who’s your favorite saint? (uh… give me a minute…)

(not really my kid, but suitably prayerful)

My almost 8-year-old son will receive his First Communion this year, and so Connor has to attend CCD classes once a week after school. That’s “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine,” for those of you who haven’t had the privilege, and Connor likes to sigh loudly that it’s the “most worst” part of his week. I give him a little room to complain, because he already attends a religious school, and goes to chapel EVERY DAY. However, the school is Episcopalian– and that’s as different from Catholic as chocolate chip ice cream is different from chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. That is to say, not the same AT ALL, even though pretty much indistinguishable, and so he has to get even more God-time in every Thursday afternoon.

Last year, Connor’s CCD teacher had them sit around for an hour and color pictures of Jesus, which my husband likes to point out was the sum total of his religion AND art classes when he was a grade-school youth. But this year there’s a new teacher and two sacraments to prepare for, so my boy’s got pages of prayers to memorize, and homework. And not the kind you can do with crayons, either.

Connor met me at the classroom door last week with a note in his hand. “In a belated celebration of All Saints’ Day, each student is to come to class dressed as his or her favorite saint!” the teacher wrote, assuming that the exclamation point at the end of that sentence would be enough to make her enthusiasm contagious. “Each student should also be prepared to talk about why this saint is his or her favorite.”

I rolled my eyes, stuck the note in Connor’s backpack, and did nothing about it until 11 pm the night before the next CCD class, having forgotten it entirely. I was just drifting off to sleep, abandoned novel across my chest, when I bolted upright in bed.  I had forgotten all about the saint thing. Thank goodness we mothers have a sixth sense for the almost-overlooked homework assignments, which seem all the more likely to be ignored by our children whenever significant parental involvement is required.

Connor was long asleep, and I wasn’t about to wake him up to ask him who his favorite saint was, since he clearly had none. Using my power of parental proxy, I determined my son’s favorite saint was Edward (his middle name), and hurried to the computer to Google who the heck Saint Edward was.

Turns out he was Saint Edward the Martyr. Ah good, I thought, there will be some creative and torturous means of death that I can rig a costume around. But no: Saint Edward was king of England for a few years around 980, until someone killed him. Maybe his stepmother. No one’s sure. No one’s sure how he was killed either. Oh, and by the way, apparently not a nice guy, and a lousy king. (Apparently they used to give these “saint” names out like candy.)

I dug a knight’s shield out of the dress-up box and stuffed it in Connor’s backpack, drilling him on the details of Saint Edward the Martyr on the way to school. Connor had the unfortunate habit of calling him “Saint Edward the Mardra,” which put me in a panic since his CCD teacher would see immediately the true depth of Connor’s Catholic knowledge and devotion to this saint. But I haven’t gotten any chastening phone calls yet, so it seems Connor did well enough.

It was only last night that I found this website, for families hoping to get their children “playing like little saints.” I’ll bookmark it for when it’s Seamus’s turn. I don’t know if there was a Saint Seamus, but the Saint John Vianney costume is to die for. 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda@runninghood November 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

This made me laugh. 🙂 Glad it worked out…he looks great! I just got your book in the mail for my birthday. After a weekend away with girlfriends who only have their first born baby and look at me like I'm speaking a foreign language when I talk about how stressed I am with three kids under the age of 6, I am looking forward to reading it and feeling like someone understands.


Karen November 10, 2010 at 7:24 am

That seems like a bit much for 2nd grade CCD homework! But I guess it's better than the pretty much worthless work sheets my kids get.


Mollie November 10, 2010 at 3:13 pm

That doesn't look like St. John Vianney to me. Vianney was never a bishop. Maybe it's St. John Neumann? Anyway, for Seamus I would recommend St. John the Evangelist, or John the Baptist; the story and the accessories are a lot more fun.

I could've filled you in on Edward the Confessor. I've been to his tomb. So have you, I bet! It's in Westminster Abbey. I actually tried to buy a medal there for Connor, but the gift shop was closed.


Amy Wilson November 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Karen: I'm with you. My mother tells me this was how Catholic schools celebrated Halloween in her day- school costumes could only be saints. I guess I'm glad we're past that joy-kill of an idea.

Now, Mollie, if I were as good a Catholic as you are, this whole thing would have been easier. Eagle-eyed reader that you are, you are correct: that is not Saint John Vianney. I picked that photo– and that name– entirely at random from that website's truly exhaustive array of saintly dress-ups.

But I did one-up you on the obscure Saint Edward: Saint Edward the Martyr and Saint Edward the Confessor are actually- wait for it- TWO DIFFERENT SAINTS. Dazzle em all with that bit of knowledge at your next dinner party!

You're right about John the Baptist- that merits some cool accessories. I could send Seamus in barefoot, with a big tub of water, and have him dunk his classmates' heads.


Mollie November 10, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Whoa, that is something else. Here I was assuming there was only one sainted King Edward of England. Good heavens.

An actual St. John Vianney costume would be totally lamers. But the post-beheading John the Baptist could make a really good Halloween getup… And with just a few strategic cuts in the "baby jaguar" costume I know you own, you'd be all set with the "skin of wild beasts" outfit. However, before you make Seamus's choice, you should know that John the Evangelist often carries around a chalice with a snake in it. Conversation starter!


Alexa November 11, 2010 at 10:19 am

And the St Francis costume is half price! Great post.


Allergy Mum November 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Great work for a last minute costume and saint selection. Will have to remember using my son's name for a saint if something like this comes up with one of his teachers…. cause how many children really have favourite saints anyways…
Allergy Mum – http://allergymum.blogspot.com/


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