Monday, June 23, 2008


You’re all eager to hear about Saint Ethelreda (Audrey in Latin), who managed to have two husbands and never consummate her union with either one. Twice a virgin, always a virgin. Something of an accomplishment, this. Like some others we have mentioned, Ethelreda had the benefit of a genetic inclination towards sanctity – consider her sisters: Saints Sexburga, Ethelburga and Withberga.

After years in the convent, Ethelreda lay dying of an enormous and hideous pestilential tumor on her neck; she took it as divine retribution for all the gem-laden necklaces she had worn in her frivolous youth.

[There is a word for that kind of narcissistic self-castigation, but I can’t think of it now. Please send any suggestions because it’s driving me crazy, not knowing the word.]
Speaking of words. Throughout the Middle Ages a fair was held on Saint Ethelreda/Audrey’s feast day (today) at which especially tacky necklaces and “other trumpery” were sold, which brings us to a word I do know: the modifier tawdry is a corruption of Saint Audrey.

Given such exciting tales, it seems remiss not to mention Blessed Thomas Corsini, of whom Alban Butler wrote: “his life was as uneventful as it was edifying." But I think for once Butler is overstating the case. For instance, Bd. Thomas once found & plucked fresh figs in January to satisfy a pregnant woman’s craving. Surely a miracle!

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