Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yesterday was a great day for young men with more than the usual complement of middle names. No, I am not referring to the royal wedding, although a certain pink satin steroidal pretzel in the second pew pretty much made my morning. No, I am referring to the grand homecoming of the Igster. Yesterday, with a grand flourish of diapers and much toasting with frozen breast milk, Ignatius Schein Richardson Brownstein was discharged from the NICU and went home with his parents and his older sister, Leda of Sleeping Beauty fame.
Not bad for a babe born on the 99th anniversary of the fatal collision of the Titanic and a north Atlantic iceberg.
You probably know that the young affianceds chose yesterday for their wedding day - not knowing it would coincide with the joyous Iggy homecoming - because it is the feast of St Catherine of Siena, and Kate’s christened name is Catherine. I have never thought of the British royal family as having any particular interest in or fondness for the saints, so this made me take a second look at the young couple.
I am wondering if the fact that St Catherine and her twin sister, who died soon after birth, were the youngest of 25 children, will influence their family planning. Will the fact that at the age of six St Catherine had her first mystical experience – a vision of Jesus sitting on an upholstered chair between Saints Peter and Paul - influence their philosophy of early childhood training? I will not even allude to the matter of the stigmata, and the possibilities for trauma.

Press releases from Buckingham Palace neglected to mention that April 29th is also the feast of the Martyrs of Corfu, a group of imprisoned murderers, thieves and perverts. While incarcerated they were converted by Saints Jason and Sosipater, who were also in prison, but for the crime of preaching. Once converted, the aspiring martyrs proclaimed their new faith and were thrown into boiling oil. In case you find yourself looking for a special name for that special infant, you might consider one of theirs: Faustianus, Euphrasius, Saturninus, Marsalius, Mammius, Iniscolus, and Januarius

Also unmentioned in the Buckingham Palace news flash was the delightful St Torpes of Pisa, about whom nothing is known other than his martyrdom in the time of Nero. This unfortunate lapse is remedied by various legends created around St Torpes or Tropez. One endearing version has him decapitated and his head thrown into the Arno. (It would later be recovered in Pisa.) His executioners placed his body in a boat with an ill-tempered rooster and a hungry dog, who were encouraged to feast on the headless corpse. If you have already guessed that the animals did not touch one morsel of the saint, you would be correct and you can promote yourself to Hagiography 102. Of course the boat with the saint’s body, the rooster and the dog floated all the way to what is now St. Tropez, named for him. This beautiful Riviera town is where I first learned to appreciate pink wine, where there is the most exquisite tiled fish market and where Brigitte Bardot maintains her right-wing Save My Favorite Pets Organization. All over St Tropez you can buy postcards of a reconstructed but still voluptuous BB reclining on her king-size bed surrounded by a menagerie.

One day perhaps the Igster and I will visit St Tropez - taking a break from our tour of the Cistercian monasteries of Provence - and we will drink pink wine in red chairs at the old port. I will tell him that he departed the hospital and went home on the feast of the patron saint of Saint Tropez, and then he will surprise me and even himself, and ask for more scurrilous details about this St Tropez and I will tell him, and his astute questions will reveal him to be a nascent hagiographer and that evening I will rewrite my will and bequeath to him my entire and vast collection of hagiographica, which will probably not be quite what he had in mind.

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