Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Paulinus of Nola, Bishop (died 431), and the Optional Memorial of Saint John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and Saint Thomas More, Martyr (both died 1535).
Our first Saint today was born about 354 at Burdigala, Gaul (modern Bordeaux, France). Paulinus was a distinguished pagan lawyer. He held several public offices in the Empire, then retired from public service with his wife, Therasia, first to Bordeaux, France where they were baptized in 389, and then to Therasia’s estate in Spain. After the death of their only son at the age of only a few weeks, the couple decided to spend the rest of their lives devoted to God. They gave away most of their estates and dedicated themselves to increasing their holiness. Paulinus was ordained against his wishes in 393 or 394; then he and Therasia moved to Nola, Italy, gave away the rest of their property, and dedicated themselves to helping the poor. Paulinus was chosen bishop of Nola in 410 by popular demand, and he governed the diocese for more than 21 years while living in his own home as a monk and continuing to aid the poor. His writings contain one of the earliest examples of a Christian wedding song. He was a friend of Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Nicetas of Remesiana, and mentioned for his holiness by at least six of his contemporary saints. We also honor Saint John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and Saint Thomas More, Martyr (both died 1535). Saint John Fisher was born in 1469 at Beverly, Yorkshire, England. He studied theology at Cambridge University, receiving degrees in 1487 and 1491. Becoming a parish priest in Northallerton, England from 1491 to 1494, he gained a reputation for his teaching abilities, became Proctor of Cambridge University, and served as confessor to Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, in 1497. Becoming Bishop of Rochester, England in 1504, he worked to raise the standard of preaching in his see. As Chancellor of Cambridge, he was made the tutor of the young King Henry VIII. When in 1527 he was asked to study the problem of Henry’s marriage (Henry wished to declare his marriage to Catherine of Aragon invalid, since she had not produced a male heir), he became the target of Henry’s wrath by defending the validity of the marriage and rejecting Henry’s claim to be head of the Church in England. Imprisoned in 1534 for his opposition, he spent fourteen months in prison without trial. While in prison he was created cardinal in 1535 by Pope Paul III; the enraged King then had him executed by beheading on June 22nd, 1535. He is the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Rochester, Kent, England. Saint Thomas More was born in 1478 at London, England, and studied at London and Oxford, England. A lawyer, and twice married, he was the father of one son and three daughters, and a devoted family man. He was also an author, most famously of his novel Utopia (1516); he was known during his own day for his scholarship and the depth of his knowledge. The friend of King Henry VIII, he was made Lord Chancellor of England from 1529 to 1532, a position of political power second only to the king. In that position he fought any form of heresy, especially the incursion of Protestantism into England. He opposed the king on the matter of the royal divorce, and refused to swear the Oath of Supremacy which declared the king the head of the Church in England. He resigned the Chancellorship, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Beheaded on July 6th, 1565, he is the Patron Saint of Statesmen and Politicians, and of one of the other parishes in my town. (It has been my observation that parishes named for English saints tend to be quite spare and modern in their decorations and statues.) Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More were canonized together in 1935 by Pope Pius XI; although they died on different days, they are honored by a joint feast day on June 22nd (the anniversary of Saint John Fisher’s death), as they both died for the same reason – refusing to accept King Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England in lieu of the Pope.
I woke up, sans alarm clock, at about 9:00 am. Richard made breakfast, and I started the Weekly Computer Maintenance. After eating breakfast and reading the morning paper, I went out to the garage to see what genealogy stuff I had out there. I found the box of stuff relating to my family tree (as opposed to Richard’s family tree), and weeded out the stuff that I did not need in there. I then spent the day inputting data to my Family Tree on Ancestry.com for my side of the family. I also got in contact with a person on Ancestry.com who is my first cousin once removed, but whom I have never met (so far as I know, unless we met back when I was a kid), and we will be trading info back and forth. (Liz Ellen, he is the son of Dad’s Aunt Jean.) At 4:30 pm I took a break to watch Jeopardy!, and Richard went to Little Caesar’s to get pizza pizza for our dinner. And I finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and when I finish with the computer I will start the Weekly Virus Scan.
Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor, but it is Midsummer’s Eve. I will be doing my laundry, getting my salad supplies, mailing a box o’stuff to Liz Ellen, and making my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday. I will also return to inputting data into my Family Tree on Ancestry.com.
Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Don Featherstone, American artist. Born as Donald Featherstone in 1936 in Worcester, Massachusetts, he grew up in nearby Berlin, Massachusetts. After graduating from the Worcester Art Museum’s art school in 1957, he was offered a job designing three-dimensional animals for Union Products, Inc.Over his years at Union Products, Featherstone sculpted over 750 different items, the first of which were a girl with a water can and a boy with a dog. When Featherstone was asked in 1957 to sculpt a duck, he purchased one, which he named Charlie, and later released the bird in Coggshall Park. Later that year he was asked to carve a flamingo. Featherstone based his creation on photographs of flamingos from National Geographic, as he was not able to obtain real flamingos to use as models. The now iconic pink flamingo went on sale in 1958, when the color pink was popular. As time went on the plastic flamingo became more and more popular. It appeared across the country and even as parts of various art exhibits. In 1987 Featherstone inscribed his signature in the original plastic mold. This was apparently to help distinguish between original and “knock-off” Pink Plastic Flamingos. In 1996 Featherstone was awarded the 1996 Ig Nobel Art Prize for his creation of the Pink Flamingo, and that same year he also began his tenure as president of Union Products. In 1999, with Tom Herzing, he wrote The Original Pink Flamingos: Splendor on the Grass. Featherstone retired from Union Products in 2000. Featherstone’s signature was removed from the birds in 2001; the signature was quickly replaced due to a small boycott of the unsigned birds. In November 2006 Union Products closed and production of the flamingo stopped. Shortly thereafter, a New York company purchased the molds for Featherstone’s flamingos and sub-contracted production to a Fitchburg, Massachusetts company, Cado Products. In 2009 the city of Madison, Wisconsin Common Council designated the plastic flamingo as the city’s official bird. In 2010 Cado Products (cadocompany.com) purchased the copyrights and plastic molds for the Pink Flamingos and continues to manufacture them. They are generally sold in sets of two, with one holding its head erect, nearly three feet high, and the other bending over as if looking for food. Some homeowners associations forbid the installation of plastic flamingos and similar lawn ornaments, and will fine offending owners, based on the theory that such decorations lower the neighborhood’s real estate values. However, pink flamingos are the mascot of the Spanish Town neighborhood in Baton Rouge, and each spring the arrival of a flock of large wooden flamingos in University Lake heralds the upcoming Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, which features homemade floats of extremely dubious taste or of no taste whatsoever (and pink plastic flamingos) (died 2015): “An empty lawn is like an empty coffee table. You have to put something on it.”