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, November 12, 2012

November 12 -- Feast of Saint Machar

The Cathedral of Saint Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland, at about 1:20 PM.
How many saints have oil fields named after them?  As it turns out, at least six.  Marnoch, Mungo, Mirren, Machar, Monan, and Madoes are all fields in the North Sea, all operated by BP.  The three fields that Shell operates in the Eastern Tough Area of the North Sea are all named for birds: Heron, Egret, Skua.  Then again, if the recent theory that Mungo and Machar are the same saint is true, there's one fewer saint with an oilfield named for him, but no fewer oilfields named for saints. The lack of any evidence of his existence on the continent, in spite of his allegedly having been named the Bishop of Tours and being buried beside St. Martin himself, calls at least some of the saint's identity into question. 

Existence aside, Machan has some cool legends to his credit.  Angels sang by his crib when he was a baby.  As a small child, he touched the body of his stillborn brother and brought the infant to life.  While a disciple of St. Columba, he cured seven lepers and turned a fierce wild boar to stone.  Harried by his growing fame, he was dispatched by Columba to the Picts, a most Christianity-resistant people.  He is said to have founded the church at Aberdeen there; that church, once called St. Machan's is now the High Kirk of the Church of Scotland in the Presbytery of Aberdeen. 

Aer Lingus' St. Machan?
Machan didn't rest on his cathedra, however. [Actually, I am not sure he was a bishop yet.  I gather that the pilgrimage to Rome was in part a consecration mission.]  Although Pope Saint Gregory the Great confirmed him as Bishop of the Picts, he stopped off in Tours to venerate Martin, was elected bishop while there, and stayed until the end of his days. 

Perhaps Machar is an invention of the early forerunner of the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce.  But if so, why did they not invent a set of bones to for the gullible to venerate as well?  True, Tours does not have a grave for him either, but Europe was ravaged by waves of Northmen who seemed to delight in disrespecting shrines.  For now, I'll insist that Saint Machar, the patron of big brothers who take care of their younger siblings, is a real saint.  When Aer Lingus names a plane after him, I will have all the confirmation I need. 

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