Saturday was Feast Day. Part of it was that our friends Tom and Durlene invited us to dinner at their home-away-from-home beach condo where they treated us to a delicious steak dinner. It wasn't just any steak; it was beef straight from Missouri complete with all the trimmings. Yum! Red meat is pretty rare at our house these days so having a plate full of it made for a feast indeed. The meal was punctuated by the laughter of good friends and the soft sounds of gentle waves drifting in the open door. It was bittersweet though; Tom and Durlene will be heading north in just a few days.
That wasn't the only facet to the day, however. It was January 26, the Feast Day for St. Balthild, my 45th great-grandmother. Well, under the Roman martyrology her Feast Day is January 26; originally it was January 30, the date of her death. St. Balthild is one of eight saints I've discovered in my tree...an unexpected but pleasant surprise. The others are St. Arnulf of Metz, St. Begga of Landen, St. Matilda of Ringelheim, St. Clothilde of Burgundy, St. Itta of Metz, St. Dode of Pierre de Reims, and St. Gondolfus of Tongres. Sometimes the names are different than the Wikipedia entry since I've used those found in my genealogy sources.
It still fascinates me that so much is known about these people who lived so many years ago but thanks to a series of books by Alban Butler I know a good bit about them. I know, for instances, that Balthild was English and was carried to France and sold as a slave at a very young age. Erkenwald (otherwise known as Erchinoald) and Archimbald, mayor of the palace to King Clovis II. As she grew older, Clovis was so impressed with her prudence and virtue that he entrusted her with the care of his household. Butler says: "She was no ways puffed up, but seemed the more modest, more submissive to her fellow-slaves, and always ready to serve the meanest of them in the lowest offices." In no ways puffed up...I love that!
She went on to marry King Clovis and bear him three sons. The oldest was only five when Clovis died in 655 so Balthild ruled until he became of age. She restored monasteries, founded nunneries, erected hospitals and forbade the taking of Christians as slaves. Once her sons were in power, she took the veil and spent the rest of her life tending to the sick and devoting herself to prayer.
The stories of many of the others are equally interesting. Who would have thought my ancestors would be saints? Certainly not me. I see plenty of feasts in our future...but they can't all have red meat.