St. Zosimas and Mary
I'm grateful when someone notable writes about crazy saints.
I enjoy writing about them - weird saints, that is. Most recently I wrote about some of the transvestite monks - women pretending to be men so they could be a monk. How did they get away with it? I have one idea. Did you know that anorexics frequently stop menstruating? Therefore the monks wouldn't be bothered by the 'scent of a woman'. HOO-HAH!
[And yet I wonder why my posts on the subject are ignored.]
"The Anomalous Saints” is in fact the title of a new book by the late Belgian Benedictine monk, Reginald Gregoire. It is fitting that a monk should write about such saints, as monasteries have their share of strange people living within their enclosures, saints in the making, but nonetheless weird. Oh, it's true. In the monastery where I lived for such a very short time we had some crazy monks. One old brother could escape the Infirmary and wander into the Guest House naked. Another old brother loved to regale the guests with stories of how he died once. So you see, strange people can indeed be sanctified.
I think Reginald Gregoire's book would be fun to read:
Browsing through the book’s pages, the reader discovers that Serapion – a 4th century monk – was called the Sindonite, an adjective which was probably roughly equivalent to today’s term “nudist”. The saint wore just a shroud (a linen tunic) as a symbol of absolute poverty. Then there is David the Dendrite of Thessaloniki (6th century) spent his life atop a tree as a sign of penitence. Not to mention the “transvestite” female saints – this is in fact far more common in hagiography than one would expect – who for years pretended to be men to escape violence or for other reasons. St. Paula the Bearded is another very strange case. She was venerated at Avila, Spain and according to a 19th century legend she apparently took refuge in a chapel to get away from a young man with evil intentions and prayed for help before the cross. The legend says when she left the chapel she had a beard and moustache growing on her face and this made her harasser run away.
But Gregoire’s book is not all amusing stories like this. The events surrounding the lives of some saints lead to far more serious questions: the Virgin Lidvina, a Dutch 19th century mystic was an anorexic. Her biography proved interesting for the history of medicine. - Vatican Insider
Mary of Egypt was naked and clothed by the monk Zosimas. Some of the ascetics and fools for Christ went around naked as well. Of course, many ascetics probably could be diagnosed anorexic today. Therefore, the naked ones would hardly be an occasion of sin for anyone, I'm sure. They followed the humiliated Christ ...
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. - Isaiah 53
I love crazy, eccentric people.
"Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame." - Luke 14: 15-24, Today's Gospel.