Tuesday, February 19, 2008

St Julian the Hospitaller

This year, I did not look for a patron saint until I came across Seminarian Matthew's update about it early this month. While it's not important, it's a kind of pious habit to rely on the intercession of those who 'made it'. So I promptly asked for one and guess who picked me... St Julian the Hospitaller, also known as St Julian the Hospitalarian or St Julian the Poor.

His origin is a little obscure, some legend says he was French, some says his hospital was in Rome, some says it was near the shrine at Santiago Compostela. The Golden Legend tells an embellished tale of heroism and charity of St Julian and his wife. It goes that a beast once foretold that he would kill his own parents, so St Julian exiled himself, until one fateful day when his parents met his wife and were taking rest in his very own bedroom. Out of jealousy, he killed both his parents, thinking they were his wife and her lover. Inconsolable with remorse, he & his wife traveled to Rome, asked for pardon from the Pope and dedicated the rest of their lives in continence to serve the poor and the sick. Now that the disclaimers are dispensed with, let's get on with the tribute.

Whether or not the legend is true, St Julian (and his wife) are famous for running an inn or a hospice, taking care of poor and sick pilgrims. The same pious legend says that one night an angel of the Lord visited St Julian as a leper pilgrim, asking him to ferry him across the river to where his inn was, and at the end of St Julian's selfless service, announced God's forgiveness for his past sin. There are many churches dedicated to St Julian in Paris, France, and in Macerata, Italy.

Legend or not, this Lent it is one story has particularly inspired me about what charity truly is.

Why me?
I once read an amusing story about the business of picking patron saints. Enbrethiliel told me that we should rather, pray that a saint would pick us up into his/her patronage. Going with the latter view, I realize I couldn't ask the saint "Why did you pick me?", but I need to ask "Why did you pick me?". Through the communion of Saints, we are grateful for any kind of intercession from any fideles: living militant, suffering, or triumphant. Still the question remains: what is our connection? Is it a reminder to cultivate and exercise Charity? Well, that is one task that will be with me til the end of time! Time will tell.

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