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April 7, 2003

Judging the dubiousness of saints
Posted by Teresa at 08:21 AM * 115 comments

This is an improved version of a list I posted to a comments thread some while back.

Subtract credibility points from any saint who:

-1 levitated
-2 flew
-3 performed significant actions after being dismembered
-4 performed significant actions after being beheaded
-2 is a Celtic saint associated with a body of water
-6 is a Celtic saint known only through being associated with a body of water
-1 is fun to draw
-1 has generated ex ossibus relics in excess of a single normal human skeleton
-1 is a popular statuary figure in the front windows of botanicas
-2 has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Saints which mentions the word “Antioch”
-2 is credited with the spontaneous generation of roses or rose petals
-2 after death or martyrdom, exuded water, milk, oil, perfume, or some other benign substance
-3 was granted specific favors at the point of martyrdom; viz., that women who invoke the saint during childbirth will bear healthy children, or that anyone who writes a Life of the saint will receive an unfading crown in heaven
-3 was the recipient of three or more miracles involving a significant discharge of energy
-4 performed numerically improbable feats (traveling in company with 11,000 virgins; simultaneously besting 50 philosophers in debate)
-5 had a run-in with a dragon
-5 is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (of whom there are nineteen)
-6 is first mentioned in martyrologies written several centuries after his or her supposed lifetime
-2 is mentioned in the Legenda Aurea
-7 is mentioned in the Legenda Aurea as a beautiful young virgin of noble birth who vows herself to Christ, is desired by a highly-placed official, and dauntlessly undergoes a long series of imaginative tortures interspersed with miracles before finally claiming the Palm of Martyrdom.
-8 appears to derive his or her entire existence from a medieval rhetorical trope
-9 appears to derive his or her entire existence from a misunderstood word or etymology
-10 appears to derive his or her entire existence from a typo
-15 is a member of the current lineup of the X-Men
Subtract one additional point for each 10% of the saint’s life that can be mapped directly onto the folklore motif index.

It would improve the accuracy of this method to have a second weighted list of characteristics pointing toward believability: being mentioned in scripture or other early writings, being mentioned by contemporaries (esp. sober and authoritative contemporaries), being the author of thoroughly respectable early writings, having a detailed Life which is marked by great piety but contains no colorful anecdotes at all, etc. etc. etc.

Bear in mind that even the best of saints can have a few dubious characteristics. St. Teresa of Avila occasionally levitated during prayer. All sorts of odd legends have gotten attached to St. Nicholas of Myra and St. George. Poor old St. Oswald died by being hacked to pieces by Mercians at the battle of Maserfield, and between that and the confusion of the times that followed, he somehow acquired an extra head. Really, it could happen to anyone; and there is a preferred head, the one that was kept with the relics of St. Cuthbert. Oswald’s remains are positively staid compared to the five or six (or seven? I’ve lost count) heads that have been credited St. John the Baptist, every one of which is exceedingly dubious.

Comments on Judging the dubiousness of saints:
#1 ::: david ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 08:52 AM:

I'm not even Catholic (or Christian for that matter) and that's hysterical. Thanks for the early morning laugh.


#2 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 10:41 AM:

This list is dead-on. I'm curious, though: where on the credibility loss/believability gain would you rate the actual presence of an incorruptable corpse? (Cf. St. Rose of Lima, if memory serves.)

Although they aren't saints, I'm also reminded of my absolute Most Favorite Ever relic, and by far one of the weirdest, seen in Munich some years back. Three quite dead, mummified infants in an elaborate jeweled reliquary, reputedly three of the Innocents murdered on the command of King Herod in his pursuit of the infant Jesus.

It's kind of funny, in a morbid sort of way. Insofar as three dead babies in a box can actually *be* funny, I guess.

#3 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 10:56 AM:

How many points do you lose for not being human? As in St. Guinefort:

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 11:05 AM:

For believablity, you can add points if the miracles recounted are things where you can say "Yeah, I can see it," like "Found an error in a manuscript that no one else noticed," or "Opened a lock to which his brother monk had lost the key."

You can add lots of points for "Whose writings are still in print."

#5 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 11:09 AM:

Do possible saints start with X number of credibility points? And can I mess everyone up by forging Antiochite documents?

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 12:07 PM:

For other incorruptible saints, see St. John of the Cross, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Bernadette.

#7 ::: Mr Ripley ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 12:08 PM:

No way could one persuade the faithful to question the legitimacy of Saint Charles Francis Xavier.

#8 ::: Pamela Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 01:35 PM:

Oh dear. Am I the only one who sees something very Mary-Sueish in the beautiful young virgin of noble birth who is desired by etc.?


#9 ::: Ed Gaillard ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 02:20 PM:

You could base a drinking game on this: one player reads a selection from a "lives of the saints"; listeners drink when one of the given characteristics comes up; pass the book at the end of a story. Last person still able to read wins.

-ed g.

#10 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 02:43 PM:

I just finished a book about the "Popish Plot" hysteria under Charles II, and it was striking how little was known about most of the 40 martyrs canonized in 1970. Despite having been put on trial and executed in a reasonably peaceful state with decent recordkeeping, in some cases nothing was known except a name (or multiple names, given the Society of Jesus' fondness for aliases).

#11 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 03:00 PM:

Oh! There was even a lost saint head, smuggled out of England during the aftermath of the Oates plot, buried in a priory in France by a bunch of English expatriats, and lost upon their return to England in 1700. I'll see if I can find out which English martyr's head is still gracing French soil.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 03:45 PM:

Not in the least, Pamela. Not in the least.

James: also SS. Adrian of Canterbury, Agnes of Montepulciano, Andrew Bobola, Angela Merici, Anthony of Padua (tongue only), Antonio Maria Zaccaria, Athanasia of Aegina, Benedict the Black, Benezet, Catherine Laboure, Catherine of Bologna, Catherine of Siena, Cecilia, Clare of Montefalco, Colman of Stockerau, Crispin of Viterbo, Cuthbert, Edward the Confessor, Ethelburga, Eustochia Calafato, Ferdinand III of Castille, Frances Xavier Cabrini, Francis of Paola, Fursey, Gabriel Gowdel, Germaine Cousin, James Oldo, Jodocus, John Bosco, John Climacus, John Mary Vianney, John Neumann, John of Damascus, John of Shanghai & San Francisco, John of Tobolsk, John XXIII, Josaphat, Margaret Mary Alacoque, Maria Gabriella, Maria Mazzarello, Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Miguel Febres Cordero Muf1oz, Mother Mary Magdalena Bentivoglio, Nazarien, Olga, Ollegarius, Paula Frassinetti, Peregrine Laziosi, Petca Parasceva, Peter Baptist, Petronilla, Philip of Moscow, Rita of Cascia, Romuald, Silvan, Sperandea, Spyridon, Stanislaus Kostka, Sunniva, Teresa Margaret Redi, Teresa of Avila, Ursula Ledochowska, Vincent de Paul, and Waltheof of Melrose.

(Not a complete list.)

I also found claims on two websites that Medgar Evers' remains are incorrupt.

#13 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 03:48 PM:

I think you could make some kind of gaming system out of this. Worse, I am sorely tempted to do so.

#14 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 04:18 PM:

I love it when you do stuff like this. Could we take up a collection and keep you posting stuff to make us smile for the duration of this stupid war?


#15 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 04:30 PM:

Are past lineups of the X-Men more or less credible as saints?

#16 ::: catie murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 04:42 PM:

Is there somebody on the X-Men lineup who's a saint? I can't think of one! (There's Thor, but he's 1. a god, and 2. an Avenger....)

#17 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 05:16 PM:

I don't care. I still believe in St. Christopher, even if he never existed.

#18 ::: Hard Pressed ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 05:23 PM:

A fake saint dead giveaway: if an early Christian saint has a name that is etymologically related to a symbol of a Greek or Roman goddess, and if her miracles/martyrdom occurred in an area dedicated to the worship of that Greek or Roman goddess, you're looking at pretty clear pagan/Christian syncretism. E.g. St. Sophia (wisdom) ~ Athena (goddess of wisdom), and, IIRC, St. Columba (the dove) ~ Venus (associated with doves).

I recall reading that the beautiful Hagia Sophia church is built on the site of an old temple of Athena.

#19 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 05:30 PM:

Cassandra, I was just going to suggest that Teresa could adapt this to GURPS or AD&D. The negative modifier would effect the die roll of clerics who pray to the saint for divine intervention.

More mods:

+1 if for each head-relic you have for the Saint.

+2 for burning a Mexican devotional candle.

+1 for having the Saint's bobblehead figure on hand.

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 05:43 PM:

Say on. This has possibilities.

Hard Pressed, St. Columba is as real as any early Irish saint could be. Also, it seems to me that kids growing up in an area dedicated to some deity are not unlikely to be given names related to it.

What I like about your theory is that it suggests that the Satmar Hasids were originally Marian Catholics.

#21 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 05:45 PM:

Hard Pressed: St. Columba was an Irish man; not sure where the dove came from...I think his name in Irish was something dove-related, maybe.

#22 ::: Brenda Daverin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 05:55 PM:

Columba's Irish name was Colum Cille.

And IRT fantastic acts attributed to the person, that presents an interesting conundrum when faced with the histories of St. Patrick. His life became wilder and wilder as time progressed. The snake story didn't even turn up in his hagiography for at least six centuries after the ascribed date of his Confessio. To be sure, the earliest versions of his life story include some interesting miracles, but they just got more ostentatious as the Irish Church grew larger and more connected with the rest of Europe.

#23 ::: smoke and mirrors ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 06:11 PM:

I've wondered before about Drausinus: why do invincible people need a patron saint? Whatever, maybe he's the kind of sponsor the X-men need.

Then again, what about female saints whose origin allegedly reflects confusion over the gender of images of Jesus? (Not golden legend, but virginal Uncumber grew a beard to repel unwanted suitors)

#24 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 06:25 PM:

Having (temporarily) occluded vision does create its odd moments. I first read that Oswald had been hacked to death by Mormons. Different field, but that takes us too far agley.

My handy Ordnance Survey Guide to Where to Get Killed in British History calls the battle "Maserfelth," but I suspect that is cognate with "field." On the other hand, reading the accounts of the period does leave one with a surfeit of curious endings and consonants in general.

Oops, there we go again. "And IRT fantastic acts attributed to the person . . ." Like, causing the air conditioning to be miraculously restored, or locusts scourging the guy who is holding the doors open? And where do the BMT and IND stand in this, not to mention the apocryphal K line?

#25 ::: Neil Gaiman ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 06:34 PM:

I think you should add credibility points if the Church was embarassed or discomfited by the miracles. I mean, St Joseph of Copertino flew and levitated when in ecstacies, but he was also of very limited intelligence, and the church kept shuffling him out of sight, and desperately hoping he wouldn't do it again...

#26 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 06:50 PM:

A long-time member of Fourteen Holy Helpers, St. Barbara lived in Antioch and has a life story remarkably similar to the tale of Rapunzel. She graces the windows of many botanicas and is currently a member of the X-Men in the form of Storm. You can read more about her in The Golden Legend.

Is that about right, Teresa Barbara?

#27 ::: Barbara ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 07:26 PM:

One of my favourites is Gwen the Triple-Breasted - one of the daughters of King Budic II. She was known to the French as St.Blanche,and sometimes, in written Latin as Alba Trimammis.

She married twice, first to Fracan, a cousin of King Cado of Dumnonia, by whom she was mother of the triplet Saints Wethnoc, Iacob and Winwaloe. Hence the reason for her being born with three breasts was revealed. Together they crossed the Channel to escape a pestilence that was ravaging the Dumnonian countryside, and settled at PlouFracan in Domnone9e. Gwen later bore Fracan a daughter,Chreirbia.

After Fracan's death, Gwen married Eneas Ledewig (the Letavian) and becamethe mother of St.Cadfan. Gwen was twice kidnapped by Anglo- Saxon pirates and carried off toEngland. Each time, however, she escaped by walking back across the Channel to Brittany.

In the twilight of her life, she retired to Whitchurch Canonicorum (Dorset) in Eastern Dumnonia. Here she lived for many years in her small hermitage,before the Saxons had their revenge at last, ransacked her home and murdered her. St.Wite's shrine remains there still in the church built over her grave. It was one of only two in the whole of Britain to survive the Reformation.

St.Gwen Teirbron (Triple-Breasted) should not be confused with other St.Gwens: the Queen of Elmet, St.Gwen ferch Brychan Brycheiniog and the Queen of Cerniw, St.Gwen ferch Cynyr Ceinfarfog(Fair-Beard). (But I'm sure you wouldn't fall into that error....)

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 07:58 PM:

"I think you should add credibility points if the Church was embarassed or discomfited by the miracles."

We need to quantify these.

Simpleminded: +1

Flew in ecstatic state: +1

Flew in ecstatic state when naked: +2

Uncomfortably ethnic: +1

#29 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 08:34 PM:

On the subject of place-names: Domnone9e is the French form of Dumnonia, so I'm not sure why she'd fly to the place she fled from. Unless it turns out to be something like the Bretagnes (Grande et Petite).

#30 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 08:38 PM:

And let's not forget Pope Joan, who isn't a saint but who's got a wonderfully dubious legend anyway.

#31 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 09:06 PM:

Would you add or substract points for saints who get co-opted into other religions? For example,in Cuban Santeria, St. Barbara is also Chango, God of Thunder and Lightning (my patron saint :-)
BTW, most Cubans would give up the Pope before they gave up Santa Barbara...

#32 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 09:51 PM:

Neil, I would certainly add credibility points for embarrassment. For instance, Saint Teresa intensely disliked levitating when she was praying prostrate on the floor, and would have a novice or two come sit on her when she felt a spell of it coming on. She considered levitation a gaudy distraction, and Had Words with God about it.

When she died, her corpse immediately started exuding the famous Odor of Sanctity -- which, like incorruptibility, is a phenomenon observed in more than one saint. It's invariably described as a sweet indescribable smell. However, in Teresa's case the Odor of Sanctity was so strong that her nuns had to throw open the windows to air the place out.

If you were Joseph of Copertino's superiors, wouldn't you want to shuffle him into the back row? People will insist on giving credibility to someone who can fly, even if he's a real mouthbreather.

I expect the neighbors and relatives of St. Christina the Amazing felt the same way about having her fly up to perch on the rafters during services -- because, she said, they were all a bunch of stinky sinners and she didn't want to have to sit next to them.

Karin, I rated incorruptibility as neutral even before I learned that both Pius IX and John XXIII are reportedly incorrupt.

Tom Scudder, I love the page about dog saints. As for St. Guinefort, my only disagreement with their account is that they say the cult of St. Guinefort survived up to 1940. You can find it alive and well at The same story can also be found in Aesop's Fables, and in folktales all round the world. This gives it a dubiousness of -10, since the entire story can be mapped directly onto the folklore motif index. St. Guinefort thus has the same credibility as a saint generated by a typo, e.g. St. Philomena.

Vicki, I have long suspected that forged Antiochene documents are behind a lot of odd hagiographies. In fact, there've been times when I've suspected that cooked-up relics were a cottage industry in Antioch.

Mr. Ripley, don't think I didn't see that.

Steve Cook, that would explain (and I have wondered) why the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales were canonized en masse. Do let me know about that straying head. I can't feel too indignant about it, though; bits of saints tend to get handed round. One of St. Teresa's fingers (I see it's my night to write about St. Teresa) reposed upon Franco's bedside table during the last years of his life. Thing is, if you have a saint's fingerbone, it's a relic. If you split it in half, both pieces are relics. You see the trend. It's rare to see a relic that isn't a little bitty fragment or sliver.

Mris, Catie: when Saint Barbara (patron saint of sailors, explosives, mining engineers, and gunnery officers) hit the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking New World, she picked up a second career as an orisha or orixa named Oya or Oya-Yansa or Iansa or Yansan, also known as Storm. One invocation of her goes, Here comes Oya with her luminous crown. Here comes Oya with the wind and the rain. She travels the forest, flying over hills. Here comes Oya, queen of the wind and rain. Oya is tornadoes, wind, and lightning, and fights injustice.

Saint Barbara gets around. She lurks behind Trump XVI of the Tarot's major arcana, the card also known as The Tower. That tower, with its three windows and its lightning bolt, cannot be other than hers. You can see her at the Cloisters, and painted on the ceiling of St. Augustine RC church in my own neighborhood (where she's tactfully identified as "an angel" in the documentation), standing with her tower tucked into the crook of her arm.

G. K. Chesterton was on good terms with her. Artillerists and engineers and other professionals who work with explosives have put up pages in her honor all over the web. They know she's theoretically been taken out of the calendar, but she's still their saint.

Barbara frequently turns up in the company of Saint Margaret of Antioch and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. A quick calculation of their dubiousness on my scale yields scores of -45, -41, and -34, respectively.

Oddly though, all three of them are associated with explosions. When Saint Margaret had her run-in with a dragon, she dealt with it by letting it swallow her, then made the sign of the cross and blew it up from the inside. (This is why she's the patron saint of women in childbirth.) Catherine of Alexandria is who Catherine Wheels are named for. She was smart, too. Before her martyrdom, she simultaneously debated with 50 pagan philosophers, and she converted the lot of 'em.

All three of them are unkillable. Margaret of Antioch was being denounced as ahistorical by the then-current Pope clear back in Fifth Century, and the story about her blowing up the dragon is the only instance I can think of where Jacobus de Voragine, author of the Legenda Aurea, coughs embarrassedly and says that that one's apocryphal and perhaps ought not be believed. All three of them have been taken out of the calendar. And yet, in my one-botanica-per-block neighborhood, you can find their images in the shop windows, and candles dedicated to them on sale in all the groceries.

Every time I'm on a Mythology in Fantasy convention panel, I point out that saints' lives are the missing mythology of European civilization, but so far I don't think anybody's believed me.

#33 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 09:58 PM:

That's Teresa Barbara Sophronia, Padrino, and don't you forget it.

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 10:13 PM:

Barbara, there's a reason Celtic saints get an automatic downcheck on my dubiousness scale. I should add a -2 score if they do things by threes.

#35 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2003, 10:15 PM:

I just want to thank Our TNH for her detailed discussion of St. Tazendra.

#36 ::: Abby ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 01:39 AM:

*gazes in awe at post, then in even more awe at comments*

Best. Thing. All week.

#37 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 02:45 AM:

As for crossover holy persons, there's the story of St. Josaphat, whose legend is actually a Christianization of a story about the Buddha. This story was accepted in the Church for several centuries and is in the "Golden Legend."

#38 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 03:15 AM:

Also deduct points for:

Bones in reliquary are stained with red ochre.

(St Gervaise and St Protasus, who according to J. B. S. Haldane's essay 'God-Makers' 'enriched heaven with its only palaeolithic saints'.)

Bones in reliquary are of extinct homind species.

(That one I made up.)

#39 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 04:08 AM:

Actually, technically Storm is not a part of the current X-Men lineup. She's part of a splinter group that's somewhat estranged from the administration of Xavier's School. (I.e., she's being written by Chris Claremont instead of Grant Morrison.)

#40 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 05:33 AM:

St. Barbara really does get around. she had her own botanica on my block on the LES for a while.
As far as discharges of energy, St. Francis of Assisi is reputed to have lain down in a blazing fire and invited a women who was trying to seduce him to join him there...

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 08:55 AM:

Ken, that's fascinating. And it did mean they preserved the specimens, even if not in situ.

#42 ::: Brian Bruxvoort ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 09:47 AM:

I'd like a ruling on St. Arnold who, during his particularly grueling funeral procession and to the delight of his carriers, either caused a magic beer mug to never run dry at a roadside tavern, or caused delicious beer to shoot forth from his casket. Does he get –4 for performing a numerically improbable feat, or –2 for exuding a benign substance?

#43 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 11:14 AM:

"I rated incorruptibility as neutral even before I learned that both Pius IX and John XXIII are reportedly incorrupt."

Interesting -- I didn't know they were. And I had no idea that the list of incorruptibles was actually that long.

I seem to recall reading that Pius XII ended up being more or less the opposite of incorruptible -- apparently while he was lying in state, his body began decomposing and making all sorts of unpleasant and embarrassing noises, not to mention smells.

What this means, if anything, ought to be left as an exercise to the reader, I think.

#44 ::: Deborah Green ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 11:27 AM:

This link has nothing to do with saints, but it does have to do with levitating. It's one of my favorites!

Thanks for a good giggle this morning. I needed it.


#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 12:06 PM:

John XXIII isn't exactly incorruptible, just remarkably well preserved, and he was helped along with formalin. I don't think that counts.

I don't have a problem with Pius IX (longest reigning Pope in history). I rather like the Syllabus of Errors.

#46 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 01:08 PM:

Patrick says: I just want to thank Our TNH for her detailed discussion of St. Tazendra.

I just lost a good five minutes of my life trying to come up with something adequate to say in response. Failing utterly, I must nevertheless highlight the image for the rest of you...

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 01:28 PM:

I understand that Santeria came into being when Yorubas (accent on first syllable, high tone on third - try it, it's surprisingly difficult) were brought to America as slaves, and forbidden to practice their Pagan religion. They arbitrarily assigned Saints as "fronts" for the Orishas, ignoring little things like gender (Chango is definitely a boy god). In the next generation(s), people forgot that it was supposed to be a scam, and really worshipped them as both saints and orishas, believing them to be the same person.

#48 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 03:40 PM:

David; Since when has Grant Morrison been writing X-Men ? X-Men never appealed to me much, but I have been a Grant Morrison fan since the days of Zenith.

#49 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 03:51 PM:

Kate, I couldn't think of anything to say either. "I live for moments like this" is one of my favorite lines in literature.

Brian, that's -4, "exuding a benign substance", with a possible -1 for being fun to draw. I've checked up on St. Arnulf of Metz, who appears to have a split personality. Religious websites never mention beer, and instead talk about his talent, piety, and well-documented life spent doing worthy deeds. Beer-oriented websites stress Arnulf's lifelong campaign to get people to stop drinking water and drink beer instead (this campaign is unknown to the religious sites), and enthusiastically describe the miraculous flood of beer at his funeral.

These things happen. Look at St. Oswald's extra head. Or look at St. George, who used to be a perfectly respectable Cappadocian soldier-saint. Then he got posted to the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and all heck broke loose.

Christopher, is that documented or hypothesized? It's not that I doubt you, but my impression was that nobody was paying that much attention to the spiritual lives of early Yoruban slaves.

#50 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 05:03 PM:

Kate says
Patrick says: I just want to thank Our TNH for her detailed discussion of St. Tazendra.

I just lost a good five minutes of my life trying to come up with something adequate to say in response. Failing utterly, I must nevertheless highlight the image for the rest of you...

I'm sorry if I'm being thick, but I'm not getting the joke.



#51 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 05:13 PM:

I've been waiting for someone to mention my own personal favourite: St. Expedite, Patron of Urgent Causes... and also, for obvious reasons, the patron saint of procrastinators. Little is known, or even imagined, about his life, but he is very popular in New Orleans, where most people believe the following tale -- and nonetheless revere him as a saint:

In outfitting the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the priests sent off to Spain for a large and beautiful statue of the Virgin. Many months later, by ship, they received TWO crates instead of one. They opened the first and it contained the statue of Mary, which they had commissioned, and then they turned to the unexpected second crate, which only bore the legend EXPEDITE on the outside.

This they opened, to find the statue of a Roman centurion. In their simple ignorance, they mistook the shipping instructions -- EXPEDITE, meaning, "expedite this shipment" -- to be the name of a saint.

Some people say this origin can't be true, because he is revered in other places, too. The curious thing, though, is that wherever he crops up, there's always a similar tale, locally based, as befits a true Urban Legend. What charms me is that this is no barrier at all to his popularity as a saint. I suppose he does address an important need.

If anyone cares, his feast day is April 19th, coming up soon.

#52 ::: Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 05:53 PM:

If having a body that's incorruptible after death is a criterion, and if being helped with formalin isn't a problem, Vladimir Illych Ulyanov should be a saint.

#53 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 06:26 PM:

Chuck--don't forget kindly, smiling Uncle Joe, leader and teacher of the working people of the world, as well. There was recently a fascinating History Channel documentary about what the USSR went throught to preserve VI Lenin, detailing both the scientific processes and the political controversy (such as it was) about the whole process. What was most remarkable, though, was that there was absolutely no mention of the fact that Stalin went through the same process and lay at Lenin's side before ater being the Commie version of decanonization...

#54 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 06:26 PM:

Mary Kay, Tazendra is one of Steve Brust's characters. She, too, is frequently associated with explosions.

#55 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 08:59 PM:

Here you go, Teresa:

"But, whatever else might divide them, the regular and secular clergy were united in martyrdom.... At one extreme stood the cultured and sophisticated Franciscan John Wall, former professor of philosphy of Douai...whose acute and academic intelligence was blacked out on the Red Hill at Worcester on August 22nd, 1679.... Cults were quick to form. John Wall''s severed head was snatched away by another Franciscan, and after many vicissitudes reached Douai. The Poor Clares at Aire took charge of it, and on the outbreak of the French Revolution it returned with them to England. In 1815 it wass brough back to the restored convent at Gravelines, but when the time came for them to return to England for good in 1836 the unfortunate sister responsible for this rather grisly relic felt she could not face the British Customs with it. She buried it in the cloister garden, but subsequently neigher she nor anyone else was able to find it." (John Kenyon, The Popish Plot, p. 218; his source is a 1962 biography of Wall by Frank Davey).

In answer to your question about why they were canonized en masse, there were over 300 martyred Catholics in the British Isles between the Act of Supremacy and the Glorious Revolution; according to Kenyon (and a few other sources I glanced at), the 40 Martyrs were chosen as a representative sample of regular clergy, secular clergy, and laity. Almost all of those executed after being accused in the Oates Plot were beatified, but not all were canonized.

#56 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 09:05 PM:

I should have thought that St Expedite's Day would be 15 April, at least in the US.

Sort of the flipside to "Evacuation Day" in Boston, the secular excuse for St Patrick's Day absences -- nominally commemorating the evacuation of British soldiers from the city during the American Revolution, actually so-named after the amount of evacuation brought on by excesses of beer and "boiled dinner."

#57 ::: peter jung ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 02:05 AM:


You might want to subtract credibilty points from any saint who has been reproduced in plastic. (see: St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers) Actually, I think he got demoted by the church some time ago anyway, so his credibility may already be in the toilet. I grew up in a small town in central Minnesota, and I bet there weren't two cars in the entire county that didn't have St. Chris standing there on the dashboard, with his magnetic feet keeping him upright and majestic. Oddly, the fatality rate from auto accidents was higher in our area than the national average, so maybe his mojo wasn't so hot. Or perhaps the idea was that his blessing didn't prevent accidents, but assured the deceased of a place in heaven after the tragedy? I don't know, I could never keep it all straight. I'm going to check Ebay and see if I can find a used one....

Dominus Vobiscum,

peter jung
hudson, ny

#58 ::: peter jung ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 02:21 AM:

Just recalled a story that I've heard on my travels in the art world-

Some years ago, a prestigious auction house sold an old master painting of a lovely woman bearing a tray of beautiful flowers. It brought a considerable sum, and after the sale the new owner took it in for expert cleaning and restoration. Upon examination under ultraviolet light it became apparent that the flowers were recent overpaint, and they concealed the bloody severed head of St. John the Baptist being delivered to Salome....

#59 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 03:43 AM:

Emmet: Grant Morrison has been writing New X-Men (not to be confused with Uncanny X-Men or X-Treme X-Men) for a couple of years now.
(To be precise, since issue #114 -- the most recent is #128.) I believe that most of the run is collected.

#60 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 08:19 AM:

About ST Christina the Amazing perching on the rafter. I feel a children's book coming on! (Akin to Walter the Farting Dog, I bet.)

Please say more.


#61 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 08:21 AM:

"Saint Barbara gets around. She lurks behind Trump XVI of the Tarot's major arcana, the card also known as The Tower. That tower, with its three windows and its lightning bolt, cannot be other than hers."

Does this somehow mean The Donald is a saint? It smacks of such.


#62 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 08:25 AM:

About John Wall's head--it begins to sound a lot like the Celtic mage king Bran who was killed in battle, and had his followers carry his head around with them, and he prophesied for 80 more years that way.


PS Sorry to do three posts in a row, but this stuff FACINATES me.

#63 ::: peter jung ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 12:29 PM:

St. Christoper Mudflaps for Your Scooter...

#64 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 05:37 PM:

I have seen the head of St. Oswald. Well, one of them, anyway. An eagle dropped it down a well. The well's still there, and if that isn't enough proof for you I can't help.

Barbara -- where did you find St. Gwen ferch Cynyr Fairbeard? I'm pretty well up on obscure Celtic saints, but she's new. I could really do with a good source on her for my endless project on identifying other sightings of all the people mentioned in "Culhwch and Olwen".

(Cynyr, under the more pronounceable name of Cynrig Fairbeard also got a walk-on part in The King's Name, so I have an additional interest in him.)

#65 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 12:33 AM:

Regarding incorruptibility, I read a fascinating book on mummification several months ago, The Mummy Congress, by Heather Pringle. Subtitled Science, Obsession and the Everlasting Dead, it looked a good bet for whiling away a few hours. I was not disappointed. Ms Pringle quotes one Ezio Fulcheri of the University of Genoa in this passage:

Imbued by faith, the early Christian fathers were determined to follow the example of Christ in every possible way. "If Christ, as the head of the Church, was oiled and embalmed," said Fulcheri, "they thought that important people and holy people should be oiled and embalmed, too." So early Christians began anointing the bodies of the holy with natural preservatives and wrapping them in linen, simple acts that greatly aided the mummification of many saints.

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2003, 07:46 PM:

Jane, there are many accounts of the life of Saint Christina the Astonishing, a.k.a. Christina Mirabilis, a.k.a. Christina of Liege. They vary little in their facts, their chief difference being the writers' attitudes. Here's one of the better sites. Its author has also painted an image of St. Christina.

#67 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2003, 07:55 PM:

Oh, and here's another.

#68 ::: Barbara ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2003, 09:11 PM:

Jo asked where I got my info on Triple Breasted Gwen - and I seem to have lost the source.( -Originally I was looking up one of her kids, Winwaloe, while reading King Herafter by Dorothy Dunnett - a book full of obscure saints and a very good read).
I just had a quick look on Google and only found:
Ixquick was better, and gave me:

#69 ::: Reg ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 03:50 PM:

Hi, I just wanted you to know I've been enjoying this discussion very much!
In regards to Xopher's mention of Santeria, I'd like to add some academic suppport. Yoruba were taken from the Gold Coast portion of Africa to work as slaves on the sugar plantations of the islands of the Carribean, which were owned by Catholics.
Drift occurred in the religion, racial makeup, and location of these people. Their belief in the Orishas was blended with the Catholic saints, and yes, Shango/Chango was identified with Santa Barbara and lightning (lots of power there, would not want to tick him/her off!). The Yoruba became Cubans, Haitians, New Orleans Creoles of a hundred different distinctions of color (quadroon, octoroon, etc.), and other people of the Carribean. Their religion is called Lukumi in Cuba and Miami, Santeria in Mexico, Voudoun or Voodoo in New Orleans.
In Lukumi, there in an orisha who "owns your head." It's like having a patron saint. This is the orisha upon whom you need to call for help with a problem. The orisha Elegua/Legba is the one who "opens doors" for the others, so he is first propitiated, then your personal orisha is petitioned. Tronas, which are like a cross between little altars and dollhouse room scenes, are decorated as places for the orishas to stay. Certain colors and numbers are associated with the different orishas, and those dedicating themselves to the service of the orishas dress all in white for a year, abstaining from sex and purifying themselves.
Sorry if the tone has been too pedantic, but I got all of this from first person interviews and my own research while I was in Cuba in 1999. I just wanted to support Xopher in his assertion that Catholic saints took a Carribean holiday back in the 1700's and changed their look quite a bit!
Best Wishes,

#70 ::: John Isbell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 06:11 PM:

All this has been tremendous fun.
A friend of mine just published a book on imaginary saints: Jacques Merceron, "Dictionnaire des saints imaginaires." He's a medievalist. I gave him a couple, including the French town of Simplon, which the Revolutionaries rebaptized Plon because they thought it was St Plon (they couldn't read). A couple are routine French idiom, like a "sainte nitouche", which is an unapproachable woman.

#71 ::: msg ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2003, 02:36 PM:

I didn't read all 70 posts so maybe another delighted reader of your blog has done this, which would brighten my load consderably.
but just in case,
my favorite Saint so far:

Christina, please come down, I love you

#72 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 03:12 AM:

T ll n ths pst:

Ww, ths crwd mks KKK crss brnng sssn lk lk "Wlcm t th nghbrhd prt, ll y Blcks, Jws, cthlcs! Gttng lf prbbl nvr ntrd n f yr s-clld mnds. 'm sr tht mst f th grls hr, nrtrng fmls tht brds frm Nw, th "Ntnl rgnstn f Wtchs" clm tht fmls n gnrl, sppsdl r, wld hld th sctn tb t sck th lvng chldrn t f thr mthr's wmbs. Th bys r vrwhlmd b thr ntllcts! cn't fthm fr m lf wh tht d vn cld fnd ts w nt thr hds. f n f y blckhds wr ttckd fr yr clr, rc, sx r rlgn r, lck f n f sm, 'm sr y'd b mrchng nd cndmnng ths wh cmmntd n yr lck f hmnt bcs f yr blf sstm, r lck f n. Wht s t, cthlcsm s th lst grp tht cn b sd b y lsrs t xprss yr bgtr, gnrnc, nd h, chck yr hms, yr gnrnc s shwng. 'm nt Chrstn, Jwsh, Prtstnt, Bddhsts, Shnt, Hnd, Mslm, Cnfcnsts, Scntlgst, r blvr n n thr rgnsd rlgs grp, nr m sclr hmnst,pgn, wccn, shmn, r n thr s clld phlsphc r rlgs blf sstm. dn't vn blng t pltcl prt, bcs th ns w hv sck, s d th ldrs nd mmbrs f ths lng lwlf rgnstns. d vt thgh. H, lst y r nsltd b ths sttmnt, mst f th "mntl gnts" tht cmmntd n spprt f ths s clld lnk, nl rflcts n hw lw r
dctnl sstms, nd mrl stndrds f ths sct snk. cn wll ndrstnd wh w hr n th .S. r s wll lkd rnd th wrld. vr hr f th mv "Th gl mrcn"? Jst lk n th mrrr nd thn lk t yr fmls, frnds, nd nghbrs. Tk gd hrd lk rnd. Thnk gdnss fr ppcd nd th thr stmch mds t thr. h, lst frgt, n cs n f y hv sm nc cmmnts t mk t m r t m. knw y r, bt wht m ?

B wll, tk cr nd Gd blss,


#73 ::: Raul De La Garza ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 08:16 PM:

I, for one, am not amused. It seems quite evident that the basics of canonization of the saints are completely unknown to the author of this insult. Or was there a point to this writing that did not serve to antagonize Christian faithful?

#74 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 05:58 AM:

I, for one, am amused. It seems that the history of the Church is unknown to Sr. De La Garza.

Or would he care to comment on exactly when and by what means St. Simon Stock was canonized?

In fact, the "basics of canonization" of which he speaks are a comparatively modern process. As Sr. De La Garza studies more and learns more about the Church, as his faith deepens he will come to understand the purpose and intent of this article.

#75 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 09:29 AM:

Gracias, Padrino.

#76 ::: Raul De La Garza ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 12:34 PM:

My apologies, Mr. MacDonald, is it your intent to enter into a meaningful dialogue? If so, please state your argument clearly or as clearly as possible. I am not adept at picking up on ambiguous cues and references especially when such is posted to a 91blog92 such as this. After all, 'I am a bear of very little brain.'

To address your concerns, however, that Church history is unknown to me. I admit that I am not a Church historian nor do I claim to be, however, I can speak to some of it which therefore invalidates your supposition. Instead, I rather fancy myself as an amateur Catholic apologist and may be able to address some of the misunderstandings individuals my have concerning what the Church teaches and why. But this is beyond the content of the topic, I suppose.

As far as I know, Simon Stock, or Simon Anglus (MGRHS), was never formally canonized so I fail to see the point in bringing up this particular 'saint' as a means to support whatever argument you are trying to make regarding the dubiousness of Catholic saints. That some (or many) may not realize that Simon Stock is not formally recognized as a saint may or may not be an issue as far as I am concerned. That is a tangential issue for me.

Further, although the norms of the canonization process is modern, although one can argue that the tenth century is a stretch when referred to as 'modern', that fact too may be inconsequential from my perspective. Before the 'modern' norms, canonization was quite a bit more democratic and the veneration of holy people had been an ancient practice having its roots in the veneration the ancient Jews gave to their prophets. Perhaps this is the era this post refers to as 'dubious?' If so, in that we may find common ground. But then again, that is why a more thorough process had to be adopted in later centuries.

Nevertheless, the fundamentals for which I regard are tied directly into the authority that produces the norms in whatever age the Church finds herself. To that I may be able to address.

Regardless, I still find this points system reprehensible and tasteless.

#77 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 12:48 PM:

Wow. Talk about getting hold of the wrong end of the stick.

#78 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 01:56 PM:

I'm just curious where this is coming from, all of a sudden.

#79 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 03:06 PM:

Sr. De La Garza:

First: The process of beatification as we now know it, though it has ancient roots, took its current form in the seventeenth century. This, a mere three hundred years ago, is modern.

Second: St. Simon Stock was not canonized by the process of canonization as we now know it. I was attempting, gently, to lead you to this realization. Many other saints were not canonized by the modern formula; this is beyond dispute. St. Simon Stock was a man of positive historicity and undoubted Godliness. This too is beyond dispute, but it leads us to:

Third: Certain saints are of doubtful historicity. This too is beyond doubt; see for example the removals (beginning in 1961) of St. Christopher, St. Philomena, St Trypho et al. from the Universal Calendar of Saints. Since modern canonization depends on, among other things, "incontrovertible historical evidence," this is neither surprising nor unorthodox.

Fourth: The veneration of the saints includes, of necessity, the study of their lives and works. This is by definition.

Fifth: The veneration of false or non-existent saints has no support in orthodoxy. Such veneration is both foolish and a scandal; see above points three and four.

Sixth: Some saints, not canonized under the modern practice, may be false or non-existent. Or, some aspects of the lives of some saints may be legendary rather than a matter of sober history. (Do you, Sr. De La Garza, personally maintain that St. Dallon reattached his own head after his execution?) Points one, two, and three.

Seventh: The faithful, by whatever means, should discern the true from the false. Points five and six.

This brings us to, finally: The point system, presented above, can be a means for the faithful to deepen their faith, through the veneration of the true. Points three and seven.


Like Kate, I find myself wondering about this recent resurgence of interest in this topic. Is there a link somewhere, or a discussion on some other list, which calls the faithful to (without cause) come and defend the Faith against a supposed unbeliever?

#80 ::: K. Shelton ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 05:06 PM:

Okay, what about people who are connected to miracles, or are worshipped as saints, but either have not yet or likely never will be canonized?

Personally, the two things I'm thinking of right now are that I've read stories of miracles performed, apparently, via Father Mychal Judge (who, for my money, will form a genuine American saint's cult, canonized or not.) and a girl not far from where I live who, apparently, preforms miracles despite being in a coma and likely braindead. (If google would come up I'd find her name...)

Sylvia Li: St. Expedite is my favorite, too. You can't beat the "What the hell?" dead crow in his icon (it's a latin pun, apparently.) He's up there with St. Lazarus, St. Vitus and St. Sebastian in my favorites.

P.S. I have not been sent to defend anything.

#81 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 05:28 PM:

Patrick: Or the wrong end of the stock?

Kate: I'm wondering too. Someone who thoroughly misunderstood my post must have linked to it from a venue I don't see.

Hmmmmm, Raul De La Garza, a.k.a. Raul De La Garza III ...

Hello, Raul. How do you do? You're married, you're a network engineer (but use a Hotmail account), and you're a fan of the heavy-metal group Dokken. You live or have lived in the Dallas area. You aren't fluent in Spanish, and your ear for tone in English could be better. In 1997 you converted to Catholicism along with your wife, having previously been an Episcopalian, and before that a Southern Baptist.

As of 04 December 2000 you neither knew who "the good thief" was -- that's Saint Dismas -- nor how much we know about him. From this I conclude that, unlike mine, your conversion was not preceded by twenty-odd years of continuing interest in, and intermittent study of, the lives of the saints. (They snuck up on me.)

You are mistaken in your belief that any insult was intended. My post proceeded from my long and deep appreciation of saints and saints' lives. The same could be said of many of the comments that followed it: a notably good thread.

Furthermore, you and your immediate predecessor, the now-disemvowelled Bb (, are the only commenters thus far who've completely failed to notice this fact. I suspect you both arrived here primed for misunderstanding.

For your benefit, I'd like to make a distinction here between saints and saints' lives. The most wildly folkloric saint's life imaginable doesn't constitute proof that that saint never existed. Technically, what you have then is a saint for whom we have no reliable life.

That said, it would show a real lack of discernment to insist that all saints' lives are of equal value. Saints hang out with God, but saints' lives are written here on earth, by mortal and fallible writers. You'd have to be stubborn to the point of folly to give The acts of Paul and Thecla equal dignity with The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity.

Once you admit that, the door is open for rating systems. If you think this is somehow inherently sinful, go look up the Bollandists and see what they do.

Remember: God is not mocked, but our sense of humor is a part of creation just as surely as anything else.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 05:51 PM:

Thanks Reg. I forgot to answer Teresa's question myself...I was getting it from a series of workshops on Santeria at NatHis, hosted by Dolores Ashcraft-Nowicki (not sure of the spelling). And don't forget Candomble in Brazil.

And I venerate St. Christopher, despite my not even being a Christian, much less a Roman Catholic. And I deny that the Pope has the right to decide who is and is not a Saint -- for anyone but Roman Catholics, that is. They've agreed to take his word for it; I have not.

I venerate St. Christopher because, aside from the obvious, I believe him to be a popularization of Anubis, one of my favorite gods. This despite all the "evidence" to the contrary which has been cited here and elsewhere. I steadfastly cling to my belief, credo quia absurdum. So there.

Otherwise I'd have to ditch my St. Kit medal and belt clip, and what would I wear as a ritually protective object when travelling? Can't get an Anubis medal, not in nice silver. I suppose I could get a cadeucis (sp?) and switch to Hermes.

There is a popular Pagan meme which holds that monotheists are utterly humorless about their religion, and especially their gods (oops, sorry, saints...they sure look like minor gods to us). I know better, having known a lot of the author of this post. Hello? Have you read anything else she's written?

K. Shelton, did you notice that Mychal Judge vanished from the canon of Journalistic 9/11 Saints PDQ after it was revealed that he was gay? One of the heros of the plane crash in PA was gay, too; the press focuses on the other one.

As stated above, I'm no Catholic, but I believe there's an entirely legitimate process by which Catholics may petition for someone's beatification and subsequent canonization. I saw a documentary about a case of childhood Tylenol poisoning where the family prayed to (and ONLY to) the Blessed Edith Stein; I believe the child's phenomenal recovery is counted as one of her miracles. But her father collected and submitted the medical reports &c, in a specific effort to achieve canonization for Edith Stein.

#83 ::: Raul De La Garza III ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 07:54 PM:


Finally an explanation for my apparent misunderstanding. Although, it could've been explained with far much less of my personal information being shared on this particular forum (what was the point of that?) and much less criticism of my handling of the English language. After all, I never claimed mastery in that area.

At any rate, we agree on far more than not even though my position on such a list remains 'slightly' unchanged. ;-)

Sorry to be a bother.

May God bless.

#84 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 08:06 PM:

"Although, it could've been explained with far much less of my personal information being shared on this particular forum"

Arguably, this discussion could also have been conducted without putting forth the imputation that anyone's intention was to "antagonize" any variety of religious person.

Funnily enough, people get a bit sharp over accusations like that. Particularly when the accusations are 100% wrong and comprehensively unjust.

#85 ::: Raul De La Garza ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:07 PM:

I see... So the imputation was enough to warrant such a response? I fail to see the sense of fairness and honor in that action. What else have you gathered concerning myself and/or my family? Would you care to divulge anything else on this public forum? My street address? Name of my first born? Maybe you and yours can come over some time for a beer or two now that we're best buds and all. ;-) Honestly, I've had better treatment from venomous anti-Catholics in times past. As your wife has undoubtedly perused the CIN apologetics list she can easily find evidence of that nature. I wonder if other 'posters' would find your actions responsible or acceptable if they were to air disagreements over content found on this site. What to do, what to do? As a network type should I now retaliate with divulging yet unknown information about yours concerning your domain information? IP addresses? etc.? Such information might prove useful to certain undesirables, but, of course that would be bad form and not at all called for just because of some imputation or misunderstanding. Shall I expect undesirables at my door, threatening my life or the lives of my family? Or perhaps, maybe, just maybe I can expect to wake up one morning to find that my home was the victim of a toilet-papering. :-0

BTW, this should be in no way misconstrued as a threat of any kind. I am just attempting to draw likely comparisons in order to make a point. It is my intent that we might be able to continue amicable dialogue in future but recognizing that there may be unjustness on both sides.

May God bless,

Raul De La Garza III

Also, I like to listen to Van Halen, Indigo Girls, 80s pop, 70s rock, and Christian contemporary. I can speak a bit of French, like taking walks, snow skiing, pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. ;-)

#86 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:18 PM:

Yeah, actually, the imputation was enough to warrant such a response.

#87 ::: Raul De La Garza III ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:37 PM:


#88 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:50 PM:

No, actually, entirely believable.

As I'm sure "Raul De La Garza III" is quite aware.

#89 ::: Raul De La Garza III ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 12:02 AM:

Good grief.

#90 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 12:10 AM:

Grief generally has something to teach us.

One thing grief has taught me is that the internet is full of people who aren't for real.

#91 ::: Raul De La Garza III ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 07:39 AM:

Just what are you insinuating, if anything?

#92 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 08:14 AM:

Raul, you are a silly fellow. With two exceptions, that was all information you made available on the web. The two exceptions were inferred from your participation here: that your ear for tone in English is not first-rate, and that you aren't fluent in Spanish. And if I were in your position, I'd have asked how the Spanish came into it.

As for your threats: If my domain name and IP addresses were a secret, the internet wouldn't work. It embarrasses me to have to explain this to a network engineer.

As for rudeness: You barged in here without paying much attention to what I actually wrote, nor to the conversation that followed it. You made some unwarranted assumptions, and accused me of nonsensical sins and malfeasances. In spite of having had this explained to you by several participants here, you've barely registered your errors, much less acknowledged them or apologized for them.

But what's far worse in my book is that you have not engaged with the conversation. You came here full of pride and puffed-up indignation, looking to correct my nonexistent error. Now, grown even puffier with indignation, you're protesting what you conceive to be an affront to your dignity. But of the interesting remarks that have been made here about saints and saints' lives (I except my own), you have taken little or no notice; and the single most useful piece of information you could have contributed -- that is, where this sudden influx of commenters is coming from -- has not been forthcoming.

Are you interested in saints, and in participating in this conversation? Or is this just a drive-by exercise in unearned self-righteousness?

#93 ::: Raul De La Garza III ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:17 AM:


I admit I have been rash and perhaps even disrespectful to some degree and for that I apologize. My manners have been less than savory. Again, I apologize.

However, I still fail to see how that could warrant such a response from you in the form of divulgence of my personal affairs on this forum. Granted, I've made that information available, however, I doubt that anyone including myself could one day imagine that such information might be deemed 'useful' in a counterattack on a public forum.

As for the 'threat', I included domain information and IP addresses as just a sampling of the information that could be gathered. Further, to make the point, this information is just as public as what I had 'published', however that information should not normally be made readily available on a public forum such as this, wouldn't you agree? That's a rather rude break of etiquette even during an argument. It was never the intent to lead you to believe that I am somehow incomptent with respect to how the Internet functions or in my abilities as a network engineer.

As for my lack of engagement in the discussion, I've barely been able to begin what with all of the negative reaction to my presence here, understandably. Otherwise, I would love to start.

God bless.

#94 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:25 AM:

I have long held the belief that people who sign all their public correspondence love want to infuriate people into hitting them, so that they can then feel comfortably superior.

Throwing in a God bless after attempting to demand, by some passive agressive cousin of emotional blackmail, that one will only have something to say after everyone agrees to forget that your arrival involved harsh and unjustified criticism, or in any case to not hold you responsible for the conveyance of your own words, seems to be something of much the same character.

#95 ::: Eleanor Rowe ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:37 AM:

Raul: A simple question.

How did you find your way to this discussion?

#96 ::: Raul De La Garza III ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 10:24 AM:


You are entitled to your belief, of course.

Eleanor Rowe,

It was by search engine. Thanks for asking.

May God bless.

#97 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 02:45 PM:

Raul, you may well say that "It was never the intent to lead you to believe that I am somehow incomptent with respect to how the Internet functions or in my abilities as a network engineer," and I'll believe you; but that doesn't mean you didn't do it.

Let me repeat the pertinent point: everything I posted was information you put on the web. If you think these are your "personal affairs", unsuitable for the general public, the breach of responsibility was yours, not mine. It was the work of a few minutes for me to aggregate it, and required no special expertise. How is it that you don't already know this? You're the professional. I'm just a book editor who knows how to use Google.

In fact I've been quite a bit more discreet than you have. I could, right now, list your professional qualifications, your job title, your employer, your employer's street address, your company e-mail address, your work, mobile, fax, and pager numbers, and the city in which you reside. I won't, because anyone who wants to know that information can find it as easily as I did. But the person who made it easy for them was you.

And your representation of your threat to make public my domain info and IP addresses as "a sampling of the information that could be gathered" verges on the absurd. What you can find out about them, anyone can find out. Furthermore, there's far more personal information about me available all over the place, most notably on my own website.

I have no idea how competent you actually are at your job. For all I know, you're a perfect gem of a network engineer. I'm just glad that you're not responsible for network security on any system I have to use, because I'd worry.

Moving from the technical to the social: You came here to chide and correct me, and you broke in on an established conversation. Those are not impersonal acts. Your failure to introduce yourself, or to make your entrance in a more courteous fashion, were your lapses, not mine. Under the circumstances, it was hardly inappropriate for me to establish who I was addressing. Someone in the conversation had to do it. You certainly hadn't bothered.

And I'm truly not impressed by your blaming your lack of engagement on "the negative reaction to [your] presence here." It's not your presence that's prompting the reaction; i's your behavior. You showed up, grabbed hold of the wrong end of the stick, and started whacking me with it. And by golly, you weren't greeted with cries of glee!

So would you please stop saying "incredible" and "unbelievable"? Because if this is how you behave online, the reaction you got cannot have come as a surprise to you.

#98 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 03:25 PM:


#99 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:44 PM:

For Sr. De La Garza: What did you come here to say? If you have an argument to make, now would be a great time to make it.

#100 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 04:35 PM:

Particularly if it comes right after a statement to the general effect of "I admit I was completely in the wrong, and that your anger was fully justified; I humbly apologize for my offense, and pledge to try to the best of my ability to avoid such transgressions in the future."

#101 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 09:56 PM:

If he ever comes back, Sr. De La Garza needs to become familiar with the thread ( in which the dubiousness score made its first appearance) as well as this one to more fully understand Teresa's cause and motive for writing and posting the dubiousness list.

This was, by no means, the first nor only time Teresa has mentioned saints, both in general and in particular.

#102 ::: angela ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 01:53 AM:

Am I in the right place i can actually read and understand what the conversations are about.
someone help!!!!

#103 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 01:46 PM:

One of the things I love about the "recent comments" area is that I get to read things I had not yet found.

One of the things that is fascinating to me about this thread, which redounds to all threads on this list, is watching the people here deal with difficult posts.

If someone comes on and blindly attacks (as Raul de la Garza III seems to have done), the immediate response is a defensive attack back. If the poster, as RG3 did, replies in a way that indicates some interest in continuing the conversation, people here in general _actually continue the conversation_, trying to draw out thoughts, beliefs and so forth. It's very different from how the mass media portray communication -- and remarkably similar to what's happening here on (e.g) the _cri de couer_ thread. And this kind of discussion, where people start out disagreeing but actually seem to be willing to listen to opposing views is very much what I love in the world.

Not a Catholic at all, closer to a militant agnostic (I don't know, and you don't either!) but secretly loving the idea of becoming a Jesuit because I love intelligent discussion....


#104 ::: Pure (not because she is in contention for canonization) ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 02:30 PM:

This has been wonderful reading. Teresa I bow respectfully to you - you are a wit. Thank you for including us in our your insights. Hagiography has long been my hobby and this site will soothe my inner soul for eons to come.
I want to be a Jesuit too since they seem to always have the upper hand (not a relic per se) with the Church. I love the dog saint website as I was castigated last night for even thinking that animals having souls wouldn't hurt anyone. I was told by a Capuchin monk that allowing animals to have souls was degrading to humans. Oh well... someone else will have to break the news to my Scottie companion. She will be put out to say the least.

#105 ::: Eloise Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 02:35 PM:

Allowing animals to have souls is degrading to humans the same way that letting those damn homos get married is an insulting attack on the entire institution of marriage.

I should probably note as a disclaimer that I am not in fact opposed to gay marriage, myself.

#106 ::: Mike Whitaker ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2003, 05:03 PM:

Now you just KNOW someone's going to read the first paragraph of that and go off the deep end before they bother to read the second, don't you Eloise? :)

#107 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2003, 07:25 PM:

St. Francis preached to animals.

This sounds like a fan feud between the Franciscans and the Capuchins. (Are the Capuchin's ticked off because capuchin monkeys got their name from the resemblence between their markings and the Capuchin habit?)

In any case, it's perfectly orthodox to state that animals have natural souls.

#108 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2003, 08:28 PM:

James: I've never encountered that term before. Is "natural" to be understood in relation to "unnatural," or to "artificial"? Or something else entirely?

#109 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2003, 08:42 PM:

Natural is in relation to spiritual. See Tertullian on the subject.

#110 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2003, 11:51 PM:

Natural souls. I like that, and it fits with my experience.

#111 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2003, 01:33 AM:

Google ain't got nothin' to say 'bout "natural souls" Tertullian.

#112 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2003, 08:52 AM:


#113 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 08:12 PM:

Thank you for placing my son's name, Erich H., at the base of the saint's relics, nieces, nephews, godchild, their maternal and paternal family tree, parents, grandparents, step(parents), etc., for healing, cleansing, deliverance, protection, intercession and consecration to the Nazarene family (according to their parents) and those who've requested my prayers. Struggling with soulhunters, pagan, evil and false religious bondages convenants and seals. Karin S.

#114 ::: Rikibeth is not sure if it's spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 08:39 PM:

Or, perhaps, if Karin S. has just mistaken the venue for one of a different sort - the message reminds me of the "thanks to St. Jude" classifieds that I used to see in print newspapers.

P.S. Karin, "pagan" isn't a pejorative around here - just one of the many religious categories that participants are known to subscribe to.

#115 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 09:18 PM:

I think it's not spam; just a soul in, or in the near vicinity of, despair. I hope things improve for them soon.

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