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.

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5 -- Feast of Saint Gerald of Sauve-Majeure

I was originally going to use Saint Gerald's feast as another reminiscence about Brian Jacques' Redwall books.  Gerald was a cellarer for the Corbie Abbey in Picardy, France.  This got me musing about the Redwall cellarkeepers. [Jacques must not have liked the sound of cellarer, nor the reversed vowels in cellerarius, as the monks themselves wrote it.]  I had to do a little digging to recall that the job traditionally went to hedgehogs like Brownspike O'Quill and Gurgan Spearback.

That's enough, Major!  Get back to Gerald.

It turns out that Gerald is as much fun as a Redwall character, being up against the wall his whole life but concluding in triumph.  He could be (and I mean this in a good way) the patron of feckless schlemazels who come on strong at the end of the race.

"For rambling or roving, for football or courting..."
Cellerarius must have been a good job for him, as he was prone to incapacitating headaches.  Naturally a cool, dark, quiet place would have been good for a man prone to migraines.  Nevertheless, those headaches prevented him from fulfilling the requirement of hymns and prayers several times a day, and that meant that he was Not A Very Good Monk.  Being a good, modern eleventh century man, he tried the latest medical treatments -- probably leeches and lancings and maybe some herbal purgatives.   But as Johnny Tom Gleeson sang in "Bold Thady Quill," medical treatment had failed o'er and o'er.

Tough dude, but no match for Exedrin
A legal action involving the monastery provided the occasion for Gerald to join his abbot on a mission to Rome.  Once there, he visited the Tombs of the Apostles to solicit support for an end to his headaches.  No dice, so they moved on to find that the Pope was away in southern Italy.  As they headed south to find His Holiness, they were robbed of the traveling money they had taken from the abbey.  Nonetheless, they gamely traveled on to the monastery at Montecassino in hopes that an appeal to Saint Benedict might help to end the headaches.  Alas, that great soul was no more helpful than the Apostles. Next stop: Mount Gargano, where Michael the Archangel appeared and requested that a cave be dedicated to him.  Still no relief from the pain. 

They finally caught up with Pope Leo IX, then returned to the abbey, only to find it damaged by a fire.  Gerald was in charge of the reconstruction, so as he rededicated a chapel to Saint Adelard, he again asked for some relief.  Although Adelard had no particular connection to headaches, he was from Corbie.  That time, the headaches stopped. 

Feeling so much better, he took off for the Holy Land.  Once the pilgrimage had been made, he was elected abbot of St. Vincent's Abbey in Laon, but the brothers were not accustomed to as much discipline as he brought.  The fit was poor -- he was soon out the door.  William VIII of Aquitaine gave him land for a new abbey, Benedictine with a soupcon of Cluniac.  He began it in 1079 and lasted until 1095 when he was laid to rest. 

The ruins of the Abbey of Sauve-Majeure
Someone's going to have to help me with the translation of Sauve-Majeure.  It has been more than two decades since I studied French and Madame Sices would confirm that I wasn't such un etudiant chaud back then.  I tried the Google Translate, which suggested save for sauve and major for majeure.  Okay, so is that "Save Major?" (something to be prayed for), "Major saves" (hardly likely in any context), or perhaps "Most saved?"  If the latter, is the expression quantitative (largest number saved) or qualitative (preferential seating in heaven)?  If you parles francais, or even franglais (credit to Punch Magazine, also from decades ago), please post your thoughts in the comment box. 

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