On “Shepherding” and Guess Where We Have Mailed Our Hand-Painted Saint Medals, Necklaces and Stories Since the Last Newsletter!
Try to guess the 3 of the more unusual places we mailed our medals this past week. The answer is at the end, near the bottom line; if you’d like to see, just scroll down now.
We are writing about Shepherding and the Good Shepherd, and also the Shepherdess, Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes, combined with the Shepherd adorned Pectoral Cross of Pope Francis and Saint Agnes holding a lamb. Oh, and Agnus Dei too! This is going to hopefully flow, believe it or not!
Yes, this is one of the chattier newsletters, just so you know…. If you don’t like to read, Go No Further! There’s no sale or special offer besides the one we are practicing with new orders and that is going really well (see testimonial from Peggy V. below) and we are going to continue with it for as long as we can.
Thanks so much for the beautiful and meaningful crosses you recently made for me! I ordered a repurposed cross and a flood cross for my friend “Jo” the social worker for her birthday! OMG! I have never seen anyone in such awe. She was speechless! She immediately knew it was a “cross” but when I explained the significance of it and she read about all the Saints you and Emily had chosen, she was so grateful and pleased. Then I told her about you and SaintsforSinners and I had the lagniappe in the box for her. She was ecstatic. It was then she told me that she wasn’t Catholic but had been following the Catholic religion for many years. Imagine that! She just got back from Medjegoria! Anyway she loves her Cross.
PS. The repurposed cross was perfect too! I kept it for myself! I was going to give it to a nurse friend but I’m a nurse too and decided to keep it! Beautiful!"
Greetings from New Orleans! The Deep South “endured” another Hurricane or Tropical Storm; this time named Cristobal. The weather people choosing storm name designation should get props for finding an unusual name. Thankfully, it was also a very unusual storm because it did not rain much, and the weather was very nice. Thanks, Cristobal! Bye, Cristobal! Next up: Dolly, Ed, Fay, Gonz and Hanna (Hanna is where the name Ann, Anne, Anna, came from, btw).
So, about this Good Shepherd. We sold one of the hand-painted medals of the Good Shepherd to a lady named Jenn M. who is a wonderfully thoughtful customer. We decided to make the newsletter because of her, in responses to some of her questions. Jenn M. asked us about the Good Shepherd. We wrote the story and now, we are writing more! Thanks, Jenn M.
The Good Shepherd &
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
The basic familiar story is about the flock of 100 sheep. It may or may not have been exactly one hundred though, tbh. (I wasn’t there but I seriously doubt it was exactly 100 sheep) The nice Shepherd man was looking after his flock of lambs and everything was just fine. Until it wasn’t. One sheep decided to go away, find trouble, get lost, or hide and then the Shepherd was like, “Now what do I do? I lost a sheep that was supposed to be under my control and care, i.e., “lamb sitting!”
The Good Shepherd (this is why he’s called the good Shepherd, I think) decided to leave his flock of “99” and go after the lost lamb. He found him and brought him back to the flock. It was not easy, but that is what the Shepherd did, which was very nice and courageous too. He could have lost 99 sheep!
The moral of the story being, “Go look after the one who is lost.” We all have lost people in our lives. The ‘troublemaker” of the family (I’ve been that guy), the mentally unstable and abusive neighbor, the alcoholics and drug addicts who lie because the addiction that has taken over their life, those friends who just can’t keep it together with a job or are simply too clingy and needy and downright annoying to be around. The message being, look after those folks more, not less. In theory, it’s a great principle. In reality, it is not easy to always keep giving someone a “pass” for their transgressions. Over and Over again must get Older and Older and then some. A lofty goal, to carefully and continually look after the troubled, especially when hearts are broken. I guess that’s why we are supposed to forgive 70 x 7 times. That’s a lot!
So the Good Shepherd Guide and ideal is well-worth considering, especially when you have “had enough.” Our Good Shepherd medal is curious. The Good Shepherd is on it with his flock, and we paint the lost sheep in among the 99 others, barely hidden but hidden a bit. You can see the lost sheep if you take a careful look.
Bernadette Soubirous, Saint Bernadette, was a Shepherd too. And the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, appeared to her but the rest of the story is odd, but in a good way. We’ve been to Lourdes, France, and went through the grotto and bathing cleansing ritual as well as the nighttime march with candles. Lourdes is beautiful and the statues are amazing. The statue of Saint Rocco, patron of dogs, dog lovers and invoked against viruses, stands there and Rocco has the dog at his feet, as our medal does too. If you look closely at Saint Rocco in Lourdes, though, will see the “Lourdes Saint Rocco” has a ball tucked away by his left pocket! One day we will figure out how to paint a ball on our Saint Rocco medal.
The confusing part of the story is the fact that little Saint Bernadette Soubirous is not in Lourdes, France. She stays in Nevers, France, which is very far away. And there is a beautiful Grotto there too. Saint Bernadette lies in wax under glass in Nevers. She is ageless and beautiful. We visited with her there and that was a serene, peaceful and surreal pilgrimage. It was miraculous that we found her, which is not surprising since she is known as a Miracle Worker and healer. Nevers is very, very noncommercial. Saint Bernadette – she was very petite, a word the French use that fits. So very beautiful, resting under her glass. If you’re ever near Nevers, France, pay a visit with Saint Bernadette. You will not regret it.
Another lamb we have is Agnus Dei, the “Lamb of God” medal. It’s not too easy to paint or maybe we have not quite figured out the perfect way to paint it yet. We wrote the story. We’ll keep trying. Some people like it but the design is one that we think we still have not quite perfected. One of the medals we think we have done very well is the Good Shepherd Pectoral Cross of Pope Francis.
Over the centuries, every other Pope has had bejeweled, ornamental crosses with gems and rubies, diamonds, and 24 Karat gold, intricately designed by famous artists. Pope Francis I chose a very simple, austere cross. It shows the Good Shepherd watching over his flock with the Holy Spirit above. Of course, when we paint his cross, one of the sheep on our medal stands out a bit, to represent the lost sheep from the Parable of the Lost Sheep.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis’ earlier name, before he became Pope Francis I) received that simple cross when he was named the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The medal was a gift from a friend. He has had it since the early 1990’s, if not earlier.
The cross was drawn by an Italian artist, Antonio Vedele. He gave the drawing to his student Guiseppe Albrizzi, who lived in Pavia, Italy, and Giuseppe eventually cast and made the medal. It was then sold in a religious articles shop in Rome, owned by Raniero Marcinelli. Pope Francis’ friend bought the medal there, for Bishop Bergoglio, long before he was Pope Francis I.
When all the smoke had cleared and Cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pope, in 2013, it was time for all the pomp and circumstance. The parties, the celebrations, dressing up, and all that jazz that is the Papal Coronation. Popes typically wear brilliant red for the big coronation ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square. And jewels, lots of jewels.
Pope Francis didn’t want to wear the splendid red. He wore white. He also left the bedazzled jewelry inside the Vatican. He wore the simple cross his friend gave him back when he was a Bishop, before he was Cardinal. That’s what he wanted to do. So, he did. Pope Francis wanted to represent as a Shepherd, looking after a flock, and especially a flock with the lost sheep, the poorest of the poor, and the people left out, marginalized, and alone.
When people first saw the Pope Francis Pectoral Good Shepherd silver cross, they were certain it was made of iron. It looked older and had dark spots in the filigree. It wasn’t iron. I’m not sure what metal the medal was, but the dark spots were from wear. The cross had been worn so much it had “wear and tear.” Pope Francis explained that the cross was darkened, because it represented the world and its wear, its suffering, the despair, and its toil and turmoil yet also hope, faith, and love.
One thing about the cross I read years ago seems to have disappeared from the telling and retelling of the story of the Shepherd’s Cross. From what I recall though, the actual creator of the cross, Giuseppe Albrizzi, did not even know the Pope was going to wear the cross he designed. Giuseppe was just eating breakfast and watching the Coronation of Pope Francis on TV. When he saw the Pope Francis I come out on his balcony, to address the thousands and thousands in Saint Peter’s Square, he saw the cross he made around his neck. “That’s my cross,” he exclaimed and we are sure, soon thereafter quickly added, “that’s really Antonio Vedele’s cross too, since he drew it, but I made it.”
The other hand-painted saint medal we have with a lamb on it is Saint Agnes of Rome. She is a patron of fiancés and Girl Scouts, and so, also the patron of those delicious Girl Scout Cookies. There is also a little folklore tidbit about Saint Agnes that’s seldom told. It may or may not be true. Idk.
If you know of someone who is looking for love or even contemplating love, Saint Agnes is available to help. On Saint Agnes’ Feast Day, January 21, and, sometimes repeated on January 28, (I do not know why Agnes has had two Feast Days, but it does give you two tries with her legend) if you fast all day long, and then eat an egg, (I guess hard boiled but sunny side up should work too) with salt on it, before you go to bed, you will dream of your love that night! I’m sure it works. I’m not sure if you will remember the dream. That’s the “catch.”
OK, it’s fair to say this newsletter should finish. (Hi to the 5 of you who made it down this far!)
Before we end, though, did you guess the 3 unusual places where we sent the medals this week? If you guessed:
New Zealand (Levin, Manawatu-Wanganui); and
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, you are correct!
That means we have sold our hand-painted saint medals and stories in 4 of the 7 Continents:
North America (Nearly Everywhere);
Asia (Tokyo, Japan);
Europe (Finland, Germany, Spain, Poland, UK);
But not all of the contiguous U S states yet. We’re still working on that! Do you know anyone in Montana?
Thanks for reading to the bottom line!
Tags: antonio vedele, bernadette soubirous, cardinal jorge bergoglio, france, giuseppe albrizi, good shepherd, lamb of god, lourdes, nevers, Our lady of lourdes, parable of the lost sheep, Pectoral Cross of Pope Francis, pope francis, raniero marcinelli, rob clemenz, saint agnes, saint agnus dei, saint bernadette, saint peter's square, saint Rocco, saintsforsinners