Painting by the Master of Meßkirch, c. 1535-40.
Saint Walpurga was an English missionary to the Frankish Empire. She was canonized on 1 May ca. 870 by Pope Adrian II. Walpurga’s Night is the name for the eve of her day, which coincides with May Day. Walpurga was educated by the nuns of Wimborne Abbey, Dorset, where she spent twenty-six years as a member of the community. She then travelled with her brothers in evangelizing among the still-pagan Germans. Because of her rigorous training, she was able to write her brother Winibald’s vita and an account in Latin of his travels in Palestine. As a result, she is often called the first female author of both England and Germany.
A Coptic icon, showing, in the lower left,
St. Anthony with St. Paul the First Hermit
St. Anthony was an early Christian monk and a Coptic who lived in Egypt. Anthony took shelter in an abandoned tomb carved in the side of a mountain and fought off the temptations of the flesh and demon’s attacks for the next 20 years by working and praying. He’d stack rocks in mile-long, winding walls dividing nowhere from elsewhere, swept his cave 10 times a day, ate insects and berries and prayed for a sign from God. Mina became a follower of St. Anthony.
Stephen of Cloyes
Stephen was a twelve-year-old French shepherd boy from Cloyes who claimed that he bore a letter for the king of France from Jesus commanding a Children’s Crusade. Large gangs of orphans around his age were drawn to him, and he attracting a following of over 30,000 children. At the end of June 1212, Stephen led his largely juvenile Crusaders from Vendôme to Marseilles. They survived by begging for food.
Hassan i Sabbah
Haasan i Sabbah and terrorized the Arab world from a mountaintop fortress called Alamut in Persia. Some say he died in the early 12th century, but according to legend, he lived on for at least another 100 years. He founded a group of fedawis whose members are often referred to as the Hashshashin, or “Assassins.”
Benevolent ruler of the Karmations, an early Ishmaelite sect that ruled Bahrain from the 9th to 13th century. His son, Tahir Karmat, stole the Kabba Stone from Mecca and held it for ransom for 23 years, when it was finally returned to the Kabba.
Hamdan Karmat was small man but powerful warrior who always led his army into battle. Karmations were also known for treating women as equal to men, and never turning down an opportunity to seek ecstasy through wine, drugs and music and food.
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III reigned from January 1198 to his death in 1216. one of the most powerful and influential popes. He exerted a wide influence over the Christian regimes of Europe, claiming supremacy over all of Europe’s kings. Innocent called for Christian crusades against Muslim Spain and the Holy Land, as well as the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in southern France.
One of Pope Innocent’s most critical decisions was organizing the Fourth Crusade. Originally intended to attack Jerusalem through Egypt, a series of unforeseen circumstances led the crusaders to Constantinople, where they ultimately attacked and sacked the city (1204). Innocent reluctantly accepted this result, seeing it as the will of God to reunite the Latin and Orthodox Churches, but it poisoned relations between the two churches.