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Saint Marcellus: Patron Saint of Vampire Hunters

It's been super busy for me lately in terms of PhD responsibilities, research, married life, and all that jazz...but I recently finished listening to "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith. It was surprisingly good for an audiobook. The narrator's voice worked, the plot was decent, and the historical tidbits of information were actually pretty good. With that said, I need to introduce you to the Patron Saint of Vampire Hunters

Once upon a time, a very infamous adulteress was buried in a sepulcher just outside of Paris (then called Lutetia). This woman, weighed down by the burden of her sinful life and lusting for more souls to ruin, could not rest in peace. Naturally, as such stories go, she became a vampire and soon preyed upon villagers living around the place in which her body was laid to remain at rest. Not one to let a murderous vampire woman wreak havoc upon Paris, claiming its citizens in order to satisfy her lust for blood and souls, the town's bishop decided to take matters into his own hands in order to protect his parish. The bishop entered the sepulcher and confronted the vampire that had been creating her own army undead. There are none alive today who can ever tell the entire story about the battle that must have ensued, but the bishop slayed the vampire and won the hearts of his flock. Soon, Paris was rid of the plague of undead that had once threatened its citizens and the Catholicism's Eldest Daughter now has the honor of being home to the remains of the Patron Saint of Vampire Hunters.....St. Marcellus of Paris.

Saint Marcellus going after a creepy looking dragon-bird (vampire?) with his bishop staff.
This statue can be found at Notre Dame Cathedral. (image credit: Diocese de Paris)
Now, I must tell you that this vampire hunting story was recorded 200 years after the death of Saint Marcellus...so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. A BIG grain of salt. I mean, some say he fought a vampire. Some say he fought a dragon. There is even evidence that suggests he fought a creepy dragon-bird thing with his staff (as evidenced by the statue above). Still, it does make for a pretty good story...probably a better story than Saint George and his dragon...and certainly a story that deserves more artwork. I will have to add Saint Marcellus to "An Epic Book of Badass Catholic Saints for Kids" at some point in the future...whenever I end up finding the time to draw him staking the heart of a vampire woman with claws, grotesque features, and a tattered medieval gown.

Now for the most-likely-true version of the story...

Saint Marcellus is believed to come from a working class family from the modern-day village of St. Marceau (which was named after him at a later point) and was a very precocious young lad who favored modesty, meditation, and silence over the rambunctious nature of other boys his age. He began studying for the priesthood while a teenager and was the youngest priest in his ordination class. He studied under Prudentius, the bishop of Paris at the time...and was selected to take his place when the Prudentius passed away. He worked hard and was known as a humble man of great standing who not only helped fight off Barbarians that threatened to invade the city, but worked miracles too! There is no reason why this guy should have faded into obscurity by year 2014...and we have to bring him back. If naming him the patron saint of vampire hunters is how we bring him back from obscurity...then so be it.

The feast day of Saint Marcellus is November 1st and his relics are buried under the Cathedral of Notre Dame...which is pretty impressive for a saint that died around 430 AD. I say this because one would think that Notre Dame was once taken over anti-Catholics following the French revolution. I am actually surprised they didn't remove or destroy this saint's relics following their takeover of this cathedral. That, in and of itself, may be more remarkable than any slaying of vampires.

This has been your introduction to Saint Marcellus of Paris, a pretty awesome and not-so-well-known saint.

Pax Vobiscum

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