The Feast of St. Edmund

Wolf with the head of St. Edmund

I only discovered A Clerk of Oxford this month, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite blogs. The blogger is a medievalist who writes long, fascinating posts highlighted by her excellent translations from Old English. Today, for the Feast of St. Edmund, she offers generous selections from Ælfric’s Life of Edmund (10th Century), both in the original, so you get the sense [Read More...]

St. Gregory the Great’s Bath-house Ghost

The Mass of St Gregory, by Robert Campin, 15th century

Okay, one more story from a Church Father before the weekend. This is one of the more famous tales, and it comes from Pope St. Gregory the Great’s marvelously entertaining grab bag of useful stuff, the Dialogues. This is an example of the way the Church used ghost stories to prove the benefit of the [Read More...]

St. Martin and the Thief’s Ghost

Reliquary for the head of St. Martin

The main role of ghosts in the literature of the early church was to display the power of the saints. While Augustine was still alive, Sulpitius Severus wrote The Life of St. Martin, in which we find the following tale of Martin confronting and vanquishing the evil ghost of a thief who was being worshiped by [Read More...]

Tertullian’s Deceiving Devils [Ghosts and the Church]

Pacher: St. Wolfgang and the Devil

In De anima, Tertullian acknowledges the extensive literature about ghosts, but rejects it as a “fraud.” He has specific pagan lore in mind: the idea that some could “call back from Hades the souls of those who are sleeping out their destined time, those who died through violence and those deprived of burial.” His explanation [Read More...]

Ghostly Visions in the Early Church

Perpetua_Felicitas

The early church fathers were acquainted with ghosts and ghostly visions, as the previous entries on ghosts in Old and New Testaments make clear. Two notable examples of ghosts in the literature of the early church show how they tended to function and be regarded. It’s important at this point to note that visions of [Read More...]

A Novena For Asthma Sufferers

bernadette4

St. Bernadette Soubirous contracted cholera as a child and afterwards suffered from asthma for the rest of her life. It almost certainly contributed to her death. Thus, St. Bernadette is a good choice as the patron saint of those suffering from asthma and other diseases of the lung. A recent medical crisis prompted me to write [Read More...]

The Tunics of St. Ambrose

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The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan, first consecrated in 379, was built by St. Ambrose at a site where Christians had been executed. For at least a thousand years (and almost certainly longer) the church has held several silk tunics which tradition associates with the great saint and Father. Now, a team of archaeologists from [Read More...]

They Have Drunk of The Everflowing Life

Antonio Ciseri's Martyrdom of the Seven Maccabees

 There’s a paradox in martyrdom that we must accept even if we can’t reconcile ourselves to it: those being killed because of their faith in Christ are simultaneously tragic victims of injustice and barbarism, and glorious witnesses entering into everlasting life because of their sacrifice. Christ promised little more than this in the world, which would [Read More...]


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