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, June 29, 2013

June 29 -- Feast of Saint Syrus of Genoa

Before I come to Syrus, I must acknowledge that today is also the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  Without them, there is no Christianity.  That may be a radical statement, but before you dismiss it out of hand, at least consider the thoughts I posted a couple years ago.

As the legends of bishops and other saints grew, a curious thing developed.  Sometimes the miracle stories, offered as evidence of the power of faith, took on a life of their own.  The Holy Spirit, once seen as working through saints to perform miracles, is forgotten.  The implication (at least initially) is that the saint is so holy that he somehow works miracles himself.  In the most devolved of these, the saints are so gifted that as children they are miracle workers, not for the glory of God nor the benefit of others, but simply to satisfy their childish desires.

Saint Syrus, bishop of Genoa in the fourth century, is a good example.  As the priest of Imiliana (near Genoa) he exorcised a demon from the daughter of a local official.  That's good, holy work.  Later, when moving to Genoa to become its bishop, he drove off a basilisk that was preying on the Genoans.  Again, that's good work for a bishop, but a little mention of the Spiritus Sanctus would have been nice.  After his death in 381, someone recalled a couple of incidents that attested to his innate thaumatury.  When his pet blackbird died, he revived it with a little of his own saliva.  Not holy water, mind you, nor even water from a well, but his own saliva.  Whose will be done?  Not long after that, he was walking with his dad when he saw a ship making for the port.  He expressed a desire to look at it for a while and suddenly the wind died and it sat, dead in the water.  When he had his father's assent that he could go on board to see it more closely, the wind picked back up and it sailed straight into the port.

Don't get me wrong -- these are fun stories.  Little kids with superpowers fascinate us -- think about Danny Torrence in The Shining as one example.  But they are not stories that point us toward faith and righteousness.  If we enjoy them (and I do)m then we must be mindful of the distinction.

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