And then, believe it or not, there were eight! Today, and for the rest of the week, we will work our way through the Elate Eight, aka the Round of Saintly Kitsch. Not long from now, one of these saintly souls will be crowned with the 2021 Golden Halo: Camillus de Lellis, Benedict the Moor, Absalom Jones, Catherine Booth, Ives of Kermartin, Arnulf of Metz, Albert the Great, or Catherine of Genoa (who snagged the last spot yesterday by easily dispatching Isidora the Simple 74% to 26%).
The round's first matchup sees Camillus de Lellis take on Benedict the Moor. To get here, Camillus bested Matthias and Melangell, while Benedict took down Nino of Georgia and Euphrosyne. Don't forget, you can always pull up more...relevant information about the saints in this round by visiting the Bracket Tab and scrolling down to click on their previous encounters.
What exactly is saintly kitsch? You might say it's in the eye of the beholder. Or that you know it when you see it. If you need even more insights, check out yesterday's thrill-a-minute episode of Monday Madness. But, in the end, we hope this round brings out some levity, even as we continue our inspiring Lenten journey.
Camillus de Lellis
Camillus began his life as a soldier and a gambler, hardly the raw ingredients for a man who would become a saint. But God had different plans for Camillus. His journey to sainthood began in earnest when Camillus developed a leg wound that simply would not heal. Too bad he didn’t have any of these nifty Jesus bandages to help.
Alas, adhesive and plastic hadn’t been invented yet, so our rapscallion Camillus ended up in a hospital, but his attitude was as nasty as his leg wound, so he was bounced out of a hospital run by a religious order. He tried to get into another religious order, but his temper and his…well, you don’t need me to tell you his story. You can read it for yourself in this cleverly titled book, A Gamble for God. With a title like that, you know the contents are pure literary poetry.
While you’re reading the book, you’ll probably want to lie back and relax as you discover the amazing details of Camillus’ life. Guess what? There’s a Camillus pillow just for you! It comes complete with a quote that may or may not be something he actually said.
So often, we limit our saints to a flat persona, someone who did holy things for God while missing the fullness of their lives, especially the rough edges that aren’t always so elegant. Well, just in case, you can own this carved statue of Camillus - rough and edgy, just like him!
Camillus is a saint because of the amazing work he did offering care and prayers to the sick and dying. He was a holy hospital administrator, priest, and ran an entire order of lay and ordained who cared for the sick. That takes some admirable organization skills. You, too, can emulate Camillus’ exceptional organizational skills with your very own personalized planner.
Camillus, with his sinner to saint story, reminds us all that we are capable of astonishing things when we give ourselves to God’s love and grace. Camillus founded an order that wears a red cross as a sign of their vows to care for and serve those who are sick. In this time of pandemic, we can all do what we need to do to keep each other as safe as possible - wear a mask, keep physical distance, and get the vaccine. When we do that, we can all be SuperPeople and get a nifty red cross shirt to wear.
Benedict the Moor
We begin in Savannah, Georgia, home to one of many historically Black churches in the United States named for Benedict. Here in the heart of the old South, formerly enslaved persons and their descendants have gathered for almost 150 years. In this place, the community gathered both to share their faith and to provide education for all.
Continuing further south we find ourselves in Venezuela, where different regions of the country hold festivals in honor of San Benedict in December and January. Each of these festivals is a confluence of cultures – where indigenous South American meets Spanish meets African. The fiestas de San Benito provide a touchpoint for Afro-Venezuelans to celebrate their heritage and contributions to society.
Next we take the long trip across the Atlantic, arriving in Palermo, Italy – the home of Saint Benedict’s ministry. Here we can eat at the many local restaurants, remembering Benedict’s gift in the kitchen. We can hike the nearby hills, recalling his time in a hermitage. There, overlooking Palermo, we can spend time reflecting on the example of Benedict while sitting under a 500 year old cypress tree, said to have been planted by the Saint during his life.
And of course, we can visit Benedict himself – he is one of many “incorruptible” saints, his body being discovered preserved when it was exhumed three years after his death.
Camillus de Lellis vs. Benedict the Moor
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