Thursday, July 24
Happy St. Boris's Day! And St. Gleb, and St. Christina, and the other St. Christina...
O Passion-bearers and fulfillers of the Gospel of Christ, chaste Boris and guileless Gleb: you did not oppose the attacks of the enemy, your brother, when he killed your bodies but could not touch your souls. Let him therefore mourn while you rejoice with the Angels standing before the Holy Trinity. Pray that those who honor your memory may find grace with God and that all orthodox people may be saved.
--Troparion, Tone II, Byzantine Rite
Well, today is a big day when it comes to saints. Today is the feast of St. Boris and St. Gleb, the two martyred sons of St. Vladimir of Kiev, who happens to be an ancestor of mine. (Long geneological story, that, since there isn't any Russian in my recent family tree, but I've found if you go back far enough you can prove descent from virtually anyone. For example, most people of western European extraction, including me as well, seem to be descended from Bl. Charlemage, though he had all those wives to help: not all at the same time, of course. But I digress.) They are better known in the West by their baptismal names of St. Romanus and St. David. Their feast day in the East is 2 or 15 May depending on whether you're with the old calendar or the new. They were killed by their evil uncle Svaytopolk who was jealous of their inheritance and wished to seize power. Sometimes they are not strictly-speaking considered martyrs but instead Passion-Bearers, a uniquely Russian idea which is rather like our understanding of St. Maximilian as the martyr of charity. A passion-bearer was a member of the faithful who bore his violent death with holiness and dignity. Today is also the feast of about a dozen St. Christinas. Well, three of them. There's the martyrs St. Christina of Tyre and St. Christina of Bolsena. (They may have been the same person due to the hand-written nature of early hagiographic records, which sometimes split saints, glob them together or even effect the occasional typographical sex-change. But anyway.) And there's my all-time fave, St. (or Bl.) Christina the Astonishing, who graces the upper corner of our website today. St. Christina was pretty darn astonishing, with her habit of levitating and her highly sensitive nose, which, it is said, could smell sin on people. She didn't care much for garlic, either. On this day, also, in 1936, at Guadalajara in Spain, Bl. Maria Angeles of St. Joseph, OCD, was shot in the street by Communist thugs. She is considered one of the three protomartyrs of the Spanish Civil War.