Today the church remembers an unusual 13th Century Saint of the church, Saint Juniper, Fool and Friend.
Juniper was a companion of St. Francis of Assisi, but may have been even more extreme than him when it came to eccentricities. Juniper was known as a “fool for Christ,” and, like your aunt with an unending purse in church, was known for continually giving away all of his possessions and living in such a publicly exuberant way that he was constantly in trouble with authorities.
Eventually his monastic superiors ordered him to no longer give away his outer robe to beggars, which he had a habit of doing. Moments after the directive, he encountered a beggar and is supposed to have said, “I have been told not to give you my clothing, but if you decide to take it off of my back, I will not put up a fight.”
Juniper is a winsome saint who reminds the church, and all of us, that everything we have is always on loan, and in living that way we learn to better enjoy not only what we have, but also the moment we give it away.
-icon written by Brenda Nippert (https://pixels.com/featured/st-junipero-serra-brenda-nippert.html)
The icon represents Junipero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan who founded a number of missions in California, not the 13th century Saint Juniper. They are distinctly different historical figures, and Serra is controversial for his treatment of indigenous peoples in California.
This is good to know, Carol! Thank you for that note.
I will amend for future commemorations. Really grateful you caught that. As you can imagine, St. Juniper (the 13th Century one) is not widely represented in iconography, so finding a suitable one for him didn’t prove easy.