GARLINGTON: The Brighter Side Of Louisiana History

Louisiana has justly earned herself a reputation as a haven for corruption of many kinds – pirates, gangsters, political crooks, lottery scams.  Who doesn’t know at least one of our famous criminals – Pierre and Jean Laffite, Bonnie and Clyde, Leander Perez, Edwin Edwards, etc.?

There are virtuous figures in the past also, Iberville and Bienville, Valcour Aime, Francis Nicholls, and so forth, but by themselves they are not quite enough to scour out the grit and the grime left behind by the others in the pores and crevices of our collective societal body.

What can cleanse all this away?  We need more virtue, more holiness.  And we will find that precisely in the holy men and women of our deep Christian past, those who are called by the name of saints.

That word is misunderstood nowadays, meaning for some simply a self-centered spiritual narcissist who shuns other people and stands aloof from the world.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Christian saints are those who have such love for God that they begin to partake of His nature, as the Apostle Peter describes in II Peter 1:4.  This means that His love overflows from them to their neighbors, to absolute strangers, to animals, to plants, to all the creation.  For the salvation and good of all people and all creatures they are constantly praying, constantly weeping, constantly prostrating to the ground.  Being so closely united to Christ, being so full of the love of the All-Holy Trinity, they are able to work the astonishing miracles that we read about in their lives.

For us in Louisiana, we are blessed with myriads of saints in our past.  The lands of our forefathers were teeming with them:  saints from England like Hilda and Oswald; saints from Ireland and Scotland like Patrick and Columba; saints from Africa like Anthony and Pimen; and so forth; and, what is most relevant at this time of year, saints from France.


November 11th is the feast day of the great St. Martin of Tours, Patron Saint of France and a powerful intercessor also for her offspring of Louisiana, beloved of the French, beloved of peoples across the West, beloved of the French immigrants who settled in the Acadiana region of Louisiana, who named a parish, a city, and a grand, spacious church in honor of him.  He is one of the greatest Christian saints of his age (the latter half of the 4th century), a man who served for a time in the Roman army, became a Christian and a monk, founded monasteries, converted heathens, vanquished demons, influenced rulers, served as a bishop and an abbot, and worked countless miracles.  In honor of St. Martin, Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church (2011 Forsythe Ave., Monroe, La.) will be holding our annual St. Martin’s Day Festival on Saturday, 4 November, from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Much information about St. Martin and his time will be on hand, but not only this.  Several other French saints (for instance, some of those from the famous region of Normandy), and other saints related to Louisiana (like those some of our parishes are named after), will also have their lives presented to the public.  Attendance is free, and most of the printed material can be taken home free of charge.  And in keeping with the joyful spirit of celebrating the saints of France, there will also be some French and Cajun music and food for folks to enjoy.

We invite all to the Festival, but especially Louisianans, so that as a people we might become reacquainted with our saints.  Closeness to them brings great benefits, for they are not simply ‘dead people,’ names in a dusty history book.  No, they are very much alive before God, and they will gladly come to our aid if we ask them to, just as they have numerous times for our forefathers.  And as they do so, perhaps, God willing, Louisiana will begin a new chapter in her history, an era not dominated by corruption, crime, and vice, but rather by the beauty of holiness.




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