Once in a while a question arises that I really don't want to answer. The more uncomfortable I am with broaching a topic, the more I realize it must be broached. Usually, this feeling occurs when someone asks for some kind of personal advice. That's always a dodgy one, since in this type of format, who knows the whole story, the background, the psychological make-up of a person? I think it's dangerous territory.
But rarely do I find I'm uncomfortable working on a patron saint matching! I know the answer to this question.
I don't know about patron saints for mental illness, but I'm having surgery tomorrow, and if you know of any saints that cover the digestive system, perhaps you can ask him/her for some intercession for me? I am having 8-10 inches of intestine removed due to diverticulitis. Last time I had surgery (for something else) it was a nightmare. A second surgery followed and I contracted an MRSA infection that took months to clear up. So I'm pretty nervous about tomorrow. I love reading your blogs! Thank you for helping us to strengthen our faith. I'm only 48 years old and am praying this takes care of the medical issues for awhile!
Ugh. You poor thing. I have direct experience with loved ones who have been similarly blessed. And yes, of course, there is a patron saint for the intestines (specifically). But perhaps you should read this some other time. Perhaps now is a good time to simply invoke St. Erasmus, better know as St. Elmo, or let us invoke him for you, and you just get some bed rest and push that little button attached to your IV. I'm sure they've told you your prognosis is excellent!
For now, when we think of Elmo, let's just think happy thoughts.
Then, when you're feeling better--say, six weeks from now--you can come back and read the story of St. Erasmus/Elmo.
St. Elmo was a bishop. He lived during a time of persecution. For a while, he lived the life of a hermit on a mountain top and was fed by a raven. I mentioned that to someone the other day, who thought I meant he was fed by a raven like a baby bird in a nest, where the bird partially digested his food for him. No. The bird merely brought him food. Like St. Rock's dog.
Life would have been grand for Elmo/Erasmus if he had just stayed up there. But then, who knows how long raven's live? In any case, he reentered society and things went downhill.
I don't really believe all these things happened to St. Elmo/Erasmus. I believe his story has been conflated with another saint or two who lived around the same time. Because if all these things really did happen to him, I picture him a little like the Marvel superhero "Wolverine" who has titanium bones, or some bones made of some metal that doesn't exist. He can't be harmed because he instantly heals from whatever you do to him.
That's what went on with Erasmus/Elmo until they pulled out his intestines and wound them on spindle. That finally did him in. Or not. In another version of his story, he merely had hot hooks hooked into his intestines and miraculously healed (again). Let's go with that version! In that version he was finally beheaded.
In the meantime, he had his eyes gouged out (St. Lucy), had hot oil or tar or something poured on him (St. Catherine of Alexandria), was thrown into a fire (again, St. Catherine), had all manner of hot pokers poked into him (St. Blaise), had all his teeth pulled out (St. Apollonia) and at some point everyone trying to kill him was killed by lightening (St. Barbara) and he was roasted on a grill (St. Lawrence). He walked away from each of these trials, miraculously healed, like Wolverine.
Which makes him an excellent saint, for you, personally, given your own travails.
His association with being saved both by and from lightening strikes earned him the appreciation of sailors at sea and the phenomenon "St. Elmo's Fire" being named for him. St. Elmo's Fire, however, is not actually lightening. It's plasma.
If you have read on, even though you are still recuperating, offer up your sufferings, both from your recent surgery and from reading this blog, to the Poor Souls in Purgatory. And meanwhile know that our little community here at Ask Sister Mary Martha will have more than a few conversations with St. Erasmus on your behalf.