Sunday, 13 August 2006

The Gift of Tongues

You've probably gathered from this 'miscellany' of a blog that I'm fascinated by the lives and cults of the saints, especially the more unusual ones. I recently came across mention of St Livinus (or Lebwin), an Irishman who was ordained (some say baptised) by St Augustine of Canterbury at the turn of the seventh century. He then went off to Flanders as a missionary with three companions. In the end his tongue was torn out in an effort to stop his preaching - but, we are told, the tongue continued to preach on its own! He is venerated as a martyr on 12 November and his relics are venerated at Ghent. His gruesome martyrdom was celebrated in a famous painting by Rubens (above).

The story reminded me of another holy tongue - that of St Anthony, which is venerated at Padua and even has its own feast day. When they opened the tomb to translate the relics in 1263, little remained of Il Santo except his tongue, which remained fresh and red-coloured. St Bonaventure (who was performing the ceremony) took the relic in his hands and exclaimed: 'O Blessed Tongue that always praised the Lord, and made others bless Him, now it is evident what great merit thou hast before God.' Indeed, the 'Evangelical Doctor' had been an eloquent preacher and even the fish in the Brenta listened to him. The tongue is one of the first parts of the body to decompose after death and even to this day its preservation is considered miraculous:

Hmmm, not quite sure how I got on to the subject of holy tongues. Anyhow, it will hopefully provide a little bit of trivia for Sunday. Otherwise, not much blogging this weekend since it's the last part of my holidays and I'm trying to take it easy. When I move back to the parish tomorrow, I'll post some photos of what I got up to yesterday plus some more reports from my travels overseas - so watch this space!


Anonymous said...

"The sea obeys, and fetters break,
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore,
Whilst treasures lost are found again,
When young and old thine aid implore." (THE MIRACULOUS RESPONSORY OF ST. ANTHONY By St. Bonaventure)

12:06 pm  

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