July 6, 2012 by nateaddington
As Catholics we all have our favorite saints. I’m rather fond of Thomas, Francis, and Sebastion myself, but I know that a lot of other people are too. My boss, Fr. Vince, always says he likes Polycarp, because he figures the line for intercession with him is probably a tad bit shorter, since not many people think of him in their personal litany. So I did a little digging around and came up with some of the most obscure saints you probably never heard about.
A lot of saints are depicted with some pretty audacious beards, and if you follow my blog, you know I am a pretty big fan of the art of pogonotrophy. But, this is one beatified beard that might be a bit too much. Because, you see, Saint Wilgefortis is one of those lady saints.
The legend goes that her father handed her off to be married after the young lass had taken a vow of chastity. Pleading the Lord for a way out of her arranged marriage, she awoke the next morning to find that she had grown a full beard and mustache. As you can imagine, her betrothed was rather taken back and declined the marriage. As a result of the humiliation endured by her family, her father had her crucified.
Adding to the obscurity of this saint is the back story that explains her origin. It is rumored that Northern Europeans were perplexed by the more feminine looking images of Christ in Southern Europe. Sometimes being depicted on the cross in a full tunic as opposed to the more “masculine” loin cloth. In response to the crucifix confusion, the travelers invented the story of Wilgerfortis, to explain the statue of the crucified bearded lady wearing the dress they kept seeing in all the local churches.
In 1395, a young girl in Holland went ice skating with her friends. (who knew they had ice skates in 1395?) Like most girls who go ice skating, she fell. But this time she broke several ribs, and since the two ladies attempting to help her in the picture to the right were better at growing tulips(that’s a big thing in Holland) than patching up busted ribs, gangrene spread throughout her body which caused her to live a life severe pain. Lydwina was extremely prayerful despite her injuries and experienced religious visions throughout her life, including one of a rosebush with the inscription, “When this shall be in bloom, your suffering will be at an end.” In 1433, she saw the rosebush bloom and died soon after. Not exactly a heart warming tale, but an obscure saint none the less. Oh, and she is also the Patron saint of ice skaters, so look her up, Apolo Ohno (because I am sure he follows my blog and will read this).
Here is one for all you animal lovers out there. St. Roch was born in France to a wealthy noble. It is said that he bore a large read cross on his chest that was no mere birthmark. After the deaths of his parents he distributed all his wealth to the poor and went about curing those afflicted by the plague by reveling his cross covered chest to them. Contracting the Plague himself, Roch withdrew to a cave where he was befriended by dog who brought him food and who licked his sores everyday, eventually curing him of the plague. Roch is the patron saint of dogs and should be of unhygienic medical practices, in my opinion.
Got a cool obscure saint that you are a fan of, post his or her story below.