Monday, October 31, 2011

In which the devil builds a church...or not

You might have noticed there were more saints than usual this month.  That was, in part because I can write the saint posts when I have time & then queue them up.  It was also because October, being that month of spooky-ookiness just lends itself to saints.  I don't care who you are, most of those people are downright not-quite-right in the head.  I mean no disrespect, crazy people are pretty much the only people who get big things done (big goods things & big bad things).

For Hallowe'en, it seemed only right to end the month with a guy I had never heard of (although his miracle runs on a very popular theme), Wolfgang of Regensburg.  C'mon, how can you resist a Hallowe'en saint named Wolfgang?  The only thing that could be better would be Saint Vlad.

Wolfgang was a person, a child & then a man in the usual way.  He was a scholar, an educator & the ultimately a bishop in his own part of the world (my guess would be greater Regensburg).  Eventually he retired from his bishophood & went to live as a hermit (shocker!) & so on in so forth in that bishop to hermit to canonical candidate way.  Despite being a hermit (seriously, I am beginning to think that word does not mean what I think it means), he had an active political life, did a bit of traveling & some light construction work (he built his solitary cell where G*d directed his axe to fall; seems an impractical method to me, but the axe remains a relic in the town of Ste. Wolfgang).  He was known locally as a man of great goodness & after his death many churches adopted his name.  All very standard stuff.  But you know there had to be something to catch my eye (or more accurately my typing fingers) & that was the story of how Wolfgang of Regensburg beat the devil. 

I think we are all fond of stories of beating the devil, even if you don't believe in the devil, even if you believe the devil is in all of us.  We all like to beat him, in Moscow or even Georgia.  When I was in school I remember loving the Stephen Vincent Benet story "The Devil & Daniel Webster", maybe in part because I spent a lot of my youth up in Daniel Webster country & have visited his birthplace on more than one occasion.  I have just learned there is a movie that I somehow missed completely, but scenes still look familiar.  I cannot tell if I saw it once & forgot or of all movies from that period look a little bit alike.

Either way, there is no movie about Wolfgang of Regensburg beating the devil (actually there probably the tourist kiosk of the Town of Ste. Wolfgang, but whatever) which is a damn shame because Wolfgang beat the devil & got him (the devil) to build a church.  The story itself, without further ado:

I could not find it.  I looked & looked & looked & all I found was this painting which some sources say is actually Ste. Augustine being presented with a book of vices (how handy!).  How Wolfgang came to meet the devil, no idea.  What the devil offered him, not a clue.  How Wolfgang roped the devil into doing good works, great big mystery. 

& so I leave you with this, a man who pulled a Tom Sawyer on Satan himself.  Then somehow got assigned October 31st as his feast day. 

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