Saints for survivors of child abuse

To all those whose childhoods were marred by violence, abuse, neglect, and pain.

There has been some backchanneling lately about child abuse, and while I do not wish to shrink from tikkun olam, the moral obligation to remove harm from the world, I also find myself in need of some saints, as a sort of palate cleanser.

Here are a few, specifically associated with child abuse and sexual abuse.

  • Maria Goretti (1890 – 1902) An 11-year-old girl who died as the result of an attempted sexual assault.  Her attacker later repented after visions of being burned by lilies.  She is patron saint of both attackers and those who fall prey to sexual predators.

“St Maria Goretti was mortally wounded with 14 stab wounds. The majority of victims of paedophilia, however, are lacerated within. They are condemned to a slow death – a long haemorrhaging of the spirit – by the interior disfigurement caused by the abuse.

“The victim is disfigured in his/her own eyes. Others might look and see a beautiful, gifted person; but the person who is abused views him/herself with intense and often violent self-loathing. The spirit weeps and the soul bleeds. This can go on for many, many years.

“St Maria fought back against her attacker. He demanded her complicity and she refused….

Lies of the abuser
“Many abused children did not have the strength, or the ability, to resist an abuser. That is no reflection on them whatsoever; but the important thing to remember is that now that they are older and stronger, they can fight back against the abuse. They can close their ears to the terrible lies that the abuser told them about themselves.”

But all of this seems quite medieval, especially when we are talking about people who are using Wikipedia to work out their personal traumas, and sometimes disrupting other peoples’ work flows in the process. Somehow it doesn’t seem quite strong enough.

How about an Amazing Grace, that is both strong and gentle enough to overcome anything.

Amazing Grace

The song was composed by a former slave trader, John Newton, who would have fit right in on Commons.  According to Wikipedia,

“In a culture where sailors habitually swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had ever heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery.”

But Newton turned his life around.  He even tried to become a priest in the Church of England, but was turned down for something even worse than slaving and swearing:

“…his leanings toward evangelism and tendency to socialise with Methodists.

But Newton persisted, and was eventually not only ordained, but married the woman of his dreams. And of course he also wrote Amazing Grace, which “became a popular song used by Baptist and Methodist preachers”. What goes around, comes around.

Here it is sung by Judy Collins. And there is another version by her, performed on the steps of the nation’s capitol in 1993, with the Boys’ Choir Of Harlem.

But what about the doodz, my loyal readers may ask, because by now they know that it’s not just a rhetorical question here, and that we do indeed say stuff about the dudes, sometimes even nice stuff. And boys do get assaulted; and sometimes in a sort of Stockholm syndrome, they may even develop a “betrayal bond” or psychological alliance with the abuser, and continue the cycle of abuse.

So I have scoured the internets and listened to untold numbers of unacceptable renditions of Amazing Grace, to bring you only the best.  And I believe I have found it.  This is UK musician Terry Miles playing a boogie woogie version on a piano in a London train station.

Den Hellige Emilie

Saint Emilie de Rodat (1787-1852) was a French saint, a teacher who established a number of schools.  She was also a mystic.  Her feast day is September 19.  Her Wikipedia article is barely start class.

She is known as a patron of prisoners.

This might be a nice day to remember all the Saudi women who are still in prison and being tortured — for driving a car.


Émilie de Rodat was the first child of Jean-Louis de Rodat, treasurer of France in the generality of Montauban and Henriette de Pomayrols, a family belonging to the old Rouergate nobility. During the French Revolution her family sent her at a young age to leave Druelle and go to live with her maternal grandmother at Ginals Castle, near Villeneuve d’Aveyron, for more safety.

After trying three different religious houses, she did not find a vocation and went to join her grandmother Agathe de Pomayrols in Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Aveyron) in a community, the house of Madame de Saint-Cyr, which had gathered former nuns whose the convents had been dissolved during the Revolution.

After hearing mothers talk about not being able to educate their daughters because of the disappearance of the Ursulines‘ free schools (for St. Ursula, the medieval patron of education), Saint Emilie decided she could teach the children, and founded the  “Congregation of the Holy Family(Soeurs de la Sainte-Famille de Villefranche) .

She founded the congregation of the nuns of the Holy Family on May 3, 1816 with three other young women: Éléonore Dutriac, Marie Boutaric, and Ursule Delbreil. They quickly attracted 40 students.  After several more moves, in 1817 she acquired a former convent of the Cordeliers. (This article is really sketchy.)

Émilie de Rodat dictated her autobiography to her second confessor Pierre-Marie Fabre, which was discovered after her death.

Anonymous 4, Chants for St Ursula



August 31 is the day of the translation of the bones of the Norwegian Saint Sunniva.

Sunniva seems to have been Norway’s first saint, and Selje the first pilgrimage location, the saint’s bones having been discovered in a large cave on the island in 996 by none other than King Olav Tryggvason, who is seen as a key figure in the early Christianization of Norway.

“Translation” means the bones were moved to Bergen.  They were later either destroyed or lost during the Reformation.

The Catholic Holy Communion in the Middle Ages has been characterized as the cultivation of dead bones.

A similar tradition to Saint Sunniva at Selje grew up around the church at Munkeby, associated with Saint Brettiva, a saint that is not found in the standard calendars of saints. So this must be a special local Norwegian saint day, and the bones of a woman must have been found there–this points to an Anglo-Saxon origin for the legends of both saints.

Where the bones were found, there also was the miracle.  Then a church was made for the protection of the holy remains, and a monastery built sometime later, and incorporated into the parish church, to be a place for pilgrims and travelers, also a place for the caretakers of the cult to stay, as the pilgrimage to the church increased. In the case of Sunniva, the first shrine was in the cave itself, dedicated to St. Michael.

In the early days – the golden age of monasteries in Norway – permanent income was scarce and the work at monasteries was great, monks took part in the work in the field, in the forest and in the garden. They were builders, gardeners, and farmers. There were enough nuns skilled with spindle and loom to provide for everyone’s clothing. Later, revenues from gifts and goods increased. Then manual labor was less necessary and the timed prayers were enough.

Sunniva herself was said to have come from Ireland, with three ships, and for the usual reason, escaping an unwanted marriage, in this case to a pagan.

There is quite a bit of art and such associated with this saint, but the uploads are flaky today, I guess that’s what happens with a free blog.

So let me just put up the one I find the most interesting, a series called “Den hellige Sunniva” done by Gøsta af Geijerstam, at the invitation of Sigrid Undset.  

It’s on WorldCat here, and the publisher seems to be the Selje scriptorium, if I am interpreting this correctly (“Selje : Scriptoriet,”). It was first published in German as “Sunniva (München : Verlag Ars Sacra, 1932)”. It is listed here as “Undset, Sigrid, Sunniva. München, J. Müller, 1932”. Another sources offers it as “Sunniva / Sigrid Undset ; Übers. von Martha Näf ; Mit Bildern von Gösta af Geijerstam Von: Undset, Sigrid, 1882-1949 Mitwirkende(r): Näf, Martha | Geijerstam, Gösta af, 1888-1954″ (Sunniva. (Pictures by Gösta af Geijerstam, translated by Martha Näf.) – Munich: J. Müller (1932). 79 p. 8 °”). Some metadata here from library of Norway.

There is a lot more about Sunniva here, she seems to have been not just the first saint, but the most important saint in Norway for a long time, and connected to protection of sailors, a position previously held by Thor. So maybe I will write more, if I have time.  In the meantime here is some bibliography, most with rich visuals.

Female saints in Cornwall

Following up on this research on saints in Cornwall from Sarah Fish, “The female saints of Cornwall“.  The names have been organized by both alphabetical and calendar lists, H/T Dysklver:

As Fish notes, most saints came from somewhere else, having floated in on a leaf, or migrated with some group of pilgrims or some such. Little is known about many of the saints, who are sometimes only associated with a particular church or sacred well.

Also note that Wikipedia has an article “List of Cornish saints“, which is not broken down by gender, but undoubtedly some of the listed saints are female. There is probably a way to pull the information out of WikiData using a Sparkl query, assuming they are labeled correctly, but I don’t have time to figure it out. The list also exists in French, but oddly enough, not in Cornish. Perhaps one of Dysk’s sisters will be on it.


  • Staff at St Anne’s (stub), Whitstone (multiple maintneance tags), Advent, and Morwenstowand
  • Staff of St Austell library (the article for St Austell tells us the library building is a notable landmark, but not even a paragraph about it, much less a sentence with the address and hours – here’s your source for that…the official website)
  • Staff of the Cornish Studies Library, Redruth, “Cornwall’s largest library of Cornish printed and published archival material.[citation needed]” …(and what a lot of tags on that one, surely their move is finished by now) Do those people know about 1lib1ref?????

Unhelpful texts

  • The Life of St Breage (lost manuscript, 5th-6th c)
  • Breton Life of St Non (which places the saint in Brittony rather than Cornwall)
  • St Samson of Dol, a male saint, does not talk about his sainted mother
  • Ordinalia, no info on female saints

Secondary literature on saints

  • Nicholas Orme on the saints of Cornwall (eBook $151.99, no snippet view, however this does occasionally yield info on search) (Amazon preview however has a huge amount of material reproduced, including bibliography – click on image of cover)
  • Oliver Padel on Cornish place names: Popular Dictionary of Cornish Place-Names, 1988. [google books, no snippet]
  • Nicholas Roscorrock (red link) and his work on church dedications in Cornwall in the sixteenth century (Nicholas Roscarrock’s Lives of the saints : Cornwall and Devon / edited by Nicholas Orme, 1992 based on ms at Cambridge University Library Manuscript Add. 3041) (limited view at Hathitrust).
  • Historians and folklorist such as the Reverend Gilbert Doble… “St Gerent – a Cornish saint, by the Rev. Canon Gilbert H. Doble, M.A.” 1938. PDF) (ahhh, look at them all).
  • Historian and folklorist Robert Hunt, “Popular Romances of the West of England collected and edited by Robert Hunt” [1903, 3rd edition] , text. (volume one is giants, mermaids, etc, volume two is saints, holy wells, legends of Arthur etc.) On Gutenberg; on Internet Archive.)

Saints by location

This is how Fish originally categorizes the saints, having backed off of a straight list form.

Far west of Cornwall

  • St Ia of St Ives – stained glass windows in the church, statue is displayed above the altar in the Lady Chapel, displayed in church banner (?).
  • St Neulina of St Newlyn East
  • Minster
  • St Austell and Truro – more populated, less info

Far east near Devon

  • St Anne’s at Whitstone – more dedicated to saint, less populated areas


  • St Keyne’s Well near Looe
  • Virgin martyrs- links with other Celtic countries, namely Ireland, Wales and Brittany.

Alphabetical list

Wikipedia articles are linked, where they exist.

  • Adwenna, Adwen – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog – place name “Advent”, just outside the hamlet of Tresinney near Camelford, on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Possibly same as Dwywnen or Lan (or La) Dwynwen; January 25
  • Agnes, virgin and martyr, fourth-century Roman martyr, killed when she refused to marry the governor’s son, local legend says she fled Rome for Cornwall, performed miracles such as turning the Devil into a stone.
  • Anne – holy mother (of St Samson of Dol), originally from Wales, moved on to Brittany, St Anne at Whitstone in north Cornwall, the first dedication of this church to her was in 1883; previously the dedication had been to St Nicholas, holy well on church grounds carved face on back of well “an early Celtic water shrine to the pagan water spirit, Annas”. Saint Anna verch Gwerthefyr gan Oxenhall, princess.
  • Anta, Lelant church (to the east of St Ives), also the patron of Carbis Bay church in the next village to Lelant
  • Breage (or Breaca ) – Irish origin, traveled with St Germoe, who was said to be her foster son, possibly the sister of St Levan, although this might have been St Manacca; disciple of Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid, June 4
  • Brevita at Lanlivery; Brivet (Bryvyth), Briuete de Lannyvery, Breutte, Breute, Brevita, Briueta (Latin); first Sunday after the first Tuesday in May
  • Bride, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Brychan Brycheiniog, just for reference was a king who had a dozen or so daughters who became saints, high-ranking Welsh noblewomen, and whose churches tend to be close together
  • Buryan (St. Buriana, Beriana, Berion)(Buriana, Beriona, Burian), parish of St. Buryan near Land’s End, cured King Gerent’s son of paralysis.  Feast day May 27 [source] “the nearest Sunday to May 13th” p.121
  • Columb, virgin and martyr, daughter of pagan king who converted and refused to marry a pagan, “a holy well was formed at the spot where her blood landed on the ground.The place where she was martyred is named as Ruthwas, the present-day hamlet of Ruthvoes (Cornish: ‘red bank’).”
  • Columba – virgin martyr, one of the virgins who suffered with St Ursula, or possibly mixed with Columb.
  • Creed, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Crewenna, companion of Breage, patron saint of Crowan church, whose parish adjoins that of Breage and St Breaca “Her anniversary or Feast is still celebrated in the Anglican and Methodist churches on the nearest Sunday to Candlemas Eve (1st February)” Feb 1
  • Crowan (patroness of Crowan, Cornwall) Crevan, Crewen, Crozon (pronounced Craon) on Brittony’s west coast.
  • Derva, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Dominica, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Electa, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Endelienta,  Endelient – miraculous legends – local, daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog…St Endellion feast day April 29
  • Felec, see Piala
  • Gulval, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Ia_of_Persia_(Menologion_of_Basil_II)
    Ia of Persia

    Ia (or St Hya) – mention in Life of St Gwinear, Irish origin, disciple of St. Patrick, sister of St Erth  St. Ercus, and St Euny, male saints, tomb is (was) in St Ives church, holy well, Venton Ia, near Porthmeor beach; February 3 [source] See also Caitlin Green’s comparison with St. Ia of Persia: “St Ia of St Ives: a Byzantine saint in early medieval Cornwall?

  • Issey, virgin, also Filius [source]
  • Kew, virgin , Kigwe, Kywa, patroness of St. Kew or Lanon, St. Kyul, Guic, Ciwke. Feb. 8 [source]
  • Keyne – references to lost Lives, aunt of St Cadog, thought to be a daughter of Brychan, but appears in Welsh lists, Latin Life of St Keyne translated by Doble in 1930; besides “Llangain (‘church of Cain/Keyne’), and the parish of St Keyne itself, St Keyne is also associated with Keynsham in Somerset (where she is said to have turned snakes into stone)” “St Keyne is said to have blessed the waters of the well on her deathbed, then gave them their powers hoping ‘to benefit the world, by giving to woman a chance of being equal to her lord and master’; October 8
  • Keyn, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Ladock, virgin, Ladoca, Patroness of Ladock Jan. 1
  • Ludgvan, Ludewin – see Adwen
  • Mabena, Mabon – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, church at St Mabyn; November 18
  • Maker, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Materiana (also Mertherian),  patron of the church in Tintagel and its mother church at Minster, possibly “the Welsh princess Madrun, daughter of King Vortimer of Gwent, who fled to Cornwall after the death of her father”; October 19.
  • Matherian, virgin (Matheriana, Marchai, Patroness of Minster? April 9?) [source p.733]
  • Marwenna, St Marwenne or St Merewenne – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, sister of Morwenna, of Marhamchurch, possibly Merwenn, a tenth-century English abbess who lived in Romsey, Hampshire; August 12
  • Menfre or Menefreda, Menefrida, Minver, virgin – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, church of St Minver; Tredresick, Cornwall; hermitage, chapel and holy well were at Tredizzick, devil attacked her and she threw a comb at him, father Saint Brychan, feast day July 24, later July 13, some say Nov. 24 [source, p. 734]
  • Morwenna – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, sister of Marwenna – miraculous legends – local – place name “Marwenschurch”, parish of Morwenstow, well of St Morwenna is distant and inaccessible,  one of the children of Brechanus in St Nectaines life, possibly Breton saint Moren (of Lamorran) but probably not
  • Non, Nennyd, Naunter- Welsh origin – holy mother (of St David) – place name “Altarnun”, moved on to Brittany, mystery play Buhez Santez Nonn (Life of St Non) Paris 1837, performed on feast day [text on Internet Archive, free ebook]; March 3
  • Neulina (of St Newlyn East) – of Cornish origin, possibly Breton saint Noualen, (Noyale?) commemorated at Pontivy in Brittany.
  • Newlyn,virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Phillak, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Piala,  Phiala – virgin martyr – Irish origin – sister of St Gwinear (Fingar) – church at Phillack, near Hayle, where there is also a holy well bearing her name, church also dedicated to a St Felec, possibly St. Felicity, landed in Cornwall, killed by the local chieftain, Dec. 14 [source]
  • Senara, patron of Zennor. Feast day?
  • Sidwell, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Sitha, virgin; Sytha, Syth, chapel of St. Sitha at Bradford, possibly St. Osith Oct. 7
  • Stythyan, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Tedda, Tetha, Eatha- daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, church in St Teath near St Adwen at Advent. Originally May 1, then Whit Tuesday, the day after Pentecost Monday. Fairs on the last Tuesday in February and first Tuesday in July [source]
  • Wenna, Sancte Wenne – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, dedicated to her: church at St Wenn, in mid Cornwall, and the church in Morval, near Looe on the south coast, also a chapel in St Kew parish. Possibly St Gwen or Guen, who appears in the Welsh genealogies as a daughter of Brychan, [see also two St. Wennas];  (c.472 – 18 October 544) was the daughter of Lord Cynyr Ceinfarfog of Caer Goch, the wife of King Salom of Cerniw (Cornwall) and the mother of Saint Cybi. She founded the churches of Sant Wenn and Saint Morval in Cerniw. She died in Cerniw.
  • Wendron, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)

List from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”

Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints, with selections of poetry and prose relating to Cornwall, Sarah L. Enys, Published by A.W. Jordan, 1923

Virgins (Cornish ‘Gwerhes’):  Ladock, Sitha, Bride, Crowan, Ia, Kew, Maker, Derva, Matherian, Newlyn, Dominica, Buryan, Breag, Morwenna, Stythyan, Electa, Sidwell, Keyn, Wendron, Gulval, Issey, Minver, Creed, Phillak.

Virgin and martyr (Cornish: ‘Gwerhes ha Merther’): Agnes and Columb

Saints by date

Jan. 1 – Ladock [source p.733]

January 25 – Dwywnen (see Adwen) (also the conversion of St. Paul), nearest Sunday to January 25 – Ludgvan (see Adwen)

Feb 1 – St. Crewenna

st IaFebruary 3 – St. Ia, celebration is on the nearest Monday, parade to Venton Ia, to bless the silver hurling ball (?) (children have an ongoing game at the festival, the ball is carried to the holy well at the beginning for blessing)

Feb. 8 – St. Kew

March 3 – St. Non of Wales (Nonna, Nonnita) [source]

April 29 – Endelienta [source]

May (early) – St Brevita at Lanlivery, local feast week begins with blessing and dressing the holy well; first Sunday after the first Tuesday in May (1870 and 1887) [source]

May 27 – St. Buryan [source]

June 4 – Breaca of Cornwall, (also known as Breague, Branca, Banka) 5th-6th century. Saint Breaca was a disciple of Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid. [source] Formerly May 1 [source]

July 24 – Saint Menefrida, Tredresick, Cornwall; father Saint Brychan [source] ?sources differ

August 12 – the feast day of St Marwenna, the Marhamchurch Revel is on the closest Monday

Oct. 7 – St. Sitha [source, p. 752]

October 8 – St. Keyne, Cain, Cenau, Cenedion, Ceinwen, keane, Keyna, Kayane, from between Looe and Lskeard, a dragon slayer, ritual for upper hand in marriage [source]

October 19 – St. Materiana, Madrun, Madryn, Merthiana, Merhteriana, Marcellinana, daugher of King Vortimer, church of St. Maeriana, Boscastle, the church at Tintagel has her image in stained glass and statue [source]

November 18 – St. Mabyn, Mabena, Mabon daugher of Brychan [source]

Dec. 14 – Piala (Phiala) [source]

More sources


Green, Caitlin, “St Ia of St Ives: a Byzantine saint in early medieval Cornwall?” The two St. Ias – St. Ia of Cornwall and St. Ia of Persia , archeology, and trade relations between Britian and the Byzantine Empire.

Baring-Gould, S. and Fisher, J. The Lives of the British Saints,  at least 4 volumes, see

Buhez Santez Nonn (Life of St Non) Paris 1837, mystery play performed on St. Non feast day [text on Internet Archive, free ebook]

A Book of Cornwall, by S. Baring-Gould, 1906.

Popular Romances of the West of England, collected and edited by Robert Hunt, 1903. [Gutenberg; Internet Archive.]

Borlase, W., Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall (London: Bowyer and Nichols, 1769), reprinted 1973. [limited view Hathitrust],; Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall: Consisting of Several Essays on the First Inhabitants, Druid-superstition, Customs, and Remains of the Most Remote Antiquity in Britain, and the British Isles, Exemplified and Proved by Monuments Now Extant in Cornwall and the Scilly Islands, with a Vocabulary of the Cornu-British Language, 1769.  [Free eBook ]

The Age of the Saints: A Monograph of Early Christianity in Cornwall, with the Legends of the Cornish Saints : and an Introduction Illustrative of the Ethnology of the District, William Copeland Borlase, 1895. [Free eBook]

Gilbert Doble, series of booklets about saints

  • Saint Gerent (Gerendus, Gerens), Cornish Saints Series, No. 41, 1938.

Further descripton of the series at Library Thing: “The Welsh language Wicipedia includes a warning when using Noble’s work, that he did not believe that women could lead communities or travel regularly, and that the monks who wrote about them were mistaken. This he tried to rectify by turning some female saints into men, and splitting or merging saints that worked close to each other. For example, he suggested that Non was two saints, one the mother of St David and the other a man who travelled and established communities.”

General interest

Cornwall, with maps, diagrams and illustrations, by Baring-Gould, 1910. [Internet Archive]

Henry Jenner, A Handbook of the Cornish Language: Chiefly in Its Latest Stages, with Some Account of Its History and Literature, 1904. [Free ebook]

Cornish saints & sinners by Harris, J. Henry, 1906 [Internet Archive]

Women Saints of Cornwall, Part 1“, Dmitry Lapa, blog post with local photos Saint Breaga, Saint Endelienda, Saint Morwenna

Women Saints of Cornwall. Part 2“, Dmitry Lapa, blog post with local photos, Saint Buriana, Saint Ia (Ives), Saint Keyne

Dictionary of Celtic Saints, Elizabeth Rees, 2012. (gbooks, searchable)

Mary Magdalene

Peace be with you. May my peace reside within you. Guard carefully that no one misleads you saying, “Look, he is here,” or “He’s over there,” for the Son of Humanity already exists within you. Follow him, for those who seek him there will find him.  -The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

July 21 is the feast day of Mary Magdalene.

So who was she?

A Jew from the city of Magdala, a fishing town on the Sea of Galilee, which excavations have shown to have had a first century synagogue. Very possibly this was a synagogue where Jesus first presented his teachings. The tradition in this area is that the Jewish men all gather on the Sabbath and say their prayers simultaneously, at their own pace, in a sort of cacophony, and when they have finished anyone can speak to various religious topics.

Beyond that, the scriptures tell us that the Magdalene was present at the crucifixion, the disciples all having run away in fear of the authorities, and also at the resurrection, being the first to see the resurrected Jesus at the tomb. So she would have had the authority to receive the body and prepare it for burial.

The three Marys at the tomb of Christ.

It takes a little scholarship to fill in the rest of the story.

Mary of Magdala may have been wealthy and a patroness of Jesus, one of several such women who traveled with the disciples, and who had been cured of afflictions. According to the eighth chapter of Luke:

Now after this [Jesus] made his way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.

The “seven demons” applied to Mary Magdalene may not refer to demonic possession but merely indicate a severe ailment.

Mary and the resurrected Jesus. He is carrying a hoe and at first she mistakes him for the gardener.

Early texts of the early Christian era show her as an “apostle,” and in the years after Jesus’ death her status may have rivaled Peter, because of the confidence Jesus himself had invested in her, also as the receiver of the commission in the gospel of Mark to  “go, tell his disciples and Peter”.

But over the centuries, the role of Mary Magdalene became blurred. She was conflated with other Marys of the Bible, other anointings, other weeping women. Jesus had treated women with respect, as equals in his circle, and even in the letters of St. Paul – who let’s face it, does not have a very good reputation among women today – named women as full partners in the Christian movement. But women started disappearing from the church’s inner circle, and the religious communities that had accepted Mary as an authority became marginalized.  It took 600 years, but eventually Mary Magdalene was reduced to the status of repentant prostitute

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

Then, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene was discovered in 1896, by a German diplomat in a Cairo market. The first German scholarly edition appeared in 1955, and an English version some twenty years later.

The manuscript itself is a fifth-century Coptic (i.e., Egyptian) version of what had almost certainly been an earlier Greek or even Syrian text.1 In 1917 and then in 1938 two Greek fragments dating from the third century were indeed discovered, confirming the antiquity of the original text and the esteem in which it was held by the earliest Christian communities (only important manuscripts are recopied)…. Karen King assigns the original text to the first half of the second century. If her argument is correct, this would place the Gospel of Mary Magdalene within the earliest strata of Christian writings, roughly contemporaneous with the Gospel of John.

The content of the manuscript follows a common form at the time, of a philosophical/religious dialogue embedded in a story, in this case a conversation between Mary Magdalene and the disciples, who were grieving for Jesus after his death.

Levi answered and said to Peter, “Peter, you have always been hot – tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Saviour made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Saviour knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as He commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Saviour said.” … and they began to go forth [to] proclaim and to preach.


Saint Veronica Giuliani

st-veronica-giuliani 5July 9 is the feast day of St Veronica Giuliani.  By now we shouldn’t have to review the usual path to sainthood: a parental attempt to arrange a marriage, followed by decampment to a nunnery.  In addition, visions were one of the spiritual gifts allowed to women, so there were more than a few saintly nuns with visions.  Often they were recorded by their male confessors, or we would not know about them at all.

St. Veronica did all of that, and more.  From a very early age she wanted to do everything the Christ child did, and eventually received the stigmata, and embraced constant suffering as a way to be God, or more accurately, the Trinity.

Once she started having visions, she was instructed (by male priests) to keep a diary, which she did, some thousands of pages worth.  No doubt they wanted to keep an eye on her, but without getting too closely involved.

But try to find any of it, even in her native Italian language, and you very quickly run up against a brick wall.  Her Wikipedia article is no help of course. At one point they simply scraped an out-of-copyright Catholic encyclopedia for the information they do have, which is pretty much a hagiography, another century’s version of the sound bite.

The name of the book is available, it is:

Un tesoro nascosto, ossia diario di S. Veronica Giuliana religiosa Cappuccina in Città di Castello, scritto da lei medesima, publicato e corredato di note.

We even have information about one of the volumes:

Volume IV (1 Maggio 1697-31 decembre 1699). Prato, tip. Giachetti, Figlio e C. 1899, in-8, pp. 912.

There is an interesting commentary on the mysticism here if you can get past the Italian,

Her body washed away in a flood some time ago, and now only the bones are kept in a wax statue of some kind, but her heart is incorrupt, and is still at the Monastero di Santa Veronica Giuliani in Città di Castello, Umbria. The remains of Blessed Lucrezia Elena Cevoli or “Florida Cevoli“, who died in 1767 are also preserved here, on the left side of the altar.  Florida served as vicar under Giuliani, and became the new abbess on her death.  The wiki tells us “she continued the work started under her predecessor and did not use strong and harsh impositions to do so. Instead she did so with a degree of both firmness and gentleness which was a stark contrast to that of Giuliani.” Florida and several others later founded a monastery in Mercatello sul Metauro, Giuliani’s birth place.

From an obscure website we find the following: is supposed to be the definitive source of information, however the website is gone, not even in the Wayback Machine.  But there does seem to be a redirect, to the .com version of the webiste…which is in Arabic.  This then is the Lebanese group, that adopeted this saint in more recent times, certain that it spoke to them directly. And from these we can find a sort of landing page. There are lots of pictures, if you go deep enough.

From the internet archive we find the following, –  book, I guess.

“The Life of S. Veronica Giuliani was written by Felippo Maria Salvatori and published: Rome : Lazzarini, 1803. The translation of the Spiritual life of the Blessed Battista Varani is from the French version published: Clermont-Ferrand, 1840. It is founded upon the collection of her revelations, written in Italian by Matthew Pascucci and rendered into Latin by the Bollandists in the Acta Sanctorum for the 31st of May.”  (The Blessed Battista Varani would appear to be Camilla Battista da Varano (9 April 1458 – 31 May 1524), a different Poor Clares nun.)

This is extraordinary.  It seems to be a sort of scan, but not the usual one from Internet Archive–it seems to be a scan that includes the scanning machine itself, and without the usual thumbnails, essential for navigation. There are also some very clear images, like  here, but it takes forever to load.

The PDF is a little easier to read, and includes large portions of her diary in translation:

“We find from the memorials in our possession, that it was on the 4th of April in the year 1694, that Jesus appeared to her with the insignia of His Passion, and presented her with His crown of thorns. The following is her own account, written under obedience :- ” On the night of the 4th of April, while I was in prayer, I became rapt in recollection, and beheld an intellectual vision, in which our Lord appeared to me with a large crown of thorns on His Head. Immediately I began to say to Him : ‘ My divine Spouse, give me those thorns: they are fit for me, and not for Thee, Who art my highest good.’ Meanwhile, I felt that our Lord answered me thus: ‘ I am come to crown thee now, My beloved;’ and, in an instant, He took off His crown, and placed it on my head. The pain which it caused was so severe, that I am not conscious of having ever felt anything equal to it. At the same time I was made aware that this my coronation was a sign that I was to be the spouse of Christ, and that, in token of this, He desired that, by participating in His sufferings, I should acquire the title of the Spouse of God Crucified; therefore I was myself to be crucified with my divine Spouse. Every puncture on my head seemed to invite me to this. On the same day our Lord promised me that the grace I had just received should be repeated on different occasions. But the satisfaction which I derived from my sufferings was such that I seemed literally to pine after torments.” Surely this was a proof of the truth of the supernatural favour she had received.”

Very extraordinary stuff.  If this happened to someone today, blinding headaches, sudden  unconsciousness, visions, it might be very concerning.  But in 1660 there was a ready explanation with a silver lining and a path to sainthood.

Another copy here, easier to navigate, and here, both Google scans with images that are not quite as sharp.

There is also a version available on google books. There also seems to be a series of eight to ten volumes published by the monastery from 1969-1974 or so. Here is volume 5, which will give the chapter headings, but not even a snippet view. There is also an 8-volume set spanning several years, ending in 1895.



Moar fluffy bunnies

God and Melangell be with thee.
– Welsh protective blessing
Three hares motif

It must be because yesterday was the feast day for Saint Melangell, the patron of hares, that today the internets are awash in bunny rabbits.

So I have cleaned up one of the images from yesterday that was crooked (see Wyn bach Melangell), and added a few more, plus some coloring.  Also found a video of the Deer’s Cry (St. Patricks’s Lorica) that I was looking for yesterday when my battery went down.  Enjoy.

This first one is from The Welsh fairy-book. / By W. Jenkyn Thomas ; with one hundred illustrations by Willy Pogány. (1907), and believe me this one was not easy to find – a large one, that is.  There are a few thumbnails. It is in the public domain, however, the corporate fat cats do not have everything locked up, not quite yet. The image is on p 273.

The Welsh fairy-book (text):

BROCHWEL, the Prince of Powys, upon a certain day in the year of our Lord 604, was hunting in a place called Pennant. His hounds started a hare, and pursued it into a dense thicket. Following them into the thicket, he saw a beautiful maiden on her knees praying devoutly to God. The hare was lying on the folds of her garment, facing the hounds boldly.

The prince shouted, “Catch her, catch her!” but the more he urged his hounds on, the further did they retreat, and at last they fled away, howling with terror. The prince, astonished at the strange behaviour of his hounds, turned to the maiden and asked her who she was.

“I am the daughter of a King of Ireland,” she answered, “and because my father desired to wed me to one of his chiefs, I fled from my native soil, and, God guiding me, came to this desert place, where for fifteen years I have served God without seeing the face of any man.” The Prince enquired her name, and she replied that she was called Melangell (the Latin form of the name is Monacella).

Thereupon the Prince broke forth in these words, “O most worthy Melangell, I perceive that thou art the handmaiden of the true God. Because it hath pleased Him for thy merits to give protection to this little wild hare from the attack and pursuit of the ravening hounds, I give and present to thee with willing mind these my lands for the service of God, to be a perpetual asylum and refuge. If any men or women flee hither to seek thy protection, provided they do not pollute thy sanctuary, let no prince or chieftain be so rash towards God as to attempt to drag them forth.”

Melangell passed the rest of her days in this lonely place, sleeping on bare rock. Many were the miracles which she wrought for those who sought refuge in her sanctuary with pure hearts. The little wild hares were ever under her special protection, and that is why they are called “Melangell’s lambs.” Even now, if a hare is pursued by hounds and someone shouts after it, “God and Melangell be with thee,” it will escape.

More coloring:

Some more Melangell images

The Melangell shrine itself is ancient.  It is built inside a pre-Christian stone circle, usually a sign of a Celtic hermitage.  The surrounding yew trees are older than Christ. From time immemorial it has been known as one of the “thin places” between the earth and the spiritual realm.

Cwm Pennant galant gweli; cwm uchel
I ochel caledi,
Cwm iachus; nid oes i chwi
Ond cam i Ne’o’n cwm ni.

[You see Cwm Pennant shining; a high valley
To ward off hardship,
A healing valley; for you there is not
More than one step between our valley and heaven.]

There was a healing well nearby, another sign of ancient sacred spaces, but that has been closed off by a private owner.

Crime writer Fay Sampson visited the shrine and used it as a location for The Hunted Hare (2012). Simpson is also the author of the Daughter of Tintagel historical fiction series.

Bonus images:

The “three hares” symbol is also called “rotating rabbits”, “trois lievres” or “Tinners’ Rabbits”, a symbol of the Devon tin miners’ guild (although the symbol is oddly missing in the neighboring tin regions of Cornwall). It has many layers of meanings from multiple cultures.  It may represent the trinity, innocence, purity, fertility, or madness. It may also have Kabbalist implications, as the symbol has been found in synagogues above areas where the Torah and other sacred documents are stored.

The deer’s cry (St. Patrick’s Breatplate or lorica). If it doesn’t play embedded, right click then copy-paste to a new address bar. Vocals are by Rita Connolly.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul

Mil engyl a Melangell 

Trechant lu fyddin y fall. 

[Melangell with a thousand angels 

Triumphs over all the powers of evil.]

Welsh englyn