My 2005 Saints and Demons
Anyone who, like me, had the unfortunate experience of growing up catholic (not capitalized on purpose, thank you), knows you have certain saints attached to the day you were born. I always thought of them sort of as favorite celebrities. Each year I pick a new group of them for my birthday, but this year I decided to do something different. I didn't get the saints and demons from from the books by Sean Kelly and Rosemary Rogers, like I usually do. I did some Google searches and found them myself. It's amazing to me how the catholic church can decide which saint is patron of what thing or things. But if you go to any of the myriad catholic/saint sites, you can find huge lists of patron saints. Go figure.
I won't tell you exactly how I decided on the demons, but it's pretty much ones I could find information about who sounded like they might be up my alley, so to speak. (I hope they're literally not up my alley; I don't think anyone wants to run into a demon in a dark alley.) It would have been a lot easier if someone would do some "patron demon" lists like they do for saints. Hmmm, maybe that should be my next freelance project. . .
Saint Lucy of Syracuse
Martyr, 283 - 304, patron saint of writers.
Let's get one thing straight off the bat: the Syracuse they're referring to is the one overseas, not the one in New York. That was supposed to be a dig against Syracuse, NY, but now that I see this Syracuse is in Sicily as opposed to Egypt or something more exotic, I'm not sure which is worse. Maybe I should have said she was from New York. But I digress. Lucy was a rich, babe-a-licious Christian who pledged her life to Christ. (And in those days pledging your life included your body, which translated to "ixnay on the ex-say" for anybody but Jesus.) Her mother, Eutychia, had other plans for Lucy's body, and pledged her and her body in an arranged marriage to the pagan, Paschasius.
Somehow, and I have no idea how she did this, Lucy managed to postpone the marriage for three full years. (Perhaps old Paschasius secretly played for the other team?) Not only that, but she convinced her pagan mother to pray with her at the tomb of Saint Agatha. Result? Her mother's long hemorrhagic illness was miraculously cured. From then on, Lucy's mother was on board with the whole Christian thing, and with Lucy's desire to save her body for Jesus.
Paschasius, however, was not so easily swayed. He denounced Lucy as a Christian to the governor, who then planned to force her into prostitution. Funny thing though, apparently Jesus did not take kindly to anyone messing with his girlfriend. When the governor's men came to take Lucy away, they were unable to move her--even when they tied her to a team of oxen. The governor moved on to his plan B: to have Lucy killed instead of being her pimp. He started by torturing her, including having her eyes torn out. Then he tried to repeatedly burn her at the stake, but each time the fire went out. She continued to speak against her captors and detractors, and the governor finally had her killed by stabbing her in the throat (ouch!) with a dagger. (Why the eye plucking and dagger worked but the fire didn't isn't explained. Sounds kind of hit and miss to me to be any kind of real miracle, though.)
Because of the eye thing, Lucy is patron of the blind, and matters connected with the eyes. I guess if you stretch that it includes writing. Although being able to see doesn't mean you can write, just like being blind doesn't mean you can't. Lucy is also listed as a patron saint of glaziers, dysentery, saddlers, stained glass workers, and last but not least, peasants. One of the favorite ways to represent her is by her holding two eyeballs on a plate. The conundrum is that in these pictures she also has her own eyes in her head. So did she go yank somebody else's eyes out for the picture? Nice. Not very acceptable behavior, even for a martyr.
Saint Isidore of Seville
Smarty pants, 560 - 636, patron saint of the Internet.
Saint Isidore is listed as the patron saint of the Internet and computers in general. How they can designate a patron saint of this is beyond me, as a computer would have been considered the work of the devil back in Isidore's time. But I stopped trying to make sense out of anything the catholic church did many years ago.
All of Isidore's brothers and sisters were saints. That's either an extremely pious family or a saint fix; I vote for the fix. One of these brothers, the future St. Leander, was already an archbishop and was Isidore's schoolmaster at the Cathedral of Seville. (I haven't been able to verify if the name of the school team was "The Barbers" as I suspect.) However, Isidore was such a bad student that he ran away. Not surprisingly he had a miraculous epiphany, and he came back to the Cathedral School of Seville ("Goooo Barbers!"), determined to be just the best student ever.
He graduated ("Goooo Barbers!"), became a priest, and eventually became the "See of Seville," which, despite it's rather acquatic sounding name just meant that he followed his brother Leander as the archbishop. He encouraged the study of Greek and Hebrew as well as the liberal arts and Isidore introduced Aristotle's philosophy to Spain.
His greatest claim to fame, though, came as a writer. His "Etymologiae" was used as the main textbook for just about every school worth its salt all through the Middle Ages. "Etymologiae" was 20 books, covering everything from grammar to the "world and its parts" to physics to road making. After doing all that writing and saying smart things like "All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned," he died.
Isidore is also the patron saint of bees, and is often represented with bees buzzing around him or near a hive of bees, but I have not been able to find out what this bee thing is about.
Saint Hubert of Liege
Butt of forest animals' pranks, 656 - 727, patron saint of dog lovers.
If you read a short version of St. Hubert's life, it doesn't seem so interesting on the surface. He was born in Holland and was described by one of the saint sites as a "worldly, popular and dissolute layman courtier," which I've just added to my list of possible epitaphs. He left Holland and moved to Austrasia, a country I swear I am not making up. Apparently it's what they used to call the border area between France and Germany. I would have called it "Framany" or "Gernce," but "they" have never let me name a country.
However, Hubert's story gets interesting when you find out why he decided to give up his fat and easy rich-boy life. He was an avid hunter, and while hunting a stag on the morning of Good Friday, he saw a crucifix appear between the stag's antlers. Then he heard a voice say "Hubert, unless you turn to the Lord, and lead a holy life, you shall quickly go down to hell." He immediately decided to change his ways. However, had he known that stags are well-known as the pranksters of the animal kingdom and many of them are skilled ventriloquists, perhaps he would have thought twice. Oh well, stags 1, Hubert 0. . .
It doesn't say why, but Hubert's wife conveniently died not long after he had his religious experience, and now the only thing left standing in the way of him joining the priesthood was his young son. He solved that problem by turning over his money, title, and his son to his brother. Yes, the catholic church, the one who says birth control is against God and that a woman's right to choose should be outlawed, says it is okay to dump your kid and give it to somebody else--as long as you want to become a priest. Sure, that makes sense.
Hubert spent the rest of his life converting pagans. He predicted the date of his own death, and died while saying the Our Father. Due to his association with hunting (hunters usually have dogs, get it?), he's listed as patron saint of dogs and dog lovers, as well as furriers, trappers, and hunters.
I like Glasyalabolas name because it sounds like a disease and/or an Eastern European epithet. He's fairly interesting looking as well, since he's a dog with wings. (Not to be confused with Mutley, who's a dog with a plane.) Like most demons, he's a troublemaker, the exact quote I found is that he "incites to bloodshed and is the leader in all homicides." However, he has three talents that are a lot more interesting than the bloodshed thing--although that's always a useful skill. He can predict the future, "teaches all arts and sciences instantaneously," and, my personal favorite, can make you invisible. If I ever get to pick one superpower, it's going to be invisibility.
Berith isn't just any demon, he's demon royalty: he's considered a Grand Duke of Hell, and has 26 legions under his command. He's also one of the 72 spirits of Solomon, but I have no idea what that means. (It would make a pretty good band name, though.) He appears as a red solider in red clothing wearing a gold crown, riding a red horse. Berith is also the alchemist of demons, one of them at least, because he can transmute base metals into gold. Berith's other claim to fame is that he "speaks in a clear and persuasive voice"; I imagine that he sounds lot like James Earl Jones. Of course, I like to think all demons sound like James Earl Jones--who wants to imagine a demon sounding like Michael Jackson? But don't be fooled by the voice: Berith is a great liar, and chances are everything he says to you can't be trusted. (Perhaps it would be more appropriate if he sounded like Michael Jackson. . .)
But I think the most interesting thing about Berith is how you have to summon him. You need a silver ring, and after he appears you use the ring to "divert the flaming, noxious fumes from the mouth of the demon." Sort of like Wonder Woman used her silver bracelets to deflect bullets. Also, even if you do live through the summoning process and aren't burned to a crisp by the flames, Berith will demand payback for whatever he does for you or gives to you. I don't know this from personal experience, but I suspect that demon payback can be a bitch. All things considered, you may want to pick another demon to summon.
I picked Leonard for one reason: his name. I had no idea there was a demon named "Leonard." That's almost like having a demon named "Bob" or "Ted." Jeez, my name would sound better for a demon than "Leonard." Sometimes he is known as "Master Leonard," which only makes him sound like a hairdresser in Queens. Despite his nerdy name, Leonard is listed as a demon of the first order and is often referred to as "Le Grand Negre," or "The Black Man." (I'm not making this up, so don't send me e-mails calling me a racist.) His other cool titles are the "Grand Master of Sabbaths" and the "Inspector General of Sorcery." But even cooler than these titles are the way Leonard looks. He sounds like the platypus of demons. From the waist up, Leonard has a goat's body, but with a human face, three horns, foxes ears and inflamed eyes. When he attends a Sabbath, you can add the feet of a goose to that combination. He can also take the form of a bloodhound, a black bird, or a tree trunk with a gloomy face--pretty much like the scary-apple throwing trees in "The Wizard of Oz." And, last but not least, Leonard has a face on his butt, and witches kiss that while holding a green candle. Generally, Leonard's demeanor is fairly reserved and melancholic, but don't be fooled. When he's in his element at assorted witches' and devils' assemblies, he's a regular master and commander.