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, February 1, 2013

February 1 -- Feast of Saint Tryphon the Martyr

Birds. Tryphon had a way with them.  Of course he also had a way with people and other kinds of animals, but today's post starts and ends with birds.

Tryphon was a third century gooseherd in Lampsacus, Phyrgia.  He was known as a healer, not just of geese, but also people and other animals. 

The beheading of Tryphon
The Emperor Gordian III had a daughter named Gordiana (daughters in Rome just had feminized versions of the family name).  She was mad, as in afflicted, not angry.  When physicians examined her, the demon afflicting her laughed at them, saying that only Tryphon could drive him out.  Typical demonic arrogance (you know how they are), but he figured there were so many Tryphons in the Empire that Gordian never get around to giving the gooseherd a chance. 

Tryphon and the Gerfalcon
Gordian eventually got around to asking Tryphon the Gooseherd to drive the demon out of Gordiana.  He did, of course, and was richly rewarded.  All the rewards were of course distributed to the poor; Tryphon went back to his geese.  And spreading the Word through his unremunerated good works.

Five years and two emperors later, Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius Augustus, more commonly called Decius the Dickhead, kicked off an anti-Christian persecution.  Tryphon was gaffled up, interrogated, tortured, and finally beheaded.   

Jump forward in time about twelve or thirteen centuries.  Ivan the Terrible is Tsar of Russia, busily persecuting holy men like Saints Philip II, Macarius, and Maximus.  If he wouldn't scruple to arrest and imprison the Metropolitan of Moscow, what hope could there be for a simple falconer like Tryphon Patreekev?  Tsar Ivan learned that his favorite gerfalcon had flown the coop, as it were.  He ordered Tryphon the Falconer to bring the bird back or, as the saying goes, die trying.  For days, the falconer hunted for the bird, marching himself to exhaustion.  Finally, on the verge of giving up, he lay down in the woods and solicited help from his patron, Saint Tryphon the Martyr.  The saint appeared in a dream and told him to take the bird he was carrying back to the Tsar.  Tryphon awoke to find the bird there in a nearby tree.  Ivan might have been terrible, but not to a falconer who returned his favorite bird -- especially if he got the help of a saint to do it.  Tryphon even got a little release time to build a chapel on the spot of the miracle and dedicate it to Saint Tryphon.  
That's a sissy-looking gerfalcon

February 1 is the feast in the Julian calendar and I am not so much a calendar guy as to convert it myself.  In Bulgaria, the Saint Tryphon's Day falls on February 14 (St. Valentine's Day in these parts).  On that day, grape vines are trimmed in order to provide maximum yield.  In recognition of the event, a big bash is held with mummers walking through the vineyards to chase away the bad spirits, and good spirits are consumed by the hogshead. 

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