Misunderstood Martyrdom

Apparently I miss the really funny anti-Catholic propaganda. :) But apparently, the tour guides take a lot of Protestant missionary visitors to a certain monastery church in Ecuador, so that everybody can go home to tell their friends that they’ve seen a statue of a crucified Mary. But what they’re seeing is a statue of a crucified St. Liberata, aka St. Uncumber, aka….

Which is logical, because her legend says she was crucified. By her dad the king, not the Roman government. There is also similar iconography associated with the legend of St. Wilgefortis, except that she used to be portrayed bearded. (She’s the one who allegedly miraculously grew a beard, which counts as one of the funniest saint legends ever.)

However, it’s possible that the whole thing ultimately derived from the early Christian martyr St. Julia of Corsica. She was a slave who was crucified — by being tied to the cross, which was common and cheaper than nails — and is portrayed accordingly. Her feast day was May 22.

“Shocking” photos and links about an extremely obscure saint below!

You can buy a whole scholarly art history book showing all the permutations. (No, this is not the perfect birthday gift for Jack Chick!) The image on the cover of the book is a bearded one.
“St. Wilgefortis” is also a song by Rebecca Clamp, with two music videos available on YouTube. Good fun, and some very pretty animation!

at Matt & Andrej Koymaski Home biographies

at Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Tacony in Philadelphia, PA

St. Wilgefortis holy card. This one’s interesting, because it has traditional crucifix iconography, a European mountain country background, and the Holy Spirit in the “illumination” pose you usually only see in pictures of the Annunciation, Christ’s baptism, and illustrations of Pope St. Gregory the Great writing down Gregorian chant. :) To my eye, though, the iconography is pretty clearly that of “virgin saint, but not the Blessed Virgin”. You’ll note that the outfit and colors are way different. No beard, though. Sigh.

St. Wilgefortis over at the Lion and the Cardinal. A snarky remark at the end about the portrayal of Christ on real crucifixes.

Even more statues at Curious Expeditions.An old German one at Wikimedia. This one’s interesting for the way it portrays the woman as very small and the cross as very massive.

And of course, we should mention that Castle Waiting is not only a good comic which comes highly recommended by myself and Joy, but also includes a lot of mentions of St. Wilgefortis. :)

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