Today is the Commemoration of that great and holy man, S. Benedict the African.
Benedict was born into slavery near Palermo in around 1526, the son of Christopher and Diana Manasseri, who had been brought as slaves from Africa (possibly Ethiopia) to Sicily. When he was 18, he and his parents were granted their freedom (apparently in reward for their faithful and good service, though it’s more likely they bought themselves out of slavery). Benedict continued to do manual work on the estate for minimal wages, eventually saving enough to buy a pair of oxen. Despite his ‘free’ status, Benedict was still the subject of much prejudice and insult because of his ethnicity.
In his early twenties, Benedict joined a group of Franciscan hermits in Montepellegrino. He became noted for his quiet patience and humility, and eventually became the leader of the group. Later, the whole community moved to the Franciscan friary in Palermo, where Benedict was made a lay brother and set to work in the kitchen. Despite his low status and illiteracy, he was elected Novice Master of the community, a position which he accepted with some reluctance. After his term of office was completed, he returned happily to the friary kitchen, and worked there for the rest of his life.
Benedict was known as a prayerful and humble man, with a deep intuition for theology. He was sought out by many people for his wise advice, and was known as a healer of the sick. He died aged 63, and his body was found to be incorrupt some years later. He is the Patron Saint of all African and African-Carribean people.
The Vicar is meditating on this prayerful and holy Saint by concentrating on the words “African” and “kitchen.” Clearly she is not quite so dying as she was yesterday, as she is hankering over a large plate of jollof rice, dodo and moi-moi.
Yes, we know that you can get all this on every street corner. However, we think the Vicar may be delirious, as she is now claiming that African food is strangely unobtainable in Gosport.
Several people have suggested to us that she might have been feverish yesterday too, as she was talking rubbish and repeating herself. Frankly we didn’t notice much of a difference from normal.