On Virgin Martyrs

I was going to hold out against incorporating legendary saints in the Church History Card Game, but the weight of the present list tips so heavily to men that we may need to draw on the (copious) ranks of the virgin martyrs to attain even the semblance of equity. I can rationalize it by pointing out that many of these figures are well-known, and it will help my students to know more about their stories and to know whether this or that martyr has a basis in fact.

Derek (congratulations on your impending paternity, Derek, and you’re sadly right about church hiring) proposed the following candidates:

St Prisce, St Agnes, St Anastasia, St Brigida, St Agatha, St Pudentiana/Potentiana, St Felicula, St Praxedis, St Susanna, St Sabina, St Eufemia, Sts Lucia and Eufemia, and Geminianus, St Cecilia, St Catherine, St Lucia

We might add to this list St Barbara and St Margaret of Antioch (two of the Fourteen Holy Helpers). I suppose that I’d favor these two, plus Catherine (shudder) and Agnes, who has a decent chance of having been an actual person. Depending on how many cards we already have, we could add — hmmm — Cecilia? Lucy? And maybe Cosmas and Damian?

[Later: As I mock-up cards (curses on Freehand, not fully compatible with OS X 10.4!), I have to come to a resolution about the terminology of non-ordained characters, of characters who die of natural or non-theological causes, of people who die out of communion with the church — maybe some others, too. Suggestions welcome.)

13 thoughts on “On Virgin Martyrs

  1. Thanks!

    I’d definitely go with St Brigid–an Irish saint whose bones were taken to Europe. Bones are always a plus on the “actually existed” side…

    Agnes and Agatha travel together liturgically–there’s a reason for this but I’ve forgotten it. Agnes was quite the important lady back in the day–one of the few virgins to get her own special octave in the medieval kaledar.

    I had though Cosmas and Damian were guys but the do fit the legendary bill…

    There’s already a card for Scholastica, isn’t there?

  2. If you add the legendary saints you could include a “relative certainty of existence” category for the Top Trumps game… 😀

  3. Thanks, Derek and ruidh.

    Yes — I suppose I was steering clear of the British Isles (my class doesn’t really get to Britain apart from scattered notices; they get Britain in the second term), so I had not picked up Brigid, Patrick, Columba, David, Mungo (!), not even Aidan. That would expand the deck considerably, though perhaps we can develop an expansion set. Though I just realized that I made a Bede for you, Derek; I guess he’ll be an outlier.

    I just threw in Cosmas and Damian because I was thinking of popular cults of legendary saints — yes indeed, they’re quite male.

    Julian falls outside my term of the course, too, and if I ventured into the medieval period I’d be sure to include Dominic, Catherine, and Thomas. It sounds as though an expansion set is just (*ahem*) in the cards.

    But please help with the terminological questions about lay cards, natural deaths, and what to call theological authorities of a level that doesn’t attain to “Doctor.”

  4. As for theological authorities not at the level of doctor, why don’t you adapt the epithet of Peter Lombard and call such people, “Master” or “Master Theologian”? I know the usage would be rather anachronistic but isn’t Doctor somewhat anachronistic (and occidocentric)?

  5. I would suggest for the orders of ministry.

    for deaths:
    Outside the Church

  6. “Theologian” for the level below “Doctor”?

    “Lay” instead of “Servant of God”?

    Are you falling into the trap of defining orders as a hierarchy? ;^)

    What other outstanding issues are there? What are the proposed rules? SHould I be googleing “Top Trumps”?

    Speaking of theological games, has anyone played Credo – The Game of Dueling Dogmas?

  7. Hmmmm. . . .

    It’s hard to avoid some degree of favoritism to East or West in the ways one frames the categories of one’s history. “Patriarchs” evokes the East; I’m torn between naming the intermediate level “Theologian” (though history accords that epithet rarely, for the highest levels of reflection) and “Master” or “Magister.” The latter would be more Latinate, but would not instantly connote both masculinity and domination..

    Either “Baptized” or “Lay” would do nicely; the former calls to mind a positive order, though, so I’ll adopt that. I guess we’ll assign those who have willfully departed from the embrace of the church “Apostate” as their order. (If it’s not quite clear, we can be charitable and allot the more neutral designation.)

    ruidh, the rules are here. I agonized about orders and hierarchy,but I encourage everyone to play the “Kingdom” version, where “Baptized” is the highest order, and “Patriarch” the least of these.

    “Non-theological” sounds cumbersome. Let’s keep thinking on that one.

    Is Clement of Rome a Patriarch? I’m just assigning him Bishop for the time being.

    Caelius, it’s an epithet for Catherine, but it serves my purpose by differentiating those whose witness was marked by miraculous or extraordinary circumstances from those whose died apart from noteworthy signs and omens.

  8. I thought you were planning to go with bapitzed as the primary order; I definitely agree. If they say servus servorum dei they darn well oughta mean it! (Hmmm. Are my Lutheran roots showing?)

  9. I guess the key quest on the “Non-Theological” is this: is it a positive category or a negative one? Are we stating what it is or what it isn’t?

    The rubber hits the road precisely here: Are all violent deaths of saints martyrdom? If a saint got mugged in an alley and died in the process (an actually rather rare occurence in hagiography…) it’s not for the faith and technically isn’t a martyrdom. So if we have to lump both violent and natural deaths into the same category, I can’t see how we can avoid making it a negative category, nicht wahr?

    On the other hand we could make the blanket statement that all violent saints’ deaths are martyrdoms so that this category just involves non-violent deaths in which case “Natural Causes” is the most natural term avaliable in the culture. (And I still haven’t thought of a non-natural saint death that wasn’t a martyrdom of one sort or another.)

  10. Well, I’m wrestling over the term for “natural death” now. I was considering simplex, to indicate that it’s simply a death (rather than a martyrdom). Then I spotted the Latin slogan bella res est, mori sua morte, where the idiom sua morte does the work of “a natural death”; but “Sua Morte” sounds like “suicide,” and that won’t do. One web page reported the macaronic term “nomomortia” for natural death, but that’s not in any standard lexicon I can find.

    “Simplex” looks good to me.

    [Later: first sheet of eight looks good. Planning a set of five or six sheets of eight.]

    [Even Later: Now Illustrator is crashing too. I’m going to bed.]

    [Morning Report: InDesign is working.]

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