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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19 -- Feast of Saint John the Syrian

Some hunters are sharper than others
Hunters are a subset of the general population, and while they may share certain characteristics and inclinations, they are no more homogenous than any other group.  Some are cautious while others are reckless.  Some are methodical while others rely on fortune.  Some are scrupulous while others lack all regard for laws and principles.  Some are very intelligent while others are dimwits.

Like this, except in winter (and no stop sign)
The hunters who found John the Syrian were plainly in the last category.  John had left Syria during the Monophysite persecution, moving to Italy where it was safe to think that Jesus' nature was a blend of divinity and humanity.  An angel assured him of the success of his mission; he would begin a great congregation in the place where he rested.  Since it was December, the tree under which he stretched out to sleep was bare.  As he slept, the frozen ground around him softened and the tree burst into full bloom.

Twee?  What twee? 
A group of hunters came upon him and figured he was a spy.  Really?  It's the dead of winter and you find a guy under a tree in full bloom, like it is April or May, and the first thing you think of is espionage?  You don't think thaumaturge?  Sorcerer?  Angel?  Super-gardener, maybe?  The hunters questioned him about his clothes, his speech, his business in the area.  He told them about coming from Syria and wanting to build a church.  Then someone noticed the tree.  They put their heads together and quickly determined that someone should go get the Bishop to question this guy.

Bishop John of Spoleto showed up, embraced the saint, and welcomed him to Italy.  Convinced of the Syrian's holy mission, people flocked to the area to build a little church (monasterium).  John the Syrian preached in the spot for forty-four years.  He's credited with founding the abbeys of Pinna and Pesaro.  After his death, pilgrims flocked to the spot to find relief from leprosy, blindness, demonic possession, and any other ailment that the local barber couldn't bleed out of folks.

The hunters were not wrong.  They didn't shoot first and then ask questions.  They were patriotic, and while it may count as profiling, it is not unreasonable to make a connection between foreigners and spies.  The flowering tree might have tipped them off a little sooner, but they did the right thing in the end. 

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