Five saints with laughably ridiculous names

If the Church is a hospital for sinners, then these saints are the foreign night-shift nurses whose name you can’t pronounce. They’re dedicated, they love you, and you can’t help but giggle every time you hear their name come over the PA system.

 

 

Paging St. Abakerazum!

Paging St. Abakerazum!

Much like my analogy, our spiritual lives would fall apart if these saints weren’t there to inspire us. Because despite the overwhelming urge to laugh every time we pray for their intercession, we have to admit that they love us more than we could ever imagine.

All you holy men and women, weirdly-named angels and saints of God, pray for us!

1.St. Hilarius

You just know he brings the party.

Because when I arrive I, I’ll bringeth the fire

St. Hilarius ironically appears to be one of the holiest buzzkills in Church history. He was a pope, so he wrote encyclicals — but they were about discipline. He convoked a synod — to discuss hierarchical titles and property sales. He fought some heresies, which is cool, but the heresies weren’t even interesting. All told, I honestly would have had more fun  listening to a pair of Dockers tell me about their food allergies than I did reading his biography. He was basically the Ordinary Time of people.

And yet…his name is Hilarius. The most coma-inducing saint in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints” is a homonym for something that causes unadulterated joy.

That, my friends, is truly hilarious.

2. Polycarp

Saint Polycarp with Pokemon

Pro tip: This makes an amazing lockscreen.

In addition to coming devastatingly close to being named after a Pokemon, St. Polycarp was the bishop Symrna and an apostle of St. John the Evangelist. (Maybe I should have led with that?) Anyway, he was connected to just about every important person in the early Church. He even kissed St. Ignatius of Antioch‘s chains as the latter was led to his martyrdom. He was known throughout the ancient world for his love of Christ, hatred of heresy, and gentleness towards sinners.

His most endearing trait, though, was his sass. According to “The Golden Legend”, he once met a notorious heretic in the street and tried to brush by him. “Do you not know me?” asked the heretic. “Yes,” said St. Polycarp. “I know you as the first-born of Satan.” SASS.

The Smyrnian state officials began to persecute everyone who refused to worship the state gods. St. Polycarp refused (SASS), and was condemned to be burned to death. His persecutors wanted to nail him to the stake, but he told them not to bother. (SASS). So they set him on fire.

Then something miraculous happened. St. Polycarp didn’t burn (SASS).  Instead, he began to glow like “bread baking,” “metal refined,” or “a Charmander evolving.” Realizing he was sassing them yet again by refusing to die, the soldiers stabbed him in the heart. That did the trick. However, the fountain of blood that poured out of him was strong enough to put out the fire. In other words, he sassed them in death.

Let this be a lesson to any pagan Roman procounsels reading this: Catholics always have the last sass.

3. St. James the Dismembered

holygrail017

Closest thing to an icon I could find.

St. James was a noble Persian from a Christian family. He was good friends with the prince of Persia (insert video game joke here), and soon fell into his buddy’s pagan ways. When he eventually reverted, the penances he gave himself were so harsh that the prince realized he must be a Christian (remember, this was back in the time of hair shirts and stylites). He charged St. James with being a “Nazarene” and sorcerer, and sentenced him to be cut to pieces until he died (like you do).

The Golden Legend” then commences to give us a literal blow by blow account of St. James’ dismemberment. He cried out a prayer after every digit was amputated, and the resulting prose is truly a Catholic cultural treasure.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Go, third toe, to your fellow toes, and as the grain of wheat bears much fruit, so you at the last day will rest with your companions.”

“Little toe, be comforted, because the big and the little will arise again, and not a hair of the head will perish!”

“Fingers, Lord, I have none to hold out to you, nor hands to extend to you; my feet are cut off and my knees demolished, so that I cannot kneel to you.”

He said that last one while looking at a pile of 27 of his own body parts. I have broken the Second Commandment over a paper cut. Let’s all learn from his story, shall we?

Finally, after eight hours of this slasher film-worthy torture, his executioners cut off his head. He is the patron saint of lost vocations, which feels vaguely threatening if you think about it too much.

4. Saint Olav the Fat

Jabba the Hutt

Artist rendering

I really assumed his story couldn’t be better than his name, but I was wrong. Let’s start with the fact he was a Viking (seriously). Then let’s move on to his pedigree as a descendent of King Harald Fairhair, meaning he was a pale, flaxen, princely mound of flesh who also wore horns on his head. He was like a ye olde Norwegian prince version of Jim Gaffigan.

St. the Fat was basically always fighting someone in a misguided attempted to serve the Church. He later brought missionaries to Norway to evangelize his people, but got impatient and tried to force them to love Jesus. The people apparently would have preferred a more pastoral approach, as they revolted and forced him to flee to Russia. Some people might have taken this opportunity to re-evaluate their lives and make some changes. St. the Fat gathered troops and stormed Norway. Many parts, one body.

His plan failed when he was killed in battle. The Norwegians gathered around the massive crater that presumably formed when his seemingly infinite girth hit the earth. “Perhaps we misjudged him,” they mused. “Perhaps his multitude of varicose veins were only evidence of his enormous heart.”* So they made him a champion of national independence and a martyr. His battle axe is still in the Norwegian coat of arms.

Coat_of_arms_of_Norway_Edited

You’re welcome, people of Norway.

If that doesn’t make you proud of your Catholic heritage, I honestly don’t know what will.

*Quotes may be bald-faced lies. Except for the St. James dismemberment ones—I cannot stress enough that those are actually real.

 

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash