A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, May 15, 2016


One of the shibboleths of Late Modern thought is something called 'diversity.' It is supposedly to be treasured, but actually it is applied only in certain contexts. No one wants diversity in a Big Mac. The last thing you want when biting the big bun is a surprise, inasmuch as such a surprise is more than likely to be unpleasant. In other cases we find a lack of enthusiasm for diversity of speech on campus, where disfavored speakers are shut down or shouted out by people chanting uniform three-word slogans. Diverse speech is likewise likely to be unpleasant or at least unwelcome. The same applies to diversity in the DNA code. Without consistency, there is no species and no formal cause of evolution. Most mutations kill the organism.

And yet... Without diversity in the genome there is nothing for natural selection to chew on. It is the material cause of evolution. Diversity enters too between kinds of things: the same outlet that offers the Big Mac also offers chicken breast sandwiches, cheeseburgers, nuggets, and a diversity of other kinds. And if diversity within a species is iffy, diversity between species is another matter. Aquinas held that the multiplication of species across time and geography was a way in which creation participated in the infinity of the Creator.

Today being Pentecost, we celebrate the single most diverse assemblage on Earth: the Communion of Saints. It includes peasants [St. Joan of Arc] and emperors and empresses [Sts. Heinrich II and Kunigunde]. They are 12 years old [Maria Goretti] and 86 [Polycarp of Smyrna]. They have included schoolteachers [Jean Baptiste de la Salle] and highwaymen [Moses the Black]. They have been martyrs [Habib the Martyr], musicians [Ephraem of Syria], and mystics [Hildegarde of Bingen]. They have come from every people on the face of the earth. Naturally, this Church must be celebrated by the champions of diversity....

In addition to the big names, a sampling in time and space:

Jews: Joseph of Palestine, Pope Zozimus, Romanus the Melodist, Daniel of Padua, Julian of Toledo, Edith Stein of Dachau, etc.
Syrians: Habib the Martyr, John of Damascus, Pope John V 

Lebanese: Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardin, Rafka al Rayes, Sharbel Makluf
Anatolians: Nicholas, Gregory Nazianzen, Macrina the Younger
Greeks: Irene, Athanasia of Aegina, Alexander Akimetes
Romans: Agnes, Cecilia, Pope Cornelius
North African: Augustine of Hippo, Perpetua and Felicity, Cyprian of Carthage
Egyptians: Anthony the Hermit, Mary of Egypt, John the Merciful, Catherine of Alexandria
Arabs: Moses the Arab, Cosmas and Damian, Sheikh Aretas of the Banu Harith and the Martyrs of Najran, Mary Baouardy, the Little Sister to Everyone
Assyrians/Iraqis: Thaddeus and Maris, Maruthas of Maiferkat, Ephraem, the Harp of the Holy Ghost
Persians: Anastasius Majundat, Abdon and Sennen
Ethiopians: Iphegenia of Ethiopia, Kaleb Elesbaan of Axum, Moses the Black
Armenians: Isaac the Great, Gomidas Keumerigian
The Little Flower
Georgians: Euthymius the Enlightener, George Mtasmindeli
Italians: Thomas Aquinas, the “Dumb Ox,” Clare of Assisi, John Bosco, Pope John XXIII
Spaniards: Nathalia and Aurelius, Theresa of Avila, Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro  
Basques: Ignatius Loyola
Portuguese: Anthony of Padua, Isabella 
French: Jane Frances de Chantal, Margaret Mary Alacoque of the Sacred Heart, Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower  
Bretons: Alan de Solminihac 
Belgians: Mary of Oignies 
Irish: Brigit of Kildare, Columba, Colmcille of Iona, etc.  
Scots: David, King of Scots, Margaret of Scotland 
English: Margaret Clitherow, the Pearl of York, Thomas More
Hildegarde of Bingen
Welsh: Winefride of Holywell, Cadoc of Llancarfan
Germans: Gertrude of Helfta, Herman the Cripple, Hildegarde of Bingen, the Sybil of the Rhine
Austrians/Swiss: Nicholas von Flue, Jakob Gapp
Scandinavians: Willehad of Denmark, Hallvard of Oslo, Bridget of Sweden, Thorlak Thorhallsson of Iceland
Balts: George Matulaitis
Magyars: King Istvan the Great, Elizabeth of Hungary
Czechs: Good King Wenceslaus, Agnes of Bohemia
Poles: Hyacinth Ronzki, Stanislaus Szczepanowski, Mother Mary Theresa Ledochowska, Pope John Paul the Great
Albanians: Mother Theresa of Calcutta
Slovenes: Lojze Grozde
Serbs: Sava
Kateri Tekakwitha
Croats: Mark Korosy
Romanians: Ieremia Stoica
Bulgars: Bishop Eugene Bossilkov
Russians: Olga of Kiev, Sergius of Radonezh, Euphrosyne of Polotsk
Native Americans: Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks, Black Elk of the Oglala, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin of Guadeloupe
Puerto Ricans: Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago 
Mexicans: María Guadalupe García Zavala, “Mother Lupita”, Bartholomew Laurel, Padre Pio   
Central Americans: Peter Betancurt of Guatemala, Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador
Peruvians: Rose of Lima, Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo
Ecuadorians: Mercedes of Jesus, Mariana de Paredes, the Lily of Quito
Brazilians: Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, Antonio de Santa Ana Galvao
Ceferino Namuncurá
Paraguayans: Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz
Argentinians: Ceferino Namuncurá, the Lily of Patagonia 
Chileans: Teresa of the Andes, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga 
Americans [USA]: John Nepomucene Neumann, Elizabeth Seton, Katherine Drexel, Mother Frances Cabrini
Canadians: Marguerite D’Youville, Mary Rose Durocher 
Indians: Alphonsa Mattahupadathus, Kuriakose Chavara, Mother Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan 
Chinese: Thaddeus Lieu, Agnes Sao Kuy
Japanese: Father Thomas Hioji Rokuzayemon Nishi, Magdalene of Nagasaki
Koreans: Agatha Kim, Paul Chong Hasang
Thais: Philip Siphong, Sister Lucy Khambong
Victoria Rasoamanarivo
Vietnamese: Vinh Sơn Phạm Hiếu Liêm, Micae Hồ Đình Hy, Agnes De, Father John Dat
Filipinos: Lorenzo Ruiz
Australians: Mary of the Cross
African diaspora: Benedict the Moor, Martin de Pores
African: Charles Lwanga of Uganda, Mother Josephine Bakhita of the Sudan, Anwarite Nengapeta of the Congo
Victoria Rasoamanarivo of Madagascar

A: Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them all that I have commanded you.” 
℟: And there before me was a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.


  1. Awesome list!

    Psst: found 2 typos: Edith Stern and Miguel Pio

  2. Hey, St. Raymond of Penyafort was almost a hundred years old, and there was another one whose name I forget who passed a hundred (an Englishman, I think, in the days of the Heptarchy). St. Polycarp was particularly feisty, though, for eighty-six.

    1. Don't forget St. Anthony the Abbot, died at 105.

    2. Well, I wasn't actually trying to find the very oldest or youngest; just trying to indicate the range.

  3. awesome. the RCC is probably the MOST diverse institution that's ever existed.

    1. Unquestionably so. It is an institution that claims both Viennese intellectuals and Amazonian hunter-gatherers as members in equal standing.

  4. St. Anthony! How could I forget him?

    1. I guess he got
      ( •_•)
      ( •_•)>⌐■-■

      (For those who have not previously encountered this meme.)

  5. Cuauhtlatoatzin, St. Juan Diego's Nahuatl name, is often translated "Eagle Voice" but it actually means "Eagle Lord". Cuauh(tli) means "eagle", Tlatoa(ni) literally means "speaker" (hence the "voice" translation) but idiomatically was the title of the dictators of Nahuatl city-states, and -tzin is an honorific without an actual definition, something like -san in Japanese. Or rather like -sama in Japanese, since -tzin tends to imply more deference than -san does. (Although, like the Kyoto dialect's use of -san, -tzin can be applied to some inanimates—places in Kyoto, abstract concepts in Nahuatl. E.g. īyeliztzin in Dios, "nature of God"—the first word, "(his/her/its) nature", is īyeliztli without the -tzin.)

    1. *Īyeliz, rather; in the possessed case it loses the absolutive suffice -tli.

  6. St. Abo of Tiflis says hello! *splashes you with perfume*

  7. And a Palestinian, St Silvanus/"Silouane" as often referred to of Gaza.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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