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.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18 -- Feast of Saint Eric IX of Sweden

St. Eric peg, available on Etsy
411:  Saint Eric the Lawgiver, king of Sweden from 1155 to 1160, promulgated the Code of Uppland.  While a general body of laws may not have been innovative in world history -- Hammurabi had written one about twenty-nine centuries earlier -- it was an important step for Swedes on the long road from barbarism to civilization.  That might seem unduly harsh, but remember that Alfred Nobel put his peace prize in the hands of Norwegians instead of Swedes because they had a less militaristic tradition.  When kings like Eric Blood-axe and Harald Hard-rule constitute a less militaristic tradition, barbarism is not an inappropriate word. 

Have a #9 for St. Eric
So thanks, Saint Eric, for instituting a law code, for banning sacrifices to idols, and persuading Bishop Henry to keep plugging away at the conversion of those pagan Finns.  It's too bad that Prince Magnus of Denmark and his army caught up with you near Uppsala and beheaded you, but perhaps that death is part of the reason the Swedes see you as a martyred saint.  You may not be canonized in Rome (or by the Lutheran congregations) but you're a saint in Sweden and here at hagiomajor.  If you weren't a real saint, a fountain would not have sprung up at the exact time and place where your severed head fell to the ground. 

Here's a fun fact about Saint Eric IX.  There's no particular evidence that he was in fact IX.  A Swedish king in the sixteenth century declared himself Eric XIV and then historians numbered the Erics they knew about accordingly.  Nobody knows how many kings named Eric there really were, but Number Nine is nice, isn't it? 

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