Thursday, November 6, 2014

SAINTATHON 2014: Day 4 - Saint Quiteria

Day Four of the Saintathon is upon us, and to your great shock, I've been drinking it away. Don't you look at me like that — all of these Saints probably drank more in a day than I did in my lifetime, 'cause you know most of them were born in a time when alcohol was more sanitary than drinking water. Today, I'm going to tell you about one of the most badass Saints in history: Saint Quiteria, a Virgin Martyr.

"But Madam Anna, Dragonoverlord of the North, if she's so badass, how come I haven't heard of her?"

You haven't heard of her because you are a disappointment.

Also, this chick is so badass that if she were more popular, we would hear about people following her example and then the whole world would be a comic book, with a whole different set of Avengers.

The main reason why I chose to talk about someone who's not as well known, though, is partly because she was such a badass, but also because I always loved the Saints who were considered legendary figures, such as Saint Christopher and Saint Quiteria and her sisters, to name a few. Disney taught us, through one of my favorite movies about one seriously badass chick, that legends are lessons. Each of these Saints who stand as figures of both truth and legend inspired thousands of people. Their stories to this day give all of us as Catholics an additional reason to cheer for our rich history. The whole world has the legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Well, we've got Saint Quiteria, leader of the Nine Nonuplet Sisters, who paved the way of ass-kicking for all future badasses after the Second Century.

There are a few different versions of her story. Some say that she was a Portuguese native, who used to keep rabid dogs at bay with her heavenly voice. Others say she was a daughter of a Galician prince, and when her father tried to force her to marry a political ally and renounce Christianity, she (probably) said, "$@#* OFF," and escaped with her sisters past all her father's guards. She was captured and beheaded. Her sister Euphemia leapt off a cliff, unable to escape the Roman soldiers pursuing her, and a rock opened up and swallowed her. A hot spring then sprang up on the spot.

The origin story I will be focusing on is the most common one in Portugese religious traditions. Saint Quiteria was one of nine daughters of a highborn woman. Her mother was disgusted that she had all girls and no boys, so in a sick effort to "wipe the slate clean," she told her maid to dispose of her daughters in the river. The maid, not being a sick and twisted human being, disobeyed her employer and brought the girls to a remote village, where they all grew up together and were probably raised by Clint Eastwood's ancestor, or something.

They ended up forming a gang, of sorts, with Saint Quiteria leading them, and earned the reputation of breaking Christians out of pagan Roman jails.

Let me make this clear to you: A group of young women, in the Second Century, ran around and broke Christians out of heavily guarded jails. They somehow outsmarted trained guards, broke into jail, freed Christians, and fought back soldiers. And this wasn't a one time deal — oh, no — they were known to do that everywhere. They raged guerrilla warfare against the Romans. GUERRILLA WARFARE AGAINST THE ROMANS! These chicks kicked the Roman soldiers' asses.

I imagine these were the soldiers' reactions:

And if that wasn't badass enough, the Nine Nonuplets took it to a whole other level when their jailbreak spree finally ended. They were brought before their father, who recognized them and pretty much offered to pardon them as long as they each married a Roman officer and renounced Christianity. They (probably) said, "$@#* OFF," and their father reacted as appropriately as their mother and sentenced them to a beheading. There are several versions of the next part of the story, but the one I like best is the most popular one, where Saint Quiteria helped her sisters escape, was beheaded, and was thrown into an ocean. When their father sent guards to go after the sisters, Saint Quiteria rose from the ocean holding her head and warned off the Roman guards.

Somebody please explain why this wasn't made into a movie.

Saint Quiteria is known all over Portugal and southern France. There is even a city in Brazil named after her. Her story make you cheer and laugh and wraps you up in a blanket of badassery. In fact, it is totally acceptable to smash a cup or plate on the floor right about now to express your emotions.

The many legends of Saint Quiteria inspired generations and probably many other Saints who came after her. She is venerated in many churches in Portugal, Spain, France, and even in India.

Fun Fact: Saints Marina and Liberata are said to be the sisters of Saint Quiteria.

If you ever need a boost to fight for what you believe in, remember Quiteria. Remember the Nine Nonuplets, whose story has lived on to inspire badassery in Christians everywhere. You can read more about her here (she's #1 on the list, obviously).

Saint Stats:

Born/Died: Second (or Fifth) Century, A.D. (she may not have technically existed)

Beatified/Canonized: Pre-Congregation

Feast Day: May 22

Patronage: Invoked against rabies (no, really), venerated in Brazil, France, India, Portugal, and Spain

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