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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9 -- Feast of Saint Benen

 I know that I wrote about Benen (Benignus) last year, but I think it might be worth adding some stuff about him. 
Public school teachers often say that they don't have favorite students.  They sometimes claim that they like all their students equally.  Religious leaders seem to be more honest.  John was Jesus' favorite disciple; Benen was Saint Patrick's favorite disciple. 

Benen admired Patrick as a child.  He had heard the story of Patrick's martyred charioteer and  desired to perform some great gesture for the bishop as well.  As a kid, he didn't have much opportunity, but when he saw insects pestering Patrick while he slept, he picked some fragrant herbs to scatter on the saint to keep the bugs away.  Someone -- perhaps Sesenen, his father -- scolded the boy, but Patrick woke up and defended him.  "Don't send him away. He's a good boy. It may be that he will yet do wonderful things for the Church."

The kid was unfailingly loyal at that point.  When Patrick took off for Tara, Benen curled up in a ball on the floor of the chariot, wrapped around the Bishop's legs, and refused to let go.  Patrick agreed to take the kid with him; his parents thought that might be unwise, but in the end Benen got his way.  He hung with Patrick all his days, serving as coadjutor of the Diocese of Armagh from 450 to 467, which is the year he died. 

There are a couple of good  miracles associated with Benen.  In the first, Patrick is trying to get himself and eight disciples past the sentries, pickets, and patrols to confront the high king Laoghaire about his wickedness.  The king, well aware that his wickedness won't stand in the face of Patrick's holiness, has given specific orders to intercept the Bishop.  But when the sentries see the nine men and the boy walking through the woods, they see a herd of deer, with Benen appearing as a spotted fawn.  Luckily, no one was hungry for venison, or perhaps there were also orders to leave the deer for the King, so they got right up to the castle where Laoghaire could not dodge them. 

In the second miracle, Laoghaire proposes a challenge of divine power.  He'll pick a druid and Patrick can pick a disciple.  The two will be tied inside a wooden lodge which will then be burned down.  Best god wins the country.  Benen for the Lord, without a singe; druid scorched to ashes!  The Lord wins the Irish Cup (and harps and minds of the people)!

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