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, April 14, 2013

April 14 -- Feast of Saint John of Montemarano

fanciful depiction of an 11th C. winegrower-bishop
Montemarano, Italy may be a sleepy little vineyard town now, but from 1059 to 1818 it was the seat of a diocese.  The town's first bishop is appropriately its patron saint, celebrated on August 21, but since he's also celebrated on April 14, I'm going with him now.   Mark 6:4 comes to mind: Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home."  Since John was a thaumaturge and a bishop but not a prophet, he is appropriately honored in his home town.  

His career begins with Pope Gregory VII, a terrific pontiff whose omission from the Canon will be corrected here next month.  [Okay, for anyone new to this site, that means Pope Gregory is not an official saint.  However, I take a broader view of sainthood than the folks in Rome, so after May 25, he will be Pope Saint Gregory VII, according to me. Please let me know when the Vatican catches up so I can remove this distinction.]  

 The Pope had been exiled by Emperor Henry IV; during that exile, he agreed with the good folks of Montemarano that they should have their own bishop.  John got the nod. He proved to be a good choice based on two important miracles. 

friggin' gypsy moth caterpillars
First, there was a church that had become entirely unusable due to an infestation of worms.   If you've ever been in or around a gypsy moth or brown moth infestation, you might have some sense of this.  At least, that's how I imagine the worms.  They might have been some sort of wood-boring creature that made the building unstable.  The point is, folks in this neighborhood had a problem with their church.  John's type of sleuthing wouldn't make much of an episode on CSI or NCIS -- he led the congregation in prayer.  As they prayed, it was revealed (very unsatisfying to a TV audience) that the local priest had been arranging sexual trysts in the sanctuary.  Once penance was performed, the church could be purged and services resumed. 

wine from Aminea / Montemarano
His second miracle involved, appropriately enough, wine.  Some workers were clearing land so that more vineyards could be planted.  One source suggests that John was the inspiration for this land-clearing project and he was involved in the labor as well.  The work was hard and they demanded more wine before they continued.  This created a chicken and egg problem.  There wasn't enough wine so they needed more vineyards.  They couldn't expand the vineyards until they gave the workers more wine.  Hmmmm.

Bishop Saint John stepped up, drew a quantity of water from the nearby river, and blessed it.  The Lord, recalling the second chapter of the Gospel of John, changed the water into wine. 

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