Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gods and Mortals

Bardic Madness had a theme of "Gods and Mortals" this year, so Kudrun presented an overview of some of the Christian saints who help us (meaning 13th-century folk) bridge the gap between ourselves and the Divine Mystery. It was my intention to help people find the right saint to intercede for them, since some show a particular affinity to certain occupations (like Sts Crispin and Crispinian, patrons of shoemakers), or locations (such as Cuthbert, who insisted that his bones be interred at Durham), or diseases (such as St Fiacre... you can look it up).  I was able to introduce some of the saintly stories that Tertullian considered to be "old wives' tales" (like St Thecla, who baptised herself in a pool filled with vicious seals who were supposed to kill her). I also pointed out some of the scholarly saints, such as St Bede, who reformed the calendar and charted the tides, and St Isidore, who wrote a 20-volume encyclopedia. There was a little skepticism expressed over St Adalbert's two skulls (one claimed by Prague, another by Gniezno) and over St Wilgifortis' instant growth of a beard.  (Wilgifortis' father had her crucified because she refused to marry a rich heathen man.) 
Despite the PowerPoint slides shown behind my head, the class was taught in persona, except for two saints whose cultus didn't grow until after Kudrun's time. (How can one resist St Wilgifortis?)