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Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas! Christ is born!


St. Nicholas of Myra

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Saint Nicholas is quite possibly the best-known saint recognized by the Catholic church, in large part because he is inspiration for the Santa Claus mythos. He's known for many things: dropping sacks of gold down a chimney to save some girls from prostitution, putting coins in the shoes of the poor, and punching a guy over a "homoousios" versus "homoiousios" debate. But why is there a head sticking out of a barrel in my minifig representation?

Lifetime: 270 to 343
Region: Myra, Asia Minor (modern Demre, Turkey)
Patronages: Coopers; repentant thieves and prostitutes; children; brewers
Iconograpy: Red robes; Sack of coins; Children in pickle barrel
Feast Day: December 6

Rather than focus on the entire life of Saint Nicholas, today I'm going to talk about my favorite story about the proto-Santa: the time he brought some pickled children back from the dead.


There was a terrible famine in the Roman empire, and people everywhere were going hungry. When crops aren'…

St. Catherine of Alexandria

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St. Catherine of Alexandria, whether or not she was a single historical figure (there's plenty of debate about how mythologized she is and whether she way have been multiple stories combined into one), was an extremely influential figure. Her name has been borrowed for everything from unmarried French girls to a mountain range to a type of firework to a CRATER ON THE MOON to numerous cities, churches, and schools to a whole string of other saints inspired by her. And once you hear her story, it's easy to see why.


Lifetime: 287 to 305
Region: Alexandria, Eqypt
Patronages: Craftspeople who work with wheels (e.g., potters and spinners); lawyers; apologists; unmarried girls
Iconograpy: Wheel; Crown; Scourge
Feast Day: November 25

Catherine was born a princess to pagan parents, her father being the governor of their region of the Roman empire. You may remember Alexandria as the place that had that really awesome library that was so cool we still haven't gotten over it 1700 years lat…

St. Teresa of Avila

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St. Teresa of Avila is known for many things: Being one of the main counter-reformers, helping to restore order and justice to the Church following the reformation; her influential writings on mysticism; levitation; founding numerous small convents and the order of the Discalced Carmelites; being investigated by the Spanish Inquisition (how unexpected!); and one of the most, erm, memorable accounts of a spiritual encounter.


Lifetime: 1515 to 1582
Region: Spain
Patronages: Spain; Headache sufferers; Lacemakers (lacemakers get a saint but weirdos don't??)
Iconograpy: Book & quill; Holy Spirit dove; Heart pierced by an arrow
Feast Day: August 24

Ok, have we all read that account? Have we all seen the artistic depictions?
I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire wit…

St. Hildegard von Bingen

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Hildegard von Bingen -- or Hildegard of Bingen, in English -- was a true Renaissance woman, which is a bit ironic since she lived a full two centuries before the Renaissance began. Her feast day is today, September 17.

Saint Hildegard, now one of the only four women Doctors of the Catholic church, was gifted in art, cooking, herbology, music composition, writing, and medicine. She was given "visions" (though she experienced them in all five senses) and instructions from God throughout her life starting when she was three years old.


Lifetime: 1098 to 1179
Region: Roman Empire (current-day Germany)
Patronages (informal): Artists; Musicians; Cooks; Creativity
Iconograpy: Book & quill; Harp; Plants; Flame upon her head
Feast Day: September 17

Frankly, it's hard to write about Hildegard because she did so much. Her beer recipe is the oldest known recipe to contain hops. Her collection of "spice that bring joy" are now key ingredients in the increasingly pervasive Pum…

St. Bartholomew the Apostle

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Today (August 24) is the feast day of St. Bartholomew the Apostle. As implied by his honorific, St. Bartholomew was one of the twelve (technically thirteen if you count both Judas and his replacement...) who closely followed Jesus during his earthly ministry. And as implied by his iconography, he was also a total badass.

To celebrate their lives (and deaths), I've taken to creating LEGO minifigs of some of my influential saints. Yes, I know, I'm a nerd. Anyway, here's St. Bart:


Lifetime: 1st Century
Region: Galilee & Armenia
Patronages: Armenia; Cheesemongers; Plasterers; Leatherworkers (ouch!)
Iconograpy: Rolled-up scroll; Knife; His own flayed skin
Feast Day: August 24

Following Christ's ascension, St. Bartholomew (who may have also been Nathaniel from the gospel of John) traveled a ton to spread the word. Some legends have him going as far as India or Armenia, where he was martyred for converting the local monarch to Christianity. When the king's brother heard of…