Beyond Belief

08 11 saint taurinusSometimes the person who writes down the details of a saint’s life gets a little bit carried away and comes up with a bunch of totally unbelievable but oddly specific events. This is the case with today’s saint, Taurinus. He was the first bishop of Évreux , which is in Normandy, France. He seems to have lived some time in the fourth and fifth century. When he wasn’t healing the sick and baptising his thousands of converts he kept himself pretty busy casting out devils and raising the dead.

When he arrived at Évreux he was met at the gates of the city by a demon who took three forms; a lion, a bear and a buffalo. These three creatures probably represent non-Christian religions. The demon was trying to frighten him away, but it didn’t work. Undeterred Taurinus began to preach. The demon was pretty upset and began to taunt a young woman in his congregation. He made her jump into a fire and she immediately died. Not a very good start. But Taurinus prayed over her body and not only did she come back to life, but wasn’t burnt at all.

The Saint’s next encounter was in the temple of Diana where he commanded Zabulon to make himself visible. Who Zabulon is, is not clear. A quick google search tells me that he is either a founder of one of the tribes of Israel or a company which specialises in the rental of furnished accommodation in the Jerusalem area. Neither of those sound quite right, so I’ll describe him instead. It appears that he was the demon who was living inside the statue of Diana. he was small, black as soot with a long beard. Also he had flames coming out of his mouth. Taurinus ordered him to break his own idols and he obeyed. Then an angel appeared, tied him up and carried him off. Taurinus then turned the temple into a church.

There are loads of other miracles attributed to the saint, mostly healings, but he also raised from the dead, a boy who fell over a cliff whilst hunting. Unfortunately, he miraculously died again eight days later. When Taurinus was threatened with a beating by a Roman Consul, god spoke to him from Heaven and the hands of his would-be tormentors withered away.

The saint died in church surrounded by a cloud of thick and smelly smoke, which is unusual. At his burial he sat up and spoke some words of comfort to his flock before falling back into his coffin. Then an angel appeared and told everyone to run away because the city was about to be attacked by enemies and everyone would soon forget where the saint was buried. It seems all this happened as predicted. But then one day it all became gloriously known by divine revelation and presumably someone wrote it all down.

According to my source for this story, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, in 1854 at least, the demon that was cast out of the temple of Diana was still at large in Évreux. He wasn’t sent to back to Hell because he had obeyed the saint and smashed his own idols. Instead he has to hang around the city watching as his former followers are converted to Christianity. Saint Taurinus is still there too, he’s inside that massive fancy gold box.

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