St Ansgar and St Blaise

These guys remind you that sometimes being a Christian isn’t all bumper stickers and rock music…

Saint Ansgar: (from here)

The “apostle of the north” (Scandinavia) had enough frustrations to become a saint—and he did. He became a Benedictine at Corbie, France, where he had been educated. Three years later, when the king of Denmark became a convert, Ansgar went to that country for three years of missionary work, without noticeable success. Sweden asked for Christian missionaries, and he went there, suffering capture by pirates and other hardships on the way. Less than two years later he was recalled, to become abbot of New Corbie (Corvey) and bishop of Hamburg. The pope made him legate for the Scandinavian missions. Funds for the northern apostolate stopped with Emperor Louis’s death. After 13 years’ work in Hamburg, Ansgar saw it burned to the ground by invading Northmen; Sweden and Denmark returned to paganism.

He directed new apostolic activities in the North, traveling to Denmark and being instrumental in the conversion of another king. By the strange device of casting lots, the king of Sweden allowed the Christian missionaries to return.

Ansgar’s biographers remark that he was an extraordinary preacher, a humble and ascetical priest. He was devoted to the poor and the sick, imitating the Lord in washing their feet and waiting on them at table. He died peacefully at Bremen, Germany, without achieving his wish to be a martyr.

Sweden became pagan again after his death, and remained so until the coming of missionaries two centuries later.

Saint Blaise: from here:

St. Blaise was a fourth century bishop who lived in Armenia and devotion to him has been popular throughout the ages. Much of what is known about the life of St. Blaise comes from the legends about his life. Historical proof exists that Blaise was martyred for the Faith in his diocese of Sebastea in Armenia in the year 316. The legends surrounding Blaise state that during the persecution of Licinius Blaise was forced into exile into the hills in the backcountry of his diocese. There he lived as a hermit, spending his days in prayer and penance.
Icon of St. Blaise

The legends say that one of the products of Blaise’s holiness was that even the most wild of animals became his companions without any harm to him. One day hunters discovered Blaise while seeking wild animals for the amphitheater and arrested him as a Christian. Blaise was taken to prison, but on the way there he interceded to God on the behalf of a child who was choking to death on a fish bone. The child was cured, but Blaise was forced to continue on his way to prison. While in prison, Blaise confirmed that he was a Christian and was given the chance to recant his profession of Faith if he offered worship to the pagan idols. Blaise refused even after being tortured by having his flesh torn with iron combs and rakes. Finally, Blaise was beheaded and granted entrance to heaven.

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