Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

As a surprise for me for our 39th Anniversary and also for Memorial Day, Mike made reservations at the Quality Inn in Jacksonville Beach, Florida for the weekend. We went down on Saturday after he got off work and came home on Tuesday. We really didn't do a lot--just relaxed. But I have to say, as much as I love Jax Beach, somehow this trip made me sad.

Everyone tells me I have such a great memory--I remember things most people don't. It can be great to be able to remember where we put something, or who did something for us that we need done again, or when we did something. But it can also be a curse when your memories take over.

On this trip the first thinkg I thought of was, "the last time we drove down here and stayed in Jax Beach was on our way to and from burying my father in Alabama. That was just last March. I also thought of my dad because we passed the hotel in Richmond Hill where he always stayed on his way to our house. I also thought of my mother. She used to love to read all the road and river signs--the ones that were odd like, for instance, Okefenokie. She was always going to find the place with the strangest name and go live there.

I also thought of the year we traveled this road to go to Pennsacola so we could spend the very first Christmas with our very first grandchild. Now she is 7 years old, and has two younger brothers. She no longer lives in Pensacola, but in Lemoore, California, and I also have another granddaughter in Alaska, and I am scared to death I will never see any of them again.

Our room was on the water and was beautiful. On the east coast I think Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches. They are so white and are kept so clean. I love Jacksonville so much because when Mike was active duty we were stationed in Mayport. At first we lived in Jax Beach, and every day the kids and I used to go down on the beach to walk and look for sharks' teeth. I also felt I grew while we lived in Florida. Mike was gone a lot since he was on a ship, and I had to do everything. I had to be the mother and father and I also proved to myself and others I could do it all. Everywhere else we've been, including here in South Carolina I have Mike to lean on and if there is something needing done that I don't want to do, I know I can ask Mike and he will do it with no problem.

The Quality Inn is next to the Red Cross Building. This building has not changed since we were there. We lived there when Christopher started Kindergarten, and he will now be 37 years old in July. As I looked down the beach I could see Christopher, Victoria, our friends Sue and Amy Rubinstein and myself walking near the water and finding the sharks' teeth. Amy was fantastic at finding them and sometimes she would find one and draw a big circle and tell Christopher or Victoria to find the tooth. Somewhere around the house we still have the teeth in a little margarine cup. The Rubinsteins had tons of them. We never were as good as they were.

While things have changed in Jax Beach and Mayport, there is still enough that is the same that makes it feel comfortable. It is like when I go to Baltimore for a visit. I know I can never go home again, but there are some things that are still there that make it home.

My biggest fear in all of this is that I will always just have my memories. My children are adults and on their own. I am so afraid with them all being so far away I will never see them again. We don't even know where our son is and it kills me a little each day. He may have done things I disagreed with and we butted heads frequently, but he is still my son and I still love him. My daughter has been easier on me and we have gotten along better, although we have had our differences too. I love her very much too. My grandchildren are 7, 4 in July, 2 in July and 2 in August and as I have said I am afraid I will die and never see any of them again. I have more love than I ever thought possible for all my grandchildren.

So I have my memories, and some are good and some are bad. I wish I had a switch in my head that I could turn off to stop remembering so much. Believe me, remembering is not always the greatest thing. I sometimes feel I am like my parents and grandparents and live in the past. I have two brothers that I have very few memories of--they are 6 and 4 years older than I. I don't know if one brother realized it but there were times when my father and mother were living that my feelings were hurt. He would tell me they were going to Alabama and my parents and my sister-in-law's parents and her sister, and my other brother and his wife, and my mother's brother and siser-in-law, who lived about a mile away, were all going to have a family reunion. I was never invited. Mike and I have never been invited to my brothers' homes, nor they to ours. I think when we were going to Florida this time one of the reasons I felt so sad was I don't think I will ever see either of my brothers again either. One lives in California and one in Pennsylvania. Up til now what caused us to all get together once in a while was my father, but now he is gone, and I feel as though my entire family is gone.

Well, maybe someday I will learn how to stop all this and remember only good things and the things I want to remember. Maybe someday we will have a huge family reunion and all of us will be together at least for a while. Maybe. It is something to dream about.

Thursday, May 26, 2011



This is my promise to all of you:
I am not your friend... I am your mother (grandmother)
I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane be your worst nightmare, and hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed.
When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. You will never find someone who loves, cares and worries about you as much as I do. I love all of you so very much.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

First Admendment Rights

Free to Say What I Want When I Want About Whom I Want

Recently I received some E-Mail from someone I hadn't heard from for awhile. He is someone who is very important to me and also someone I love very much. I had happened on his E-Mail address on line, and since I had not heard from him I wrote a two sentence message to ask him how he was and tell him I love him. He wrote a note back, just as short as mine, to tell me he was fine, busy and to leave him alone. Well, me being me, I could not leave well enough alone, and I wrote back and to this person to tell him I would leave him alone for the rest of his life if he would just do a couple things for me: explain to me what we had done to him to make him hate us so and to be so angry with us; and to at least once in a while let us know he is OK. He doesn't have to tell me what he is doing, who he is with, or where he is, just a short note to let us know he is OK. I don't think this is too much for a mother to ask of her son.

Well, was I wrong. I got a message back telling me he doesn't hate us, he just basically lives in world different from ours and we are not welcome in his. He also assured me he is fine, is being well taken care of by his boss, and is doing nothing illegal. He asked me to stop E-mailing him, to stop searching for him on line, and to stop referring to him on my blog. And then he said "Good bye."

Well, at first I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach, then run over by a train. I cried and asked my husband what I have done. Naturally, my husband tried to console me, but I had to find a way to work this out on my own. I'm already seeing a therapist and feel I have made quite a bit of headway with her. I was NOT going to let this set me back. So then I stopped crying and I got angry (I once had an English instructor who made the class write a theme for punishment, and when she saw mine she told me "People get angry, Monica, not mad--thanks Mrs. Sherbondy).

Well, the more I thought, the more angry I got and this is my answer to my son:

I do not have the ability to just forget someone I love. This is true of people who have died like my mother, father, grandmother, aunts, uncles and so on. I also don' t forget living people I love such as my children, my grandchildren, my brothers, my cousins, etc., even though because of distance and everyone lives far away from everyone else I don't see any of them very often. Therefore, Christopher, I will not just forget you. I will worry and wonder where you are and what you are doing. I will continue to look for you on line whenever the spirit moves me. I love you more than you will ever know, understand or care. You were my first child and when I first looked at you I knew everything I went through was well worth it. I loved you then, I've loved you for the last 36 1/2 years, and I love you right now. I have not always liked or agreed with your actions, but you have had to deal with whatever the consequences were over the years, except the support we gave you and the money it cost us (we nearly went bankrupt), but we have survived.

Oh, and last but not least, I will refer to whomever I care to in my blog, whenever I care to, for whatever I care to as long as it is truthful, does not exploit anyone and does not embarrass anyone. My First Amendment Rights, which your father spent 30 years protecting, give me the right to do so.

Again, I love you very much. Our address and phone number are the same as when you left, as is my and your father's E-Mail addresses. And we love you at least as much, and probably more, as when you left. We will be here for you and love you as long as God allows.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Staying Warm on a Rainy and (almost) Snowy Day

Since last week we have been getting weather forecasts of a terrible storm that was suppose to hit us from Sunday night into Monday. They were talking about snow and rain and sleet and accumulation and every horrible thing you can think of. Then last night they started putting the schools on 2 and 3 hour delays, cancelling meetings, closing facilities, and it hadn't even started raining yet. Today the schools are closed, the government offices are closed, all the colleges are closed, any meeting that was going to be held today is cancelled, and there is not one snowflake on the ground. We did get some rain and it froze to the tree limbs, but even that is gone and it is just raining now. It is cold--in the low 30's, but we always have crappy weather here in South Carolina in January and February. We are in Charleston so since we are closer to the coast we don't usually get snow, and when we do it is usually gone by the afternoon of the day it snows. On the other side of I-95 and from Columbia up they do have more accumulation and worse weather. But as you can see by this picture my husband and pets know how to keep warm. There is ole' Gunney in the front, next to him is Samurai, who is on top of Thumbs. If you look behind Samurai you can see Meiko's ears, and way in the back is Mike. Hope everyone stays warm and safe.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Now that the holidays are over and all the decorations are taken down and stored away for next year, I have been thinking of holidays past. They used to be so different when I was little. We lived in Baltimore until I was about 7, so I still believed. Every year after my brothers Bobby, who is six years older than I, and Pat, who is four years older than I , and I went to bed my father began his magic. First there was a platform put in the corner of the living room. On this he would put the tree--a real tree, not one of the prelit fake things from Lowe's. Of course, real trees didn't cost $150.00 then either. He would decorate the tree with lots of lights and glass balls, and strands of tinsel that had to be just so. Then he would do the garden. Everyone had gardens around their trees. There were salt roads and pebble side walks and people sitting on the bench in the park. There were houses and churches and trees. There was a train circling around and snow everywhere. The train would even have a tunnel to go through my dad made and it whistled when it came to a road crossing. The next morning when I came downstairs I knew there really was a Santa. There was one Christmas I came downstairs before anyone was awake and walked into the living room and NOTHING was there. As I went back to my room Bobby was going to the Bathroom. "Bobby, was Santa supposed to come last night?" "No, silly, he comes tonight. Go back to bed."
When you went to downtown Baltimore during the holidays it was a wonderland. Heckts, The May Company, Hutzler's, Hockschild Kohn's--they all had windows decorated with Santas, and reindeer, and elves and bright, shiny colors and everything was just perfect. It was cold--I always remember Christmas as being cold, and usually snow on the ground--maybe it didn't snow on Christmas, but sometime around then it did.
One year I got a Tiny Tears Doll. I had to be no more than four. She could be washed and she was the first doll whose hair could be washed. When you fed her a bottle of water it went right through her, so you had to change her diaper. Of course I had to give her a bath, wash her hair, feed her a bottle and change her diaper on Christmas Day. I still have that doll, She is made of rubber and is dry rotted now and falling apart. I named her Bonnie, and I just don't have the heart to throw Bonnie away. Someday when I'm gone and my kids are cleanng up after me they can wonder why I saved this piece of junk and then she'll go in the trash. They will never know how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. She slept with me every night and was my best friend.
Christmas Dinner was always a big deal. Mom would start cooking days in advance--pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, apple pie, lemon meringue pie, cookies. On Christmas Day she would get up at 4 am to start the turkey--it was usually a HUGE turkey. She made her own stuffing, and had no choppers like we have now. All the onion and celery had to be cut up by hand. The menu consisted of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, candied sweet potatoes, souerkrout, cranberry sauce, peas and onions, and all the desserts. And Mom also did all the dishes--again by hand, she had no dishwasher. My maternal grandmother lived about three doors up the street from us, and we would usually go to Severna Park to get my grandmother's brother, Uncle George and we would have a wonderful dinner and together time. My mother was a fantastic cook--not fancy, but everything she made was delicious.
New Year's Eve was always an excitement for me and I have never known why. Half the time I was in bed before midnight when I was little, but I was awakened by the Volunteer Fire Department blowing it's whistle, the fire works and people yelling "HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!" Of course when I got older I went out for New Year's Eve and it was one year in the week between Christmas and New Year I became engaged. I didn't get my ring on Christmas because I had gone to Florida with a guy who lived next door who was like my brother. He was one of my very best friends ever in my life, 13 years older than I, but a wondeful man. Sadly, he has died several years ago of cancer.
Usually during the holidays we saw my mother's other brother, Uncle Jack, Aunt Vera and their children Joyce (who now goes by Chris, but will always be Joyce to me), Claire, Brian and Michelle. Joyce is the same age as Bobby and Claire and I are the same age and Brian and Michelle (we called her Shelly then) were the two youngest. Uncle Jack's job made them move around a lot--they lived in Catonsville, Maryland when I was small, then moved to Missouri, then to New Mexico and finally when they retired to Alabama just about a mile from my parents.
We also saw my father's sister, Aunt Regina and her husband Uncle Andy. I always thought she was so pretty and wished I could be like her.
Of course before Christmas when you wnet downtown there were "bellringers" on every corner, and every store had a Santa. We sat on all the Santa's laps, but I think we only have one picture with Santa and that is just my brothers, probably before I was born. We would tell Santa what we wanted and it was usually something simple--a doll, a truck, a bicycle, and lo and behold he always remembred who got what even down to the color. Commercialization was probably there then but no where near as bad as it is now.
Now Christmas is way too commercialized and I'm not four anymore. I have no small children and my grandchildren live in California and Alaska. If we're lucky after playing phone tag a couple days we talk to our children and to Mike's mother, but even they don't think it's a big deal, or they have too much to do or they just don't want to talk.
Someday I am going to have a Christmas I enjoy, even if I have to adopt someone's grandchildren. I want to see the wonderment in their eyes and their squeals and laughter, I want to watch them play with the boxes and wrapping instead of the toys and tell you they don't like anything on the dinner table. As my mother would say, "That's OK. You don't have to eat it. What would you like? A balogna sandwhich? I've got that and it will only take a minute to make. Do you want mayonnaise or mustard and what kind of bread do you want it on?"
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, especially to all those who are no longer with us. I know there will come a day when we will all be together again, but Mom, I'll help with the dishes!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fourteen Holy Martyrs

The Holy Helpers, starting from the top, left and moving clockwise: St. Christopher, St. Sionysius [Denis], St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Blaise, St. Vitus, St. George; moving left and counterclockwise: St. Erasmus [Elmo], St. Margaret, St. Barbara, St. Eustachius [Eustace]; center panel, left from top to bottom: St. Achatius, St. Cyriacus, St. Pantaleon; center panel, right: St. Giles [with the deer].

When I was little my family lived in Baltimore, Maryland at 119 South Carey Street. My family has been Catholic for generations and my mother's family went to Fourteen Holy Martyrs Catholic Church on Mount and Lombard Streets. My brothers and I also went to school there--I only went to the first grade, my brother Pat to the fifth grade and my brother Bobby to the seventh grade. At that point we moved out of Baltimore City and into Anne Arundel County. We used to visit my grandmother, who lived at 109 South Carey Street, every Friday night, and during Lent would still attend Stations at Flurteen's. In 1964 Fourteen's closed. I guess the parish had dwindled and like many other Catholic Churches the parish was combined with another. Thw church still stands and so does the Hall on Mount and Pratt Streets, but the school is long gone. The rectory is still there but the convent is gone and the church is now a Baptist Church.
Something reminded me of Fourteens the other day and I got to wondering who the fourteen martyrs were, so I looked it up. The following is what I found out:

A group of saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, known and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers. Though each has a separate feast or memorial day, the group was collectively venerated on 8 August. However, this feast was dropped and suppressed in the 1969 reform of the calendar.

They are invoked as a group because of the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason, and killed within a few hours; many died without the last Sacraments. Brigands roamed the roads, people suspected of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down, and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany, and the tradition has remained strong there.


Achatius, also known as Acacius; the facts of his life are uncertain. He may have been bishop of Antioch or of Militene and may not have been a bishop at all. He was prominent in Christian circles in Antioch and when summoned to appear the local Roman official, Martian, a dialogue on Christianity and its teachings compared to other religons ensued, which has come down to us. Achatius refused to sacrifice to pagan gods when he would not supply the names of his fellow Christians, was sent to prison. Supposedly when Emperor Decius received Martian's report of the trial he was so impressed by both men that he promoted Martian and pardoned Achiatius. Though listed as a martyr there is no evidence he died for the faith. His feast day is May 8th and he is invoked against headaches. (Catholic Online)

St. Barbara is the patron saint of U. S. Army Field Artillery. She is also invoked against fever and also sudden death. Barbara lived in the 4th century and brought up as a hethen. A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for that purpose. Here, in her forced solitude, she gave herself to prayer and study, and contrived to receive instruction and Baptism in secret by a Christian priest.

Barbara resisted her father's wish that she marry. Then on one occasion, during her fahter's absence, Barbara had three windows inserted into a bathhouse her father was constructing. Her purpose was thereby to honor the Trinity.

Dioscorus was enraged by her action and by her conversion. He himself denounced her before the civil tribunal. She was horribly tortured, and at last was beheaded. Her own father, merciless to the last, acted as her executioner. God, however, speedily ounsihed her persecutors. While her soul was being borne by angels to Paradise, a flash of lightning struck Dioscorus, and he was hurried before the judgement seat of God.

The life of St. Barbara is a vivd remined that there can be much anger in our world and our lives. Being in touch with God's presence in a very special way can do much toward relieving ourselves of our tendency to allow anger to control us. We should pray often against a sudden and unprovided death; and, above all, that we may be strengthened by the Holy Viaticum (Last Sacraments) against the dangers of our last hour.St. Barbara's Feast Day is December 4th. (Catholic Online)

Many Catholics might remember Saint Blaise's feast day (February 3rd) because of the Blessing of the Throats that took place on this day. Two candles are blessed, held slightly open, and pressed against the throat as the blessing is said. Saint Blaise's protection of those with throat troubles apparently comes from a legend that a boy was brought to him who had a fishbone stuck in his throat. The boy was about to die when St. Blaise healed him.

Very few facts are known about Saint Blaise. We believe he was a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century.

The legend of his life that sprang up in the eighth century tell us that he was born to a rich and noble family who raised him as a Christian. After becoming a bishop, a new persecution of Christians began. He received a message from God to go into the hills to escape perseci=ution. Men hunting in the mountains discovered a cave surrounded by wild animals who were sick. Among them, Blaise walked unafraid, curing them of their illn esses. Recognizing Balise as a bishop, they captured him to take him back for trial. On the way back, he talked a wolf into releasing a pig that belonged to a poor woman. When Blaise was sentenced to starve to death, the woman, in gratitude, sneaked into the prison with food and candles. Finally Blaise was killed by the governor.

Blaise is the patron saint of wild animals because of his care and of those with throat maladies.

Saint Blaise, pray for us that we may not suffer from illnesses of the throat and pray that all who are suffering be healed by God's love. Amen. (Catholic Online)

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day is November 25th is the patroness of philosophers and preachers.

St. Catherine is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a noble family. Converted to Christianity through a vision, she denounced Maxentius for persecuting Christians. Fifty of her converts were then burned to death by Maxentius.

Maxentius offered Catherine a royal marriage if she would deny the Faith. Her refusal landed her in prison. While in prison, and while Maxentius was away, Catherine converted Maxentius' wife and two hundred of his soldiers. He had them all put to death.

Catherine was likewise condemned to death. She was put on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel broke, she was beheaded. She is venerated as the patroness of philosophers and preashers. St. Catherine's was one of the voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.(Catholic Online) St. Catherine is also invoked against sudden death.

Before the 1969 reform of the Roman calendar, Christopher was listed as a martyr who died under Decius. Nothing else is known about him. There are several legends about him including the one in which he was crossing a river when a child asked to be carried across. When Christopher put the child on his shoulders he found the child was unbeliveably heavy. The child, according to the legend, was Christ, carrying the weight of the whole world. This was what made Christopher patron saint of travelers and is invoked against storms, plagues, etc. His former feast day is July 25th.

Before the formal canonization process began in the fifteenth century, many saints were proclaimed by popular approval. This was a much faster process but unfortunately many of the saints so named were based on legends, pagan mythology, or even other religions--for example, the story of Buddha traveled west to Europe and he was "converted" into a Catholic Saint! In 1969, the church took a long look at all the saints on its calendar to see if there was historical evidence that that saint existed and lived a life of holiness. In taking that long look, the church discovered that there was little proof that many "saints", including some very popular ones, ever lived. Christopher was one of the names that was determined to have a basis mostly in legend. Therefore Christopher (and others) were dropped from the universal calendar.

Some saints were considered so legendary that their cult was completely repressed (including St. Ursula). Christopher's cult was not suppressed but it is confines to local calendars (those for a diocese, country, or so forth). His name, Christopher, means Christ-bearer. He died a martyr during the reign of Decius in the third century. (Catholic Online). His name is also invoked for bubonic plague and dangers when traveling.

St. Cyriacus was a Bishop of Ancona, Italy, or bishop of Jeruselem, Israel, also called Quiriacus. He is believed to have been the bishop of Ancona. While making a pilgramage to the Holy Land, Cyriacus was caught up in the persecution of the times. Yet another tradition states that he was the bishop of Jerusalem, martyred under Emperor Hadrian. His feast day is May 4. (Catholic Online). He is invoked against temptations, especially when on the death bed.

Saint Denis (also called Dionysius, Dennis or Denys) is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was bishop of Paris. He was martyred in approximately A.D. 250: after his head was chopped off, Denis is said to have picked it up and walked ten kilometeres (six miles), preaching a sermon the entire way, making him one of many cephalophores in hagiology. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as Patron of Paris, France and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. The medieval and modern French name "Denis" derives from the ancient name Dionysius.
Gregory of Tours states that Denis was bishop of the Parisii and was martyred being beheaded by a sword. The earliest document giving an account of his life and martyrdom, from the "Passio SS. Dionysii Rustici et Eleutherii" dates from c. 600, is mistakenly attributed to the poet Venantius Fortunatus, and is legendary. Nevertheless, it appears from the Passio that denis was sent from Italy to Gaul in the third century, forging a link with the "apostles to the Gauls" reputed to have been sent out under the direction of Pope Fabian. This was after the persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian community at Lutetia. Denis, with his inseparable companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, who were martyred with him, settled on the Ile de la Cite in the River Seine. Roman Paris lay on the higher ground of the Left Bank, away from the river.
Denis, having alarmed the pagan priests by his many conversions, was executed by beheading on the highest hill in Paris (now Montmartre), which was likely to have been a druidic holy place. The martyrdom of Denis and his companions is popularly believed to ahve given it its current name, derived from the Latin mons martyrium "The Martyr's Mountain", although in fact the name is more likely to derive from mons mercurei et mons martis, Hill of Mercury and Mars. After his head was chopped off, Denis is said to have picked it up and walked ten kilometers (six miles) to the summit of Mont Mars (now Montmarte), preaching a sermon the entire way. Of the many accounts of his martyrdom, this is noted in detail in the Golden Legend and in Butler's Lives of the Saints. The site where he stopped preaching and actually died was marked by a small shrine that developed into the Saint Denis Basilica, which became the burial place for the kings of France. Another account has his corpse being thrown into the Seine, but recovered and buried later that night by his converts.

Veneration of Saint Denis began soon after his death. The bodies of Saints Denis, S+Elutherius, and Rusticus were buried on the spot of their martyrdom, where the construction of the saint's eponymous basilica was begun by St. Genevieve, assisted by the people of Paris. Her Vita Sanctae Genovefae attests the presence of a shrine near the present basilica by the close of the fifth century, though the names of Rusticus and Eleutherius are non-historical. The successor church was erected by Fulrad, who became abbot in 749/50 and was closely linked with the accession of the Carolingians to the Merovingian throne.

In time the "Saint Denis", often combined as "Montjoie! Saint Denis!" became the war cry of the French Armies. The oril=flamme, which became the standard of France, was the banner consecrated on his tomb. His veneration spread beyond France when, in 754, Pope Stephen II, who was French, brought veneration of Saint Denis to Rome. Soon his cultus

was prevalent throughout Europe. Abbot Suger removed the relics of Denis, and those associated with Rustique and Eleuthere, from the crypt to reside under the high altar of the Saint-Denis he rebuilt, 1140-44.

The feast of Saint Denis was added to the Roman Calendar in the year 1568 by Pope Pius V, though it had been celebrated since at least the year 800. St. Denis' feast day is celebrated October 9.

In traditional Catholic practice, Saint Denis is hinired as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Specifically, Denis is invoked against diabolical possession and headaches and with Saint Genevieve is one of the patron saints of Paris.

Since at least the ninth century, the legends of Dionyus the Aeropagite and Denis of Paris have often been confused. Circa 814, Louis the Pious brought certain writings attributed to Dionysus the Areopagite to France, and since then it became common among the French legendary writers to prove that Denis of Paris was the same Dionysus who was a famous convert and desciple of St. Paul. The confusion of the personalities of Saint Denis, Dionysus the Areopagite, and pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite, the author of the writings ascribed to Dionysus brought to France by Louis, was initiated through an Areopagita written in 836 by Hildiun, Abbot of Saint-Denis, at the request of Louis the Pious. "Hildiun was anxious to promote the dignity of his church, and it is to him that the quite unfounded identification of the patron saint with Dionysus the Areopagite and his consequent connexion with the apostilic age are due." Scholars might still argue for an Eastern origin of the Basicilica of Saint-Denis in the sixteenth century: one was Godefroi Tillman's long preface to a paraphrase of the Letters of the Areopagite, printed in

Paris in 1538 by CHarlotte Guillard. Histogrographers of the present day do not dispute this point.

Denis' headless walk has led to his being depicted in art decapitated and dressed as a Bishop, holding his own mitred head in his hands. Handling the halo in this circumstance poses a unique challenge for the artist. Some put the halo where the head used to be; others have Saint Denis carrying the halo along with the head. Even more problemmatic than the halo was the issue of how much of his head Denis should be shown carrying. Throughout much of the Middle Ages, the Abbey of Saint Denis and the canons of Notre Dame Cathedral were in dispute over ownership of the Saint's head. The Abbey claimed that they ahd the entire body, whilst the Cathedral claimed to possess the top of his head which, they claimed, had been severed by the executioner's first blow. Thus while most depictions of St. Denis show him holding his entire head, in others, the patrons have shown their support for the Cathedral's claim by depicting him carrying just the crown of his skull, as, for example in the mid 13th century window showing the story at Le Mans Cathedral. (Wikipedia)

Saint Erasmus of Formiae is a Christian saint and martyr who died ca. 303 and is also known as Saint Elmo. E]He is vernerated as the patron saint of sailors. Saint Erasmus or Elmo is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saintly figures of Christian legend who were venerated in Central Europe as intercessors. His feast day is June 2, and along with being the patron saint of sailors he is also the patron saint of Gaeta, Formia, colic in children, intestinal ailments and diseases, cramps and the pain of women in labor, cattle pest, and Fort Saint Elmo (Malta) He is represented by a windlass.

The "Acts of Saint Elmo" were partly compiled from legends that confuse him with a Syrian bishop Erasmus of Antioch. Jacobus de Voragine in teh "Golden Legend" credited him as a bishop of formia over all teh Italian Campania, as a hermit on Mount Lebanon, and martyr in the persecutons under Easter Roman Emperor Diocletian.

According to his legend, when persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian began, "Erasmus was called before a h=judge, beaten around the head, spat upon and 'besprinkles [. . .] with foulness.' He was then beaten with leaden mauls until his veins broke and burst. Erasmus suffered all theses punishments with tremendous willingness. Erasmus was then thrown into a pit of snakes and worms, and boiling oil and sulfur were poured on him but 'he lay therein as he had lain in cold water, thanking and loving God.' Then thunder and lightning came and electrocuted everyone around save Erasmus. Thuys the saint was protected mfrom the lightning. Diocletian had him thrown in another pit, but and angel came and slew all the vipers and worms."

Then came the Western Roman Emperor Maximian who, according to Voragine, was " much worse that was Diocletian" Erasmus would not cease preaching the Gospel, even though he was "put into a pan seething with rosin, pitch, brimstone lead, and oil [which were]pour]. . .into his mouth [from] which he never shrank." A searing hot cloak and metal coat were both tried on him, to no effect, and an angel eventually carried him away to safety."

"And when this holy man came before the false gods" - to which he was to be forced to sacrifice, they "fell down and broke all in pieces, and consumed into ashes or dust." That made the Emperor so angry he had Erasmus enclosed in a barrell full of protruding spikes, and the barrell was rolled down a hill. But an angel healed him. Further tortures ensued:

His teeth were . . .plucked out of his head with iron pinchers. And after that they bound him to a pillar and carded his skin with iron cards, and then they roasted him upon a gridiron. . .and did smite sharp nails of iron in his fingers, and after, they put out his eyes of his head with their fingers, and after that they laid this holy bishop upon the ground naked and stretched him with strong withes bound to horss about his blessed neck, arms, and legs, so that all his veins and sinews that he had in his body burst."

The version of the 'Golden Legend" did not relate how Erasmus fled to Mount Lebanon and survived on what ravens brought him to eat, and interesting pre-Christian mytheme. When he was recaptured, he was brought before the Emperopr and beaten and whipped, then coated with pitch and set alight (as Christians had been in Nero's games). and dtill he survived. Thrown into prison with the intention of letting him die of starvation, St. Erasmus managed to escape

He was recaptured and tortured some more in the Roman province of Illyricum, after boldly preaching and converting numerous pagans to Christianity. Finally, according to the legend, his stomach was slit open and his intestines wound around a windlass. This late legend may ahve developed from interpreting an icon that showed him with a windlass, signifying his patronage of sailors.

Saint Erasmus may have becme the patron saint of sailors becasue he is said to have continued preaching even after a thunderbolt struck the ground beside him. This prompted sailors, who were in dange from sudden storms and lightning, to claim his prayers. The electrical discharges at the mastheads of ships were read as a sign of his protection and came to be called "Saint Elmo's Fire."

Pope Saint Gregory the Great recorded in the sixth century that his relics were preserved in the cathedral of Formia. When the old Formiae was razed by the Saracens in 842, the cult of Erasmus was translated to Gaeta. He is currently the patron of both Gaeta and Formia.

Besides his patronage of mariners, Erasmus is invoked aganist colic in children, intestinal ailments and diseases, cramps and the pain of women in labor, as well as cattle pest. What a combination!

St. Eustachius & Companions Martyrs clelbrate their feast day on September 20. St. Eustachius, called by the Greeks Eustachius, and befor his conversion named Placidus, was a nobleman who suffered martyrdom at Ropme, about the reign of Adrian together with his wife Theopista, called before her baptisim Tatiana, and two sons, Agapius and Theopistus. These Greek names they must have taken after their conversion to the faith. The acient sacramentaries mention in the prayer for the festival of St. Eustachius his profuse charities to the poor on whom he bestowed all his large possessions some time before he laid down his life for his faith. An ancient church in Rome was built in his honor, with the title of Diacony; the same now gives title to a cardinal. His body lay deposited in this church, till, in the twelfth age, it was translated to that of St.Denis near Paris. His shrine was pilliaged in this place, and part of his bones burnt by the Huguenots in 1567; but a potyion of them still remains in the parish church which bears the name of St.Eustachius in Paris. How noble it is to see integrity and virtue triumphing over interest, passion, racks, and death and setting the whole world at defiance! To see a great man preferring the least duty of justice, truth or religion, to the favor or menace of princes; readily quitting estate, friends, country, and life rather then consent to anything against his conscience, and at the same time, meek, humble, and modest in his suffering; forgiving from his heart and tenderly loving his most unjust and treacherous enemies and persecutors! Passion and revenge often make men furious; and lust of power, worldly honor, applause or wealth may prompt them to brave dangers; but these passions leave them weak and dastardly in other cases, and are themselves the basest of slavery, and most grevious crimes and misery to religion is the only basis on which true magnanimity and courage can stand. It so enlightenes the mind as to set a man above all human events, and to preserve him in all changes and trials steadily calm in himself; it secures him against the errors, the injustices, and frowns of the world, by its powerful motives the strongest spur to all generous actions, and under afflictions and sufferings a source of unalterable peace, and overflowing joy which spring from assuredconfidence that God's will is always most just and holy, and that He will be its protector and rewarder. Does religion exert this powerful influences in us? Does it appear in our hearts, in ur actions and conduct? Is it not enough to encounter dangers with resolution; we must with equal courage and constancy vanquist pleasure and the softer passions, or we possess not the virtue of true fortitude. (Catholic Online)

Saint George (ca 275/281-23 April 303) was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier and priest
in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.

Many Patronages of Saint George exist around the world, including: Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greecem Iraq, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia and Russia, as well as the cities of Genoa, Amersfoot, Beirut, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Caceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Ljubljana, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Barcelona, Moscow, Tamworth and the Maltese island of Gozo as well as a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers.
Historians have debated the exact details of the birth of Saint George for over a century, although the approximate date of his death is subject to little debate. The Catholkic Encyclopedia takes the position that there seems to be no ground for doubting the historical existence of Saint Georgem but that little faith can be placed in some of the fanciful stories about him.

The work of the Bollandists Danile Paperbroch, Jean Bolland and Godfrey Henschen in the 17th century was one of the first pieces of scholarly research to establish the historicity of the saint's existence via their publications in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca and paved the way for other scholars to dismiss the medieval legends. Pope Gelasius stated that George was among those saints" whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God."

The traditional legends have offered a historicised narration of Geroge's encounterItalic with a dragon: see "St. George and the Dragon" below. The modern legend that follows below
is synthesized from the early and late hagiographical sources, ommiting the more fantastical episodes, to narrate a purely human military career in closer harmony with modern expections of reality. Chief among the legendary sources about the saint is the Golden Legend, which remains the most familiar version in English owing to William Caxton's 15th-century translation.
It is likely that Saint George was born to a Christian noble family in Lod, Syria Palaestina during the l;ate third century between about 227 AD and 285 AD, and he died in Nicomedia. His father, Gerontius, was a Roman army official from Cappadocia and his mother was from Palestine. They were both Christians from noble families of Anici, so by this the child was raised with Christian beliefs. They decided to call him Georgius (Latin) or Georgios (Greek), meaning "worker of the land'> At the age of 14 George lot his father, a few years later, George's mother, Polychronia, died. Eastern accounts give the names of his parents as Anastasius and Theobaste.
Then George decided to go to Nicomedia, the imperial city of that time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had know his father, Gerontius--one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperior at Nicomedia.

In the years AD 302, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Pagan gods, But George objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best Tribune and the son of his best official, Gerontius. George loudly renounced the Enperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunees he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Pagan gofds. The Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted.
recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceraton on a wheel of swords in which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on April 23, 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honor him as a martyr.
Although the above distillation of the legend of George connects him to the conversion of Athansius, who according to Rufinus was brought up by Christian ecclestiastical authorities froma very early age, Edward Gibbon argued that George, or at least the legend from which the above is distilled, is based on George of Cappadocia, a notorious Arian bishop who was Anthanasius' most bitter rival, who in time became Saint George of England. According to Professor Bury, Gibbon's latest editor, "this theory of Gibbon's has nothing to be said for it'. He adds that "the connection of St. George with a dragon-slaying legend does not relegate him to the region of the myth.
The episode of Saint George and the Dragon was a legend brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenancesn belonging to the genre of Romance. The earliest known depiction of the legend is from the early eleventh-century Capadoccia, (in the iconography of the Eastern Orthodoxchurch, George George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the sec=venth-century); the earliest known surviving narrative text is aneleventh-century Georgian text.

In the fully developed Western version, which developed as part of the Golden Legend, a dragon or Crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "silene" (perhaps modern Cyrene) in Lybia or the city of Lydda, depending on the source. Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, eacgh day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden must go instead of the sheep. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but there appears Saint George on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects hi,self withe the sign of the cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess. The grateful citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.

The dragon motif was first combined with the stadardised Passio Georgii in Vincent of Beauvais' encyclopedic Speculum historale and then in Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend , which guaranteed its popularity in the Middle Ages as a literary and pictorial subject.

The parallels with Perseus and Andromedia are inescapable. In the allegorical reading, the dragon embodies a supressed pagan cult. The story has other roots that predate Christianity. Examples such as Sabazios, the sky father, who was usually depicted riding on horseback, and Zeus's defeat of Thphon in Titan in Greek mythology, along with exapmles for Germanic and Vedic traditions, have led a numbers of historians, such as Loomis, to suggest that George is a Christianized version of older deities in Indo-European culture.

In the medieval romances, the lance with whch St, Geroge slew the dragon was called Ascalon, named after the city of Ashkelton in Israel.

A church built in Lydda during the reign of Constatine I (reighned 306-337), was consecrated to "a man of the highest distinction", according to the church history of Eusebius of Caesarea; the name of the patron wa not disclosed, but later he was asserted to have been George. By the time of the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, a basilica dedicated to the saint in Lydda existed. The church was destroyed in 1010 but was later rebuilt and dedicated to Saint George by the Crusaders. in 1191 and during the conflict known as the Third Crusade n(1189-1192) the church was again destroyed by the forces of Saladin, Sultan of the Ayyubid dynesty (reighed 1171-1193). A new church was erected and 1872 and is still standing.

During the fourth century the veneration of George spread from Palestine through Lebanon to the rest of teh Eastern Roman Empire-though the martyr is not mentioned in the syriac Breviarium-and Georgia. In Georgia the feast day on November 23 is cerdited to St,. Nino of Cappadi=ocia, who in Georgian Hagiography is a relative of St. George, credited with bringing christianity to the Georgians in the fourth century. By the fifth century the cult of Saint George had reached the Western Roman Empire as well: in 494, George was cannonized as a saint by Pope Gelasius I, among theose "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to [God].

In England the earliest dedication to George, who was mentioned among the martyrs by Bede, is a church at Fordington, Dorset, that is mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great. "Saint George and his feast day began to gain more widespread fame among all Europeans, however from the time of the Crusades." The St. George's flag, a red cross on a white field, was adopted by England and the city of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the Genoese fleet during the Crusades and the English Monarch paid and annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege. An Apparition of George heartened the Franks at the siege of Antioch, 1098, and made a similar appearance the following year at Jerusalem. Chivalric military Order of George was established in Aragon (1201), Genoa, Hungary, and by Frederick III.

The establishment of George as a popular saint and protective giant in the West that had captured the medieval imagination was codified by the official elevation of his feast to a festum duplex at a church council in 1415, on the date that had become associated with his martyrdom, 23 April. There was wide latitude from community to community in celebration of the day across late and medieval and early modern England, and no uniform "national" celebration elsewhere, a token of the popular and vernacular nature of George's cultus and its local horizions, supported by a local guild or confraternity under George's protection, or dedication of a local church. When the Reformation in England severely curtainled the saints' days in the calandar, St. George's Day was among the holidays that continued to be observed.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the earliest text preserving fragments of George's narrative is an Acta Sanctorium identified by Hippolyte Delehaye of the scholarly Bollandists to be a palimpsest of the fifth century. However, this Acts Sancti Georgii was soon banned as heresy by Pope Gelasius (in 496).

The compiler of this Acta , according to Hippolyte Delehaye "confused the martyr with his namesake, the celebrated George of Cappadocia, the Arian intruder into the see of Alexdandria and enemy of St. Athnasius." A critical edition of a Syriac Acta of Saint George, accompanied by an annotated English translation was published by E. W. Brooks (1863-1955) in 1925. The hagiography was originally written in Greek

In Sweded, the princess rescued by Saint George is held to represent the kingdon=m of Sweden, while the dragon represents an invading army. Several sculptures of Saint George battling the dragon can be found in Stockholm, the earliest inside Storkyrkan ("The Great CHurch") in the Old Town.

The facade of architect Antoni Gaudi's famous Casa Batllo in Barcelona, Spain depicts this allegory.

St. George is most commonly depicted in early icons, mosaics and frescos wearing armour contempory with the depection, executed in gilding, and silver colour, intended to identify him as a Roman soldier. After the fall of Constantinople and the association of St. George with the Crusades, he is more often portrayed mounted upon a white horse.

At the same time St. George began to be associated with St. Demetrius, another early soldier saint. When the two saints are portrayed together mounted upon horses, they may be lickened to earthly manifestations of the archangles Michael and Gabriel. St George is always depicted in Eastern traditions upon a white horse and St. Demetrius on a red horse. St. George can also be identified in the act of spearing a dragon, unlike St. Demetrius, who is sometimes shown spearing a human figure, understood to represent Maximiam.

A 2003 Vatican Stamp issued on the anniversary of the Saint's death depicts and armored Saint George atop a white horse, killing the dragon.

During the early second millennium, George came to be seen as the model of chivary, and during this time was depicted in works of literature, such as the medieval romances

Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, compiled the Legenda Sanctorium, (Readings of the Saints) also known as Legenda Aurea (the Golden Legend) for its worth am ong readers. Its 177 chapters (182 in other editions) contain the story of Saint George.

Modern Russians interpret the icon as not a killing but as a struggle, aganist ourselves and the evil among us. The dragon never dies but the saint persists with his horse (will and support of the people) and his spear (techinal means).

In Eastern Orthodox Christianity it is possible to find Icons of St. George riding on a black horse, as well, there are various examples in Russian Iconography, like the Icon in British Museum Collection.The"Colours of Saint George", or Saint George's Cross are a white flag with a red cross, frequently borne by entities over which he is patron (e.g. the Republic of Genoa and then Liguria, England, Georgia, Catalonia, Aragon, etc.)

The origin of the St. George's Cross came from the earlier plain white tunics worn by early crusaders.

The same colour scheme was used by Victor Vasnetsov for the facade of teh Tretyakov Gallery, in which sme of the most famous St. George Icons are exhibited and which displays St. George as the coat of arms of Moscow over its entrance.

In the General Calandar of the Roman Rite the feast of Saint George is on April 23. In the Tridentine Calandar it was given the rank of :Semidouble". In Pope Pius XII's 1955 calandar this rank is reduced to "Simple". In Pope John XXIII's 1960 calendar the celebration is just a "commeration". In Pope Paul VI's 1969 it is raised to the level of an optional "Memorial:. In some countries, such as England, the rank is higher.

St. George is very much honored by the Eastern Orthodox Chirch, Wherein he is referred to as a "Great Martyr", and in Oriental Orthodoxy as well. His amjor feast day is on APril 23 )Julian Calendar April 23 currently corresponds to Gregorian Calendar May 6). The Russian Orthodox Church also celebrates two additional feasts in honor pf St. George: one on November 3 commemorating the conscecration of a cathedral dedicated to him in Lydda during the reign of Constantine the Great (305-337). WHen the church was consecrated, the relics of the St. George were transferred there. The other feast on November 26 for a chuch dedicated to him in Kiev, ca. 1054.

In egypt the Coptic Orthodox X=Church of Alexandria refers to Saint George as the "Prince of Martyrs" and celebrates his martyrdom on the 23rd of Paremhat of the Coptic Calendar equivalent to May 1. The Copts also celebrate the consecration of the first church dedicated to him on June 10.

As a highly celebrated saint in both the Western and Eastern Christian churches, a large number of Patronages of Saint George exist throughout the world.

The country of Georgia, where devotions to the Saint date back to the fourth century, is not named aftr him, but a large number of towns and cities around the world are. Georgia is the anglicised version of Gurj, derived from the Persian word for the people in that territory. Geographer Vakhushti Bagrationi wrote that there are 365 Orthodox churches in Georgia named after St. George according to the number of days in a year.

St. George is the patron saint of England; his cross forms the national flag of England, and features within the Union Jack of the United Kingdom: Traces of the cult of St. George in England predate the Norman Conquest in the eleventh centry; by the fourteenth century the saint had been declared both the patron saint and the protector of the Royal Family.

Devotions to Saint George in POrtugal date back to the twelth centry, and Saint Constable attributed the victory of the Portuguese in the battle of Aljiubarrota in the fourteenth century to Saint George. During the reigh of King John I (1357-1433) Saint George became the patron saint of Portugal and the King ordered that the saint's image on the horse be carried in the corpus Christi possession.

Saint George is also one of the patron saints of the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. In a battle between the Maltese and the Moors, Saint George was alleged to have been seen with Saint Paul and Saint Agata, protecting the Maltese. Besides being the matron of Victoria where St. George's basilica, Malta is dedicated to him. St. George is the protector of the island of Gozo.

There is a tradition in the Holy Land of Christians and Muslims going to an Eastern Orthdox shrine of St. George at Beith Jala, Jews also attending the site in the belief that the profit Elijah was buried there. This is testifies to by Elizabeth Finn in 1866, where she wrote, "St. George killed the dragon in this country Palestine; mand the place is shown close to Beirut (Lebonon). Many churches and convents are named after him. The church at Lydda is dedicated to St. George: so is a convent neat Bethlehem, and another small one just opposite the Jaffa gate; and others besides. The Arabs believe that St. George can restore mad people to their senses; and to say a person has be sent to St. George's, is equivalent to saying he has been sent to a madhouse. It is singular that the Moslim Arabs share this veneration for St. George and send their mad people to be cured by him, as well as the Christians. But they commonly call him El Khudder--The Green--according to their favorite manner of using epithets instead of names. Whe he should be called green, however I cannot tell--unless it is from the colour of his horse. Gray horses are called green in Arabic." A possible explanation for this colour reference is Al Khidir, the erstwhile tutor of Moses, gained his name from having sat in a barren desert, turning it to a lush green paradise.

William Darlymple reviewing the literature in 1999 tells us that J. E. Hanauer in his 1907 book Folklore of the Holy Land: Muslim, Christian and Jewsih "mentioned a shrine in the village of Beit Jala, beside Bethlehem, which at the time was frequented by all three of Palestine's religious communities. Christians regarded it as the birthplace of St. George, Jews as the burial place of the Prophet Elias. According to Hanauer, in his day the monastery was "a sort of madhouse. Deranged persons of all the three faiths are thaken thither and chained in the court of the chapel, where they are kept for forty days on bread and water, the Eastern Orthodox priest at the head of the establishment now and then reading the Gospel over them, or administering a whipping as the case demands." In the 1920s according to Taufiq Canaan's Mohammedan Saints and Sancturies in Palestine, nothing seemed to have changed, and all three communities were still visiting the shrine and praying together.

Dalrymple himself visited the place in 1995. "I asked around in the Christian Quarter in Jeruselem, and discovered that the place was very much alive. With all the greatest shrines in the Christian world to choose from, it seemed that when the local Arab Christians had a problem--an illness or something more complicated: a husband detained in an Israeli prison camp, for example-- they preferred to seek the intercession of St. George in his grubby little shrine at Beit Jala rather than praying at the Holy Sepulchre in Jeruselem or the CHurch of the Nativity in Bethlehem." He asked the priest at the shrine, "Do you get many Muslims coming here?" The priest replied, "We get Hundreds! almost as many as the Christian pilgrams. Often when I come in here, I find Muslims all over the floor, in the aisles, up and down."

The Encyclopedia Britannica quotes G. A. Smith in his Historic Geography of the Holy Land p. 164 saying, "The Mahommedans who usually identify St. George witht eh profit Elijah, at Lydda cnfound his legend with one about Christ himself. Their name for Antichrist is Dajjal, and they have a tradition that Jesus will slay Antichrist by the gate of Lydda. The notion sprang form an ancient bas-relief of George and the Dragon on the Lydda Church. But Dajjal may be derived, by a very confusion between n and l, from Dragon, whose name two neighboring villages bear to thei day, while one of the gates of Lydda used to be called the Gate of the Dragon. (Wikipedia).

Saint Giles (c. 650-c.710) was a Greek Christian hermit saint from Athens, whose legend is centered in Provence and Septimania. The tomb in the abbey Giles was said to have founded, in St-Giles-du-Gard, became a place of pilgramage and a stop on the road that led from Arles to Santiago de Compostela, the pilgram Way of St. James. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
Giles first lived in retreats near the mouth of the Rhone and by the River Gard, in Septamania, today's Southern France. The story that he was the son of King Theodore and Queen Pelagia of Athens is probably an embellishment of his early hagiographers; it was given wide currency in the Legenda Aurea. The two main incidents in his life were often depicted in art.
His early history, as given in Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend), links him with Arles, but finally he withdrew deep into the forest near Nimes, where in the greatest solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being a deer, or Red Deer, who in some stories sustained him on her milk. This last retreat was finally discovered by the king's hunters, who had pursued the hind to its place of refuge. An arrow shot at the deer wounded the saint instead, who afterwards became a patron of cripples. The king, who by legend was Wamba, an anachronistic Visigoth, but who must have been (at least in the original story) a Frank due to the historical setting, conceived a high esteem for the hermit, whose humility rejected all honors save some disciples, and built him a monastery in his valley, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, which he placed under the Benedictine rule. Here Giles died in the early part of the eighth century, with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles.
An early source, a tenth-century Vita sancti Aegidii recounts that, as Giles was celebrating Mass to pardon the Emperor Charlemagne's sins, an angel deposites upon the alter a letter outlining a sin so terrible Charlemagne never dared confess it. Several Latin and French texts, including Legenda Aurea refer to this hidden "sin of Charlemagne". This legend, however, would be contradicted by generally accepted later dates for the life of Charlemagne (approximately 742-28 January 814).
A later text, the "Liber miraculorum sancti Aegidii" ("The Book of Miracles of Saint Giles") served to reinforce the flow of pilgrams to the abbey.
Around his tomb in the abbey sprang up the town of St-Gilles-du-Gard. The abbey remained the center of his cult, which was particularly strong in Languedoc, even after a rival body of Saint Giles appeared at Toulouse. His cult spread rapidly far and wide throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, as is witnesses by countless churches and monasteries dedicated to him in France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Great Britain; By the numerous manuscripts in prose and verse commemorating his virtues and miracles; and especially by the vast concourse of pilgrams who from all Europe flocked to his shrine.
In 1562, the relics of the saint were secretly transferred to Toulouse to save them from the anger of the Huguenots and the level of pilgramages declined. With the restoration of a great part of the relics to the abbey of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard in 1862, and the publicized rediscovery of his former tomb there in 1865, the pilgramages recommenced.
Besides Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, nineteen other cities bear his name. Cities that possess relics of St. Giles include Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, Toulouse and a multitude of other French cities, Antwerp, Brugge and Tournai in Belgium, Cologne and Bamberg in Germany, Rome and Bologna in Italy, Prague in the Czech Republic, and Esztergom in Hungary. The lay Community of Sant'Egidio is named after his church in Rome, Sant'Egidio. Giles is also the patron saint of Edinburgh, Scotland, where St. Giles' Cathedral is a prominent landmark.
The centuries-long presence of the Crusaders, many of them of French origin, left the name of Saint Giles in some locations in the Middle East. Raymond of St. Gilles lent his name to St. Gilles Castle (Arabic: Qala'at Sanjil) in Tripoli, Lebonon. Sinjil is also a West Bank Palestinian village, which came to promenence in 2005 when several of its inhabitants were killed in a shooting spree by an Israeli settler.
In medieval art, he is depicted with his symbol, the hind. His emblem is also an arrow, and he is the patron saint of cripples. Giles is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and the only non-martyr, initially invoked as protection against the Black Death. His Feast Day is September 1.
The Master of Saint Giles is an anonymous Late Gothic painter. The artist was given the title as the first work attributed to him were two works with Saint Giles as the subject now in the National Gallery, London. (Wikipedia)

St. Margaret of Antioch celebrates her feast day on July 20. Nothng certain is known of her, but according to her untrustworthy legend, she was the daughter of a pagan priest at Antioch in Pisidia. Also known as Marina, she was converted to Christianity, whereupon she was driven from home by her father. She became a shepherdess and when she spurned the advances of Olybrius, the prefect, who was infatuated with her beauty, he charged her with being a CHristian. He had her tortured and then imprisioned, and while she was in prison she had an encounter with the devil in the form of a dragon. According to the legend, he swallowed her, but the cross she carried in her hand so irritated his throat that he was forced to disgorge her (she is the patroness of childbirth). The next day, attempts were made to execute her by fire, and then by drowning, but she was miraculously saved and converted thousands of spectators witnessing her ordeal-all of whom were promptly executed. Finally she was beheaded. That she existed and was martyred are probably true; all else is probably fictitious embroidery and added to her story, which was immensly popular in the Middle Ages, spreading from the East all over Western Europe. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and hers was one of the voices heard by Joan of Arc. Her feast day is July 20th. (Catholic Online)

St. Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea in Asia. He was such a famous doctor the the Emperor himself chose him for his own doctor. Pantaleon was a Christian, but the bad influence from the pagan court caused him to give up his Christian faith entirely.

A holy priest named Hermolaos made him realize what a sin he had committed. Pantaleon listened to him, detested his sin, and joined the Church once more. To make up for what he had done, he greatly desired to suffer and die for Jesus. In the meantime, he imitated our Lord's charity by taking care of poor sick people without any charge for his medical services.

When the Emperor Diocletian began his persecution, Pantaleon at once gave away everything he owned to the poor. Not long afterwards, he was accused of being a Christian. He was given the choice of denying his Faith or being put to death. No torture could force Pantaleon to deny his Faith.

There has been stron devotion in past ages to this Saint. In the East he is called the "Great Martyr and Wonder-worker." Saint Pantaleon's feast day is July 27th. (Catholic Online)

Saint Vitus was a Christian Saint from Sicily. He died as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Roman Catholic Church.
Saint Vitus' Day is celebrated on 15 June. In places where the Julian Calendar is used, this date coincides, in the 20th and 21st centuries, with 28 June on the Gregorian Calendar.
In the late Middle Ages, people in Germany and countries such as Latvia celebrated the feast of Vitus by dancing before his statue. This dancing became popular and the name "Saint Vitus Dance" was given to the neurological disorder chorea. It also led to Vitus being considered the patron saint of dancers and of entertainers in general.
Vitus is considered the patron saint of actors, comedians, dancers, and epileptics. He is also said to protect aganist lightning strikes, animal attacks and oversleeping, and is the patron saint of Bohemia. Vitus is the patron saint of the city of Rijeka in Croatia, the towns of Ciminna in Sicily, Forio on the Island of Ischia, in Campania, Italy, the contrada of San Vito, in Torella dei Lombardi, in Avellino, Italy, the town of Winschoten in the Netherlands, and the town of St. Vith located in Belgium.
Various places in Austria and Bavaria are named Sankt Veit in his honor.
According to the legend, Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia were martyrs under Diocletian. The earliest testimony for their veneration is offered by the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" (ed. G.B. de Rossi-Louis Duchesne, 78: "In Sicilia, Viti, Modesti et Crescentiae"). The fact that the note is in the three most important manuscripts indicates that it was also in the common exemplar of these, which appeared in the fifth century. The same Martyrologium has under the same day another mention of a Vitus at the head of a list of nine martyrs, with the statement of the place, "In Lucania", that is, in the Roman province of that name in Southern Italy between the Tuscan Sea and the Gulf of Taranto. It is easily possible that it is the same martyr Vitus in both cases.
According to J. P. Kirsch, the arthor of the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia from which the information in this section is drawn, the testimony to the public veneration of the three saints in the fifth century proves positively that they are historical martyrs. There are, m=nevertheless, no historical accounts of them, nor of the time or the details of their martyrdom.
During the sixth and seventh centuries a purely legendary narrative of their martyrdom appeard which appears to be based upon other legends, especially on the legend of Poitus, and ornamented with accounts of fantastic miracles. According to this legend, which has no apparent historical value, Vitus was a 7-year-old son of a senator of Lucania )some versions make him 12 years old). He resisted his father's attempts, which included various forms of torture, to make him apostatize. He fled with his tutor Modestus and Modestus' wife Crescentia, who was Vitus' nanny, to Lucania. He was taken from ther to Rome to drive out a demon which had taken possession of a son of the Emperor Diocletian. This he did, and yet, because he remained steadfast in the Christian Faith, he was tortured together with his tutors. By a miracle an angel brought back the three to Lucania, where they died from the tortures they had endured. Three days later Vitus appeared to a distinguished matron named Florentia, who then found the bodies and buried them in the spot where they were. The author of the legend doubtless connected in his invention three saints who apparently suffered death in Lucania, and were first venerated there.
The veneration of the Martyrs spread rapidly in Southern Italy and Sicily, as is shown by the note in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum". Pope Gregory the Great mentions a monastery dedicated to Vitus in Sicily ("Epist", l, xiviii, P. L., LXXXVII, 511).
The veneration of St. Vitus, the chief saint of the group, also appeared very early in Rome. Pope Gelasius l (492-496) mentions a shrine dedicated to him (Jaffe, "Reg. Rom. Pont.", 2nd ed., l, 6 79), and at Rome in the seventh century the chapel of a deaconry was dedicated to him ("Liber Pont.", ed. Duchesnem l, 470 sq.).
In 756 AD it is said that the relics of St. Vitus were brought to the Monastery of St-Denis by Abbot Fulrad. They were later presented to Abbot Warin of Corvey in Germany, who solemnly transferred some of them to his abbey in 836. From Corvey the veneration of St. Vitus spread throughout Westphalia and in the districts of eastern and northern Germany. His cult grew in Prague, Bohemia when, in 925 AD, King Henry l of Germany presented as a gift the bones of one hand of St. Vitus to Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia. The relic is since then a sacred treasure in the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
The cult of St. Vitus became very popular in Slavic lands, where his name (Sveti Vid=St. Vitus) replaced the old cult of the god of light Svantovid. In Croatia alone, 123 churches are dedicated to St. Vitus.
Saint Vitus is invoked primarily aganist chorea, which is called St. Vitus Dance, and he is one of the Fourteen Martyrs who give aid in times of trouble.
He is represented as a young man with a palm-leaf, in a cauldron, sometimes with a raven and a lion, his iconographic attribute because according to the legend he was thrown into a cauldron of boiling tar and molten lead, but miraculously escaped unscathed.
The names of Saints Modestus and Crescentia were added in teh eleventh century to the Roman Calander, so that from then on all three names were celebrated together until 1969, when their feast was removed fromthe calendar of feasts proposed for celebration throughout the Roman Rite. Saint Vitus is still recognized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, being inscribed in the Roman Martyrology under June 15, and Mass may be celebrated in his honor on that day whenever the Roman Rite is celebrated while the Saints Modestus and Crescentia who are associated with St. Vitus in legend have been omitted, because they appear to be merely fictitous personages. However, some traditionalist Catholics continue to observe pre-1970 versions of the General Roman Calendar.
Vidovdan is Vitus' Day in Serbia among the Serb Orthodox Church. (Wikipedia)
Fourteen Holy Helpers, who served God in humility and confidence on earth and are now in the enjoyment of his beatific vision in Heaven; because thou perserved till death thou gained the crown of eternal life. Remember the dangers that surround us in this vale of tears, and intercede for us in all our needs and adversities. Amen
Fourteen Holy Helpers, select friends of God, I honor thee as mighty intecessors, and come with filial confidence to thee in my needs, for the relief of which I have undertaken to amke this Novena. Help me by thy intercession to placate God's wrath, which I have provoked by my sins, and aid me in amending my life and doing penance. Obtain for me the grace to serve God with a willing heart, to be resigned to His holy will, to be patient in adversity and to perservere unto the end, so that, having finished myearthly course, I may join thee in Heaven, there to parise for ever God, who is wonderful in His Saints. Amen.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs,
Pray for us.
Saint Joseph, helper in all needs,
Pray for us.
Fourteen Holy Helpers,
Saint George, valiant Martyr of Christ,
Saint Blaise, zealous bishop and benefactor of the poor,
Saint Erasmus, mighty protector of the oppressed,
Saint Pantaleon, miraculous exemplar of charity,
Saint Vitus, special protector of chastity,
Saint Christorphorus, mighty intercessor in dangers,
Saint Dionysius, shinning mirror of faith and confidence,
Saint Cyriacus, terror of Hell,
Saitn Achatius, Helpful advocate in death,
Saint Eustachius, exemplar of patience in adversity,
Saint Giles, despiser of the world,
Saint Margaret, valiant champion of the Faith,
Saint Catherine, Victorious defender of the Faith and purity
Saint Barbara, mighty patroness of the dying,
All ye Holy Helpers,
Pray for us.
All ye saints of God,
Intemptations aganist faith,
In adversity and trials,
In anxiety and want,
In every combat,
In every temptation,
In sickness,
In all needs,
In fear and terror,
In dangers of salvation,
In dangers of honor,
In dangers of reputation,
In dangers of property,
In dangers by fire and water,
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord!
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord!
From all sin,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From thy Wrath,
From the scourge of earthquake,
Fram plague, famine and war,
From lightning and storms]From a sudden and unprovided death,
From eternal damnation,
Through the mystery of thy holy incarnation,
ThroughThy birth and Thy life
Through Thy Cross and Passion,
Through Thy death and burial,
Through the merits of Thy Blessed Mother Mary,
Through the Merits of the Fourteen Holy Helpers,
On the Day of Judgement, deliver us, O Lord!
We sinners, beseech thee hear us.
That thou spare us,
We Beseech Thee, hear us,
That thou pardon us,
That thou convert us to true penance,
That thou give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
That thou protect and propogate Thy holy Church,
That Thou preserve peace and concord among nations,
That thou give eternal rest to the souls of the departed,
That Thou come to our aid through the intercession of Saint George Thou preserve us in the Faith,
That through the intercession of Saint Blaise Thou confirm us in hope,
That through the Intercession of Saint Erasmus Thou enkindle in us Thy holy love,
That through the intercession of Saint Pantaleon Thou give us charity for our neighbor,
That through teh intercession of Saint Vitus Thou teach us the value of our soul,
That through the intercession of Saint Christophorus thou preserve us from sin,
That through the intercession of SaintDionysius Thou give us tranquillity of conscience,
That through the intercession of Saint Cyriacus Thou grant us resignation to Thy holy will,
That through the intercession of Saint Eustachius Thou give us patience in advesity,
That through the intercession of Saint Achatius Thou grant us a happy death,
That through the intercession of Saint Giles Thou grant us a merciful judgememt,
That through the intercession of Saint Margaret Thou preserve us from Hell,
That through the intercession of Saint Catherine thou shorten our purgatory,
That through the nintercession of Saint Barbara Thou receive us in Heaven,
That through the intercession of all the Holy Helpers Thou wilt grant our prayers,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us m O Lord.
V. Pray for us, Ye Fourteen Holy Helpers
A. That we may be made worthy of the promis of Christ.
Let us pray.
Almighty and eternal God, who hast bestowed extraordinary gracrs and gifts on Thy Saints George, Blaise, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christophorus, Dionysius, Cyriacus, Eustachius, Achatius, Giles, Margaret, Catherine, and Barbara, and hast illustrated them by miracles; we beseech Thee to graciously hear the petitions of all who invoke their intercession. Through Christ out Lord, Amen.
O God who didst miraculously fortify the Fourteen Holy Helpers in teh confession of teh Faith; grant us, we beseech Thee, to imitate their fortitude in overcoming all temptations aganist it, and protect us through their intercession in all dangers of soul and body, so that we may serve thee in purity of heart and chasity of body. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.