Of Highlander, Pig Brains, and Easter: St. Beuno of Wales


Recall Highlander (1986)? It is about a race of immortals who rattle about the centuries attempting to wipe every other out. “In the finish,” declaims one particular of them (played by the immortal Sean Connery), “there can be only one particular.” Plus there’s this: The only way to kill one particular of these guys is to lop off his head. And when I say lop, I imply lop – with a 3-foot broadsword that appears like it weighs far more than my Camry.

It is a enjoyable film – actually! – but do not take my word for it. “People hate Highlander due to the fact it is cheesy, bombastic, and absurd,” acknowledges the micro-evaluation on Rotten Tomatoes. “And individuals really like it for the very same motives.” Essentially, I loved it as a teen due to the fact, nicely, it was about a bunch of hard hombres chasing every other about the planet. Forever. With Medieval swords. What’s not to really like?

And now, excellent news! On the off possibility the Highlander species of perpetual peripatetics may well essentially exist, there’s late word that not even decapitation have to have hold them back. It appears that researchers at Yale obtained a bunch of pig heads from a slaughterhouse and perfused their brains with a unique hemoglobin-wealthy fluid. The outcome? Detectable brain activity, even hours right after the heads had been severed from their respective bodies.

Now, accurate, it wasn’t the type of activity that you’d associate with cognition or awareness, but it was nevertheless actual, measurable cellular commotion in grey matter lengthy deemed defunct – or at least theoretically defunct. I imply, what else could it be right after an substantial detachment, in each time and space, from any blood-pumping heart or other crucial organs? “Assuming normally that this operate is replicated,” commented Hank Greely of the International Neuroethics Society, “I feel it is going to force us to feel tougher about how we declare somebody dead or not.”

Appropriate – mortals and immortals alike.

Anyway, it is funny that the pig brain story was hitting my newsfeed just as Holy Week was acquiring underway due to the fact Easter this year occurs to coincide with saint’s day that has beheading and resuscitation overtones. Nowadays is the feast of St. Beuno, a holy monk who is stated to have evangelized considerably of northern Wales in the 7th century. A benefactor set Beuno up with a tract of land in Gwynedd exactly where the saint founded a monastic neighborhood, and exactly where he served as abbot till his death on April 21, 640. The monastery is gone now, but the chapel exactly where he was buried remains intact.

The story goes that Beuno’s personal niece, St. Winifred, was intent on a life of religion herself in imitation of her pious kinsman. However, the comely Winifred had attracted the focus of Prince Caradog, an ardent suitor. When she rebuffed him, the prince flew into a violent rage, reduce off her head, and fled. The spot exactly where Winifred’s head landed came alive with a gushing spring – the famed Holywell which became recognized for its healing properties and which acquired a reputation as the “Lourdes of Wales.”

Finish of story? Hardly. Like the Yale researchers, Beuno was not to be outdone by a mere beheading. When the Abbot heard of his niece’s demise, he interrupted the Mass he’d been celebrating, hurried to place Winifred back with each other, prime to bottom, and then resumed the liturgy, supplying impassioned prayers for the young woman’s healing. Confident sufficient, Winifred revived, “as if awakening from a deep slumber,” according to the legend, and she “rose up with no sign of the severance of the head except a thin white circle round her neck.”

Ah, a thin white circle about her neck – a scar, as it had been, right after a miraculous healing. Couldn’t God have achieved that healing via Beuno’s prayers with no leaving a scar? Of course, but he didn’t. No doubt, Winifred was conscious of that scar the rest of her life, and it just may possibly have played a aspect in her becoming the fantastic saint that she did – a person remembered for possessing “lived in just about perpetual ecstasy and to have had familiar converse with God.” Possibly every single time she felt it – every single time she saw it when she was gazing into the waters of Holywell – she was prompted to new heights of gratitude and surrender to the Lord.

And that is what lends a particular verisimilitude to Winifred’s tale regardless of its preposterous premise, for God has a tendency to leave scars behind for our personal excellent.

Nowadays we’re all celebrating the Resurrection, but subsequent Sunday, we’ll hear St. Thomas cast doubt on the Easter outrage: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and place my finger into the nailmarks and place my hand into his side, I will not think.”

The Lord was satisfied to oblige: “Then he stated to Thomas, ‘Put your finger right here and see my hands, and bring your hand and place it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but think.’”

This Easter season, take into account acquiring reacquainted with your personal lingering scars that the Lord has noticed match to leave with you – he must’ve had a explanation. And then, in the spirit of St. Winifred, probably use them as launching pads for ever grander gestures of fidelity and really like. Might every single scar we retain and associate with our resurrections lead us to say with St. Thomas – via our words and our deeds – “My Lord and my God!”


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