Thursday, February 23, 2012


So when it seems like winter just might never end (not this winter, but others, maybe or winter someplace else), runny nose & hat-head & earaches it is time for the patron saint of....well, earaches.   I am not sure there is a patron of runny noses actually, & I am quite sure there is no one in the pantheon ministering specifically to sufferers of hat-head*.

I am speaking of course of Polycarp.  Polycarp of Smyrna, not to be confused with Polycarp of Antioch.  Don't you just love that there is more than one Polycarp? It gets better actually, there is also more than one Smyrna.  For our Polycarp, though we are not all that interested in Smyrna, Georgia ; it is kind of strange that he is not patron saint of any Smyrna, though isn't it?  Not Georgia, not Tennessee, not Delaware....& not the Smyrna he actually died in.

Polycarp wrote a lot about what he was doing while traveling...did I mention he traveled?  Well he did.  Thither & yon.  At least one letter he wrote has survived (there seems to be some confusion, at least I was confused.  There might be more than one letter, but maybe that was the other Polycarp), but letters about him can also be found.  In his travels he observed that the church was interpreted in different ways in different parts of the world.  It is Polycarp who said yes those eastern-types DO celebrate Easter on a different day & I think we can all live with that or something close enough that everyone DID live with it for quite some time.

He had lots of celebrity friends, John the Apostle among them.  Oh, & Pope Anicetus of course.  Pope Anicetus was the one who made the priests cut their hair, which is frankly the only reason I have ever heard of him.  I am OBSESSED with the historical politics of hair, Cromwell & Samson & all that.  Whenever I can work Leviticus 19:27 into conversation, I do it. 

Where was I,? Oh right, Polycarp of Smyrna.   In the end, he refused to burn incense or make an offering of any kind for the emperor (that whole Thou Shalt Have No G*d Before me thing) & so they burned him.  But he would not burn.  So they stabbed him to death & then burned the body.  Where earaches (or dysentery, the only other patronage under his jurisdiction) come into this, I cannot quite figure.

//* in keeping with my usual attention to detail, I have since learned there kind of IS a patroness of hat-head:  Catherine of Alexandria is in charge of milliners.  Yes, I made a note & will get to her some year on her day, November 25th.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot believe I have gotten so far behind! As always, love the saints; keep 'em coming