Tuesday, July 29


Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, from a painting by Velazquez

Happy St. Martha's Day!

Well, today, we've got an interesting assortment of hagiographic notes. Most importantly, for those of us who are busybodies such as myself, it's St. Martha of Bethany's feast day, well known for being the more energetic half of Martha and Mary. Of course, Mary chose the better half, but sometimes it's good to be Martha as well, and there's a little bit of both in all of us. Martha was busy for a long time after she had her famous encounter with Christ, so busy legend has it she ended up in the South of France where she worked quite a few miracles and subdued a dragon or two. We also celebrate St. Peter Chrysologus, the golden-worded bishop of Ravenna, who was named a Doctor of the Church ("the Doctor of Homilies") for his "simple, practical and clear" sermons. Pastors! Pray to this guy! Today is also the feast day of St. Lupus of Troyes, who in art is depicted with a diamond falling from heaven as he celebrates Mass, as well as St. Olaf (alias Olaf the Fat or Olaf the Thick: this guy must have been called some awful names in fourth grade). St. Olaf, as King of Norway, converted his subjects to the Faith, and while unpopular in his time, many miracles were attributed to him after his death in battle at Sticklestad in 1031 (for which reason he is sometimes, perhaps inaccurately, called a martyr). His body was also found to be incorrupt, and was enshrined in 1075 at Trondheim until the Lutherans removed it and allegedly reburied it in the sixteenth century. Today, in addition to these four, is the feast of one of my favorite Popes, Blessed Urban II, who, with Blessed Peter the Hermit, roused the First Crusade with the cry of "Deus lo vult!" at the field of Clermont in 1095.

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