Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Who's in Your Corner?

Well, yeah, I cribbed that from the Capital One ad, "What's in your wallet?" Just like I'm cribbing this entry from St. Rebekah's site, where she was writing about her personal synaxis of saints. I have my list of favorites, too.

When it finally became obvious that I needed to be Orthodox, regardless of how convenient it was (it wasn't), I also knew I needed a patron saint. I would have liked to be named Sergia, or Serena, after St. Sergius of Radonezh, still my favorite; but the subject of a name never came up, and on my chrismation day, my priest just chrismated me "the servant of God, Margaret." Yes, I was disappointed, the more so because I couldn't really find a Margaret among the Synaxarion. (Russians tell me it's St. Marina of Antioch, but that particular priest said they were two different saints. There is a St. Margaret among the 40 Holy Virgins who were martyred on September 1, but nothing else is known about her. I like to know the people who come into my house, KWIM??)

How I came by the name Margaret is its own story. I was baptized with Mary as my middle name, and a completely unChristian first name, which I have always hated. As my husband and I began to move different places, it developed that nobody could remember my first name -- not that I care, but it was a terrific embarrassment for people who had to confess, "I just can't remember your name," until, by about the fifth move, I would just say, "That's all right, I must not look like an x." And they would say, "No, you really don't." To which I would reply, "What do look like?" Try that for a conversation stopper! Finally, one kindly soul answered, "Margaret," and since it began with the same letter of the alphabet as my middle name, I went to court and had my name changed so that my middle name is Margaret. And no one has trouble calling me Meg, except, naturally enough, my mother, who, being dead, doesn't call anyone anything anymore.

So! That said, our personal synaxarion, including, of course, our Lord and His Mother:

My favorite icon of Christ is Christ the Teacher. You'd think it would be the Good Shepherd, but I have never found a Good Shepherd icon I liked.

My favorite icon of His Mother is the Mother of God Vladimir. I just love the expression on her face. But I also have a strong devotion to the Kursk Root icon, since it once healed a broken wrist, and the one where Christ is wrestling His Mom to get out of her arms, and she's hanging on for dear life. I like the look on her face there, too! (Sort of, "God, give me patience with this Child!")

The patron of our household is St. Sergius of Radonezh. Why, is because he is the first Orthodox saint who cropped up in my life, and periodically thereafter I would run into various references to "Sergei Somebody." Why he keeps popping up like this is a mystery to me, but I understand that when this happens, it means a saint has decided to make himself part of your life, and this one really helped my son when he was in middle school.

My husband's patron saint is St. Demetrios. We were a little surprised to find that in the Greek culture, the name James is considered an anglicization of "Demetrios," but it makes sense -- more sense than James being related to Jacob!! That St. Demetrios was one of the warrior saints is especially important to a guy who works in the Dept. of Defense.

Our daughter's patron saint is St. Michael the Archangel. She chose him because she was, at the time, interested in becoming a cop, and St. Michael is the patron saint of cops.

Our son's patron saint is St. Christopher, which is what we named him at birth, and who has proven to be a particularly apropos saint, since (at least in the West) he is the patron saint of travellers. I understand that in this East, this honor is accorded to St. Nicholas, but St. Christopher seems to have done well by our Chris. What amazes me is that although I am 5' zip and my husband 5'10", our Chris is 6'4" -- just like his patron saint! And they seem to have had the same gentle nature, too, as well as the same interest in getting people from Here to There.

We also have hanging on our wall St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. For a time, we were members of St. Xenia's parish in Methuen, MA, till the drive proved to be too much. But she is another of those saints, like St. Sergius, who keeps sticking her head in the door to say Hi, so she stays in the icon corner.

The last icon we have in our icon corner is the Holy Royal Martyrs. I like them because they were so devoted to each other as a family, and Nicholas and Alexandra were pretty darn good parents, as well as madly in love with each other. It's nice to have some married saints around the place, too.

However, I also have an icon of St. John of San Francisco, which occupies our back office. I like all the stories about him, and he's the third in our synaxarion who keeps popping up from time to time. Whenever I get completely frustrated with Russian, I glower at my icons of him, St. Xenia, and St. Sergius and say, "Come on, guys! Help me get a handle on this cockamamie language of yours!" And they always do.

I am still looking for icons of St. Vasilios and St. Benjamin that would fit into the icon corner (Vasilios for my son-in-law, and Benjamin for our grandson). You'd think that with all the Basils running around the Greek Church, they would have every size imaginable -- apparently not. And finding any of the Old Testament saints is an exercise in perseverance.


Mimi said...

Wonderful read, Meg! Your corner is blessed indeed.

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting Russian Margaret and there's my patron saint, St Margaret Zakachurina, a new martyr from 1937.

Marguerite in Edinburgh

margaret said...

Here I go responding to posts I responded to 3 years ago. Recently in Holy Women of Russia by Brenda Meehan I read about Mother Mariia (in the world Margarita Tuchkova) founder of the Borodino convent and it said on Sept 1st, her name day, she received news of her beloved husband's death, and I could not figure out her saint, but thanks to rediscovering this old post I now know.