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, March 27, 2013

March 27 -- Feast of Saint Rupert of Salzburg

Salt.  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the disciples:
You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 
He never really took it easy on anybody, even when he praised them, but that's not my point here.  I'm talking about salt. 

Salt was a good thing in Jesus' metaphor, a valuable additive.  The word salary affirms this view of salt, coming from a time when the Romans paid the wages of soldiers in salt. 

Today, we have cause to take a dimmer view of salt.  True, we love it, but it doesn't love us back.  A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that 2.3 million  deaths worldwide were attributable to over-consumption of salt.  While the Ukraine leads the world in salt-related deaths, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute 400,000 deaths per year to high blood pressure; salt is implicated in the blood pressure problem.  Average daily sodium intake is 3,436 mg in the USA.  The tolerable upper intake level is 2,300 mg.  The recommended intake level is 1,500 mg.  The minimum sodium requirement is between 180 mg and 500 mg daily. 

Austrian stamp of Rupert
If you didn't figure it out from the heading, Salzburg is related to salt.  It translates to Salt Mountain.  [If you know German well, feel free to post the distinctions between burg and berg in the comments section.] 

Rupert was a late-seventh century bishop of Worms (Germany).  Things must have been running smoothly in his diocese because he went south in 697 to evangelize and as far as I can tell, never bothered to go back home.  He baptized Duke Theodo of Bavaria, who then gave him the ruined town of Iuvavum to rebuild as a Christian center.  Rupert set up a Benedictine monastery.  As folks moved in, salt mines were reopened to provide an economic foundation.  The area got renamed Salzburg -- Salt Mountain -- and eventually developed into a brilliant center of European civilization. 

It is a tidy thing that Rupert could use salt to be the salt of the earth, not losing his flavor as he spread the Word.  Let's all be a little more salty in the sense of the Beatitudes, though perhaps a little less sodium-rich. 

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