Sunday, 29 July 2012

Death by Flagellum

Icon, St. Vivian, Roman Virgin and Martyr, by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012.  St. Vivian holds in her hands a
Roman Flagellum of the type used in her martyrdom.

SAINT VIVIAN, Virgin and Martyr (died 363)

Saint Vivian (also known as Bibiana and Viviana) was a native of Rome, born in the fourth century, the daughter and sister of martyrs.

Flavian, her Christian father, was apprehended during the reign of Julian the Apostate, branded on the face as a slave, and banished to Tuscany, where he died of his wounds a few days later. Her mother, Dafrosa, was beheaded two weeks later. Their two daughters, Vivian and Demetria, after the death of their parents were stripped of all they had in the world, and then imprisoned with orders to give them no food.

The Roman praetorian offered them rewards if they would abandon their faith and threatened a cruel death if they would not conform, but they replied courageously that the goods and advantages of this world had no attraction for them, and that they would endure a thousand deaths rather than betray their faith and their Saviour. Demetria, after having pronounced this ardent defense, fell to the ground and expired at her sister’s side; she is inscribed in the Roman martyrology on June 21st.

The officer gave orders that Vivian be placed in the custody of a woman named Rufina, who was commanded to corrupt her or mistreat her. But the martyr made prayer her shield and remained invincible. Enraged at the courage and perseverance of the young virgin, the persecutor ordered her to be tied to a pillar and whipped until she expired, with scourges tipped with leaden plummets. The Saint underwent this punishment cheerfully, proud to be able to share in a scourging similar to that of her Lord Jesus, and died at the hands of the executioners. Her body was left unburied for the dogs to consume, but, miraculously, they did not touch her.  Two days later, she was buried by a holy priest at a site where afterwards a chapel and then a church were built above her tomb. In 1628 the church was splendidly rebuilt by Pope Urban VIII, and in it he placed the relics of the two sisters and of Saint Dafrosa, their mother.

Patron:  Torture victims, single women, people suffering from severe headaches, epilepsy, hangovers and mental illness.  It seems a strange combination of items to me, but I am sure there is an explanation somewhere!
Feast Day:  December 2.
[Comments:  Vivian is the name of the mother of the incredibly wonderful baby, Braden whose photo appears further down on the page.  Also, the confusion of the name of this saint could have several origins; however, I feel that some of that confusion may have been caused by the way the name is spelled in Greek and Cyrillic where the "v" becomes a "b" as you can see in the Greek form of the name on the icon above "Bibian" (V is B in Greek while "v" is lower case "n" in the Greek alphabet).]

The Flagellum
Roman Flagrum
or Flagellum
The Romans would, according to custom, scourge a condemned criminal before he (or she) was put to death. The Roman scourge, also called the "flagrum" or "flagellum" was a short whip made of two or three leather (ox-hide) thongs or ropes connected to a handle. The leather thongs were knotted with a number of small pieces of metal, usually zinc and iron, attached at various intervals. Scourging would quickly remove the skin. According to history the punishment of a slave was particularly dreadful.

The leather was knotted with bones, or heavy indented pieces of bronze. Sometimes the Roman scourge contained a hook or large, razor-sharp bone at the end and was given the terrifying name "scorpion." The criminal was made to stoop which would make deeper lashes from the shoulders to the waist. According to Jewish law (discipline of the synagogue) the number of stripes was forty less one (Deut. 25:3) and the rabbis reckoned 168 actions to be punished by scourging before the judges. Nevertheless, scourging among the Romans was a more severe form of punishment and there was no legal limit to the number of blows, as with the Jews. Deep lacerations, torn flesh, exposed muscles and excessive bleeding would leave the criminal "half-dead."

Death was often the result of this cruel form of punishment though it was necessary to keep the criminal alive to be brought to public subjugation on the cross. The Centurion in charge would order the "lictors" to halt the flogging when the criminal was near death.

Icon, Christ Jesus, Scourged and Crowned,
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 As we read in the Prophet Isaiah about Christ Jesus, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." - Isaiah 53:5-6


Braden and Sallie finally meet!

I had the wonderful experience yesterday of finally meeting Braden and I must say that he is without a doubt the sweetest, most adorable baby I have ever seen!

I know we woman feel that way about most babies, but truly this is a very clever little guy and already so well-behaved and he is only one month old.

I had a super visit with Braden and with his wonderful parents -- after all, they have, in co-operation with God, produced this amazing human being.  What a terrible pity that every child cannot be given a chance to live and do amazing things for the world -- as I am sure Braden will do!

Anyway, here are a couple of quick phone photos so you can see how beautiful he is.

Braden (1 month) with his "Aunt" Sallie

Braden (1 month) with his "Aunt" Sallie

See what I mean -- isn't he beautiful.



As I mentioned above, I did not want to take any chances on things going
Not Suki, but this is how Suki feels she
should be in relation to her carrying case!

wrong while Master Braden was visiting, so I arranged for Suki to go and stay with my friend on the 6th floor.  This friend has no cats at this time, but is an experienced cat person so I knew she would be able to deal successfully with whatever Suki decided to do.

As it turned out, Suki soon found a hiding place where she stayed for a while before coming out and moving to another hiding place.  In other words, she was not being sociable at all.  By the time I came to collect her some hours later, she had managed to get herself under my friend's bed, between those low boxes that are made for under-the-bed storage.  I called to Suki who answered by meowing plaintively; however, she would not budge.  Thankfully, my friend's daughter was visiting and she was able to get down on the floor -- an impossibility for either my friend or myself. 

By moving the boxes, using the dust mop and the daughter's ability to look under the bed and tell us where Suki was located, we finally got her out.  Then, I quickly dumped her into her carrying box, latched the door, thanked my friend and her daughter profusely and hurried back home.  As soon as I opened the door to my place, Suki began meowing and did not stop until she had gotten out of the carrying box, sniffed a few items close by and then flopped on the floor making one full stretch after another.  Then she wanted to be fed!  How could I possibly refuse since I was feeling all that guilt from listening to her meow and knowing she was asking me "how could you do this to me?"  Once fed, she practically attached herself to me for the next hour or so -- wherever I was, she had to be also.

I have no plans to do this the next time Braden visits as it is obvious that he does not have any allergies to cat dander and he is such a quiet baby that I don't think Suki will be at all distressed by his noise and movements.  Eventually, Suki may start asking to be taken elsewhere when Braden visits once he is old enough to start pulling on Suki's tail. We'll see.

After Suki finally settled down, she slept deeply for about 6 hours straight -- this kind of activity really tires her out.

I continue to do very well.  At the moment, I am actually extremely blessed as the kind people from St. Michael's Cathedral were here just a short time ago bringing Holy Communion.  What a blessing that is and how grateful I am to live near a parish that provides such a wonderful service to those of us who have a difficult time getting to Mass and/or being able to stay there for the full hour (that includes me these days).

As for the four days since I last posted, things have been pleasantly quiet.  I have not banged my head into any more sharp objects sticking out just at head level nor have I fallen. 

I can't recall if I have mentioned the matter of the consult with the sleep clinic people.  This, my doctor believes, is the next step in trying to diagnose this problem I have with falling asleep suddenly or passing out.  I received a letter from the sleep clinic last week telling me that I have an appointment scheduled for January, 2013!!  All I have to do is try to keep from doing any serious injuries to myself between now and January.  I have told St. John of God that I expect him to double his intercessory prayers for me so that I can reach January with my poor skull more or less intact.  I am sure he will help me as he has in the past.

Right now, I am thinking about going over to the gym for just a little while and riding on my bike.  I ride for about 50 or so minutes and usually end up feeling so much better -- it is those endorphins, I am sure of it.  So, off I go.

Meanwhile, please know that I daily ask our dear Lord to richly bless all those who read this blog whether as a follower or as someone who just happened to stop by.  May each and every one of us find our hearts filled with the joy and peace that God alone can give.

Dear St. Vivian, please pray for us.  Amen.

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