Today, 11 April, is the feast of ...
Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (461) - Butler writes: "The
sagacity of Leo I, his successful defence of the Catholic faith against
heresy, as well as his political intervention with Attila the Hun and
Genseric the Vandal, raised the prestige of the Holy See to
unprecedented heights and earned for him the title of "the Great", a
distinction accorded by posterity to only two other popes." (Dear
list-members can you name those two other popes?)
Barsanuphius, Anchorite (550): He lived in a cell adjoining the
monastery at Gaza. He communicated only by writing and was believed
neither to eat nor to drink. The Patriarch of Jerusalem doubted that
anyone could lead such a holy life and had the wall of Barsanuphius'
cell destroyed, whereupon flames burst out and consumed the unfortunate
Isaac of Spoleto, Monk (550): Often repeated the following words to his
followers: "A monk who wants earthly possessions is not a monk at all."
Godeberta, Virgin (700): In the diocese of Noyon the saintly powers of
Godeberta were often invoked against calamities of all sorts, but
especially against drought and epidemics.
Guthlac, Hermit (714): One day, as he was talking with a man called
Wilfrid, two swallows alighted on his shoulders and then perched on his
arms and knees, chattering all the time as though quite at home. In
reply to Wilfrid's exclamations of surprise Guthlac said: "Have you not
read that he who elects to be unknown of men becomes known of wild
creatures and is visited by angels? For he who is frequented by men
cannot be frequented by the holy angels." (Yet another saint who was for
Waltman, Abbot (1138): Preached against the heretical teachings of the
wandering preacher Tanchelm.
Rainerius Inclusus, Hermit (1237): Was enclosed for 22 years in a
hermit's cell adjoining the cathedral of Osnabruck. Rainerius used every
device he could to mortify his flesh. Next to his skin he wore a shirt
of chain-mail and hair which was concealed by a coarse habit, and he
scourged himself regularly until he bled. When asked why he tortured his
body , he would reply: "As our Lord Jesus Christ suffered in all his
limbs for me, so do I wish out of love for him, to suffer in all my
members." Rainerius at least indulged in a drink every now and then: on
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays he fasted on bread and beer.
Dr Carolyn Muessig
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Bristol
Bristol BS8 1TB
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