Venerable Abbess; Plus A Couple Thoughts on the End of Days
There are a few saints named Aurea ("golden girl"). This one was a very big deal back in France, at one time having been venerated as highly as St. Genevieve, but who remembers the dear lady now? (We do, but I meant it rhetorically.)
Aurea's life shines only for its general reputation for wisdom and virtue. She led a large (300+ sisters) monastery in Paris for thirty-three years. It is her death, and that of 160 sisters at the monastery, that has me ruminating this morning.
Aurea died of a plague in the year 666. With half of the monastery dead of some ghastly disease, it must have felt like the John's Revelation was coming to pass. It apparently did not, but folks still watch for the signs. He comes like a thief in the night. The problem is, human beings must sleep sometime. It's been a couple of millennia and still the first seal is (apparently) not broken.
In 1346, the Black Plague hit the Golden Horde, the army of the Mongolian Khanate that had swept across Asia and was threatening to overwhelm Europe. It also hit Genoese merchants. Two years later, it struck Italy in force, and within two years it killed between one-third and one-half of all Europeans. Again, it must have felt like the Four Horsemen were riding among us.
This year, 666 years after the Black Plague introduced itself to Europeans, is another one for apocalyptic thinking. The scientific community has inadvertently fueled this with observations of climate change. The end of the Mayan calendar seems to be turning folks thoughts to it, though mostly in light-hearted ways (except for the poor saps who really believe that stercus). And every few years there's always some Christian sect leader who feels he has an inside line on the movements of nocturnal thieves.
Aurea's life did not suggest she did anything extraordinary in the face of what must have felt apocalyptic. Perhaps she didn't have time, but then again, maybe she just didn't think it mattered. If you live a holy life, you don't have to worry about the thief in the night.
In addition, Saint Francis is celebrated on October 4. The animals at the farm at Saint Joseph's College will be blessed today, as will animals all over. Posts on Saint Francis can be found here and here.