In the last battle of the last full week of the last ever (just kidding!) Lent Madness, the last spot in the 2015 Faithful Four is up for grabs. Who will join Francis of Assisi, Brigid of Kildare, and Molly Brant (who defeated Bernard Mizeki 59% to 41%)? Will it be Frederick Douglass or Egeria? Well, that's up to you.
Lent Madness will continue on the Monday of Holy Week with Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant. On Tuesday Brigid will take on today's winner. Then it all comes down to Spy Wednesday as the two remaining saints will compete for the right to wear the 2015 Golden Halo. Stay with us, folks, The End is Near!
Every tourist to Washington, D.C., visits the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Capitol Building. Such sights are classic but they’re so…pedestrian. If you want a bird’s eye view of the city and an opportunity to imagine a day in the life of one of North America’s greatest embodiments of faithfulness, wisdom, and activism, head south to Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass’ historic and beautifully restored property in Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood. There you’ll have a chance to walk his expertly manicured lawn, which Douglass tended and on which he lifted weights each morning.
Yes, my friends, Douglass was a fitness buff and a naturalist who tended to his body and garden with great affection and detail. Indeed, he was a well-rounded man long before “well-rounded” became a buzzword on college applications.
Inside his home you’ll find the East Parlor room, where Douglass entertained guests with checkers, Roman mythology, and musical selections on his violin or from his family. In the same space, you will also find original copies of his 3 autobiographies — three, y’all. Most folks can’t even write one.
Although, there are always at least one or two overachievers in every family, everyone in Douglass’ family was an overachiever. After supper — at which all the children were expected to attend no matter their age — the family would retire to the West Parlor room where they regularly regaled one another with stories, musical shows, and readings. They were also expected to engage in conversations on current events, literature, and history. Kids today don’t know how easy they have it, do they? Of course, with Frederick as their father, the Douglass kids stood little chance. Well into his 60s and 70s, Douglass continued to spend up to 5 hours a day in his study, reading, teaching himself foreign languages, and writing letters. So much for early retirement.
Now, lest one think Douglass is an ancient figure only fit for historic sites, museums, and textbooks, Mr. Douglass has also had his share of television fame. In a 1970's commercial for Afro Sheen, the ghost of Frederick Douglass instructed a young co-ed on properly styling his Afro and shared his thoughts on American progress.
So next time you visit Washington, D.C., don’t go where all the regular people go. Be an overachiever like Frederick Douglass and head across the river to Cedar Hill. There you will hear the triumphant story of a man who educated himself, escaped to freedom, published a newspaper, advocated for the disenfranchised, dedicated time to his children and grandchildren, and toned his way to some of the best biceps in town. The only thing he’s missing is the Golden Halo.
-- Maria Kane
Egeria, kindly recollect, was a Spanish nun who travelled to Palestine, Turkey, and Greece from 381-384 CE, and wrote letters home describing her adventures. As befits one of the first Pioneers of PenPals, Spain issued a stamp for her in 1984.
Egeria is invoked as an authority by the custodian Franciscans who live in and care fore the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and they invite you to pull a virtual-Egeria, and go on a pilgrimage through the shrine at their site. (It’s not bad—it’s just missing the pushing crowds, and the arguing priests, and the conflicting liturgies, and riot of humanity which sort of both ruins and makes the whole thing worth it).
For this reason, I think this means that any kitsch associated with the Holy Sepulcher (more properly titled Church of the Resurrection by the locals, as it marks the sites where Our Lord was crucified, died, was buried and rose again) can be attributed to Egeria. AND GOOD LORD, IS THERE A LOT.
And get your own Holy oil from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It comes with a how-to pamphlet, and a certificate of authenticity from the Greek Orthodox Church. It is also buy 3, get 1 free, so act now!
There is also a pleasing/overwhelming assortments of rosaries, holy cards, olive wood carvings, relics, holy water, incense, candles, icons, and whatever else you can imagine available. Since Egeria’s time, pilgrimage has become a high-value industry.
However, her influence isn’t all commercial; there’s also the Egeria Project — a cooperative project between 12 state and religious organizations throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, to promote pilgrimage and peace throughout the lands in which Egeria travelled. The groups involved in the project look to Egeria as someone who embodies the values of coexistence, learning from others, and creative cooperation — truly a saint sorely needed!
Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria
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