Lesser Known Saints

Innocent of Alaska (26 August 1797 – 31 March 1879, O.S  or 6 September 1797- 12 April 1879)
Innocent is an interesting saint since he is an Orthodox saint. He was born Ivan Evseyevich Popov, his father died when he was six and by ten Ivan began his studies at Irkutsk Theological Seminary. By the time he was 20 he became a deacon and got married. Shortly after this he finished his studies and became a priest. In 1823 Ivan set off with his aging mother, wife and sons to Unalaska Island in Alaska. They finally arrived a year later and he began ministering to all the Christians on Unalaska and other neighboring islands. Ivan was wonderful he quickly learned six dialects of the Aluet language. In 1838 he went to St. Petersburg to report on the mission and ask for an expansion Russian America. While Ivan was in St. Petersburg he received news that his wife had died back in Alaska. Church officials suggested Ivan become a monk and in 1840 he was tonsured and became a monk taking the name Innocent. Over the next 25 or so years he returned to Alaska and ministered to them eventually being named Archbishop and Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. This ended when he became the Metropolitan of Moscow in 1867, as Metropolitan Innocent revised church texts that had errors, worked hard raising money to improve the living conditions of poor priests, and established a retirement home for clergy.

Gwynllyw Milwr or Gwynllyw Farfog known as Woolos the Warrior or Woolos the Bearded and his wife Gwladys ferch Brychan  (d. c. 500-523)
Gwunllyw and Gwladys if you can;t guess from the names are welsh saints. According to legend Gwunllyw wanted to marry Gwladys the daughter of King Braychan, but he refused so Gwunllyw and his abducted her and a battle erupts between these two kings. The battle only stopped through the intervention of King Arthur, Kay and Bedivere who supported Gwynllyw in the battle. This is the first saint to have Arthur appear in a Saint’s life, although this seems to just be just a fantastical addition to the story as in another source we do not see Arthur appearing. Gwladys has a child Cadoc and they both convince Gwynllyw to abandon his life of violence and atone for his sins. Gwynllyw and Gwladys, both retreated from the world  and formed hermitages. Gwynllyw’s hermitage is kind of still around today, his building is gone but  over the year Gwynllyw’s shrine grew into a stone structure, and this stone structure eventually became the Newport Cathedral or St. Woolos in Stow Hill.

Francis of Paola, OM or Francis the Fire Handler  (27 March 1416 – 2  April 1507)
Francis is a pretty cool saint and it seems like he was basically born to be one. His parents were having difficulties having children and they prayed to Francis of Assisi for help and they named their first born after St. Francis. Then when Francis was little he suffered from swelling in one of his eyes which might cause trouble with his sight, so his parent again prayed to Francis of Assisi for help and they vowed that their son would become a Franciscan for a year if he made it through this ordeal. Francis was cured on the spot and at 13 he joined a friary. After a year he and his parents went on a pilgrimage around Italy hitting Assisi and Rome among other places when they returned home Francis found a secluded cave and became a hermit spending six year there. In 1434 two people joined him and a new community was formed the Poor Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi, the name would eventually become the Order of Minims. They are kind of sort of like a branch of the Franciscians  but  they observe a fourth vow which is living a Lenten way of life (abstaining from meat and other animal products) and are hermits who do not wear shoes. There are many stories about Francis showing his compassion the animals in one of them Francis had a pet lamb, Martinello, who had been eaten by workmen. Francis came toward them looking for his lamb and the workers told him that they had ate the lamb and the bones and fleece had been thrown into the fire. So Francis looked into the fire and called ‘Martinello, come out!’ the lamb came out, completely unharmed, bleating happily at seeing Francis. Francis is unique among the saints as he is the founder of an order who never ordained a priest, and he was an incorruptible Saint.

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