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A LETTER to the Editor in the London Review of Books, October 8, 2015, introduced me to St. Expeditus, the patron saint countering procrastination. Being able to procrastinate with the best, I felt compelled to follow up on this. I could not have imagined where it would lead.
During Roman control of Armenia, c. 300 A.D., a Roman Legion foot soldier considered converting to Christianity. The devil came to him in the form of a talking crow, suggesting that he wait a day. Instead, the soldier crushed the crow underfoot, converted that day, and was promptly martyred.
As a foot soldier, this unnamed Legionaire would have traveled unencumbered (Latin: expeditus). The name stuck, not to say the legend too. On the cross held by St. Expeditus is the inscription hodie (Latin: today); at his feet, the inscription cras (Latin: tomorrow).
The letter in the London Review of Books cites a mid-19th-century bishop in Toulouse, France, who sent nuns in Paris a package of religious relics marked in expedito. After a miracle here and there, St. Expeditus entered the hagiography of the Roman Catholic Church.
But not for an extended stay. Again, according to the LRB letter, “In 1905 the relics were deconsecrated, and St. Expeditus was relegated to apocryphal status.”
However, it’s impossible to keep a good saint down. Today, cults of St. Expeditus flourish in many parts of the world, including Catalonia, Chile, France, Italy, the island of Réunion and New Orleans.
All of these cults, mind, are unofficial. I sought St. Expeditus without success at Catholic Saints A-G Index and Catholic Online. However, backing into things with his Feast Day, April 19, he did appear with some added history.
In particular, the Paris Nuns Tale seems debunked because St. Expeditus was the patron saint of Acireale, Sicily, as far back as 1781. Also existing are 18th-century German images of him. Indeed, catholicherald.com reports that in Germany St. Expeditus is depicted pointing to a clock, not crushing a talking crow.
I interviewed another person of Germanic heritage on this, Wife Dottie. Ever the practical Bavarian-American desert rat, she asked, “Can you buy a St. Expeditus tee shirt?”
Alas, a search at catholicshopping.com resulted in “Your search for ‘St. Expeditus’ did not match any results.” This led to the next phase of my research, a particularly fruitful survey of St. Expeditus cults worldwide.
Many are gently and sweetly focused on prayer requesting immediate succor. Others, though, show more than a little unsaintly impatience. For example, roadside shrines on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion often contain statues of St. Expeditus. Apparently reflecting delayed response to prayer, beheading of a statue is not unknown.
In New Orleans, worship of St. Expeditus is linked with voodoo, conjuring and other non-papist activities. The Conjurer’s Guide to St. Expedite gives full details, including how to set up one’s own St. Expedite’s Altar. Don’t forget to keep the statue inverted until the petition is answered. (As a sign of confidence, there’s no mention of decapitation.)
The website lists a book, The Conjurer’s Guide to St. Expedite, $14.95. It’s also at amazon.com, as is St. Expedite Oil and other stuff. A similar product, St. Expedite Fast Luck Oil is “infused with luck drawing ingredients that will amplify your petitions three fold,” $9.95 for a 4-dram bottle. (A dram, by the way, is 0.0625 oz., more familiarly cited in “have a wee dram, will ye?”).
Yet another Fast Luck Oil shows up at Walmart’s website, on the same page as Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil. Like Walmart, my other real find, Lucky Mojo Curio Co., is a full-service provider. In this case, though, it’s of hoodoo oils, Fast Luck products, spell kits, occult books, car statues and religious goods. This includes Saint Expedite Spiritual Supplies in Hoodoo and Conjure.
The website’s presentation of The Lucky W Amulet Archive adds a bit more St. Expeditus lore, including a link of the Latin cras with the crow’s natural call and, as an aside, observations on Edgar Allan Poe’s raven saying “nevermore” rather than “tomorrow.”
Full disclosure: The car statues, $3.50 each, are made in China. My favorite is Dr. Gregorio Hernandez, Venezuelan patron of med students, very fetching in a medico sort of way.
A concluding St. Expeditus encounter links a revisit to the Republic of Molossia, the 1.3-acre micronation east of Reno, Nevada. His Excellency President Grand Admiral Colonel Doctor Kevin Baugh is Protector of the Nation and Guardian of the People, and he notes that St. Expeditus is Molossia’s patron saint.
His Excellency adds yet another tidbit: On the island of Réunion, “blood-red shrines populate the countryside, decorated with candles and, occasionally, underwear.”
He makes no mention of statues sans têtes. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2015