Monthly Archives: August 2021

St. Bedelia?

Bedelia is an Irish name — a form of Brigid or Bridget — and still gets a fair amount of use in Ireland. Bédélia, or more commonly, Bédélie, is also a French female name. Bedelia is an uncommon English and American name, and there’s an even more uncommon spelling of Bedellie.

The idea was to make a more Latinate form of Brigid, which was a fashionable thing to do to names in the 1700’s and 1800’s — and that might be why “Biddy” is a nickname for Brigid or Brid. Bidina is a similar name.

“Delia” or “Dellie” is an Irish nickname for Bidelia; and Deena is an Irish nickname for Bidina. But there are tons of Brigid nicknames: Bride and Bridey, Breed and Breedeen, Brigg, Berett, Birgit and Birkit, Gitta, etc….

There’s also a genus of leaf beetles called Bedelia, but that’s because they were discovered by a guy with the surname Bedel. The French cyclecar Bédélia was derived from the B and D initials of its inventors.

Anyway, “bedelio” is also the Spanish word for “bdellium,” a fragrant resin that comes in different colors, but which apparently was most prized by Israel in a white form. Hence the alternative translations explaining that manna was “the color of frost” or “the color of bdellium.” So if you really really love the name…

I think the name probably won’t ever get that popular again, in English-speaking countries, because it includes the syllable, “bed,” which is bound to lead to teasing or harassment; and because Biddy isn’t fashionable at present. (Which is funny, because Bitty and Bitsy are still reasonably popular nicknames for Elizabeth, at least in Kentucky.)

Brigid was of course the famous nun saint of Kildare. Her name has the “bri-” particle that means tall or high or hill. It means something like “eminent.” (The “breo-saighid,” “fiery arrow” etymology is just medieval poetic stuff done for fun.)

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Maybe You Should Mention This…

Found out recently that the reason people aren’t supposed to eat after midnight before surgery is… because anesthetic can make all the sphincter muscles in your body let go, and your stomach contents could back up into your throat and kill you.

Isn’t this something that should be explained more clearly?

Found out tonight that the reason people aren’t supposed to do much when they catch mono is… because your liver or spleen could rupture for no good reason, at any time, until you get well. And a ruptured organ could kill you.

I mean, I know plenty of people who got mono as kids, and nobody said, “Oh, hey, watch out they don’t rupture their livers or spleens!”

I mean, I understand you don’t want to be a Debbie Downer or cause panic. But on the other hand, if you’re old enough to have friends catching dangerous diseases, maybe people should let you know what’s going on?


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Things Are Going Better

Not much to report as an update, but my dad is home after his surgery and doing well now. Finally. The big thing was that the hospital was supposed to make sure that he got up and walked around a lot (they didn’t, until his second hospital stay, and he couldn’t walk around by himself while tied up to various things), and that he also was being given a drug that caused him a lot of nausea as a side effect (yeah, isn’t that special). They also broke his glasses’ frame by mistake, so that was special. (My younger brother fixed it.)

My mom has been having some health difficulties also, but she is also doing better.

Work is still a grind.

I have to make more masks and repair some of my masks. If they didn’t make me wear these things at work, I assure you that I wouldn’t wear them for ten minutes, much less for a year. And my masks at least have terrycloth to wick up moisture, and are made to get washed thoroughly. Brickmuppet’s oxygen deprivation from work masks, leading to his stroke, scares the heck out of me. And everyone knows that viruses are a lot smaller than the holes in cloth, even cloth with the tightest of weaves.

But if I have to endure, I have to endure. I need the money, sadly.

Amusingly, it came out this week that plastic partitions tend to block normal airflow and equalized dispersal of particles, and create confined spaces where aerosolized particles gather. Once the aerosolized particles fill these spaces, they push out of the spaces, en masse, and hit anything close to the holes in the partitions — often right in the face. So instead of getting quickly dispersed droplets in small amounts, you get giant hordes of droplets, all at once.


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Apponius on Songs 2:6

Therefore, as has often been said, the soul yoked together with the Word of God is led into an understanding of the Law by roaming through each of the decrees of Scripture, and by tasting the flavors of the divine Books in every vessel of the wine cellar, as if drunk on the wine of joy, made from hope of the blessedness to come — which is why it suits her to say later that she is “weak with love.”

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I would like to register a complaint about the nature of recent events, internationally and locally. It is very frustrating to be unable to help my family as much as I would like, or to have to work around various schedules when it would be a lot easier to just go.

I also managed to catch one of those things that is going around (non-Coof, of course!). So that’s no fun.

I’ve been reading a lot of Chinese “cultivation” or Xianxia webnovels, mostly because they are huge sprawling soap operas that also have fairly self-contained short chapters.

Interestingly, a lot of the webnovels go against stereotypes of Chinese culture. There’s one of the alternate world “transmigration” or isekai webnovels where the alternate world homebase is Texas, and another where’s it’s Boston; the people transmigrate into being alternate world white Americans, and one of the characters ends up with a Latina girlfriend. There’s also quite a few that seem to introduce minority mainland Chinese cultures, or some kind of veiled representation of minority cultures. For instance, Mages Are Too OP has an interesting sideplot exploring a small, poor school teaching Miao sword techniques.

Overall, it’s not an overtly political genre… but why should it be? Martial arts tournaments are important, versus the real world Communist China where they are basically figure skating exhibitions of set patterns. Ordinary people grow in power and fight back against evil officials. People find ridiculous new sources of wealth and can’t be stopped from them. It’s totally okay to start massive new organizations that spread across whole regions. And so on.

I did think it was pretty hilarious when one side character had a crush from high school, and it listed the main character’s participation in the International Math Olympics as one of many attractive points. I mean, my high school had guys who did that, and they were nice smart guys who are doing well, but — that is really really geeky to crush about. Really geeky.


(I guess it’s because, if you have one person in a high school who’s good at math, you usually have ten or twenty or forty people who are almost as good at math. Really big differences would only show up on the college/grad school levels of math.)

I’m still working (slowly) on Apponius’ commentary on Song of Songs. I wish the Latin grammar and vocabulary were a little easier, but that’s life. I really get a lot of good from Wiktionary, and especially its links to the Lewis and Short dictionary, because Apponius uses some unusual meanings.

The interesting bit is that Apponius is one of those writers who tends to pull out references to earlier points, set them next to later points, and show them in a new light. For example, in relation to the verse about the Bridegroom as being like an apple tree, he had lots of stuff about pomegranates (aka “grained apples” or “Phoenician apples”) — and then, later on, we hear more about them again, in relationship to apples. Obviously there are pomegranate cheeks toward the end , but he’s not waiting for what would seem to be the “correct” place to talk about pomegranates.

That said, it’s weird to decide that pomegranates are more interesting than apples, and it again seems to indicate a guy with a middle Eastern focus more than an Italian focus. I wonder if it has anything to do with apples having been smaller, less sweet, and less colorful, back in early Christian times. If you were used to having to cook apples to get any good out of them, but you were also used to a broad variety of pomegranates, with all degrees of sweet and sour, maybe the pomegranate focus would make sense.

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Please Continue Prayers

Brickmuppet is out of the hospital. His stroke was caused by having oxygen deprivation causing him to have thick blood, so yup, prolly working hard while wearing the mask. Lovely. He has to rehab his right arm, so I’m sure he would appreciate more prayers.

My dad is having surgery soon. Please pray for him too.

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Prayers Needed.

Oh, crud. Brickmuppet had to go to the hospital yesterday with a stroke, and his post about it is on his blog. Hope he will be okay.

The good news is that he apparently caught it right when he woke up, and that he called an ambulance. Bad news is it affected his dominant side, and he does package loading for a living.

Obviously the first priority is to live and get better.

Secondmost obvious fact is that a guy who is reasonably healthy has had to wear a mask during all the hours of work, while doing heavy manual labor, for a year and more. Gosh, I wonder if that might encourage strokes, just like smoking and other bad habits or diseases that affect breathing.

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St. Zoa, Captured at St. Peter’s Grave

As you probably know, St. Peter’s in Rome is built over a good chunk of Nero’s circus, a racetrack inside Nero’s Golden House’s extensive parklands. Nero had St. Peter and many other Christians crucified on the racetrack, while others were set along the paths in the park. Those that lived until dusk were doused with oil and set on fire, as temporary streetlights for the park.

Christians went to a lot of trouble to retrieve the bodies of their martyrs and bury them reverently, often with the help of secret Christians, pagan sympathizers (burying the dead was also a pagan virtue, as seen in the Greek tragedy Medea) or those who could be bribed to help.

However the Christians retrieved St. Peter’s body, they got him, and buried him in a pagan cemetery that stood very close to the walls of Nero’s park, conveniently close to the racetrack. The presence of his tomb seems to have been an open secret in the Christian community, with centuries of pious graffiti left inside the tomb along with some kind of small prayer chapel for visitors, but the outside unmarked. Baptisms seem to have been conducted nearby. But apparently it was a secret to the pagan Roman authorities, and to the pagan tomb owners nearby.

However, during Diocletian’s persecution of Christians, the secret seems to have gotten out.

The backstory involves St. Sebastian. As the story goes, when he joined the Roman army as a young man, he was already a Christian. He kept a low profile of his Christianity, but helped other Christians whenever he could. At one point in his early career, under the reign of Emperor Carinus (who was the son of Emperor Carus, who had just died on campaign in Persia, and who was fighting for the throne with Emperor Diocletian, who was still out east), he made it his business to visit and encourage Marcellianus and Marcus, two Christians who were imprisoned in Rome and due to be martyred. (They were converted pagans, twin brothers who became deacons to the Pope. Needless to say, twin brother saints were very important in the city of Rome.)

But during the course of his visits to the prisoners, he had made friends with the prison staff, including Nicostratus, the chief secretary in charge of keeping tabs on the prisoners, and his wife Zoa, who had a “tongue palsy” that prevented her from speaking; and Claudius, the jailer and notary in charge of Marcus and Marcellianus.

Zoa happened to be listening when Sebastian gave the potential martyrs a particularly fiery and encouraging talk about not losing their courage and lapsing from Christianity. She was so moved that she fell down at Sebastian’s feet, longing to be Christian. Sebastian made the Sign of the Cross in front of her mouth, and her tongue was cured, and she spoke and thanked God.

St. Sebastian’s friends converted to Christianity, along with Martia/Marcia and Tranquillinus, the pagan parents of Marcus and Marcellianus (who had been urging them to be sensible and make sacrifices to the emperor’s genius); and sixteen other prisoners who had been there. Then Nicostratus brought the new converts, including the prisoners, to his own quarters (which would have been inside the prison) to rest up, and Sebastian sent for a priest named Polycarp to instruct the converts in Christianity and then baptize them.

When Marcus and Marcellianus’ father, Tranquillinus, was baptized, he was also instantly cured of gout. Somehow, the Roman city prefect, Agrestius Chromatius, heard about this — and he had horrible gout also. He sent for Sebastian and was cured. So he demanded baptism for himself and his son Tiburtius. Chromatius, who had persecuted Christians, used his authority to refuse to prosecute, and freed all the prisoners (including Marcus and Marcellianus). He followed this up by freeing all his slaves by using a fair portion of his wealth to manumit them, and then resigned from the prefectship.

This was in about 283. In 285, Emperor Carinus was defeated in battle by Emperor, Diocletian. Diocletian met Sebastian at some point and put him in charge of some of the Praetorian Guards. Diocletian left Italy but left behind his adopted heir and buddy, Maximian, and Sebastian served as a Praetorian Guards commander for him, too.

Chromatius, having been associated with Emperor Carinus, did the smart thing and got Diocletian’s permission to retire to his estates in Campania. He took a lot of Christians with him, to work there as free persons. Fr. Polycarp also went along.

Persecutions had continued under Diocletian, initially without much impetus from above or new laws. The big persecutions wouldn’t even start until 299, when pagan haruspices famously blamed their failure to be able to read the entrails on the presence of Christians in the imperial household. So what would happen next was pretty much politics.

Maximian, Diocletian’s old battle-comrade, trusted best friend, and imperial heir, was supposed to get the West under control. He sent a subordinate named Carausius (who was probably from Britain and seems to have a British name) to go deal with the pirates on Britannia’s Saxon Shore. Carausius glommed onto the pirate goods himself. Maximian tried to get him arrested, but Carausius revolted and named himself co-emperor, of Britannia. So on April 1, 286, Maximian named himself co-emperor of Diocletian.

At this point, local persecution in Rome greatly increased. Christians refused to sacrifice to the emperors, so Christians were traitors to Maximian. Obviously Maximian was a bit nervous about his emperor status, even though Diocletian ended up agreeing and understanding.

Pope Caius stayed in town, but he agreed for himself and his deacons to be moved to a secure area that the pagan authorities would never guess — the imperial palace in Rome, in the rooms of a Christian chamberlain, Castulus.

On June 27th or 28th, 286, Nicostratus and Claudius, along with Castorius, Victorinus, and Symphorianus, were part of a group of Christians who went to retrieve bodies of martyrs and were caught. The magistrate left them in prison for ten days, trying to get them to make a sacrifice to the emperors.

On June 29th, 286 (that’s the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul), St. Zoa was arrested for being a Christian — while praying at St. Peter’s tomb, in the confessio chapel inside it. (Probably for her husband and the rest of the guys.) She was thrown into prison, where she was apparently kept in the dark as an extra torture or punishment. On July 5th, she was executed by being tied to a tree by the throat and by the hair, or by being dangled from the tree after being tied there by her feet. Either way, she was smothered by noxious smoke from a fire at the foot of the tree.

Tranquillinus apparently was still sensitive about the courage thing and about encouraging his sons to be cowards; so he went to pray at the tomb of St. Paul (now St. Paul Outside the Walls). He got caught by a mob of pagans, and was stoned to death. (A lot of normal ordinary pagans blamed Christians for misfortunes, because obviously the gods were angry at Christians for not worshipping them.)

On July 7, 286, Nicostratus, Claudius, Castorius, Victorinus, and Symphorianus were all taken out to Ostia, taken out to sea in a boat, and dropped overboard. They drowned. (There was a lot more of this kind of execution under Galerius, including of people who didn’t pony up enough taxes. At least once, they just sank the whole boat along with all the prisoners stuffed on board.)

Castulus and Tiburtius were turned in by a supposed Christian, Torquatus, who turned on them. As a Roman citizen, Tiburtius was beheaded and suffered no torture, but Castulus was tortured and then buried alive in a sand pit on the Via Labicana. Probably thanks to Castulus’ silence under torture, Pope Caius and his other deacons got away; Caius didn’t die until 296. (He was a Dalmatian like Diocletian, and some say they were relatives. Not that Diocletian didn’t kill a lot of relatives.)

Marcus, Marcellianus, and Sebastian were all sentenced to be tied to a post and then shot to death with arrows. But when Castulus’ widow, Irene, showed up to sneak out the bodies, she found that Sebastian was just barely alive. She took him to where she was staying and nursed him back to health; but then, on January 20, 288, Sebastian snuck out and went to greet the emperor at a stairwell that he had to pass as part of his normal day, and then reproached him for being unjustly cruel to Christians.

So the emperor (not relying on the Praetorians, and you can’t blame him) had his normal Roman nobleman entourage of club-carrying slaves grab Sebastian and beat him to death. As one does. And then throw his body into the Cloaca Maxima storm sewer. As one does.

But the Christians still managed to retrieve Sebastian’s body. As one does. A pious Christian woman of means named Lucina dreamed that a martyr was telling her to go get the body, and where it was; and the dream was right. She buried the body in the catacombs, and the church of St. Sebastian was later built over it.

Some say that Irene lived on, while others that she was martyred in 288. Chromatius is also said to have been martyred, but nobody seems to know the details. The priest Polycarp is called “blessed” in the Roman Martyrology.

The Acts of St. Sebastian are ancient, but of course there’s no way to prove that they’re true or not true. Except that lots and lots of these saint names were given to other Christians, right after the persecutions, and the Church of St. Sebastian is ancient too. (There was also a basilica of Ss. Marcus and Marcellianus in the catacombs of St. Balbina; it was rediscovered in 1902.) So it seems likely to me that all the days and general facts are probably true. It’s more likely that the emperor who killed Sebastian was Maximian, rather than Diocletian; but that’s about it. Maximian was away fighting on the Rhine during 287, so that makes sense of why Sebastian would make his move in the winter of 288.

So here are the saints’ days:

January 20: St. Sebastian, martyr

March 26/27: St. Castulus, martyr

April 3: St. Irene, holy woman

April 22: Pope St. Caius, confessor

June 18: Ss. Marcus and Marcellianus, martyrs

July 5: St. Zoa or Zoe, holy woman, martyr

July 7: Ss. Nicostratus, Claudius, Castorinus, Victorinus, and Symphorianus, martyrs

August 11: Ss. Tiburtius and Chromatius, martyrs


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Inordinata Vs. Deordinata

Okay, so I finally did the obvious normal thing, and looked up “disordered affections” in the online Latin translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Unlike the “charitas/caritas inordinata” thing, the Catechism is talking about “affectio deordinata.”

So what does “deordinata” mean?

“Ordinatus” has a lot of meanings, but in this case, it means something like “the way things ought to be organized.” Squared away. Logical, just, practical, kind. Satisfyingly right and tight.

“Inordinata” means “out of order, not organized, higgledy-piggledy.” Messy. Disorderly. All the bases are covered, but not correctly. Bob has too much, Mary doesn’t have enough, you bought the dog a sportscar, and you totally forgot the baby until the last minute. So “caritas inordinata” and “amor inordinata” are a thing that happens a lot. (And English “inordinate” only covers the “too much” part of the spectrum.)

“Deordinata” is different. It’s a synonym, not the same thing. It’s going away from the proper order. St. Thomas Aquinas uses it in the Summa and talks about how, after the Fall, all of human nature is “deordinata.” He also talks about the will being “deordinata.” And that’s the word that gets translated as “disordered.”

In Latin, “affectio” is more than just affection. It means the inclination of your soul, which leads to it being the inclination of your mind, your heart, and your acts. And your senses and passions, too. So with “disordered affections,” we’re not talking about feelings alone, or just a messy lack of good sense. It is saying that basically, a good chunk of someone’s self is getting pulled the wrong way, or possibly in several wrong ways. It is de-ordered.

(“Deordinatio,” the verb form, picked up a medieval connotation of “bad morals and libertine behavior.” Unfortunately, today we see a lot of deordinatio.)

However, even though a de-ordered thing is in a lot worse situation than a disorderly thing, and needs a more radical organizing spree, the necessary parts are still there in both cases. The Organizer is God, as it says in the Septuagint and Vulgate versions of Song of Songs 2: 4 —

“Set charity in order over me.”

“He set in order the charity in me.”

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Jerome’s Letter 60

I’m looking into Apponius’ comments about ordered and disorderly charity/love (charitas ordinata and inordinata), and it turns out that St. Jerome said something about that.

Letter 60 is a condolence letter written to his friend Heliodorus, bishop of Altinum, on the occasion of his nephew Nepotian’s death. Nepotian had been a Roman soldier but spent his pay on charity. When he got out of the army and went to live in Altinum, to learn from his uncle, he “went through the usual stages and was ordained a presbyter.”

Jerome had various things to say about Nepotian. In conversation about Scripture, he “would listen modestly, answer diffidently; support the right and refute the wrong, but both without bitterness; and instruct his opponent rather than vanquish him.” He “would frankly confess from what sources his several arguments came… This, he would say, is the opinion of Tertullian; that, of Cyprian; that of Lactantius, that of Hilary; Minucius Felix speaks to this effect; thus Victorinus; and Arnobius after this manner. Myself, too, he would sometimes quote….”

But here’s the money quote: “By assiduous reading and long-continued meditation, he made his breast a library — of Christ.”

Here it is in Latin: “Lectioneque assidua, et meditatione diuturna, pectus suum bibliothecam fecerat Christi.”

After a lot of hints and outright pleading, Jerome had written one of his letters to Nepotian (Letter 52), and Nepotian loved it so much that he kept it on his person, re-read it to himself and others, and sometimes inadvertently slept with it. Ha! (But you can’t blame him.) The letter was a treatise on the duties of the clergy, and Nepotian took it to heart. He left his priestly tunic to Jerome, as a final gift, while he was dying.

But the memorial letter also talks about a few other things.

Nepotian was a guy who, along with all his charity giving and work, “while he despises himself in the flesh and walks abroad… in his poverty, he still seeks out everything that may adorn the church.”

He was also a guy who “took pains to keep the altar bright, the church walls clean from soot, and the stone floor swept. He saw that the doorkeeper was constantly at his post, that the door curtains were at the doors, the sacristy clean, and the vessels shining. The careful reverence that he showed in every holy ritual led him to neglect no duty, small or great. Whenever you would expect him to be in church, you found him there.”

Furthermore, he was also an artist: “…he adorned both the basilicas of the church and the halls of its martyrs with sketches of flowers, foliage, and vine tendrils; so that everything attractive in church… bore witness to the labor and zeal of the priest set over it.”

Jerome consoles his friend Heliodorus for his loss as uncle and bishop, and hints that Nepotian had been the obvious next candidate for bishop to succeed Heliodorus at his passing. But he advises Heliodorus not to grieve too much, so as not to seem like a disbeliever or give a bad example.

“What is desirable is to appear as if he is absent from you, not dead; as if you await him, not as if you had lost him.”

It’s a good letter, with a lot to chew on.

(Translation slightly altered from the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translation, over on New Advent. Because I am picky.)

UPDATE: St. Heliodorus of Altino was in fact the first bishop of Altino/Altinum. His relics were translated (ie, moved) to Torcello during a time of barbarian invasion, so you’ll find his remains in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta there. His feast is on July 3.

St. Nepotianus of Altino’s feast is on May 4.

American Catholic highlighted Jerome’s comment about Nepotian, back in 2018.

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