St. Expedite

26 05 2011

More on the saint via the Lonely Goth blog:

“In the same family, you can find a Chinese Taoist, an Indian Muslim, a metropolitan Catholic, an African witch doctor and a Tamil Hindu,” I was told by a Tamil Catholic priest. “It all makes a lot of work for the priesthood: we are continually having to explain to our parishioners what is and is not Christianity.”…

In 1931 a box of sacred relics arrived from the Vatican. Somewhere in transit the label detailing the saint’s name had been lost, and the only indication as to its contents was a stamp on the side reading, in Italian, “ESPEDITO” (expedited). So began the cult of St Expedit, whose popularity grew year by year, until what had started as a clerical error ended with St Expedit becoming RĂ©union’s unofficial patron saint, a saint whose unwritten biography has come to crystallise the most profound hopes and fears of the island’s multiple ethnicities.

There are now about 350 shrines on RĂ©union dedicated to St Expedit. They sit beside every road junction, crown every hilltop, lie deep in the bottom of the island’s wildest ravines.

The local Catholic Church has given the saint the trappings of an early Christian martyr, with a silver breastplate and a red tunic. Hindus treat St Expedit as an unofficial incarnation of Vishnu; those wanting children come to his shrine and tie saffron cloths to the grilles.

More exotic still, some of the island’s sorcerers have given the cult a slightly sinister aspect by decapitating the saint’s image, either to neutralise his power or to use the head in their own incantations. According to Loulou, the sorcerer at Ilet des Trois Salazes had a small oratory in which he kept several heads of St Expedit.

“He used them to cast spells,” said Loulou. “We were all terrified of him: everyone believed he had very strong powers. But in the end the people kicked him out because he began to demand bribes not to cast spells on us all.”

“Weren’t you frightened that he would take revenge on you?”

“We took precautions,” replied Loulou. “We used stronger magic. We sent someone to the grave of La Sitarane in Saint-Pierre. It is the most powerful grave on the island. With La Sitarane on your side, no one can harm you at all.”





On the state of the Church

7 12 2008

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I am not taken to commenting on contemporary church affairs on this blog, but I sometimes defer to others who I think have made some good points. One good recent essay on this topic can be found on the blog, The Sensible Bond, also by an ex-SSPX seminarian. Here are some excerpts:

Traditionalists accuse the New Mass of making Catholics focus on themselves, but in reality we’ve been focusing on ourselves as a culture for a very long time. The entire panoply of spiritual techniques and methods, developed especially in the last four or five centuries, share some blame for this. But the idea that a great reforming pope can provide the answer is, at least on its own, another kind of collectivized anthropocentrism.

Indeed, I am very wary at this point of any talk of the “spiritual life” for this reason. A lot of it can seem to be something like, “if I close my eyes, hold my breath, and have good feelings about Jesus, I am becoming holier than the person next to me”. As someone who has devoted years of his life to such exercises, I remain skeptical about their authenticity.

The older I get, the more anti-clerical I become, but not with a Votairean anticlericalism – God forbid! – but just a healthy scepticism about the clerical worship I was once guilty of a few years ago. They’re just men: popes, bishops and priests. And, like all men, they are capable of beautiful deeds and terrible crimes: if we hope for the best, we should not be suprised at the worst.

I also share this sentiment, though I am probably more jaded about all of it than this blogger. But a healthy emotional distance from the halls of powers is never a bad thing, especially if there is nothing that you can directly do about it.

Read the rest here.