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Christian People / Saints
"Not all saints were born holy -- some of them led shockingly dissolute lives before (and sometimes after) finding God. Test your knowledge of these men and women who tested the powers of forgiveness."
15 Points Per Correct Answer - No time limit
This man is one of the most famous sainted sinners of all time, a masterful theologian from northern Africa. Despite the prayers of his Christian mother, St. Monica, this young man loved wine, women and song, and followed Manichean ideas of an evenly matched battle between good and evil. In his late twenties, however, he turned to Christianity and spent the rest of his life developing ideas from original sin to just warfare. Who was this saint and Doctor of the Church?
Sin was a controversial topic when St. Callixtus was elected pope in 217. At the time, standard Christian practice was to postpone baptism as late as possible -- because baptism washed away all prior sins, but mortal sins committed after baptism might cut one off from God and the Church. St. Callixtus took a more merciful view, having lived a life of sin himself. Which of these terrible crimes did he commit?
He embezzled money from a bank that served Christian widows.
To protect himself, he denounced other Christians to the Roman authorities.
He murdered a baker in a dispute over money.
He kidnapped a small child and held it for ransom.
St. Vladimir (c. 956-1015) is famous for converting the Rus to Christianity, but many of this Kievan grand prince's most memorable deeds are more properly infamous than famous. Which of these sins is he NOT alleged to have committed?
The murder of his brother Yaropolk in a struggle for the throne
The heresy of identifying the Slavic god Perun with the God of Abraham
The human sacrifice of one of his warriors (and the warrior's child) to appease the gods
The rape of a princess, Ragnhild, who had refused to marry him
St. Mary of Egypt (circa 344 - 421) ran away to the big city of Alexandria at the age of 12, entranced by the prospect of a life of fun and sin. "I did free of charge what gave me pleasure," she told St. Zosimas, whom she met at the end of her life, "and ... there is no mentionable or unmentionable depravity" she could not lay claim to. But this life ended in Jerusalem, where she experienced a miracle that turned her life around. What was it?
An angel with a flaming sword saved her from armed bandits.
Orphans eating on the steps of a church had more bread at the end of their meal than at the beginning.
Her sister, hovering near death, was mysteriously cured after speaking with a priest.
An invisible force barred her from entering a church until she had repented.
St. Dismas is the name tradition gives to a man who was a sinner and a criminal his entire life, repenting only on his last day on Earth. Nevertheless, he was blessed with a personal guarantee of salvation from the dying Jesus Christ. According to the Gospels, for what crime was St. Dismas executed by the Romans?
St. Pelagia, a 5th-century dancer and seductress, was so precious to the Devil that he is said to have visited her the night after she repented and was baptized. "What evil have I ever done to you?" he asked. "Tell me how I have offended, and I will give you whatever you want." According to this story (related by James the Deacon), why did the devil want St. Pelagia's soul so badly?
He feared that he would become a laughingstock if she went to God.
He did not know how he would get anyone else's souls without St. Pelagia leading them to sin.
He could not afford to lose his wager with St. Peter.
The demons of Hell particularly enjoyed St. Pelagia's performances, and threatened to riot if they were not able to attend.
As a young boy, St. Ignatius of Loyola fell prey to an underappreciated deadly sin: pride. Desperate to achieve personal glory and honor, he pursued first gambling, then duelling and women. At 26, he joined in the defense of Pamplona -- and was seriously injured after he ignored orders to surrender. The episode left him not with glory but with gravely injured legs, and in his slow recovery he discovered God. What religious order did he go on to found?
The Society of Jesus
The Congregation of Holy Cross
The Dominican Order
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Many sainted sinners seemed to go directly from from the depths of vice to the heights of virtue, with nary a look back. St. Moses the Ethiopian followed a more nuanced path. After he gave up banditry, sex, and violence to follow God, he struggled for the rest of his life to truly leave behind his sins. Where did St. Moses live and struggle after converting to Christianity?
In a cathedral close in Alexandria, Egypt
In an isolated cell in the Nitrian Desert
Atop a pillar in the Nile Valley
In a monastery at Scetes, in Egypt
When Christ Himself calls you a sinner, there's not much you can say to object. This apostle and Gospel writer was collecting taxes and generally fleecing the public when Jesus called him to his flock -- prompting one of the Pharisees' first criticisms of him. Who is this evangelist, also known as Levi?
The Vikings spent centuries terrorizing much of Europe, raiding villages and massacring monks -- not exactly the stuff of sainthood! Yet St. Olaf (995-1030) was a Viking himself, and an enthusiastic one at that. Nor did he allow his teenage conversion to Christianity to inhibit his lifestyle, although it did redirect him somewhat. On seizing power in Norway, what means did he use to Christianize the country?
Reason: He sent learned priests to all corners of his realm to persuade the people in the truth of Christianity.
Greed: He offered households a handsome sum for proof of conversion to Christianity.
Strength: He challenged leaders of the old religious order to single combat, and attributed his victories to the Christian God.
Terror: He executed, blinded or otherwise mutilated those who refused to convert.
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Compiled Jun 28 12