After Friday's post
I decided to do a little research on Saint Ursula. There's a Wikipedia
entry and many other sites. One thing is pretty certain, most of the Ursula story is legend. Here's one short biography from Catholic Saints
The story and history of Saint Ursula. The legend of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins has been greatly modified in modern times. It is suggested that instead of ten companions, each with a retinue of a thousand virgins, she had but one companion, named Undecimilla, and that this name was originally mistaken for undecim millia, or 11,000. Whatever may have been the real facts, it is certain that the church dedicated to St. Ursula at Cologne contains more tombs of virgins than can properly be accommodated. The revenues of this church, which are considerable, belong to an abbess and six canonesses, who, to do honour to the saint must all be countesses. The Legend of Saint Ursula is considered to be fiction and in 1969 Pope Paul VI removed her name from the 1969 revision of the the universal calendar of the Catholic canon of saints.
Here's my take on it:
The STORY of Saint Ursula
Ursula, martyred by the Huns, was
massacred along with eleven thousand
virgins. Eleven thousand! Imagine
these thousands of handmaidens screaming,
pleading, praying, hoping to catch the ear of God.
Imagine the Huns. Burly men, hour after hour
lifting axes, slamming them down, cleaving
bone and sinew. Blood spurting, splashing.
Up to their knees in it, yet, powered by evil,
they remained able to complete the vile deed.
It does not have the ring of truth like the
report of an eleven-year-old girl, murdered.
But, where is the STORY in truth? Hmm...eleven?
What if we say Ursula and eleven others?
Better yet, eleven thousand! Make them virgins!
One innocent child murdered? Sad, but
it happens every day. Virgins decapitated by
ruthless barbarians? Sex and gore magnified!
Throw in God and you've got the medieval
equivalent of the Hollywood blockbuster.
Ursula, baby, it's all about STORY.
© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved
Vittore Carpaccio created an entire sequence of the "Life of Saint Ursula" paintings. You can find them here