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So, I was struck by lightning.

Dramatic pause.

Well, to be honest it wasn't me so much as [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com]. At the beginning of August we had some wicked weather (no offense NOLA/Galveston) and the upshot was that pretty much every piece of technology in the house was in some way shorted out, fused, melted or otherwise rendered into so much scrap. Check this out: every light bulb was burned out. Fridge light included. Even my beloved, triple surge protected IMac G5 had its modem turned into slag. And that is the story of where I've been for two months, waiting for an opportunity to haul my butt to the Apple Store and get a new modem. Now, modem installed and restaurant nearly closed, I will be free again to wander the internets and lurk about LJ.

Am I better off? I wonder.

Date: 2005-09-23 03:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnightglobe.livejournal.com
i was slightly concerned. glad youre still among the living.

Date: 2005-10-13 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahsmiles.livejournal.com
Can I ask you a question? You seem sage in the ways of things monastic and theological. I've been looking for material on my patron saint... sarah of the carmague, and have found next to nothing, aside from what I've compiled on wikipedia. She's not listed as an official saint, it seems. But there's nothing about her not being official. Aside from some documents I can't read by king rene of Aix, I find nothing. Any suggestions or guidance?

Date: 2005-10-13 11:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
What a fascinating question! Thank you for asking me, I hope I can help at least a bit. While I would not hold myself out as any kind of sage, I do have some experience researching these kind of things. From what I found just cruising the net briefly and from what I know about the Legend of the Three Marys, I am inclined to think that the story of Sara is, to put it gently, ahistorical. The Legend of the Magdelene is, to put it mildly, unconvincing. It doesn't appear until some time in the 10th C. and then under suspicious circumstances. Before that everyone assumed that the first stories of her life were true, that she went with St. John and Mary to Ephesus where she eventually died and was buried. In the 9th c. pilgrims from as far away as Britain mention visiting her tomb there. The monks of Vezeley, who now claim her relics, didn't advertise this until the 1050's when they desperately needed a big name saint to bring pilgrims and their money to help pay for their new magnificant basillica. (Next to Chartres, it is my favorite church in France, btw and one of my favorite towns.) Of course if the Magdelene story is legendary the same is likely true of Sara. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a lot more out there about Sara and her story, true or false, and as everyone who studies the saints knows the story can still teach us a lot even if it isn't strictly speaking history. My advice would be to look in two sets of books that you can find in most major college libraries.

1.) The Acta Sanctorurm is an exhaustive collection of hagiographies begun in the 17th c. by Jean Bolland, a Jesuit scholar in what is now Belgium. He began finding the best and earliest copies of saint's lives and edited them, corrected them and published them. As of today there at least 60 large oversized volumes that arrange the Saints according to their Saint's Day, which for Sara the Black is May 24. The Acta is incredibly important for basic outlines of not just saints lives but also regular history for the early patristic and medieval periods. In scope and scale it is only a little less ambitious than the Oxford English Dictionary! In addition to the Acta proper the Bollandistes also publish the Analecta Bollandia, which is a catalog and bibliography of manuscript hagiography around the world. By looking in there you may be able to see if Sara has any unpublished lives hidden away in parts of Provence or even further afield. If Sara isn't mentioned here, I doubt she is much more than a colorful and pius local tale.

2.) Butler's Lives of the Saints was first published in the 18th c. It contained 1,486 saint's and brief biographical sketches, martyrdoms etc. It relies much more on the "official" side of things and tends to eliminate many of the local and early saints that the Bollandistes include. Still, the latest addition lists nearly 2,600 saints. I mention Butler mainly because he is more accessible than the Acta.

Online, as I'm sure you know, the Catholic Encyclopedia and American Catholic Online both have a lot of info on the saints, but sadly, not Sara.



May I ask, what ever brought you to choose such an obscure saint? One who is variously described as a pagan priestess, a African servant, a gypsy princess, a avatar of the Hindu goddess of death, Kali and a vampire? Are you Roma, yourself? Two years ago I was in Arles and now bitterly regret not making the short trip to Saintes Maries de la Mer! Good King Rene, who was really the Duke of Anjou, was a fascinating man in his own right. I read French pretty well and if you want you can e-mail me a section of the story and I can puzzle it out for you. Good luck and if you have any other questions, please ask.

Date: 2005-10-14 02:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahsmiles.livejournal.com
I beatify you as Poli and furthermore sanctify you as Saint Dude. Just slightly slower than pope JP would have. Thanks for the intel. I'll check the Acta Sanctorurm. I have connections, but they only answer direction questions... like where can I get Acta Sanctorurm... not why does SS not have an easily accessable hagiography in paperback.

I've checked the obvious sources... catholic encyc. As for my girl, the fact that she's in the church with 2 of the maries is strange. And that she's venerated yearly, albet only since the 19th C on record, is interesting.

I'd like to write a few lives of the girl... if I can't find any. Since she's so multifaceted, it could be a whole series.

So, where did you get this? "One who is variously described as a pagan priestess, a African servant, a gypsy princess, a avatar of the Hindu goddess of death, Kali and a vampire?" From my post on wikipedia? Don't trust it. But that's what I've found so far. I can't see why she isn't all of them. Women always have to do ALL the work. Anyway, the gypsie/roma didn't appear in the west from india until the 14th C, and they called themselves gypsies meaning from egypt... but were from india... thus the kali ref... so it is all congruent. As for me... sarahs' my saint. How could she not be. She's as virtual a reventant as ever stalked cyberspace... as am I. As are we all.

Thanks for the feeback/comments.

Date: 2005-10-14 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
Honestly, I don't think you'll find much in the Acta (which is usually abrieviated AA.SS., btw.) on Sara. It seems like she is a folk embellishment to the 3 Marys Legend. But, what the hey.

These kind of local, unofficial, semi-legandary saints are very common--although they rarely have Sara's varied resume. Take for example Bawburg's St. Walstan and his mother St. Blythe. There is no evidence that he ever really existed, and his cult was never accepted by any bishop, much less the pope and it never spread further afield, but even today people in the area celebrate his feast.


I especially like the part about how his two oxen carried his dead body magically to the church.

Anyway, its important to remember that while becoming a saint today is incredibly difficult, in the earliest times it was much more democratic. No person was "declared" a saint by the pope until the 10th c., so that is 1000 years of more or less ad hoc sainthood going on all across Christendom. Basically, if you were a good enough person, pius, and had done some pretty unselfish things in your life you stood a chance of people, many of them your freinds in life, starting prayers to you as soon as you were cold. Martyrdom, of course, helped enormously. Most of the earliest saints were all somehow guesomely murdered by the Romans, or similar. There were very few saints until after Constantine. When Christianity came up from the underground Christian antiquarians began poking around the catacombs in Rome looking for the saints of the dark days of persecution. Nostalgia, ya know? This led to some fairly embarassing things like "St. Dexter," from taking a direction sign (to the right) as a tomb marker. That is why the Church was always trying to verify and cross checking the reality of saints as true, living and dying people, not just conveinent fictions. That is why they started the whole "declaring" thing. Still, it was only in the 20th c. that they purged stories like St. Christopher and St. Barbara.

I actually got the Kali stuff from some weird French cyber-tourist site that I have now lost, but who knows, they may have ganked it from you first. And don't worry, I'm pretty Wikiphobic.

Date: 2005-10-16 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahsmiles.livejournal.com
Yes, you've got it. Sarah's a 13th C embellishment. but what saint isn't an embellishment. The diff is the political structure that ensconces saint A while marginalizing saint B. Sarah's an anomoly. She's from an area that has a 2600 year history, as 2 saints already in the church, and yet has enough to make her valued for centuries when it isn't necessary. AND she's ignored by the powers that be. Can you smell a conspiracy? Well, very saint stinks of that.

I know that in the past, any wanker with a following was a saint. It is easier now. You just need to follow the party line. No real miracles required.

It is all politics and spindoctoring. If I want truth, I'll watch CNN... since truth is a social construction... political rather than convenient fictions.

But I was caught by your wikiphobia. Where does that come from. I thought you were a medievalist. The past is totally wikiphillic. Only since the enlightenment have we gotten this std that gets us thinking of an externally verifiable con-job called TRUTH. As far as I've heard, medievalists and real historians eschew objective truth in favor of contingent fictions.

Wikipedia at least has the validity of peer review, rather than guild review or the party line. The truth is out there... it's just being written by 12000 semi-trained monkeys.

caritas et pacis (with the endings of your choice)


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