The CBCP released a missive yesterday accusing Halloween of being ‘anti-Christian’.
In said announcement, Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, CBCP media director, lamented how some Filipinos celebrate All Saints Day as a holiday “of ghouls and witches.” I don’t know about you, but people I know celebrate Halloween that way, not All Saint’s Day. Perhaps the monsignor’s friends and family are in the habit of going to the cemetery dressed up as characters from Twilight but the rest of the world is content to do their merry-making a day before.
“All Saints’ Day was intended to enhance the feast of the saints but it morphed into something else… no longer about saints but evil,” laments Msgr. Quitorio. “Let’s celebrate it meaningfully because we would be emulating the saints. We can do whatever we want for as long as you don’t fall down to that level that would be glorifying the evil one,” he said.
For once, I agree with what the CBCP has to say. Glorifying the works of the evil one, aka. Stephanie Meyers’s ghoulish Twilight series is just plain tasteless…
If you’ve missed it before, read my vampire rants here.
So in an effort to put the “Saint” back in “All Saint’s Day”, I’ve decided to give Msgr. Quitorio a helping hand by coming up with list of helpful suggestions on how to dress up as your favorite Catholic Saint to really get in the spirit of All Saint’s Day.
Among the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts. An apparition of Saint Peter cured her… Saint Agatha is often depicted iconographically carrying her excised breasts on a platter, in which Agatha sweetly contemplates the breasts on a standing salver held in her hand. The shape of her amputated breasts, especially as depicted in artistic renderings, gave rise to her attribution as the patron saint of bell-founders and as the patron saint of bakers, whose loaves were blessed at her feast day. More recently, she has been venerated as patron saint of breast cancer patients.
Props / Costume: A plate with a pair of boobs
The Prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, and, on Agnes’ refusal, he condemned her to death. As Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, Sempronius had a naked Agnes dragged through the streets to a brothel. Various versions of the legend give different methods of escape from this predicament. In one, as she prayed, her hair grew and covered her body. It was also said that all of the men who attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind.
Props / Costume: Wig/hair-extensions all over your girly-parts
“According to legend, her torture included having all of her teeth violently pulled out or shattered… These men seized her also and by repeated blows broke all her teeth. They then erected outside the city gates a pile of fagots and threatened to burn her alive if she refused to repeat after them impious words. Given, at her own request, a little freedom, she sprang quickly into the fire, but miracolously the fire did not do harm her. She ended up decapitated.
… the major part of her relics were preserved in the former church of St. Apollonia at Rome, her head at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, her arms at the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, parts of her jaw in St. Basil’s, and other relics are in the Jesuit church at Antwerp, in St. Augustine’s at Brussels, in the Jesuit church at Mechlin, in St. Cross at Liege, in the treasury of the cathedral of Porto, and in several churches at Cologne. These relics consist in some cases of a solitary tooth or a splinter of bone.”
Props / Costume: False Teeth, Pincers, Ceramic Tooth
“Christian tradition has three stories about Bartholomew’s death: “One speaks of his being kidnapped, beaten unconscious, and cast into the sea to drown. Another account states that he was crucified upside down, and another says that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albac or Albanopolis”,near Bashkale, Turkey.
The account of Bartholomew being skinned alive is the most represented in works of art, and consequently Bartholomew is often shown with a large knife, holding his own skin (as in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment), or both.”
Props / Costume: Full-body suit of the musculatory system
“St Brendan is chiefly renowned for his legendary journey to The Isle of the Blessed as described in the ninth century Voyage of St Brendan the Navigator. Many versions exist, that tell of how he set out onto the Atlantic Ocean with sixty pilgrims searching for the Garden of Eden. One of these companions is said to have been Saint Malo, the namesake of Saint-Malo. If it happened, this would have occurred sometime between 512-530 AD, before his travel to the island of Great Britain. On his trip, Brendan is supposed to have seen St. Brendan’s Island, a blessed island covered with vegetation. He also encountered a sea monster, an adventure he shared with his contemporary St. Columba. The most commonly illustrated adventure is his landing on an island which turns out to be a giant sea monster called Jasconius or Jascon. This too, has its parallels in other stories, not only in Irish mythology but in other traditions, from Sinbad the Sailor to Pinocchio.”
Props / Costume: A whale or giant sea-monster
“The German bishop and poet Walter of Speyer portrayed St. Christopher as a giant of a cynocephalic species in the land of the Chananeans (the “canines” of Canaan in the New Testament) who ate human flesh and barked. Eventually, Christopher met the Christ child, regretted his former behavior, and received baptism. He, too, was rewarded with a human appearance, whereupon he devoted his life to Christian service and became an athlete of God, one of the soldier-saints.”
Props / Costume: A dog-head mask
“Saint Denis is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was Bishop of Paris. He was martyred in connection with the Decian persecution of Christians, shortly after A.D. 250. After his head was chopped off, Denis is said to have picked it up and walked ten kilometres, preaching a sermon the entire way, making him one of many cephalophores in hagiology.”
Props / Costume: A decapitated head, preferably one that talks
Image credit: http://adamdavisart.blogspot.com
“During a pilgrimage he was stricken with unsightly bodily affliction. He became so terribly deformed that he frightened the townspeople. In his twenties, a cell was built for him to protect the local citizens of the village from his appearance.”
Props / Costume: A sack over your head or Quasimodo make-up
“Local legend has is that, after being routed in battle against the Danes, King Edmund of East Anglia hid under the Goldbrook bridge. The reflection of his golden spurs glinting in the water revealed his hiding place to a newly wed couple. They gave away his position to the Danes who promptly captured Edmund and demanded he renounce his faith. He refused and was tied to a nearby oak tree. After whipping him, the Danes shot spears at him until he was entirely covered with their missiles – like the bristles of a hedgehog. Even then he would not forsake Christ and so was beheaded and the head was thrown into the woods.
His severed head was thrown into the wood. Day and night as Edmund’s followers went seeking, calling out “Where are you, friend?” the head would answer, “Here, here, here,” until at last, “a great wonder”, they found Edmund’s head in the possession of a grey wolf, clasped between its paws. “They were astonished at the wolf’s guardianship. The wolf, sent by God to protect the head from the animals of the forest, was starving but did not eat the head for all the days it was lost. After recovering the head, the villagers marched back to the kingdom, praising God and the wolf that served him. The wolf walked beside them as if tame all the way to the town, after which it turned around and vanished into the forest.”
“She consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and had her dowry distributed to the poor. Her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse, Sicily. Miraculously unable to move her or burn her, the guards took out her eyes with a fork. In another version, Lucy’s would-be husband admired her eyes, so she tore them out and gave them to him, saying, “Now let me live to God”.
The oldest record of her story comes from the fifth-century accounts of saints’ lives. By the 6th century, her story was widespread, so that she appears in the Sacramentary of Pope Gregory I. At the opening of the 8th century Aldhelm included a brief account of her life among the virgins praised in De laude virginitatis, and in the following century the Venerable Bede included her in his Martyrology.In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy’s eyes are gouged out prior to her execution. In art, her eyes sometimes appear on a tray that she is holding.”
Props / Costume: A plate of eyeballs
“According to the Golden Legend, she was a native of Antioch, daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. She was scorned by her father for her Christian faith, and lived in the country, which is now modern day Turkey, with a foster-mother keeping sheep. Olybrius, the praeses orientis (Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East), offered her marriage at the price of her renunciation of Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon’s innards.”
Props / Costume: A dragon
“The Emperor called Mercurius and asked him, “Is it true that you refused to worship the idols who helped us during the war?”
Mercurius answered with courage:
Your Majesty, the victory was not due to dumb idols made by human hands. It was accomplished by the grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who sent His archangel to give me a sword and strengthened me. I cannot deny my God and worship statues.
The Emperor was infuriated, and tried to persuade him to no avail. Mercurius’ faith was unshaken. He stripped him of his ranks and ordered him to be thrown in jail.
That did not stop the saint from praying and singing hymns in prison. During the night, Michael the Archangel appeared to him and told him: “Do not be afraid of the tortures. Confess your faith in Jesus publicly because He is the only One able to save you”.
The next morning, Decius’ soldiers hung the saint between two poles so that they could hit him with sharp nails. They tried also to cut his body with sharp blades and burn it, but Mercurius endured all these tortures in silence.
Props / Costume: A PinHead mask
“Felicitas, who was eight months pregnant, was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom with the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women, but two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On the day of the games, the five were led into the amphitheatre. At the demand of the crowd they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set on the men, and a wild cow on the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword.”
Props / Costume: A mad cow
“According to legend, Julietta and her three-year (sometimes described as three-month) old Cyricus had fled to Tarsus and were identified as Christians. Julietta was tortured, and her three year old son, being held by the governor of Tarsus, scratched the governor’s face and was killed by being thrown down some steps. Julietta did not weep but celebrated the fact that her son had earned the crown of martyrdom. In anger, the governor then decreed that Julietta’s sides should be ripped apart with hooks, and then she was beheaded. Her body, along with that of Cyricus, was flung outside the city, on the heap of bodies belonging to criminals, but the two maids rescued the corpses of the mother and child and buried them in a nearby field.
An alternative version of the story is that Julietta told the governor that his religion could not be accepted by a three year old child, whereupon Quiricus testified to his faith, and mother and child were tortured before being decapitated.”
Props / Costume: A doll of a dead baby
“One of the original 12 disciples, “One tradition states that he traveled in the Middle East and Africa. Christian Ethiopians claim that he was crucified in Samaria, while Justus Lipsius writes that he was sawn in half at Suanir, Persia.”
Props / Costume: A giant saw
So is there a point to all this? Perhaps the monsignor has failed to realize how Catholicm itself has acquired its fair share of legends and lore… interwoven with historical facts are elements of fantasy, magic, and all sort of ghoulish wonders… some so astounding that even the mythology of vampires and werewolves may even pale in comparison.
When a man of the cloth criticizes the public obsession with witches and wizards yet fully believes in a man who can cast spells, duel with demons, and resurrect the dead from the grave, it seems too glaring a hypocrisy.
So whether you’re Team-Edward (vampire), Team-Jacob (werewolf), or Team-Jesus (zombie-wizard)… have a Happy Halloween everyone!