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 15, 2013

February 15 -- Feast of Saint Berach of Termonbarry

Boy-monks: universal, not creepy
Berach was a sixth century Irish monk.  He was the son of Nemnald, of the Cinel Dobtha, or O'Hanley of Doohey Hanley clan.   At too young an age, he followed a beckoning angel away from his father's home.  Fortunately, his guide really was an angel, not a slave-raider or creep.  He led young Berach to a monk named Cœmgen who lived in the woods with a friendly white doe.  Weird, but not creepy.  Cœmgen had a fraternity of young boys to whom he taught prayers, Bible verses, and the ways of righteousness.  Weirder, but still not creepy.  Honest.  It works out okay. 

Cœmgen's little community grew into a good sized monastery.  Although Berach eventually left and founded a monastery of his own, he effected a couple of miracles while he lived there.  The first involved Bel, his favorite cow, and her little red calf.  He looked out the window of his cell in the tower (monk's have cells, not cubicula or bedrooms) and spotted a wolf prowling near the herd.  Fearful for the calf, he raced down the stairs (or more likely, the ladder) and out through the gate.  Much to his distress, by the time he arrived in the field, the wolf had gorged itself on veal (more or less) and Bel was lowing in grief. 
Cow-wolves?  Only in Termonbarry

At first he was moved by pity for the cow and anger at the wolf.  Yet he contemplated the evident nature of beasts, the circle of life, and all that.  He was determined to make things better for Bel, but he could hardly fault the wolf, so he called the two animals together.  Taking literally the Biblical verse that humans get dominion over the animals, Berach instructed the animals to adopt each other, mother and son.  The wolf remained at the monastery like a faithful guard dog and the cow looked after it maternally. 

I don't see apples and sorrel
The following winter, a local lord's son fell deathly ill.  He asked for a juicy salad of apples and sorrel leaves.  Since the snow was deeply piled all around, there was precious little chance of fresh produce, but the word was passed along, just in case.  Berach prayed and then walked down to the river with Cœmgen's staff.  He tapped the willow tree, which shook off the snow, sprouted fresh shoots and buds, and then grew apples.  Berach tapped the snow with the staff.  The snow clear and the ground cover, including tender green leaves of sorrel, grew before him.  He gathered up enough to satisfy the young lordling and raced back to the monastery.  The kid feasted and recovered. 

Monk in the snow -- also universal
Many winters later, Berach was the abbot of his own monastery, but a fat greedy lord was trying to jack his land.  Even a nuisance suit will get a hearing if the plaintiff has enough juice.  The local King invited them both to his manor to plead their cases.  The lord arrived first in a big fur coat and a fine chariot.  Naturally, he was welcomed with all the pomp required by protocol.  Abbot Berach came tramping through the snow in a tattered gray robe and well-worn sandals, nearly frozen when he arrived.  The porter mistook him for a beggar and refused to let him in, but some local lads took it upon themselves to harass him and throw snowballs at him.  He wasn't really in the mood for their nonsense and froze them where they stood. Then he raised a mighty fire near the gate and warmed himself near it.  The porter ran to tell the King and the whole manor came racing out to see the sight.  Berach was welcomed as a holy man, a station somewhat higher than a king's vassal, of course the suit went in his favor.  The lord was packed off with a stern warning to never again pester the local clergy, but the King sent Berach back in a warm coat and his own fine chariot.  Oh, and the boys were eventually released from their paralysis, warned by Berach to be a little more welcoming to strangers. 

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