had borrowed it in need, Paul had every right to reclaim it.  Still, it is odd that he'd ask for that before the scriptures.  And odd that Carpus got to be a saint for nothing more than being mentioned by Paul as the guy with his cloak.  
Locally, there's a place on Saint John Street where folks can get clothes and furnishings cheaply.  They have warm coats there, and winter is coming on.  From now on, I will think of it as Saint Carpus' Thrift Shop.   

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