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.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 23 -- Feast of Saints Polycarp and John Theristes

Saint Polycarp was a distinguished church father and prolific writer whose martyrdom included a rare spot of good humor.  I wrote about it in connection with Saint Germanicus; you can read about it here

Saint John Theristes
Saint John Theristes was an eleventh century monk living near Stilo, Calabria (Italy).  It is nice that Stilo has a patron saint of its own, with its own festival and everything.  I don't mean that to be as patronizing as it might sound. In North America, we have very few saints and so we jack other people's patrons and call them our own.  We would do well to venerate our locals and celebrate feasts for them.  I noticed that the 2013 bracket of Lent Madness includes Francis Perkins.  Has she actually been canonized by the Episcopalian Church or are Father Tim and Father Scott as canonically flexible as I?  [If you don't know about Lent Madness and didn't click on the link above, let me say briefly that the college basketball tournament model is applied to saints -- head to head match-ups, single elimination, to a final championship.] 

International Theristes
Back to Saint John Theristes.  He was still in utero when Muslim (Saracen) raiders invaded Stilo. They killed his dad and carried his mom off to the slave markets of Sicily.  She gave birth to him, but secretly raised him to be a Christian.  She urged him to escape from Sicily when he was fourteen;he eventually made his way back to Stilo, where he hunkered down in a cave for the eremitic life.  Like so many other saints, his deeds are collectively described as "many miracles" without much detail.  The one story that seems to have been preserved is the source of his surname Theristes, which means The Harvester.  [Weak joke: if he had pulled this off anywhere except Italy, he'd have been an International Harvester.]  It seems that a storm was coming up with threatened the grain crop.  The harvest was ready, but there might not have been time before wind, rain, and lightning ruined the whole season.  John prayed and an angel descended and brought in the sheaves just before the drops started falling. 

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