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.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20 -- Feast of the Blessed Irish Martyrs

In the front window of the flagship LL Bean store in Freeport, Maine, two moose are posed, antlers locked in eternal combat.  The back story is that someone found the carcasses of those moose, locked like that and dead from exhaustion.  It is a great mercy that England And Ireland are not just as dead from their centuries of conflict.  Give the Eglish credit:  they did not pack up and go home when the going got tough.  Give the Irish credit:  they made the going exceedingly tough.

The collective feasts like this always make me a little uncomfortable.  Those who give their lives for the Faith deserve more than the quick nod that a general feast like this affords.  This day covers a long list of martyrs who died between 1537 and 1714.  Why 1714?  A quick dip into history did not tell me much.  HRH George I came to the throne that year, but I didn't see any relief for Eire in that.  It wants more research, or perhaps the comments offered by a knowledgeable reader.

I had thought perhaps to consider one of the most remarkable martyrs this year, and another one next, and so on.  In looking at the list on, I was intimidated by the sheer number of them.  The Franciscans alone would take me a lifetime of June 20ths.  Give the British credit: they were not squeamish about brutality.  Give the Irish their credit: they were not crushed by that brutality.

It's a good day to wear a shamrock, which is after all a natural cross as well as a teaching tool.  Americans have a bad habit of putting a fourth leaf on it for extra luck, but I will take the alloyed luck of the Irish, with all their saints and martyrs, and leave the fourth leaf for those whose ambitions soar higher.

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