May 14: confirmation names

I hear one of my nieces was confirmed last week, confirmed in the Catholic church I mean. Apparently, she chose the confirmation name Matilda, after St Matilda, who is a new one on me. Must look her up. Normally female saints in particular are only known by the specifics of their lurid martyrdom: stretched out on a wheel; hanged, drawn or quartered or all three; drowned in a river; crucified upside-down, rightside-up, inside-out or back-to-front; dumped in a cauldron of scalding oil. Dark age persecutors were out doing each other on a daily basis to do the female Christian to death with an ever more novel twist.

My confirmation name was John. As in John the Baptist. We had to know the story of our saint and be able to tell it to the Parish priest. Mine was easy and fun. He had his head chopped off. Looking back now, he was a pretty good one for me. The messenger of the Lord. Always seen myself as a kind of Hermes. Also a wild man, they say about John the Baptist. That suits me less. That would be my brother, rather. Though I think he was a Francis, who is the Dr Doolittle saint. That probably suited him too.

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