Thursday, July 11, 2013

Another Reason I Like St. Benedict





If you take a magnifying glass to your St. Benedict medal you will see a raven standing at his feet. Or if you don't have a magnifying glass (or a St. Benedict medal) just google "St. Benedict raven", and have a great time looking at all the paintings, icons, statues and Benedictine college sports mascots that depict this bird. Here are a few that I liked:
www.desotoexplorer.com

christchurchwindsor.ca
sportslogos.net
www.gifts-of-faith.com
The story is that when Benedict tried to reform a lax monastery, a couple of monks who did NOT want to be reformed tried to do away with him by serving him poisoned bread. But a helpful raven flew in through the window, snatched the loaf out of the saint's hand, and made off with it. 
I hope the raven didn't eat it. 
Ravens are not generally thought of as "nice" birds, but God seems to like them an awful lot. He sent one to the prophet Elijah with loaves of (non-poisoned) bread while he was hiding out in the desert from his enemies. He inspired the psalmist to marvel at His providence for the "young ravens that call upon Him" in Psalm 147.  I'm pretty sure there's a few more Ravens to the Rescue of Saints stories out there, but can't think of them at the moment. 
Anyway, it's the kind of thing that animal lovers like myself get excited about. 

10 comments:

  1. This page from SPQN.com lists 13 saints depicted with ravens!
    http://saints.sqpn.com/raven/

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    1. Thanks for this, Mike. I"m going to bookmark it. I've had in the back of my mind a "someday" project of a book for children about interactions between saints and animals.

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  2. And then there's St Kevin and the blackbird. Not a raven, perhaps. But close.

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    1. You know, someone with a flare for children's fiction could do something like "Redwall", but all about some secret society of helpful ravens, who throughout history come to the aid of God's friends. Or maybe the society could be any helpful animals. (with Don Bosco's mysterious dog Grigio in mind)

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  3. This is quite special to me. My eight month old (born on All Saints Day) was born with poor kidneys and St Benedict, whose kidneys were spared the monks' poison, is the patron saint of kidney disease. We pray for his intercession often and my son's kidneys have fared much better than the doctor can really explain. I knew about the connection to the ravens. What I did not realize was the role of a raven in nourishing the prophet Elijah. See, my son's name is Elijah!

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  4. When my daughter was a toddler, a huge crow (raven?) swooped down and snatched food from her tiny hand at the beach. The lifeguard said it happened all the time and she was lucky to still have all her fingers. So for us the Saint Benedict account is very credible.

    In Elijah's case, I wonder if there were a bunch of well-off people shaking their fists at the ravens who snatched their food to give to the prophet...

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  5. Larry, I didn't know about the kidney connection. Praise God for little Elijah's health--I pray that he continues to improve.

    Russ the difference between crows and ravens is size, a call that is more of a "croak" than a "caw", and sort of a roughed-up feathers around the neck compared to the crow's more sleek appearance.

    If you go on You Tube and search "ravens PBS Nature" you can find amazing footage of a raven stealing fish, first from a bald eagle, and then from an ice fisherman's trap. Then another video shows ravens sliding down a snowy bank just for the fun of it. Their intelligence in some ways compares with that of primates. That must be one reason God has chosen ravens to assist his saints, although I also like to think He was also using them as a sign of how he can accomplish his plans through even the most disreputable sinner.

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  6. I was always told that because ravens are larger than crows, the former are equipped with an additional pinion feather in each wing to assist them in flight. So, the difference between a raven and a crow is a matter of a pinion.

    Steve

    P.S. I hope a little (bad) humor is acceptable on this blog...

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    1. Very little. But yes, we'll take our laughs where we can get them. Somehow that reminds me of the pun on Master and Commander (great movie) about choosing the lesser of two weevils.

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  7. You have given me much to think about-too long of a story to relate here. We had been told that certain incidents related to the visits of both crows and raven were portents of bad luck. Yet, possibly we were looking at it backwards, and should consider them as a sign of hope.

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