“Hey, February’s more than half over, so shouldn’t we have had part two of the feast calendar by now?” asks a thoughtful but misguided* reader. I suppose so, dear reader, I suppose so. But when you see what boring saints February has left, you probably won’t be so keen on prodding me into posting.
February 16 is the Feast of St Juliana, another virginal casualty of the Diocletian persecutions. Stop me if you’ve heard this one already: beautiful chaste Christian girl is betrothed to a Roman pagan, refuses to marry him, and his beheaded for her trouble. Same old same old. Later legends claim that Beezelbub sent one of his sons to seduce her while she was imprisoned awaiting execution, but she managed to hold him spellbound with the power of her disputation. This is why she’s often depicted leading a demon by a chain–but not by the artist of this calendar, oh no, that’d be too interesting. So instead she holds a Bible, presumably because Bibles are easier to draw.
February 22 marks the Feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter. Before you go proofreading me in the comments thread, I spelled that correctly. It’s not the feast of the cathedral of St. Peter, but rather of his cathedra, or in English, his chair. That’s right, the medieval Catholics had a feast to honor the chair that Peter sat on. In fact, February 22 is the second feast on the liturgical calendar dedicated to a piece of furniture that Peter sat on–January 18 celebrates the chair of St. Peter kept in Rome, while the later feast is devoted to his chair in Antioch.**
February 24, or February 25 in leap years*** is reserved for St. Matthias, the apostle who the remaining eleven brought in to replace Judas after the crucifixion. Matthias either died an old man or was stoned to death and beheaded by the Jews. You decide. (Hooray for alternate legends!)
February 28 sees the Feast of St. Oswald of Worcester, not to be confused with August’s St. Oswald of Northumbria. He’s famous for building and refurbishing monasteries and died while washing the feet of the poor, as was his wont.
So there you go: a generic virgin, a chair, a second-string apostle, and a foot washer–that’s what you’ve got left for the remainder of February. Let’s hope something better’s waiting in March.
*As if anything here were ever on time.
**Modern Catholics might take offense at the hint of disdain in my description here, so I should add that, to their credit, the Catholics have dropped the first feast from their celebrations. Since the 1960’s, there’s only been one holy day for Peter’s furniture.
***As his feast is fixed to the fifth day before the Calends of March.