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, December 9, 2012

December 9 -- Feast of Blessed Liborius Wagner

The Ecumenical Pope and Patriarch Athenagoras
Even in the tortured English of Google Translate, the significance of Blessed Liborius to His Holiness Pope Paul VI comes through clearly:
 He who blessed Liborius, is an example, is a martyr, we will celebrate certainly not as a "targeted faith rally", namely to make his martyrdom a reason for controversy and an accusation, but for as a testimony of the example all and the invitation to reconciliation and the spirit of brotherhood.
Liborius Wagner
Well, okay.  Maybe not clearly.  But with a little background, it will make more sense.  Liborius Wagner was a German scholar who grew up in a strict Protestant family during the most bitter days of the Reformation Wars.  Naturally, his decision to study Counter-Reformation theology at the University of Würzburg was not warmly welcomed by his family, but he was firm in his faith.  Ordained at age thirty-two, he became pastor to an area that was split between Catholics and Evangelical Protestants.  Although he tried to reconcile the groups in a tolerant, mutually respectful way, divisions were deep.  The issue of Christian burial was particularly thorny.  The Catholics held the churchyard and would not bury Protestants.  It was the only consecrated ground; locking out the left-footers meant they'd be buried away from the kinfolk and beyond the pale (the literal meaning of the term).  He was sympathetic with his Evangelical neighbors, but the RC Church isn't really famous for it's local control governance model.  

Don't feel too bad for the Prods, though.  Liborius was driven from his parish to the neighboring kingdom of Mannhausen during the Thirty Years War.  The Protestant soldiers caught him hiding in a schoolhouse as they cleansed the area of Catholics.  He was tortured for five days but refused to renounce his Catholic affiliation.  So they let him go, congratulated him on his fortitude, and gave him some lovely parting gifts.  Just kidding -- they killed him, of course.  

Pope Paul VI calls us not to recriminate the left-footed murderers of Blessed Liborius, but rather to see his martyrdom as a testament to faith, conscience, and conviction.  If we are to end such injustice, we must do so by ending the cycle of accusation and antagonism.  Sure, I may make fun of their clumsy, awkward attempts at genuflection, but deep down, I love and respect my left-footed brothers and sisters. 


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