The Patron Saint Of Right-The-Hell-Now


Catholic tradition has patron saints for just about everybody, from archers to pharmacists. But when I first heard about this guy, I had to double-check the dateline to make sure it wasn't a misplaced April 1 story. From today's Wall Street Journal:

SAO PAULO -- When her husband's business got hammered in a brutal economic downturn last year, Maria Aparecida Ferreira Pichirilo, a 44-year-old homemaker, had to go job hunting. But after weeks of looking, Mrs. Pichirilo didn't have a single offer. With rejections piling up alongside unpaid bills, Mrs. Pichirilo took desperate action: She prayed to St. Expeditus, considered by many Brazilians the patron saint of urgent causes.
St. Expeditus?!? Are you kidding me? It sounds like something the Church of the Subgenius would cook up. It's slightly reminiscent of something we used to do on the INWO mailing lists many years ago: anyone who was a member of Dogbert's New Ruling Class was entitled to elect him/herself Pope of something (for example, I was the DNRC Pope ()f Pr;n+@b|e Non-@|ph@numer;< <h@r@c+ers). Anyway, this St. Expeditus thing is real:
St. Expeditus, a previously obscure figure in Roman Catholic tradition, has emerged as the object of cult-like devotion for a growing number of Brazilians. And while the Expeditus phenomenon is reviving interest in the church at a time of mounting incursions by evangelical Protestants, it's also prompting soul-searching on the part of some Catholic leaders about who this man really was and what values he represents.

All over Brazil -- which has 125 million Catholics, more than in any other country -- holy cards, billboards, makeshift altars and Internet sites display depictions of the saint: a soldier holding a cross inscribed with the Latin word hodie, which means "today," while stepping on a raven, inscribed with the word cras, meaning tomorrow. "He's the saint for real-time solutions," says Fernando Altemeyer, a religious-studies professor at Sao Paulo's Catholic University.

On the other hand, it doesn't pass my common sense test, and I'm not the only one who thinks so:

For all of the fervor inspired by Expeditus, the historical record regarding his life is notably skimpy. According to legend, he was a commander of a Roman legion in Armenia who converted to Christianity and was beheaded by the emperor Diocletian in 303 A.D. But John J. Delaney's authoritative "Dictionary of Saints" says "there is no proof (Expeditus) ever existed."

Some church historians speculate that devotion to the saint may have grown out of an old misunderstanding that occurred when Parisian nuns received a crate of relics from Rome labeled for "expedited" delivery. Mistakenly thinking the label referred to the name of a saint, "they began to propagate devotion to the imagined saint as the saint to be invoked to expedite matters, and the cult soon spread," the Dictionary says.
Now this wouldn't be the first time the Catholic Church started with an urban legend and ended up with a saint, but this one seems a little too contrived. Then I read the money graf - literally:
The interest generated by Expeditus has been a blessing to Brazil's Catholic Church, which has lately faced a stiff challenge from evangelical Christians. Spurred by rapid growth of Pentecostal denominations, the Protestants' ranks grew to 15 percent of the total population in 2000 from 9 percent in 1991. Part of the appeal of some evangelical groups, such as Brazil's huge Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, is an upwardly mobile ethos that says religion can be a conduit to attaining material well-being.
My friend Jim was fond of saying "Once you play Illuminati enough, all games become Illuminati." I've managed to extend that even further - all kinds of weird real-life events can be explained by plays in Illuminati. This one breaks down as:

The Gnomes Of Zurich, assisted by The Church Of The Holy Bonanza Cashflow, are attacking to control Brazil. The Bavarian Illuminati is defending, assisted by the Roman Catholic Church.

The dice haven't been rolled yet, but it looks like the Bavarians will successfully defend on a 4 or better (2d6):

Luiz Carlos Santana, pastor of the Door to Heaven Evangelical Mission, just a block away from the chapel, acknowledges that Expeditus's arrival has stolen some thunder from his own services, which include rites to expel evil spirits from congregants. "I will give the Catholics credit for clever marketing," he says.


Every day the world looks a little more like Illuminati...

The crate story is a total urban legend. You hear
a different version everywhere you go.

First off... a guy named Expeditus was listed in a 5th century martyrology list as having been killed back in the bad old days in Melitene.

Now, "expeditus" was the name of a kind of Roman footsoldier. It's possible the ol' martyrologies got the name wrong, but it's also possible that it was some guy whose name nobody quite remembered, or who was nicknamed "Expeditus". (Either that or Roman naming practices could be just as weird as ours.)
quotes the 5th century martyrologies exactly, if you go to the Italian version. The Italians seem rather torqued at everybody else in the known world being so slow to pick up on one of their favorite saints, and with the whole crate story being peddled to the ignorant.

Latin puns are irresistable to a lot of folks. So of course some poor desperate dude probably threw a joke into his prayers by asking this obscure martyr Expeditus for help...and it probably went from there. The traditional iconography of a guy dressed in Roman soldier clothes is a pun, and the wordplay continues by having him step on a raven yelling "Cras!" (Tomorrow!) He also holds up a cross marked "Hodie" (Today), which makes the whole image a morally improving admonition not to procrastinate about doing God's will and changing one's actions.

The whole deep-laid plan, right. The Catholic Church has been getting increasingly popular and devout throughout South America; Brazil is finally catching that wave and the Pentecostals are blaming St. Expeditus.

Man, I miss playing Illuminati, that game rocked.

I think SJG has re-released it. Follow the Illuminati link in the original article.

INWO was pretty cool, but since EVERY card had a special feature, rules collisions were inevitable. I played INWO a few times, but never got into it the way I got into Illuminati.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on April 15, 2004 4:03 PM.

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