Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Saint Mel

“I saw your wife last night…”

We are not talking about a clandestine meeting in some seedy motel.  I was seen at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church at their All Saints Day Mass. I had been invited by a young friend of mine who was playing the organ. All Saints Day is about remembering all the lesser known saints that don’t have their own special day. The day after, All Souls Day, is for the rest of us who never became official saints, although technically, according to the Bible, we are all saints.

My friend asked me today whether I had enjoyed the service. I had to admit that I thought they over-did the incense wafting. I looked up at one point to a hazy view of what was happening at the front of the church. My friend said he would pass on my comment.

“I didn’t see you there.”

The conversation continued at my husband’s workplace.  I was there, he wasn’t and some kind of explanation was required.

Quick as anything my husband had his answer ready. His name being Joseph, he had an assigned saint’s day, March 19th, Joseph being Jesus’ dad. Come March 19th Joe would be attending mass. All Saint’s day – that was for the unknowns. Mel, he said, didn’t have a proper saint anyway.

Every so often the world goes name crazy. Coke bottles have a name – even really obscure ones like Horatio – but they never have Mel or Melanie. Candle holders, bedroom door signs, foldaway carrier bags, mugs, cards, “Do Not Disturb” signs, pens, pencils, coasters – and all manner of personalised things don’t come with a Melanie label. It would come as no surprise that there are no Mel saints either.

Except that there is one!

The man went away back to his desk. He might have had proper work to do but he googled “St Mel. He tracked Joe down just minutes later waving a sheet of printed paper.

There was a St Mel. Not a St Melanie. Wrong sex altogether but I’m not fussy.

St Mel has connections with the saints’ big names – St Patrick – he who banished snakes from Ireland.  Mel was his nephew and one of his companions who helped to evangelise Ireland. He didn’t have his own place until Patrick built a church at Ardagh and appointed Mel as the bishop.

“Acting upon the apostolic precept, he supported himself by working with his hands, and what he gained beyond bare necessities, he gave to the poor.”

That’s not a bad example for another Mel to follow. One doesn’t have to be a big named saint to do saint-worthy stuff.

St Mel’s Day is February 6th. It has become a day to celebrate being single and all the good things about it.  Apparently one sends a St Mel’s Day card to oneself and hosts a party for all one’s single friends. Isn’t it nice to have a day like that instead making single people feel tthey are deficient in some way?

I wish, in my single days I had known about St Mel.

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