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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16 -- Feast of Blessed Gonzalo de Amarante

Dude, is that a halo?
From the start, little Gonzalo was peculiarly holy.  At his baptism, he fixed his eyes on the crucifix and a beatific smile spread over his face.  He didn't stop staring at it through the whole ceremony.  He was slow to embrace his calling, but eventually turned over the (considerable) family enterprises to his nephews and entered a seminary.  Upon ordination, he took off for the Holy Land, wandering as a mendicant pilgrim for years.  When he returned, ragged and road weary, his nephew turned the dogs loose on him to drive him away. 

It was just as well.  He received a calling to join the Dominicans.  Once he was decked out in the white-and-black, he received special permission to live as a hermit.  That seems pretty exceptional to me -- I don't think of the Dominicans as a special permission organization

He built a bridge over the Tamega River in Portugal.  Hermits were good for bridges and ferries and such.  He did most of the work himself, but there are a couple of good reasons for team-work in bridge-building.  First, it would be a dangerous thing to build it poorly.  Second, as a metaphor, a bridge connects; building one in isolation seems to defeat the purpose.  At one point, the workers ran out of wine.  Gonzalo hit a rock with his staff and wine gushed forth.  On another occasion, they ran out of food so Gonzalo called for the fish to jump from the river onto the bank to feed the workers.  The first readily complied.  In the several rounds of contract negotiations in which I have participated, I have never included wine and fish as a compensation or working condition.  Patron saint of bosses? 

Saint and his bridge
Dominicans were noted for their ability to preach.  Sermons are their specialty.  Yet even among them, Gonzalo must have stood out.  Once, during his homily, he wanted to illustrate the horror of being cut off from salvation.  He excommunicated a basket of bread.  Immediately, the bread began to rot in the basket.  Not even a stale dry rot, but it turned all black and putrid.  A few minutes later, he lifted the excommunication and the bread was restored to wholesome fresh yumminess.  Can't beat theatrics like that for putting the fear of God into the congregation. 

Although he died on January 10, 1259 around age 71, his feast is celebrated today.  Want to celebrate it in style?  Do something nice for your boss, your employee, or both.  At least give him a thought when you're crossing the bridge to work in the morning.  And don't set the dogs on anyone -- he might just be your long-lost uncle.

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