St. Felix of Nola

When I was converting to the Catholic faith, St. Felix was one of the first saints I learned about. Mostly because, as a horror writer and bug lover, I was Googling things like "spookiest Catholic saints". 

Nonetheless, the scant details of St. Felix's life are an inspiration today, and a lesson about facing our fears and trusting in God. And it's just cool that there's a patron saint of spiders.

Lifetime: ~200 to ~250
Region: Nola, Campania, Italy
Patronages: Spiders; Against eye disease; Nola, Italy
Iconograpy: Spider or spider web; Prison chains; Grapes 
Feast Day: January 14 

Felix, in a refrain that is very common among early church saints, grew up wealthy, but sold off his estate and gave his money and possessions to the poor. He soon became the assistant to the local bishop Maximus (who himself would go on to be canonized as well). I don't want to gloss over that, though, just because it was common among the canon. Could you imagine growing up in a millionaire's household, with all the niceties of life, and willingly giving it all away because of the gospel? To go from being set for life, to never being sure whether you'll get your next meal, voluntarily?

However, when his bishop had to go into hiding, Felix stayed behind, where he was beaten and imprisoned. An angel released him from his cell so that he could help the bishop, but his escape didn't give him much lead time on the Roman guards who wanted him in jail.

Felix took his bishop into an abandoned building, covered with cobwebs, but the centurions were not far behind him. He feared that they would see the house had been disturbed and would seize them both. But rather than panic, Felix and the bishop prayed for deliverance, and their prayers were answered in a very unusual way.

The spirit of God came upon the spiders living in the house, and they spun their webs far more quickly than previously possible, covering the doorway with fresh webs as if Felix and the bishop had never entered. When the soldiers arrived, they saw the webs covering the door to the house and concluded nobody could have entered it. They left, continuing their search elsewhere.

Felix and the bishop remained in hiding for several years, until a new emperor changed the law so that practicing the Christian faith was no longer illegal.

After the bishop died, many wanted Felix to become the next bishop of Nola, but he declined. There was another local priest who had been ordained only a week before Felix, so Felix insisted that it was right that that priest should become the next bishop instead. So Felix went back to farming what was left of his father's land, giving most of the proceeds away to the poor.

It's unclear whether Felix died of old age, or if he was arrested again and executed, but regardless, it is clear that Felix's faith and humility make great examples to us today.

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