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.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18 -- Feast of Saint Juthwara

Spoiler alert: She's a Cephalophore
If I were to write her name a little more accurately, I'd call her Aude Wyry (Aude the Virgin).  But as the Anglo-Saxons hijacked the legend of this Cornish saint (along with her relics), they changed her name to the more manageable Juthwara.

She was one of the younger children of Lord Perphir of Penychen.  When Perphir's wife died, he remarried and moved the family to Dorset.  Is that insult to injury?  I don't know Britain well enough, but I have read that it was the site of the first Viking raid in England and the point of entry for the Black Death. 

The step-mother was every sort of bitch that's ever been a step-mom in a legend, fairytale, novel, or movie.  Juthwara, being a saint, was a paragon of patient suffering and sorrow, carrying all her woes to the altar as she knelt in prayer.  Stepmothers hate it when you do that, but I don't mean to imply that Juthwara's constant sorrow was a passive-aggressive vehicle for undermining domestic tranquility.  It just had that effect.

Good for what ails you, but warn your brother what you're doing first
When Juthwara mentioned a pain in her chest, stepmom saw her opportunity and she took it.  She recommended that Juthwara take two balls of fresh cheese and apply them directly to her breasts.  Milk, she said, makes a nice poultice for chest pains.  That even seems to make sense in a crude way, doesn't it?

Bana, Juthwara's brother -- or was he the stepbrother?  You can do a lot with hot-blooded stepbrothers if you want to twist the story -- had just returned from the court of Childebert I in Paris.  Stepmom informed him that Aude the Virgin was now just Aude.  Or the Slut of Somerset, the Harlot of Hampshire, the... well, you get the point.

Being offended for the family honor (or perhaps personally aggrieved that she had spurned his advances and then nutted every bolt in the tri-county area while he was away), Bana raced to confront her.  He found her hanging out the laundry.  He rushed up to her and pulled back her clothes to feel her undergarments.  Sure enough, they were drenched with milk.  With a few quick aspersions on her honor, he grabbed a scythe (see photo) and lopped off her head.  No doubt the blood made a mess of the laundry, but that would have been the least of it.

Two heads are better than one
A spring opened where he head fell (lucky thing for the sisters who needed to rinse out the blood stains before they set).  Calmly, her body reached down and lifted her head (Cephalophoria!).  She put it back on her neck, walked inside the house, and chastised her (step?) brother for his rash and bloody deed.  Then she dropped lifeless to the floor.  So ends the legend of Saint Juthwara, whose relics were translated (moved) to Sherbourne Abbey during the reign of Ethelred the Unready.

Bana, however, had miles to go before he slept.  He fled to his (step?) brother, Paul.  Being the bishop of Leon, Paul had to provide some sort of path to redemption rather than abuse his brother for killing his sister.  He sent him into the forest for forty days of prayer, reflection, and penance.  I'd have been hoping that the bears and wolves would find him during the forty days, but that's why Paul of Leon is a saint and I'm just a blogger.  At the end of forty days, a hungry, unwashed, but very penitent Bana came out of the forest.  Paul admitted him as a monk, and later put him in charge of the monastery at Gerber (Le Releqc). 

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