Finding a Shorter Line

I read an older blogpost the other day that has stuck in my mind since then. At the beginning, the author mentions a priest who likes to pray to St. Polycarp because he figures that the line for intercession is a bit shorter there. Now obviously that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s still something of an attractive idea to me. I’ve always preferred to look for more obscure figures, writers, saints, etc.

Beowulf is too mainstream. I prefer Cynewulf.

It’s staggering to think that there are writers and thinkers that have lived and were incredibly influential in their day and perhaps for hundreds of years and are now all but forgotten. Like Cynewulf (an Anglo-saxon poet living between the 8th and 10th centuries.) But I’m even more interested in the fact that there is this vast cloud of witnesses that has been affirmed by the Church as being glorified; more than we even know about. That’s pretty amazing. We could possibly ask for a different saint’s intercession every day and not run out of saints.

Many people are drawn to specific well-known saints and pick them as their special intercessors. And that’s okay because I doubt it works according to the “line” theory humourously postulated on the blogpost. I also have a great love for many of the well-known saints. John Chrysostom, Macarius the Great, Moses the Black, John Climacus… the list could go on.

But in the interests of obscurity, I’d like to mention one saint in particular. He’s rather recent actually. Saint Alexander Schmorell.

Saint Alexander Schmorell grew up in Russia and eventually fled from the Bolsheviks during the revolution. He and his family settled in Munich where he studied medicine (hence the Red Cross band in the ikon.) Saint Alexander Schmorell was drafted into the German army but almost had a breakdown because he refused to swear loyalty to Adolf Hitler and asked to be released from service. Remarkably he suffered no repercussions although he was also not released from service (you can see hints of his uniform in the ikon.)

In 1942 the White Rose formed as a protest against Nazism in Germany. Saint Alexander Schmorell was one of the founding members (hence why he is holding a white rose in the ikon.) Hans Scholl was another founding member, and later his sister Sophie Scholl joined too. Both were devout Catholics. They undertook a non-violent effort to resist Nazism, printing leaflets encouraging the German people to join in resistance.  Unfortunately members of the White Rose were caught distributing these leaflets and Saint Alexander Schmorell was among those later rounded up. He was murdered by guillotine on July 13th, 1943. Saint Alexander Schmorell was glorified as a New Martyr by ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) on February 5th, 2012.

Orthodoxwiki article on Saint Alexander Schmorell

Wikipedia article on White Rose

Pray for us Saint Alexander Schmorell that we may follow your example of peace in the face of national and racial hatreds that are sadly still present with us today.


~ by crossingthebosporus on August 8, 2012.

2 Responses to “Finding a Shorter Line”

  1. An inspiring example for our times – about whom I knew nothing, so thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. hey, thats me! I’m flattered.

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