06 February 2011

6 February - Saint Dorothea

Weather: St. Dorothea gives the most snow.

[The good saint will have to work hard to beat the amount of snow we've had already this winter]

If it storms on the first Sunday of the month, it will storm every Sunday.

In the traditional calendar, today is the feast of Saint Dorothea (or Dorothy), a Christian maiden of Caesarea in Cappadocia, martyred in 311 during the persecution of Diocletian.  The oldest story of her witness says that her description of the garden of her Heavenly Bridegroom led a lawyer named Theophilus to mock her as she walked to her execution, telling her to send him some fruits and flowers from the Garden.  She sent her veil to him by the hand of a child; the veil held the aroma of roses and fruit, and Theophilus was converted on the spot.

detail of an altarpiece by an anonymous Swiss painter  (Source)
The medieval Golden Legend expanded on this meager account, giving her a family to exhort, a few miracles which converted many who saw them, and quite a few tortures before her execution.  But the part of the story for which she is known is still there: "And then said the holy virgin with a glad semblant: Do to me what torment thou wilt, for I am all ready to suffer it for the love of my spouse Jesu Christ, in whose garden full of delices I have gathered roses, spices, and apples."

As she was being led to the place of execution, "...a scribe of the realm, named Theophilus, said to her in scorn: I pray thee to send me some of thy roses and apples that thou hast gathered in the garden of thy spouse that thou praisest so much, and she granted to him his desire. And this was in the cold winter time when there was both frost and snow."

Dorothea prayed before her head was cut off, and a little child appeared before her with a golden basket bearing roses and apples, which she sent to Theophilus.

"And as this said Theophilus stood in the palace of the emperor, this child came to him and presented to him the basket, saying: These be the roses and apples that my sister Dorothy hath sent to thee from Paradise, the garden of her spouse, and then this child vanished away. Then he, considering the marvellous work of God in this holy virgin, said anon with a stern voice, praising the God of Dorothy for that great miracle which was showed to him of roses and apples that time, that he that sent to me these things is of great power, and therefore his name be blessed world without end, Amen. And then he was converted to the faith of Jesu Christ, and the most part of the people of the city."

Theophilus was then tortured and executed, as well.  I'm sure Dorothea was on hand to greet him as he walked into the Garden.

Dorothea is the patron of florists and gardeners [for obvious reasons].  For maintaining her faith in her Heavenly Bridegroom, she is the patron of brides.  For some reason, she is also the patron of brewers, but I haven't found out why yet.

For those (like me) who are weary of winter, a centerpiece of hothouse roses and apples would be an appropriate way to celebrate Saint Dorothea.  As my budget doesn't run to hothouse roses and apples, I will make do with rose-scented candles and apple-scented candles.