30 June 2012

30 June - Saint Paul; Baked Swordfish

Weather - If it is bright and clear on St. Paul’s day, we will have full bellies and full purses.


Peter the Apostle and Paul the Doctor to the Gentiles have themselves taught us Thy law, O Lord.
In all the earth their voice has gone forth.
And their words unto the ends of the earth.

O God, whose right hand raised up blessed Peter the Apostle when he was walking on the waves, lest he be submerged, and saved his fellow apostle Paul from the depth of the sea when he was shipwrecked for the third time, hear us graciously and grant that we may pursue the glory of eternity by the favors of both.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, O God, world without end.  Amen.


Saint Paul is celebrated on the same day as Saint Peter (29 July), but as mentioned before, two major celebrations on one day, with a pontifical Mass at one church for Saint Peter, a solemn procession, and a pontifical Mass at another church for Saint Paul, got to be too much, and Pope Gregory split the celebration into two days.

Of Paul’s martyrdom, The Golden Legend relates:
“And as he was led to the place of his passion in the gate of Hostence, a noble woman named Plautilla, a disciple of Paul… met there with Paul, which weeping, commended her to his prayers.  To whom Paul said: Farewell, Plautilla, daughter of everlasting health, lend to me thy veil or keverchief with which thou coverest thy head, that I may bind mine eyes therewith, and afterwards I shall restore it to thee again…. Then when he came to the place of his passion, he turned him toward the east, holding his hands up to heaven right long, with tears praying in his own language and thanking our Lord, and after that bade his brethren farewell, and bound his eyes himself with the keverchief of Plautilla, and kneeling down on both knees, stretched forth his neck, and so was beheaded.”

The church of San Paolo alle Tre Fontane, in Rome, is built over three fountains which tradition ascribes to the three places where the head of St. Paul fell and bounced after being cut off by the executioner.  It is said that the waters vary in warmth, the first, where the head fell, being hottest and the springs of the two bounces successively cooler.

In iconography, Paul's usual attribute is a sword, signifying both his spiritual warfare and his martyrdom.  When he holds it upright, it is the 'good fight' that is represented; point down, it is his death.  He may also hold a book, and sometimes even twelve scrolls representing his epistles.

Glads with sword-like leaves

Gardening: Gladiolus, which comes from the Latin for sword, is a suitable flower for St. Paul.  The tall varieties can reach grow as much as five feet, although two foot high plants are the usual. Start planting the corms in mid-spring (May if you have long cold winters (like the Smallest State), April if you live in warmer climes), staggering the planting every week or two, to get a succession of blooms.  Choose a very sunny spot in the garden.  Since they don’t winter-over well, especially in the northern tier of states (meaning you would need to dig up the corms in the fall and store them until spring), you might want to plant them in a raised bed where you can easily retrieve the corms.


And, of course, what would be more suitable for today’s dinner than swordfish?  This sport fish can be fixed any number of delicious ways – sautéed in a little butter, broiled, baked… it dries out easily, so remember to brush it with melted butter if you broil or bake, and thereafter baste it with pan drippings or more melted butter.  This recipe for BAKED SWORDFISH uses mayonnaise to keep the fish from drying out.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Dust swordfish steaks with salt and pepper.  Spread each generously with mayonnaise and sprinkle first with instant minced onion and then with fine dry breadcrumbs or crushed cracker or corn flake crumbs. [I’ve tried using fresh minced onion – tastes good, but it is a lot of work]

Bake for about 30 minutes.  Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

To drink?  Well, if you don’t want to take Saint Paul’s advice and ‘take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake’, how about St. Pauli Girl?

Tintoretto, Martyrdom of St. Paul. c 1556.  Madonna dell’Orto.
The woodcut is from a 1489 Dutch edition of The Golden Legend.