Sunday, December 13, 2009
Of all the kooky bizarre things the Catholic Church has to offer, the veneration of Saints has to be my favorite. Just like a pantheon of pagan gods, saints are assigned patronage to specific things and praying for their intervention in their area of expertise or causes of which they are the patron is a time honored tradition, in spite of common sense.
We are all familiar with Saint Patrick the patron saint of Ireland, snakes and toothaches, and of course Saint Valentine, the patron saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. I know. Bee keepers, right?
Saint Nick? Patron of bankers and pawnbrokers, I shit you not.
National saints? Sure thing. England has Saint George, Scotland has Saint Andrew , Wales has Saint David. Austria gets five with Joseph, Maurice, Coloman, Leopold, and Florian. Italy tops out at six, with Bernardine of Siena, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of Loreto, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Our Lady of the Snows.
What about the U.S of A? The Blessed Virgin Mary herself is our patron, while Papua New Guinea gets St. Michael the Archangel, who also happens to be the patron Saint of Paratroopers, which is pretty badass.
The whole thing is fascinating if nothing else and you can get your saint fix anytime at CATHOLIC ONLINE .
Why all this sudden fussing about saints, you may ask? Well, after our team of four were declared "World's Greatest Santa" at the LA Santa-con yesterday for trouncing everyone in the Scavenger hunt, i figured i should refresh my knowledge of the actual Saint Nick, and see if I was wrong when I claimed he was the patron saint of beards and facial hair. Not only was I wrong, since there is no patron saint of facial hair, but i was giving the title to someone far less deserving. Saint Nick's beard holds nothing to what I stumbled on.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give ye Saint Wilgefortis.
Betrothed to a heathen king by her father, so the story goes, Wilgefortis who's name is a derivation on the latin "Virgo Fortis"or "Strong Virgin", prayed to god that she would become hideous and therefore be spared the unhappy marriage. Sad, right? So the next day, she wakes up to find that she's grown a full beard!
God is hilarious.
The pagan king is grossed out, and the marriage is cancelled. Hooray!
But Wilgefortis' dad is so pissed off that she and her god did this, that he has her crucified. Boo!
Talk about your joke backfiring, huh? You'd think God in his omnipotence could have seen that coming, right? Whatever.
The cult of Saint Wilgefortis was all sorts of popular in the middle ages, so much so that the monks at the abbey where her wooden statue was, had it plated in silver to prevent erosion from all the pilgrims kissing her feet. It is said that when a poor minstrel played at the statue, one of the silver slippers came off as a reward from the saint. Which is a nice way of saying "It was stolen". However, that explains why she has only one shoe in the statue above, but it does not explain her enormous Sasquatch feet in the same sculpture.
Needless to say,that Wilgefortis with her sad story of a heavenly practical joke gone horribly awry, should absolutely without a doubt be new patron saint of mustaches and beards in general, as well as the patron saint of bearded ladies, which she already is. I encourage the Vatican's commission on gobbledygook and totes ridiculousness to look into the matter as soon as possible.
Now enjoy this lovely music video i found of a song by Rebecca Clamp about Wilgefortis.