Today, 5 December, is the feast of ... 

* Crispina, martyr (304)
- Augustine frequently mentions her as well known in 
Africa, ranking in popularity with Agnes and Thecla 

* Pelino, bishop and martyr (fourth century?)
- only extant vita is 12th-century ms (Citta' del 
Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 1197)
- while taken from his bishopric of Brindisi to Rome, his 
prayers caused the destruction of a 'pagan' temple, whose 
priests (along with others) killed Pelino
- site of martyrdom is in the Peligna valley of central 
Italy; the name of the valley dates from pre-Roman times, 
yet Pelino was supposedly born in the Balkans, so you go 
and figure it out
- patron of the village of Corfinio (ancient Corfinium), 
Abruzzo, Italy, population 998; co-patron of medieval-
religion list, protector of tardy list owners

* Sabas, abbot (532)
- one of the leading figures of early monasticism; named at 
the preparation in the Byzantine mass
- patriarch of the monks of Palestine 

* Nicetius, bishop of Trier (c. 566)
- last Gallo-Roman bishop of Trier in the early days of 
Frankish domination in Gaul
- born with a corona of hair, taken to be an omen of his 
future state
- after time as monk at Limoges, king Theoderic I named
him bishop
- feast in Trier is kept on 1 October (right, Christoph?) 

* Birinus, bishop of Dorchester (c. 650)
- Roman priest, sent by pope Honorius I to go to Britain
- became known as 'Apostle of Wessex'; died and buried at 
Dorchester, but soon after death his relics were translated 
to Winchester 

As Bill East pointed out two years ago:
BIRINUS merits the mede of one melodious tear. He baptised 
King Cynegisl, which argues some phonological dexterity. 
This Dorchester was of course the one in Oxfordshire, not 
Dorset; his relics, as you say, are no longer there, but 
there is a commemorative shrine in Dorchester Abbey.
We read in the lives of saints
How they cured people with various unpleasant complaints;
But if you look at the life of Birinus, his'll
Say he baptised Cynegisl.

Peter Binkley continued, saying:
His accomplishments are all the more impressive when you consider the
horrors he faced as he headed north from balmy Italy to Britain (as
described by Henry of Avranches, ed. David Townsend, *Analecta
Bollandiana* 112 (1994) 324): 

... eo tendens quo nullus peruenit Austri flatus, sed 
glacie tellus constricta perhenni. Cum nec parturiat bachas 
nec proferat uuas, Tetidis et Cereris celebrat connubia
uulgus. Inter se choisse deas Hymeneus abhorret; pronuba 
Thesiphone thalamis ululauit in illis, et cecinit dirum 
bubo mortalibus omen. Connubii prolem tam detestabilis--
immo nescio quod Stigie monstrum conforme paludi-- 
ceruisiam plerique uocant. Nil spissius illa dum bibitur, 
nil clarius est dum mingitur, unde constat quod multas 
feces in uentre relinquit. Non tamen ille timet monstri 
nocumenta maligni, nec remorantur eum quecumque pericula, 
potus letalis, cibus inficiens, aer grauis, equor 
monstriferum, tellus sterilis, gens perfida, lingua 
barbara; nec reuocant horum contraria, uinum dulce, cibus 
sapidus, aer placabilis, equor nullum, terra ferax, gens 
credula, lingua Latina. 

A slightly bowdlerised translation: "...heading where no 
breath of Auster (the south wind) reaches, where the earth 
is locked in perpetual ice. Since it neither breeds berries 
nor produces grapes, the people celebrate the wedding of 
Thetis (i.e. water) and Ceres (i.e. grain). Hymen abhors 
the union of these goddesses; the bridesmaid Thesiphone 
(one of the Furies) howled in their honeymoon suite, and an 
owl sang a harsh omen for mortal men. The offspring of so 
detestable a marriage--or rather, some sort of swamp-
monster from hell--many call beer. Nothing is murkier when
you drink it, or clearer when you piss it, which shows that 
it leaves many dregs in the stomach. But he (Birinus) does 
not fear the wounds of this wicked monster, nor is he 
delayed by any dangers, lethal drink, poisonous food, bad 
weather, the monster-filled deep, barren land, treacherous 
people, barbaric language; nor do their opposites call him 
back: sweet wine, tasty food, pleasant weather, no sea, 
fruitful land, faithful people, and Latin." 

Unfortunately, Henry did not have occasion to find a Latin 
rhyme for "Cinigilsus".

* Sigiramnus, or Cyran, abbot (c. 655)
- so wanted to become a religious that he ignored his 
father's attempt to betrothe him to a noble lady, and 
became a priest
- this did not mean that he escaped parental control, for 
his father was bishop of Tours!
- after father's death, he founded a monastery in the 
forest of Brenne 

* Nicholas of Sibenik, martyr (1391)
- native of Dalmatia, he became a Franciscan and preached 
for 20 years in Bosnia before going to Palestine, where he 
was killed for publicly preaching to Muslims 

* Bartholomew of Mantova, confessor (1495)
- joined Carmelites at age 17; founded confraternity of 
Lady of Mount Carmel; novice-master of Carmelite poet, 
Battista Spagnuolo

* * * * * * * *
Dr Carolyn Muessig
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Bristol
Bristol BS8 1TB
phone: +44(0)117-928-8168
fax: +44(0)117-929-7850
e-mail: [log in to unmask]