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Curious story of St. Expeditus

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CC BY-SA 3.0 File:Saint-expedit.JPG Uploaded by Poussin jean Created: July 24, 2007

St. Expeditus is dressed in the uniform and red cloak of a Roman soldier.  He holds a palm leaf in one hand, a symbol of peace, everlasting life, victory and martyrdom.  In the other he holds up a cross with the word ‘hodie,’ Latin for ‘today.’  Under his foot is a crow, coughing up the banner ‘cras,’ Latin for ‘tomorrow.’  His story begins with a young Roman soldier in Armenia traveling down a road, possibly to Melitene.  Suddenly struck with an epiphany, he decided that he would convert to Christianity.  A crow, the devil in disguise, flew up to meet him then and encouraged him to wait until tomorrow.  The soldier would not be delayed, however, and stamped on the crow, vowing to convert immediately even in the face of certain death (Wikipedia).  He was decapitated shortly thereafter by emperor Diocletian in 303 AD during Christian persecution. In another story he is a German soldier who longed to stop the war, which one is not known.  He laid down his helmet and shield, picked up the palm leaf, and cried out that the war must stop today!  (Louisiana Folklife)

There are equally as many tales of his remains as there are of his life.  At one point his body was retrieved from the catacombs and sent to a group of Parisian nuns who misread the rush shipping instructions on the box as the name of the saint (  Later, when his statue was sent to the St. Jude Shrine in New Orleans, it contained no identifying documentation and the people of the city assumed that the shipping instructions on the box must have been his name (

Expeditus has been petitioned to as the patron saint of emergencies, times of haste, and against procrastination long before the nuns in Paris and the church in New Orleans.  He is included in ancient lists of Christian martyrs, and appealed to for centuries, but the true origins of St. Expeditus are unclear.  The stories of shipping instructions that surround his name sound ludicrous and, though all disproved, point to a general doubt about the real life of the saint.  Additionally, his name was removed from the list of Catholic Venerated Saints in the 1960s after much debate about what action to take against his cult following (Path Less Traveled).  Yet, even as an unofficial saint, he inspires a large community of devotees and is called on by all sorts of communities in Brazil (WSJ: Jobless Brazilians Needing Fast Action Call on St. Expeditus), France, Sicily, and the U.S.: he was heartily adopted in New Orleans and is now invoked in hoodoo rituals to speed results (Demoniacal) and in Voudon where he is associated with the spirit of death (Crossroads University).   His followers know that when they ask him for help he will come through, and they thank him with declarations in the classifieds, offerings of cake, dedication of chapels, great feasts and celebrations, and even websites (

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