Rorate Caeli

Sancte Christophore, ora pro nobis!

Ordinary:

Presentation of the New Roman Calendar by Father Pierre Jounel, professor of the Superior Institute of Liturgy at the Catholic Institute of Paris and one of the most active contributors to the post-Conciliar liturgical reform (Rome, Holy See Press Office, May 9, 1969):

... The revision of the list of saints inscribed in the general calendar of the Roman Church proceeds from the general principles just presented.

First, the list of saints commemorated before underwent a thorough historical investigation. Certain saints may be popular, due to legends created around their names, without one being able to ensure that they even existed, as Saint Christopher, Saint Barbara, Saint Catherine of Alexandria*. They were suppressed from the general calendar: the Christian people cannot be invited to a general prayer if not in truth. ...



Extraordinary:

Præsta quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui beati Christophori Martyris tui, natalitia colimus, intercessione eius, in tui nominis amore roboremur. Per Dominum nostrum... (Collect for the Commemoration of Saint Christopher, Martyr - July 25, Missale Romanum, 1962: "Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who venerate the natal day of blessed Christopher, Thy martyr, may, through his intercession, be strengthened in the love of Thy name.")


____________________
*The great martyr Saint Catherine of Alexandria would be included as an "Optional memorial" (Universal Calendar) in the Third Typical Edition of the New Roman Missal, 2002. [Does she really exist now? What about the "thorough historical investigation"?]

28 comments:

Eric G. said...

It's not heretical, nor even Modernist, for an historian of liturgy to suggest that a saint's public veneration ought to be discontinued if he/she did not even exist in the first place.

Heck, is there a single modern serious hagiographer, for example, who believes that Saint Catherine of Alexandria really existed?

That having been said, I beleive that, when in doubt, the Church should defer to her tradition, all things being equal.

Long-Skirts said...

"due to legends created around their names, without one being able to ensure that they even existed"

We don't know the names of the Holy Innocents...

THE
CARTHUSIANS

To be "Hanged in their habits"
What a glorious thing,
For their silence screamed,
"Christ is the King!"

And like the Innocents
So Holy, that died,
With sword-cut bodies
Their mothers cried

And wept like mothers
Do today,
Who send their sons
Into the fray

Like Innocent Carthusians,
With staff and rod,
Who continue the defence...
The Priest-sons of God!

Jordan Potter said...

Isn't it a bit arrogant for later scholars living centuries and centuries later, using the so-called historico-critical methodology, to ignore the great antiquity and universality of an ancient saint's cult? You'd think that might count for something -- that the vast majority of Christians have invoked a saint and received blessings, graces, and miracles as a result? Then somebody comes along and says, "There is no historical evidence this person ever existed!" As if Christians were in the habit of inventing saints to venerate.

The example of St. Christopher is a particular embarrassment to the architects of the post-Vatican II liturgical reform. The medieval Latin legends are obviously unhistorical, but the most ancient accounts of St. Christopher are quite different -- he was a martyred soldier in the Roman army from Africa. So they removed this most popular of saints from the universal calendar -- but the popularity of his cult is such that it can never be extinguished, and Catholics continue to give and wear St. Christopher medals. And St. Christopher remains in the Roman Martyrology, on July 25, though his feast is no longer on the universal calendar.

http://www.ucc.ie/milmart/chrsorig.html

As for St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Joan of Arc really existed, and she really said that she had visions of St. Catherine. Again, this is a saint's cult of immense antiquity and great popularity. We are to doubt she existed just because Christians have been venerating her for longer than anyone can remember? Thankfully, clearer minds have prevailed in Rome, and since 2002 her feast of Nov. 25 is once again in the Roman Martyrology, regardless of what modern serious hagiographers may or may not believe.

Lazarus-Xavier said...

"Heck, is there a single modern serious hagiographer, for example, who believes that Saint Catherine of Alexandria really existed?"

A:YES!

(Lets not say progress for the sake of progress!)


tisk,tisk,tisk my friend, that was a very uninformed remark.

I'm not going to go into a detailed comment for this post, but as a suggestion, THE GREEK ORTHODOX (NOT TO BE TAKEN AS IGNORANT AS GOES MODERN HAGIOGRAPHY) STILL KEEPS THOSE SPECIFIC SAINTS IN !VERY HIGH! REGAURD, ESPECIALLY ST. CATHERINE.

poeta said...

The case of St. Philomena is one of the most egregious.

Twentieth-century "scholars" ignorantly and arrogantly assumed that because the three tiles covering her grave that spelled "Pax tecum Filumena" were in the order LUMENA-PAXTE-CUMFI, that must therefore mean that (1) the grave had been reused, (2) the tiles had been replaced by a totally illiterate gravedigger, and (3) the body of the martyred girl inside had nothing to do with the name "Filumena." We find this in the Thurston and Attwater edition of Butler's Lives.

Since then, it has been noted that many ancient Christian graves had engraved tiles placed in this last-first-middle order, the purpose being to suggest an eternal repetition of the prayer that never comes to an end. So, yes, they ARE the remains of St. Philomena the holy martyr.

Lazarus-Xavier said...

From The Catholic Herald:


St. Christopher: Still the Patron Saint of Travelers


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Thomas J. Craughwell
Herald Columnist
(From the issue of 7/15/04)

Poor St. Christopher. Over the last 35 years most American Catholics have come to believe either that the pope expelled St. Christopher from the calendar of saints because he never existed, or that the pope demoted St. Christopher, and he is no longer a saint (in which case maybe we should call him "Mr. Christopher"). Both notions are way off the mark. St. Christopher is still a saint in good standing. In fact, there is no doubt among hagiographers — the scholars who study saints professionally — that there was an early martyr named Christopher.

The misinformation about St. Christopher began in 1969 when Pope Paul VI authorized a complete revision of the Church’s liturgical calendar. Some popular saints, such as St. Barbara and St. Catherine of Alexandria, were removed from the calendar because Vatican hagiographers believed they were mythical characters. Other saints had their feast days lowered in rank to an optional memorial, letting local churches decide if they will commemorate the saint or not.

Media reports at the time of the shake-up often got the facts wrong, only adding to the confusion. It didn’t help that many bishops and parish priests failed to explain to the people in the pews what was happening. St. Christopher was one of the victims of this mess, so I welcome this opportunity to clear it up.

With approximately 40,000 saints on the books, but only 365 days in a year, every day is the feast of dozens of saints. July 25 is the feast day St. James the Greater, one of Jesus’ apostles; St. Christopher; and of many other lesser known saints. Since any of the Twelve Apostles outranks a martyr, even a martyr as famous as St. Christopher, the 1969 calendar instructed priests throughout the world to offer Mass on July 25 in honor of St. James. This is the general rule. Parishes and chapels dedicated to St. Christopher, or regions where St. Christopher is especially honored, however, have the option of celebrating his Mass on July 25.

There was a real St. Christopher. The Roman Martyrology, the ancient compendium of Christians who were martyred during the first centuries of the Church, records Christopher’s martyrdom in Lycia, in present-day Turkey, during the persecution of the Emperor Decius (reigned 249-251). So put your doubts to rest and put St. Christopher’s statue back on the dashboard, hang his medal from your key chain and pray to him with confidence before you set out on any journey.

The story of how St. Christopher became the patron of travelers is well-known, but like all good stories it’s worth repeating. Christopher was a tall, powerful man. When he became a Christian, he went to live beside a dangerous river where he put his strength to use carrying travelers safely from one side to the other.

One day, while resting in his hut, he heard a child’s voice crying, "Christopher, come out and carry me across." Outside Christopher found a little boy. He grabbed his staff, put the child on his shoulder and stepped into the water. But with each step, the waves grew higher, the current grew stronger and the weight of the child increased. Christopher was afraid he would lose his step and that both he and the little boy would drown. At last, exhausted and gasping for breath, he crawled up the bank on the opposite shore.

"Boy," Christopher said, "who are you?"

The little boy answered, "Today on your shoulder you carried the Creator of the world. I am Christ your king." Then the Christ Child vanished.

Anonymous said...

The Ballad of Saint

by, G.K. Chesterton:


(St Barbara is the patron saint of gunners, and those in danger
of sudden death.)

When the long grey lines came flooding upon Paris in the plain,
We stood and drank of the last free air we never could taste again:
They had led us back from the lost battle, to halt we knew not where
And stilled us: and our gaping guns were dumb with our despair.
The grey tribes flowed for ever from the infinite lifeless lands
And a Norman to a Breton spoke, his chin upon his hands.

"There was an end to Ilium; and an end came to Rome;
And a man plays on a painted stage in the land that he calls home;
Arch after arch of triumph, but floor beyond falling floor,
That lead to a low door at last; and beyond that is no door."

And the Breton to the Norman spoke, like a small child spoke he,
And his sea-blue eyes were empty as his home beside the sea:
"There are more windows in one house than there are eyes to see,
There are more doors in a man's house, but God has hid the key:
Ruin is a builder of windows; her legend witnesseth
Barbara, the saint of gunners, and a stay in sudden death."

It seemed the wheel of the world stood still an instant in its turning,
More than the kings of the earth that turned with the turning of Valmy mill:
While trickled the idle tale and the sea-blue eyes were burning,
Still as the heart of a whirlwind the heart of the world stood still.

"Barbara the beautiful
Had praise of tongue and pen:
Her hair was like a summer night
Dark and desired of men.

Her feet like birds from far away
That linger and light in doubt;
And her face was like a window
Where a man's first love looked out.

Her sire was master of many slaves,
A hard man of his hands;
They built a tower about her
In the desolate golden lands,

Sealed as the tyrants sealed their tombs,
Planned with an ancient plan,
And set two windows in the tower
Like the two eyes of a man."

Our guns were set towards the foe; we had no word for firing.
Grey in the gateway of St Gond the Guard of the tyrant shone;
Dark with the fate of a falling star, retiring and retiring,
The Breton line went backward and the Breton tale went on.

"Her father had sailed across the sea
For the harbour of Africa
When all the slaves took up their tools
For the bidding of Barbara.

She smote the bare wall with her hand
And bade them smite again;
She poured them wealth of wine and meat
To stay them in their pain.

And cried through the lifted thunder
Of thronging hammer and hod
"Throw open the third window
In the third name of God."

Then the hearts failed and the tools fell,
And far towards the foam,
Men saw a shadow on the sands
And her father coming home."

Speak low and low, along the line the whispered word is flying,
Before the touch, before the time, we may not loose a breath:
Their guns must mash us to the mire and there be no replying,
Till the hand is raised to fling us for the final dice to death.

""There were two windows in your tower,
Barbara, Barbara,
For all between the sun and moon
In the lands of Africa.

Hath a man three eyes, Barbara,
A bird three wings,
That you have riven roof and wall
To look upon vain things?"

Her voice was like a wandering thing
That falters yet is free,
Whose soul has drunk in a distant land
Of the rivers of liberty.

"There are more wings than the wind knows
Or eyes that see the sun
In the light of the lost window
And the wind of the doors undone.

For out of the first lattice
Are the red lands that break
And out of the second lattice
Sea like a green snake,

But out of the third lattice
Under low eaves like wings
Is a new corner of the sky
And the other side of things."

It opened in the inmost place an instant beyond uttering,
A casement and a chasm and a thunder of doors undone,
A seraph's strong wing shaken out the shock of its unshuttering,
That split the shattered sunlight from a light beyond the sun.

"Then he drew sword and drave her
Where the judges sat and said,
"Caesar sits above the gods,
Barbara the maid.

Caesar hath made a treaty
With the moon and with the sun,
All the gods that men can praise
Praise him every one.

There is peace with the anointed
Of the scarlet oils of Bel,
With the Fish God, where the whirlpool
Is a winding stair to hell,

With the pathless pyramids of slime,
Where the mitred negro lifts
To his black cherub in the cloud
Abominable gifts,

With the leprous silver cities
Where the dumb priests dance and nod,
But not with the three windows
And the last name of God.""

They are firing, we are falling, and the red skies rend and shiver us,
Barbara, Barbara, we may not loose a breath -
Be at the bursting doors of doom, and in the dark deliver us,
Who loosen the last window on the sun of sudden death.

"Barbara the beautiful
Stood up as queen set free,
Whose mouth is set to a terrible cup
And the trumpet of liberty.

"I have looked forth from a window
That no man now shall bar,
Caesar's toppling battle-towers
Shall never stretch so far.

The slaves are dancing in their chains,
The child laughs at the rod,
Because of the bird of the three wings,
And the third face of God."

The sword upon his shoulder
Shifted and shone and fell,
And Barbara lay very small
And crumpled like a shell."

What wall upon what hinges turned stands open like a door?
Too simple for the sight of faith, too huge for human eyes,
What light upon what ancient way shines to a far-off floor.
The line of the lost land of France or the plains of Paradise?

"Caesar smiled above the gods
His lip of stone was curled,
His iron armies wound like chains
Round and round the world,

And the strong slayer of his own
That cut down flesh for grass,
Smiled too, and went to his own tower
Like a walking tower of brass,

And the songs ceased and the slaves were dumb;
And far towards the foam
Men saw a shadow on the sands;
And her father coming home...

Blood of his blood upon the sword
Stood red but never dry.
He wiped it slowly, till the blade
Was blue as the blue sky.

But the blue sky split with a thunder-crack,
Spat down a blinding brand,
And all of him lay black and flat
As his shadow on the sand."

The touch and the tornado; all our guns give tongue together,
St Barbara for the gunnery and God defend the right,
They are stopped and gapped and battered as we blast away the weather,
Building window upon window to our lady of the light.

For the light is come on Liberty, her foes are falling, falling,
They are reeling, they are running, as the shameful years have run,
She is risen for all the humble, she has heard the conquered calling,
St Barbara of the Gunners, with her hand upon the gun.

They are burst asunder in the midst that eat of their own flatteries,
Whose lip is curled to order as its barbered hair is curled...
Blast of the beauty of sudden death, St Barbara of the batteries!
That blow the new white window in the wall of all the world.

For the hand is raised behind us, and the bolt smites hard
Through the rending of the doorways, through the death-gap of the Guard,
For the cry of the Three Colours is in Conde and beyond
And the Guard is flung for carrion in the graveyard of St Gond,
Through Mondemont and out of it, through Morin marsh and on
With earthquake of salutation the impossible thing is gone,
Gaul, charioted and charging, great Gaul upon a gun,
Tip-toe on all her thousand years and trumpeting to the sun:
As day returns, as death returns, swung backwards and swung home,
Back on the barbarous reign returns the battering-ram of Rome.
While that the east held hard and hot like pincers in a forge,
Came like the west wind roaring up the cannon of St George,
When the hunt is up and racing over stream and swamp and tarn
And their batteries, black with battle, hold the bridgeheads of the Marne,
And across the carnage of the Guard, by Paris in the plain,
The Normans to the Bretons cried and the Bretons cheered again...
But he that told the tale went home to his house beside the sea
And burned before St Barbara, the light of the windows three,
Three candles for an unknown thing, never to come again,
That opened like the eye of God on Paris in the plain.


---GK Chesterton

Jordan Potter said...

Yes, St. Philomena is another allegedly imaginary saint who can be found in the Roman Martyrology, her feast day Aug. 10. I have long wondered that anyone could think the Church had suppressed her cult (something an earlier Pope said could never be done), when we still have parishes and schools under her patronage. In the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, we have two parishes named for her. If the Church had really decreed that she never existed and that her cult was forbidden, why is her cult still thriving with official sanction, and why do we still have churches dedicated to her?

If these scholars or historians or hagiographers would just remember that the Church's tradition and sainthood decrees are pretty weighty evidence, they wouldn't embarrass themselves by casting doubt on the existence of saints who have been working miracles for centuries and who continue to answer our prayers. They need to trust the Church more and their own intellectual acumen and historico-critical methodology less.

John L said...

Why did Chesterton prostitute his talent to glorify the hideous French Revolution? It was his one element of modernism.

Anonymous said...

If Heinrich Schliemann found Troy... why can't many of these saints exist? Oftentimes beliefs are based on truth even though legends may have also developed around the same.

Drew said...

> July 25, though his feast is no longer on the universal calendar.

It's also worth noting that even if a saint is no longer on the universal calendar, the GIRM allows any priest to say Mass commemorating any saint on the day he or she is listed in the Roman Martyrology, so any priest can still celebrate the feasts of Ss. Barbara, Christopher, etc.

Lazarus-Xavier said...

"Why did Chesterton prostitute his talent to glorify the hideous French Revolution?"

Don't worry he didn't. Its referring to World War One.

Remember that the Tri-Color itself is not in anyway masonic, even though the "republican parisians" may have used it.

In fact there was a Catholic who asked for The Sacred Heart of Jesus to be Emblazened on it. This flag was used in one of the
Great Victories during WWI for France.

I believe it is the "Tri Color", Chesterton means.

He detested the Evil Revolution and wrote so in his books.

Anonymous said...

But when we venerate a saint because of his heroic actions, like slaying a dragon or carrying Christ, and these things are nothing but pious legends, then isn't that wrong and a cult worthy of supression? There were many martyrs, but St. George is the patron saint of a dozen countries because he slayed a dragon.

I do find it interesting that the propers on those feast days don't mention the legends, only their martyrdom. Nevertheless, the icons show them in the stories.

pjm said...

Sir:
(eric g.)

I belong to the Diocese of Saint Catharines in Ontario, Canada. I must object to this attack on our patron. It is offensive to suggest that the Spirit of Truth, who is the Soul of the Mystical Body, would permit, in the EAST and in the WEST, the universal veneration of a non-existent person.

She was one of the heavenly persons who guided St. Joan of Arc, who obviously, objectively, was receiving light that could come only from God.

Again, to suggest deception on the part of the Most High is objectively blaspemous.

May the holy Virgin Martyr Catherine intercede for you, that you come to your senses.

Fr. Paul McDOnald

Jordan Potter said...

"But when we venerate a saint because of his heroic actions, like slaying a dragon or carrying Christ, and these things are nothing but pious legends, then isn't that wrong and a cult worthy of supression?"

There are no saints in the calendar, and have never been any saints in the calendar, that are venerated for slaying a dragon or carrying Christ. There are saints that have allegorical stories told of them of dragon slayings and Christ-carryings, but the saints are not venerated because somebody told some allegorical tales about them. Rather, they are venerated for their virtues, for holding fast to the Catholic faith in the face of martyrdom, and for the favors they bestow on those who invoke their name. Why would anyone think to suppress a cult just because somebody told a symbolic story about the object of the cult? So St. Christopher did not literally carry the burden of the Christ Child across a river: but he carried Christ inasmuch as he faithfully bore Him witness in his life and in his glorious death. St. Ignatius of Antioch was also known as Theophorus ("the one who carries God") because of the purity of his faith, and that is also the basic reason this holy martyr came to be called "Christopherus," him who carries Christ.

"There were many martyrs, but St. George is the patron saint of a dozen countries because he slayed a dragon."

No, he's not the patron saint of a dozen countries because he slew a dragon. Rather, he is said to have slain a dragon because he is a saint, and no one can become a saint without slaying dragons (Satan and his demons, or the passions and lusts of the flesh). It's folly to suppress the cult of the martyr St. George just because "there's no such thing as dragons."

"I do find it interesting that the propers on those feast days don't mention the legends, only their martyrdom. Nevertheless, the icons show them in the stories."

Icons are not photographs: they don't depict those few things that unenlightened eyes are able to see, but the things that can only be seen with the eyes of faith.

Berolinensis said...

Saint Christopher, Saint Barbara, Saint Catherine of Alexandria were all kept in the regional calendar for the German language dioceses.

poeta said...

Roselly de Lorgues, the 19th-century researcher for the cause of Christopher Columbus, had an unusual take on the vision of St. Christopher. He believed that to some extent it might be a prophecy of the saintly man who was later to carry our Lord across the Atlantic Ocean through great storms and peril.

Pascendi said...

Actually, G. K did support the French Revolution (though attempting to divert from the anit-Catholic elements). He really believed that that Revolution, as well as the so-called Declaration of Independence were the end results of Bellarmine's reflections on political philosophy.

However, the popes would not agree.

benedictus said...

"I do find it interesting that the propers on those feast days don't mention the legends, only their martyrdom."

Before the council of Trent there where proper sequences (poem -prayers before the gospel reading) for many masses of the year. Many of these sequences did mention the pious legends. The council of Trent hacked all but four of them out, in large part due to their reliance on legend.

Personally, I don't see what's wrong with a venerable and pious legend being included in the mass. These beloved stories teach valuable lessons. For the same reason it is acceptable to have dragons in icons, I think it would be acceptable to recall St. George and the dragon in his mass. These sequences were also very beautiful chants.

Besides, Why is it so implausible that St. George really did slay some kind of creature? Granted, it probably wasn't a dragon like you think of with Dungeons and Dragons, but maybe some large crocodile or whatever. The story has significant allegorical value, but that doesn't mean that's all there is to it. And how does anyone know St. Christopher did not see a vision of the Christ child as a heavy burden? Wasn't St. Anthony seen with the Christ child in his arms? Didn't Padre Pio see the Christ child (I really can't remember if he did or not)?

Anonymous said...

benedictus,

That's interesting. So even at the Council of Trent, the Church knew that the Golden Legend was just that, and had no problems with the saints it told stories about.

I must say though, to find out that St. George wasn't the courageous night seen in statues and icons is a little like finding out there is no Santa Claus.

Anonymous said...

I heard the other day that Fontgombault and all of her daughterhouses use the 1962 Missal but the 2002 calendar, moving saints days around so that they're in line with the modern calendar. That would mean the loss of dozens of saints, like George, Catherine, Barbara and Chistopher. Does anyone know if they actually do this?

Jordan Potter said...

Yeah, about the only thing we really know about St. George is that he was a martyr, apparently of the pre-Constantinian era, who died at or near Lydda in the Holy Land.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06453a.htm

Why isn't it plausible that he really slew a dragon or some wild beast? Because no one ever told such a story about him until around the 1100s A.D. But we know he is real, that he is a powerful intercessor and protector. The many stories and fables about him are ways to illustrate his greatness and sanctity.

It's like the story of St. Christopher being a giant who would carry people across an impassible river, who one day carried the Christ Child Himself. The earliest legends show him as a Roman soldier who was martyred for the Faith, but in Western Europe those details were forgotten -- all they knew is that he was a great saint who had been venerated everywhere from time out of mind, whose name meant "Christ-carrier," so a tale was invented to explain his name. He wasn't a giant, and there's no trace of the Christ-carrying tale in the earliest sources, but he definitely exists and is still honored by the Church.

Jeff Culbreath said...

"Why isn't it plausible that he really slew a dragon or some wild beast? Because no one ever told such a story about him until around the 1100s A.D."

How did you come to this conclusion? Did the Catholic Church have no regard for truth until recent times? It is likely that the hagiographers of the 12th century were drawing from earlier sources, including oral tradition that is difficult to document by modern methods. The Church did not even dream of "suppressing" St. Christopher until it was in lost in the feverish swamp of Modernism.

I don't mean to disparage the value of scholarship, but as the Holy Father points out true scholarship needs to have some humility in the face of tradition. The Golden Legend itself is more reliable than the agenda-driven modernist scholarship that decimated the calendar.

"It's like the story of St. Christopher being a giant who would carry people across an impassible river, who one day carried the Christ Child Himself. The earliest legends show him as a Roman soldier who was martyred for the Faith, but in Western Europe those details were forgotten ..."

I doubt this very much: both the certitude of his Roman heritage, and the western forgetting of the details.

" -- all they knew is that he was a great saint who had been venerated everywhere from time out of mind, whose name meant 'Christ-carrier,' so a tale was invented to explain his name."

This is far more speculative than the medieval legend itself.

"He wasn't a giant, and there's no trace of the Christ-carrying tale in the earliest sources ..."

We don't have the earliest sources: we have later sources who probably relied on earlier sources that are inaccessible to us.

benedictus said...

Jordan Potter: "Why isn't it plausible that he really slew a dragon or some wild beast? Because no one ever told such a story about him until around the 1100s A.D."

My understanding is that the tales of George and the Dragon were brought to the Western Church at that time via returning Crusaders, but the tales themselves are older in the East.

In any case, I don't begrudge anyone for considering the tales pure legend, but neither to begrudge anyone for believing they have some basis in historical events.

But the tales are true in that they teach valuable spiritual lessons. I would have no problem with them having a place in the liturgy again and I certainly don't think it was necessary to pull the related saints off the universal calendar.

Anonymous said...

Saint John Vianney had great devotion to Saint Philomena and often gave credit to her for miracles that occurred. I accept his judgment on her existence.

Anonymous said...

Why should we doubt the existence of those saints? Because they left us no personal writings? Should I deny the existence of my great-grandparents since I only know of them through hearsay?
So-called scholars today ignore traditions and become obsessed with textual evidence, as if what is a text can give us all the information we need. (Isn't this what happened in the liturgical ''reform'' when ceremonies were revised and immemorial gestures were removed?) Perhaps we must admit that the heretical notion of ''sola scriptura'' has infected scholarship.

Jordan Potter said...

How did you come to this "Why isn't it plausible that he really slew a dragon or some wild beast? Because no one ever told such a story about him until around the 1100s A.D."

How did you come to this conclusion [that no one ever told such a story about St. George slaying a dragon until around the 1100s A.D.]?

Because prior to the 1100s and 1200s, there is simply no trace of a dragon-slaying tale in the numerous, contradictory legends of St. George anywhere. As the old Catholic Encyclopedia says, "This episode of the dragon is in fact a very late development, which cannot be traced further back than the twelfth or thirteenth century . . . The earliest reference to any such episode in art is probably to be found in an old Roman tombstone at Conisborough in Yorkshire, considered to belong to the first half of the twelfth century."


Did the Catholic Church have no regard for truth until recent times?

The Church has never endorsed the legend of St. George and the Dragon. Many Catholics have believed it, but the fallible personal opinions of individual Catholics have no bearing on whether or not the Church had regard for truth prior to recent times.

It is likely that the hagiographers of the 12th century were drawing from earlier sources, including oral tradition that is difficult to document by modern methods.

Even if they drew on lost earlier sources, that doesn't mean St. George ever really killed a dragon. . . and anyway, you'd think there'd be at least some trace of that tale prior to the 1100s A.D.

The Church did not even dream of "suppressing" St. Christopher until it was in lost in the feverish swamp of Modernism.

The Church never suppressed St. Christopher, nor even dreamt of suppressing him. The Church merely emphasized the feast of St. James the Apostle on the same date over the feast of St. Christopher.

I don't mean to disparage the value of scholarship, but as the Holy Father points out true scholarship needs to have some humility in the face of tradition.

I wholeheartedly agree.

The Golden Legend itself is more reliable than the agenda-driven modernist scholarship that decimated the calendar.

Ehh?? I wouldn't put too much faith in either. (I own Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda Aurea, and it's a real treasure trove, but there's a reason why the word "legend" came to mean an account that is unverifiable and very likely untrue.)

I doubt this very much: both the certitude of [St. Christopher's] Roman heritage, and the western forgetting of the details.

I didn't say St. Christopher was Roman, I said he was Roman soldier, that is, a soldier in the Roman army. The earliest sources say he was North African, of the tribe known as the Marmaritae, and was impressed into the Roman army, and then converted to Christianity while stationed in Antioch in Syria. He was then martyred, and his remains were translated back to Africa.

" -- all they knew is that he was a great saint who had been venerated everywhere from time out of mind, whose name meant 'Christ-carrier,' so a tale was invented to explain his name."

This is far more speculative than the medieval legend itself.


You really think it is more speculative to say the folks in Western Europe who know literally nothing of his earliest legends made up a tale about him being a huge giant who could walk across a deep river bed without dampening his chin whiskers, than it is to say that St. Christopher really was a giant at least, what, 30 feet in height?

"He wasn't a giant, and there's no trace of the Christ-carrying tale in the earliest sources ..."

We don't have the earliest sources: we have later sources who probably relied on earlier sources that are inaccessible to us.


Those are the earliest sources -- the earliest "surviving" sources. Yes, they relied on earlier sources, and we know for a fact that those earlier sources could not have said anything about the Roman soldier St. Christopher being a giant. Otherwise it would have shown up in the earliest surviving sources. But it only appears hundreds and hundreds of years later, in sources that show absolutely no knowledge of the earliest versions of his legend.

Jordan Potter said...

My understanding is that the tales of George and the Dragon were brought to the Western Church at that time via returning Crusaders, but the tales themselves are older in the East.

I'm not aware of evidence to support that possibility. Our known Eastern variations of St. George's legend do not mention the dragon episode.

But otherwise I agree with you: these tales are good and helpful, even if only allegorical and not literally true.