Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Saints as Action Figures, Part II

Today's assortment of saints as action figures veers from the traditional and reveals through modernity that the saints are for All Time. I've noticed that the saints whose stories I find most intriguing are constantly coming up as apocryphal or (perish the thought) legendary. For example, Catherine of Alexandria, most famous these days for how she was tortured, i.e. the Catherine Wheel, is no longer on the calendar of saints. Most famously, St. Christopher has been removed from the calendar as well, provoking the ire of many people who wear his medallion.

1) Like St. Christopher, Catherine of Alexandria is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. She is my favorite patron saint of librarians, as she is much more of an approachable figure than the brilliant but curmudgeonly St. Jerome. In my book, Catherine of Alexandria gets her own action figure:

2) Amand of Maastricht, the patron saint of beer brewers and wine-makers, is a Frenchman. However, as I designed his action figure, he turned into an English bartender. His traditional accessories are a chair, a church and a flag. As an action figure, Amand holds two pints of ale.

3) The Archangel Gabriel is the patron saint of telecommunications. Traditionally, he plays a trumpet, but the only brass option in the Mini-Mizer was a baritone horn. The modern device in his left hand is a nod to the ubiquitous nature of mobile-phones. (Warning: wings are not detachable.)

4) Frances of Rome, patron saint of motorists, gets a complete makeover. Thus far, she is the only action figure saint to come with her own set of wheels. Note the tire-changing tools in her hands. As an action-figure, Frances of Rome is the very model of capability on the road.

5) I had never heard of Lydia Purpuraria before starting my research on this project. "Purpuraria," I learned, means "purple-seller." Lydia is St. Paul's first known convert, and is the patron saint of dyers.As soon as I read about this saint, I knew I had to make a purple action figure. The next time you decide to transform a shirt with a box of RIT, remember Lydia Purpuraria.


goddess of clarity said...

This is very cool! I get a lot more interested in "Lives of the Saints" stuff now as an adult than I ever did as a kid during my full 12-year stint in Catholic schools. Perhaps if we'd had action figures ...

I do remember once that we had to do a report on the saint whose name we chose for our confirmation name. I did St. Michael the Archangel, which happened to also be the name of our school. At St. Mike's we even had a song:

Michael, prince of all the angels
While your legions fill the sky
All victorious over Satan
Lift your flaming sword on high!

Etc., etc. Michael's claim to fame was that he defended Mary against Satan's giant dragon during a big battle in heaven. I just looked him up on Catholic Online, and apparently he is also the patron saint of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness. How do you go from fighting dragons to being patron saint of grocers, I wonder?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

It's a real hoot how some saints get their patronages. St. Vitus, for example, is the patron saint of people who "suffer" from oversleeping because a rooster was thrown into a boiling pot of oil along with St. Vitus (ouch). It took me forever to figure out why Frances of Rome was the patron saint of motorists until I found out that a guardian angel lit her way at night. The greengrocer connection stumps me at the moment, though. Time to do research!

HitManJ said...

Once again, TOO CUTE.

I think you might be stretching the truth a bit with the last one...I don't seem to remember her!

Why was Christopher removed from the calendar? And what does that mean exactly?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Hitman J: Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. I am actually not stretching the truth with Lydia Purpuraria, though now that you mention it, she's the sort of saint I would have dreamed up.

Regarding St. Christopher, I learned something new just now. According to the Wikipedia article,
"Saint Christopher was removed from the Universal Calendar of Saints based on a lack of specific historical evidence regarding the details of his life. Contrary to popular belief, he was not "de-canonized" or declared not to be a saint. He is still considered to be a saint in the Catholic Church."

I didn't know that about St. Christopher not being "de-canonized." I am so relieved. I need my legendary and apocryphal saints. Whether or not their lives were factual, their stories contain universal truths about the human spirit.

I am going to do a little research and somewhere down the line, dream up some saints for patronages that have not yet been broached. A long-standing one is a family-joke based on my middle initials: S. T.
(Again, I am not kidding.) I would sign my name [Alkelda] S.T. [Gleeful], and say that my last name was the patron saint of ambiguous produce, like tomatoes and avocadoes.

Okay, I guess you had to be there for it actually to be funny. So it goes!

clara said...

these action figures are hilarious! thank you for making me smile.


Anonymous said...

I am posting anonymously in order to protect Alkelda's identity... Yes, indeedy, she used to call herself St. Gleeful, the patron saint of ambiguous produce, and it was quite hilarious, especially since the ambiguous produce included olives.... OK, I guess you are right, you had to have been there.