Sunday, April 1, 2012

So around this time last year I introduced you all to St Digitassa of Phalangeville, the patron saint of manicurists, and while she is a very worthy saint, today I needed a figure of somewhat more gravitas.
Because it is the first of April, and despite all my precautions (lock all the doors; believe nothing; do not answer the phone) my most favored son managed to have a large anchovy pizza delivered here, in a box from Tony’s of Delray, Florida, which is a whole other mystery. CSB had to pay for the pizza, and neither of us like anchovy pizza AT ALL. I will let you know tomorrow if it agreed with the chickens.
I should have preemptively called on St Jestrius to protect us against stupid pranks, but I cockily believed that my own precautions would suffice. I was wrong.
St Jestrius was a monk who lived and died in North Africa in the 4th century. As a young man he was wild; he liked to dress as a strumpet, barge into the homes of his friends and his father’s friends and, in front of their wives, accuse the men of engaging in exotic sexual behavior with storks and Blue Hooting cranes. He made a very convincing strumpet, and no matter how much the accused men explained to their wives, Jestrius was responsible for putting many marriages onto the rocks. Then one night a real strumpet appeared to him in a dream and castigated him for bringing ignominy to strumpets everywhere with his antics. Upon awakening, Jestrius was so penitent that he distributed all his wigs, tight togas, and boas to the poor, and set off for the desert that very morning.
Deep in the desert he found a cave and lived there, praying for forgiveness and contemplating his bad taste. Years passed. A Blue Hooting crane from a nearby oasis began to fly over Jestrius’ cave each morning, and the very scrawny and generous Jestrius began to leave out a chunk of bread and a couple of dates for the bird. The crane swept down, gobbled up the tidbits and went on his way. This became their ritual, with both Jestrius and the crane enjoying their quiet contact in the middle of the desert. Until one morning when Jestrius woke up feeling like his old self and had a clever idea. He found some rocks in his cave, and – using vegetable dyes for paint and his own hair for the brushes - painted them to look like bread and dates, and left them out on the ledge where the crane flew in each day.
It was another warm sunny day in the desert, and the Blue Hooting crane swept in at his usual time and took the “bread” and “dates” in his beak and swallowed. In his last living moments, as the rocks descended and crushed his windpipe, the crane looked at Jestrius, his false friend, with sad but forgiving eyes. Then he keeled over, dead.
Jestrius was appalled with the realization of what a cruel joke he had played. He called on God to bring back his friend the crane; he tried to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the crane but mouth-to-mouth is almost impossible when one of the parties has a long and sharp beak.
So the crane stayed dead, but this time the repentance stuck with Jestrius. He ended his days praying and eating only stone soup, leaving any other food he had for the wild animals and birds.
Jestrius’ bones were discovered years later by a troupe of traveling strumpets, and brought back to the city where a church was build to house the relics of the holy man. Now the faithful from the world over can visit the old bones of Jestrius and hope to be protected against jokers, pranksters and all sorts of foolishness.

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