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.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 3 -- Feast of Saint Arthelais

If you hired bodyguards to escort your daughter from Constantinople to Benevento, you might expect a little more from them than a consul named Lucius got. On the other hand, they knew when, how,  and from whom to solicit help, so I suppose they're fine.  Perhaps I am too steeped in the roles of Clint Eastwood (In the Line of Fire), Denzel Washington (Man on Fire), and of course Kevin Costner (The Bodyguard). 

Arthella (Arthelais) was the daughter of a consul in Constantinople.  Consul was the top civilian job in the imperial court -- basically, Emperor Justinian's prime minister.  Justinian is said to have taken a shine to Lucius' daughter.  Justinian is considered a saint by the Orthodox and Lutheran Churches, so I am paint him as a sexual predator here.  Moreover, he seems to have been devoted to his wife Theodora, a one-time courtesan who had to stare down all the imperial aristocracy when she became Empress.  Of course, she died twenty years before her husband, so it is possible that his interest in young Arthelais was honorable if not reciprocated not generationally symmetrical.  

Lucius apparently loved his daughter more than his job, or perhaps he knew his limitations well.  He packed up Arthelais' stuff, hired a few bodyguards, and sent them all to Benevento, Italy where Narses Patricius was the local governor.  En route, brigands attacked the party and kidnapped her.  Her bodyguards escaped... Now take a minute and picture that.  How do the bodyguards get away?  Was there a fight?  Was the ambush so successful that resistance was never offered? What kind of guards all survive an ambush but allow the client to be kidnapped? 

Anyway, the guards fled into the Church of Saint Eulalia, where they immediately began praying for intercession.  Poor folks eventually showed up, so the guards offered alms.  One of the paupers said, "Inasmuch as you gave to the least of these my Brethren, ye gave unto Me."  Then he disappeared.  The guards probably didn't need to look up Matthew 25:40 to know that Jesus had just taken a handout from them. 

The relics of Athelais
The kidnappers had figured they could get a kingly price for a sixteen year old virgin with clean teeth and smooth skin.  Once she was tied up quietly the backroom of an inconspicuous little house, they went out to explore the market for nubiles.  Except that they too were ambushed, this time by an angel of the Lord, and he took no prisoners and left no man standing.  He then proceeded into the house, where he took out the remaining brigands, and he untied young Arthelais.  She reconnected with her guards and they proceeded to Apulia so she could make an offering at the Church of Michael the Archangel. 

Narses was tipped off in a dream that she was nearby.  He walked out to meet her, and together they went to the Church of Saint Mary in Benevento for yet another offering.  Finally safe, she took a fever and died.  The whole town wept and mourned for her, proclaiming her a local saint.  Her patronage is said to include kidnap victims, exiles, and folks suffering chills, fevers, and disease. 

Her relics are still entombed in Benevento Cathedral. 

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