Friday, October 22, 2010

St. Pharaildis (c.650 to c.740)

  After work today, I stopped by a local shoe repair store, and was greeted by a large crucifix (the size you 'd see in a church) as I entered the door.  I asked the cobbler, whose name was Mike, the story behind it (although it was my first time meeting him) and he told me he found it in a dumpster the day he was given a four percent chance of surviving melanoma.
  "The doctors told me my chances of  living were pretty slim and, the same day, I found that," Mike said, pointing to the crucifix above the doorway. "It saved me, but not my daughter or wife."
  Mike talked openly about his 8-year-old child dying from cancer (the fifth-year anniversary of her death was the next day) and how four months later, on Valentine's Day, his wife died unexpectedly from a tumor on her ovary.
  "The doctors in the emergency room kept telling her it was stress pains from the loss of our daughter," he continued. "I took her to the hospital four times and they said it was nothing. She died in the ER."
  When my shoes were ready, I thanked Mike for sharing his story and wished him well with his store. He said he works non-stop to keep his mind off depressing things like illness and death.
   "If you don't mind my asking, do you believe in God?" I said.
  Mike said he'd survived car crashes, gunshot wounds, and cancer, so his answer was "yes."
  When I left the store, I realized the insignificance of my worrying about trivial things. That Mike losing a daughter was something serious.
  St. Pharaildis is the patron saint against childhood illness. She was born in Ghent, Belgium c.650 and was the sister of St. Gudula.
  St. Pharaildis took a vow of chastity before she was forced to marry a rich nobleman. He physically abused her because she would not have sex with him. She insisted that she was "married" to God and would spend late nights praying in the church.
  Finally, her husband died, and the widowed St. Pharaildis was free. She created a well where the waters cured sick children. She died c.740 and her feast day is Jan. 4.

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