May 30, 2011

"Head of patron saint of genital diseases sold to Los Angeles buyer."

Only $5,000, in an antique case.

I'd never heard of the patron saint of genital diseases, Vitalis of Assisi.
St Vitalis was born in Umbria, Italy, and is said to have lived an immoral and licentious youth. In an attempt to atone for his early sins, he later undertook pilgrimages to shrines throughout Europe, eventually entering the Benedictine monastery at Subiaco.

After leaving the monastery, he lived the remainder of his life as a hermit near Assisi. It is said that he wore only rags and shunned all material wealth, with the exception of a basket which he used to fetch water from a nearby stream.

He died in 1370, and word of his sanctity soon spread due to reports of numerous miracles performed on those with bladder and genital disorders.
Fetching water in a basket?  I don't believe a word of it. I don't even believe that is Vitalis's head. And if Vitalis is the name of the patron saint of genital diseases, how did the name Vitalis come to be used more famously for a product to be applied to the head?

30 comments:

BT said...

From the picture, it looks like St. Vitalis could use some Vitalis.

Freeman Hunt said...

How does a head figure into one's home decoration?

Maguro said...

I thought St Vitalis was the patron saint of aftershave lotions.

madAsHell said...

I have a house with almost 3 heads. I find them convenient.

Oligonicella said...

"And if Vitalis is the name of the patron saint of genital diseases, how did the name Vitalis come to be used more famously for a product to be applied to the head?"

This can't be a serious question.

Paco Wové said...

"...an immoral and licentious youth..."

I once read Augustine's Confessions for the naughty bits, and there was, like, nothing there. Deeply disappointed.

edutcher said...

Color me exceedingly skeptical

Maguro said...

I thought St Vitalis was the patron saint of aftershave lotions.

That's St Skin Bracer.

Roger Sweeny said...

Many cultures make baskets that are tightly held together and can hold water.

Corky Boyd said...

I am old enough to remember Vitalis. It was 80% alcohol, 15% castor oil and the rest coloring and scent. It was almost precisely the same formula as model airplane fuel.

Like model airplane fuel, it was very oily and had an overpowering smell.

ironrailsironweights said...

I am old enough to remember Vitalis. It was 80% alcohol, 15% castor oil and the rest coloring and scent. It was almost precisely the same formula as model airplane fuel.

Does that mean that if you got too near an open flame, perhaps someone smoking a cigarette, your entire head would erupt in a fireball?

Peter

edutcher said...

ironrailsironweights said...

I am old enough to remember Vitalis. It was 80% alcohol, 15% castor oil and the rest coloring and scent. It was almost precisely the same formula as model airplane fuel.

Does that mean that if you got too near an open flame, perhaps someone smoking a cigarette, your entire head would erupt in a fireball?

Peter


Closer to the truth than you want to get.

YoungHegelian said...

Oh, oh, so now Prof. Smarty-Pants Protestant Lawyer is going to make fun of our Catholic benighteness!

What's next, professor? You're going to tell us that St. Viagra, patron saint of guys over 45, is all mumbo-jumbo, too?

"His rod and staff, they comfort me."

YoungHegelian said...

On a more serious note, St. Vitalis may be be like these guys:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phallic_saints

That is, a case where earlier pagan rites, officially proscribed by the Church, got subsumed under the cultus of a local saint by the common people.

I'm named after one of these guys, which is how I tripped upon the article.

traditionalguy said...

Do the dead saints that heal and protect people have resumes? As Reformed Protestants we like to skip over the ascetic dead guys and go to the top. But humility can be a good thing.

traditionalguy said...

Another oldie but good product was Barbasol Shave cream. It was lanolin with perfume added, and it would do wonders for skin irritations.

Bender said...

I once read Augustine's Confessions for the naughty bits, and there was, like, nothing there. Deeply disappointed.

_______________

You must not have read very far. While he does not get into salacious details, Augustine speaks plainly of how he had enjoyed the single life too much to marry, and even after he recognized that it was only making him miserable, he too often prayed, "God grant me chastity . . . but not yet."

Augustine writes of, how in his youth, before his conversion --
I cared nothing but to love and be loved. But my love went beyond the affection of one mind for another, beyond the arc of the bright beam of friendship. Bodily desire, like a morass, and adolescent sex welling up within me exuded mists which clouded over and obscured my heart, so that I could not distinguish the clear light of true love from the murk of lust. Love and lust together seethed within me. In my tender youth they swept me away over the precipice of my body's appetites and plunged me in the whirlpool of sin. . . . I was tossed and spilled, floundering in the broiling sea of my fornication . . . You were silent then, and I went on my way, farther and farther from you, proud in my distress and restless in fatigue, sowing more and more seeds whose only crop was grief. . . . Where was I then and how far was I banished from the bliss of your house in that sixteenth year of my life? This was the age at which the frenzy gripped me and I surrendered myself entirely to lust, which your law forbids but human hearts are not ashamed to sanction. (Book II) . . .

I began to look around for some object for my love, since I badly wanted to love something. . . . To love and to have my love returned was my heart's desire, and it would be all the sweeter if I could also enjoy the body of the one who loved me. So I muddied the stream of friendship with the filth of lewdness and clouded its clear waters with hell's black river of lust. (Book III) . . .

In those days I lived with a woman, not my lawful wedded wife but a mistress whom I had chosen for no special reason but that my restless passion had alighted on her. (Book IV) . . .

I was bound down by this disease of the flesh. Its deadly pleasures were a chain that I dragged along with me, yet I was afraid to be freed from it. . . . I was being urged incessantly to marry, and had already made my proposal and been accepted [but] she was nearly two years to young for marriage, but I liked her well enough and was content to wait. . . . Meanwhile, I was sinning more and more. The woman with whom I had been living was torn from my side as an obstacle to my marriage and this was a blow which crushed my heart to bleeding, because I loved her dearly. She went back to Africa, vowing never to give herself to any other man, and left me with a son whom she had borne me. But I was too unhappy and too weak to imitate this example set me . . . and because I was more a slave of lust than a true lover of marriage, I took another mistress, without the sanction of wedlock. This meant that the disease of my soul would continue unabated. . . . I did not realize that the very root of my misery was that I had sunk to such depths and was so blind that I could not discern the light of virtue and beauty that is loved for its own sake, for true beauty is seen by the inner eye of the soul, not by the eye of the flesh. (Book VI) . . .

William said...

If I were a saint in heaven, I would not like to spend all eternity listening to the prayers of people with genital warts. And I would find the whole idea of interceding on their behalf kind of demeaning. Still, it's better than being the patron saint of anal fistulas.

Paco Wové said...

"While he does not get into salacious details,..."


Q.E.D.

edutcher said...

YoungHegelian said...

Oh, oh, so now Prof. Smarty-Pants Protestant Lawyer is going to make fun of our Catholic benighteness!

What's next, professor? You're going to tell us that St. Viagra, patron saint of guys over 45, is all mumbo-jumbo, too?

"His rod and staff, they comfort me."


Every woman's prayer.

As far as we know, St Meade, patron saint all things growing, is fully functional.

Bender said...

After chasing after happiness through lust for many years, and only finding misery instead, Augustine began to see and believe in the truth of the Christian faith. But merely knowing the right way does not make it easy to take it. Augustine was conflicted, wanting to do right, but realizing that, far from making him free, his amoral lifestyle had made him a slave to sin, a bondage that he could not be released from without help.

So these two wills within me, one old, one new, one the servant of the flesh, the other of the spirit, were in conflict and between them they tore my soul apart. . . . I was quite sure that it was better for me to give myself up to your love than to surrender to my own lust. But while I wanted to follow the first course and was convinced I was right, I was still a slave to the pleasures of the second. . . . You used all means to prove the truth of your words, and now that I was convinced that they were true, the only answers I could give were the drowsy words of an idler - 'Soon,' 'Presently,' 'Let me wait a little longer.' . . . Pitable creature that I was, who was to set me free from a nature thus doomed to death? Nothing else than the grace of God . . . I shall now tell and confess to the glory of your name how you released me from the fetters of lust which held me so tightly shackled and from my slavery to the things of this world. . . . As a youth I had been woefully at fault, particularly in early adolesence. I had prayed to you for chastity and said, 'Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.' For I was afraid that you would answer my prayer at once and cure me too soon of the disease of lust, which I wanted satisfied, not quelled. . . . But now the time had come when I stood naked before my own eyes, while my conscience upbraided me. . . . I was frantic, overcome by violent anger with myself for not accepting you will and entering into your covenant. Yet in my bones I knew that this was what I ought to do. In my heart of hearts I praised it to the skies. And to reach this goal I needed no chariot or ship. I need not even walk as far as I had come from the house to the place where we sat, for to make the journey, and to arrive safely, no more was required than an act of will. But it must be a resolute and whole-hearted act of the will, not some lame wish which I kept turning over and over in my mind, so that it had to wrestle with itself, part of it trying to rise, part falling to the ground. . . . In my heart I kept saying 'Let it be now, let it be now!', and merely by saying this I was on the point of making the resolution. I was on the point of making it, but I did not succeed. Yet I did not fall back into my old state. I stood on the brink of resolution, waiting to take fresh breath. . . . I was held back by mere trifles, the most paltry inanities, all my old attachments. . . . But by now the voice of habit was very faint. I had turned my eyes elsewhere, and while I stood trembling at the barrier, on the other side I could see the chaste beauty of Continence in all her serene, unsullied joy, as she modestly beckoned me to cross over and to hesitate no more. . . . With her were countless boys and girls, great numbers of the young and people of all ages, staid widows and women still virgins in old age. And in their midst was Continence herself, not barren but a fruitful mother of children, of joys born of you, O Lord, her Spouse. (Book VIII)

Bender said...

At this point, with tears streaming down his face, Augustine asked himself --
Why not now? Why not make an end of my ugly sins at this moment? I was asking myself these questions, all the while with the most bitter sorrow in my heart, when all at once I heard the sing-song voice of a child in a nearby house [saying] "Take it and read, take it and read." . . . I picked up a book containing Paul's Epistles and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell: "Not in revelling and drunkeness, not in lust and wantonness, not in quarrels and rivalries. Rather, arm yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ; spend no more though on nature and nature's appetites." I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled. (Book VIII)

Augustine is an excellent saint for modern times. He knew well -- and the Church does too -- the struggles that are accompanied with trying to find true happiness, and how easy it is to get chained down to worldly wants even when you have a sincere desire for higher things.

Far from meanly condemning people for their foolish choices, the conversion story of St. Augustine shows how, instead, the faith seeks to be a loving light to show the way to true freedom, to true love, to true happiness.

bonnpa said...

St. Vitalis was an early Christian martyer (ca 171). It's fairly easy to find about him. None of the official Catholic sources mentions a skull or that he is a patron saint of anything. Also, 171 predates monasteries; Christians were still being fed to the lions in those days. The LA buyer got taken.

PETER V. BELLA said...

Just the smell of Vitalis would kill any disease.

Peter Reilly said...

Isn't it possible that Vitalis was originally meant to be used by dick heads ?

Marc Puckett said...

St Vitalis of Assisi (d. 31 May 1370; there are other Vitales but this is the one the idiot Irish people are going on about) is patron of those suffering from bladder and genital illnesses--leave it to the media et al in 2011 to go straight for the latter and ignore the former; as I get closer to 60 I know which I'm most concerned about.

Nor do I get why Prof A. doubts re the basket, which form of container is and has been used in many cultures to carry water or other liquids.

On the other hand, there is every reason to suspect that the Irish who bought the putative relic were also idiots off whom some quick-witted if not particularly ethical local made a few pounds. But for all we know (BBC NI being such grand investigative journalists and all...), there is legitimate provenance.

David said...

At some point in my teenage years, I decided that my hair would look best if saturated with Vitalis. This delusion lasted quite a while. Bacon fat would have been more attractive.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

"Just the smell of Vitalis would kill any disease."

Vitalis cured a case of athlete's foot for me once.

abeer ahmed said...

visit us on lifeandstylemag.com
http://whois.domaintasks.com/lifeandstylemag.com

Jade Turner said...

I never thought that genital diseases have their own patron saint. No wonder why the term Vitalis has been in the market for many years now.
xlpharmacy

John Grints said...

I agree with the previous comments. Well, almost all of the things on earth have their Saints, so why can't a genital, right?

generic viagra