Friday, September 18, 2020

Week 4 Story: The Wolf of Saint Francis


The Wolf of Saint Francis

Saint Francis was a devout follower of the Lord, and was greatly kind to all of those he came across, be they a mere insect or a powerful king. And in turn, all of those he came across were kind to him as well, regardless of their typical temperament.

One day, Saint Francis arrived in the town of Gubbio, and upon talking to some of the townsfolk, he came to learn of a massive and terrifying wolf that had escalated from not only dragging off livestock, but even men were dragged off in the dead of night and feasted upon by the horrible creature. Thus, the townsfolk all barricaded themselves inside at night, for fear of being caught by the beast in the darkness.

Saint Francis was not one to allow people to suffer, and so he told the townsfolk that he would deal with the wolf that had been plaguing their town. They pleaded and begged him not to go, for they cared much for him, and knew that if he were to seek out the beast, he would never return to them. Yet, Saint Francis set out anyway in search of the great wolf.

Saint Francis drew close to the woods beyond the town, yet before he could even enter the forest, the massive wolf came charging out from between the trees, his mouth wide open so as to swallow Saint Francis whole. 

Yet, Saint Francis was not afraid. He did not flee, instead standing where he was, and he he made the sign of the cross and called out to the wolf "Stop". 

And stop it did. The wolf halted its charge and stared down at him. 

"Brother Wolf," Saint Francis said. "I bid you to cease hostilities against myself or any other people of this town, and so too their livestock."

The wolf laid down upon the ground and cast its eyes to the ground.

"Ordinarily, you would be put to death for your vile acts of murder and thievery," Saint Francis said. "But, that is not to be your fate. Instead, you will come with me to the town, and you will work to repent for your sins for the rest of your life."

The wolf raised its head and began to wag its tail.

Saint Francis turned his back on the wolf and walked back toward the town, and the wolf dutifully followed behind him.

The townsfolk were struck with awe and fear when Saint Francis brought the wolf into the town.

However, Saint Francis quickly worked to assuage their fears. "Fear not this wolf," he said. "He will harm you no longer, and will instead spend the rest of his life among you in peace, in order to show his repentance for his sins."

The people took Saint Francis at his word, and allowed the great wolf to live among them. The wolf played with the children and assisted the townspeople with moving things when it could. And whenever unsavory bandits and brigands attempted to accost the people of the town the great wolf was there to scare them off.

When the wolf eventually passed on from the world, the people were sorrowful, since aside from their personal sorrow over the passing of the great wolf who had once plagued them, they knew that Saint Francis would be afflicted with greater sorrow over the loss of one he had made his friend.

Author's Note

So the story I adapted was the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. The original story chronicled many things that Saint Francis did, but I particularly enjoyed the story of him taming the fearsome wolf, and so I decided to adapt that particular story instead of adapting the entire thing.

I kept largely true to the original in terms of overall plot points, but I obviously made my own minor changes as well as telling the story in my own words.


Story Source: Saint Francis of Assisi by Abbie Farwell Brown (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

Image Source: Image of a wolf by skeeze, sourced from Pixabay

Reading Notes: Saints & Animals Part B


Image of a wolf by skeeze, sourced from Pixabay

A few of the stories in Part B caught my eye.

The first of which was the story of The Wolf-Mother of Saint Ailbe. I found the concept of a Saint originally raised by wolves and having been completely feral to be quite interesting. I enjoyed the little detail about him wishing to be back among the wolves instead of having to entertain court. Overall though, the story's ending was my favorite part about it, with him bringing the Wolf-Mother under his cloak and protecting her from the hunting party that chased her. 

The Ballad of Saint Athracta's Stags was quite interesting in format, but the story itself was also nice to read. The stags coming to her call was a very nice image, since stags are such regal and stunning creatures, and I did like that the king in the story even acknowledged this. Her using a few strands of hair to reattach the wagon was a fun little detail too.

The story of Saint Francis of Assisi was quite long, and contained a lot of smaller stories, many of which kind of blended together, but one story in particular stood out from the rest. Which was the story of the evil wolf that Saint Francis tamed. That sub-story was really interesting, and I quite liked it. It truly showed the power of Saint Francis, to turn such a evil wolf into a creature almost as docile as a sheep.

Out of all the stories in Part B, I think I would focus in on just the story of the wolf from the story of Saint Francis. I feel it has a lot of potential as a standalone story.

Story Sources:

The Wolf-Mother of Saint Ailbe by Abbie Farwell Brown (Part 1) (Part 2)

The Ballad of Saint Athracta's Stags by Abbie Farwell Brown (Single Part)

Saint Francis of Assisi by Abbie Farwell Brown (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Reading Notes: Saints & Animals, Part A

Photo of American Robin

Of all of the stories in Part A, I found the story of Saint Kentigern and the Robin to be the most interesting. I also believe it has some unique story potential for me, given two particular scenes within it.

The first of which is the revitalization of the cold and dead hearth by Kentigern, which I think would be a great opportunity to make use of strong imagery, and I could also potentially alter the method in which he does so to make it more mystical, rather than seeming to be of sheer luck that Kentigern was able to reignite the hearth.

The other is the cruel decapitation of the robin and Kentigern's subsequent resurrection of the poor bird. Scenes such as those open themselves well to vivid imagery, and the resurrection would be a good place to add another dose of mysticism to the story.

I could also potentially add some more mystical elements that would come into play in order to help foil the attempts of the other boys to bring down Kentigern, to help tie the entire thing together more thoroughly with the mystical twist on the story.

Additionally, I may lean further into the ending in which the robin gains a special attachment to Kentigern, and potentially bring in some sort of mystical element to it to bring it back in with the rest.

Story Source: Saint Kentigern and the Robin by Abbie Farwell Brown (Part 1) (Part 2)

Monday, September 14, 2020

Project Topic Research: Black Dog Guardians

For my project, I'm thinking to narrow in on some mythological black dogs from English folklore that I find particularly interesting. 

The first of these is the generalized "Black Dog", which I found out has a story about a "Guardian Black Dog", and I found the concept of that really cool and interesting. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to get access to that story, I can't find it anywhere available online. It appears the story can be found inside the book British Folk Tales and Legends - A Sampler, by Katharine M. Briggs, but I could find no other sources of it, and can't find a way to access the book electronically. 

However, I think it might be possible to find a similar story plot elsewhere, and then adapt it. I feel certain I've heard of other stories where the presence of a spirit, creature or individual warded off those who would have otherwise attacked the character of the story, which most often occurs without the character's knowing, and they tend to find out later.

I would also like to write a story about a "Church Grim", which is a black dog spirit that guards a church and/or graveyard. The typical idea behind it is that a black dog is buried first to serve as the "grave watch" to protect the graveyard from all kinds of creatures and individuals of ill intent.

I think the most fitting type of story to do with a Church Grim would be to have a story in which someone is pursued by a devil or other monster, and by fleeing into the graveyard, is protected by the Church Grim. 

The final story idea I have is about the "Barghest", which is a more monstrous black dog. I think a story similar to the one in which the man removes the thorn from the lion's paw could work, but re-imagined using a Barghest instead, to fit the overall motif of black dog guardians.

While I have a decent idea of what kind of stories I want to tell for the Church Grim and Black Dog, I still need to find a suitable story source to work off of. So if anyone has any stories they know that would fit what I'm thinking to do, I'd very much appreciate the help, since I've already spent over two hours searching, but I have a feeling I'm not searching the right things in the right places, since I feel quite confident there are stories that suit what I'm aiming to do, I just need to find them. They don't necessarily need to be about mythological black dogs, if anything, it might be a bit more interesting if they aren't, so that I can adapt them in a unique way.

Black Dog Story Link: Yet to find
Chruch Grim Story Link: Yet to find
Barghest Story Link: Androcles And The Lion

Image Link: "Hound of Baskervilles" by Sidney Paget

Additional Black Dog Mythology Source I Found: The Lore and Legend of the Black Dog

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Feedback Strategies

The first article about feedback strategies that I read was "How to Provide Great Feedback When You’re Not In Charge". I found many of its concepts to be rather familiar. I did particularly like how it split feedback into three notable groups: Appreciation, Advice and Evaluation. Since the reality is that those three types of feedback are all used for different things, and each can serve their purpose well, so long as they are used appropriately. I liked that the article broke down recommendations on how best to use each of the three types of feedback, since showing examples of how they work and how they're best used can go a long way to improving people's feedback strategies. I also enjoyed that the author included the recommendation to encourage subordinates and peers to provide feedback too, which can help bring a team closer together, and offers more room for improvement for everyone involved.

All of these concepts were things I tended to work with already. Whenever I give feedback to people on my team, I make sure they know I'm just as open to receiving feedback as I am to giving it out. It helps them feel appreciated and valued, and helps me keeps tabs on any mistakes I might be making or places I can improve.

The second article about feedback that I read was "Be a Mirror: Give Readers Feedback That Fosters a Growth Mindset". This one I found a bit less useful, since it was rather focused on its particular subject matter rather than being more generally applied, but there are still some potential takeaways from it. Most specifically, I think the comments on being specific (ironically enough) were probably the most generally useful takeaway from the article. Feedback that isn't specific enough often loses a lot of its effectiveness, since they person receiving it might struggle to figure out exactly where to apply it. And going hand in hand with that, the note that feedback should still be wide enough to apply onto the next project is a good thing to keep in mind. If the feedback isn't going to be applicable to other things they'll do in the future, it's not all that helpful. So the key is to strike that proper balance between specific enough to help provide direction while still being oriented in such a way that it can be applied to future projects instead of just the one you're providing feedback on.

Image Source: Tumisu on Pixabay

Friday, September 11, 2020

Week 3 Story: The Brave Saint Margaret

The Brave Saint Margaret

The holy virgin Margaret was promised to a provost, but when he came to collect his bride, she refused him, for he did not believe in God as she did, instead worshiping a set of other gods. She told him she would not accept him unless he took up her Lord. He refused, for fear that he would be beheaded if he were to agree, but when Margaret refused to give in, he grew frustrated and ordered her flesh to be torn and scraped from her bones, in the hope that she might see the frivolousness of her conviction.

The people wept at seeing the beautiful Margaret reduced to such a state, but she remained strong in face of her torment, and she refused to give up her belief. So the provost had her thrown into the dungeon, and she would be beheaded in the morning. 

While she spent her night in the dungeon, a devil appeared before her in the form of a dragon, and it tried to consume her. But before it could consume her, she used her fingers to form a cross and smote the devil where he stood.

Later in the night, a devil appeared before her again, in human skin this time, and tried to tempt her to give in and pray to the gods of the provost, so that she might be freed. She resisted the devil's temptations and grabbed it by the skull and threw the creature to the ground. She planted her heel upon its throat and asked "why have you come?"

"I was sent to offer you a way to be free of your confinement, in such a way that you would fall from the graces of Heaven and slip into temptation," the devil cried.

"You shall not succeed this night," Margaret declared. "Now flee back into the realm from which you came, wretched thing."

Great rents appeared in the ground, and the devil was sucked into them, and then the fissures slammed shut with a dull clap.

In the morning, she was brought from the dungeon and into the square, and she was tossed into a great fire and prodded with brands to sear her flesh further because she refused to pray to the provost's gods. After this, she was pulled from the fire, thoroughly bound, and then submerged into a pool of water so as to further her suffering.

Yet, Margaret did not drown, and instead rose up from the pool of water unbound and whole once again. She was then crowned in gold by a dove that flew down from the heavens. In awe of this sight, five thousand men forsook their former gods and took the God of Margaret into their hearts, and were thus executed for their betrayal of the emperor's gods. The dove told Margaret that the gates of Heaven were open for her, waiting for her return to the Lord.

She then prayed upon the platform that was to be the location of her execution, and then she told the executioner "go and cut off my head, so that I might return to the hall of my Lord." But the executioner shook with fear in his heart, unwilling to slay as holy a maiden as her. "Do as the provost commanded of you," Margaret said. "If you really have seen the error of your ways, then you may pass as soon as the deed is done, and be accepted into the graces of the one true God."

And so the executioner struck off her head, and promptly fell dead next to her, and their spirits ascended into Heaven above.

Thus is the story of the Saint Margaret, who was martyred in the name of the Lord.

Author's Note

The story of Saint Margaret, also known by the name of Saint Marina the Martyr, is largely the same as I told it here in terms of the overall plot points, albeit much wordier, and with more dialogue. Most of the dialogue I ultimately decided to cut, but I took my own interpretation of the final dialogue of Saint Margaret, and I also made my own, much abridged, version of Saint Margaret's conversation with the devil. 

In the original text, Saint Margaret has a much longer conversation with the devil before she banished it. The original story was likely written as it was in part to highlight a reason that devils are evil, in order to help drive home the point that one must stay away from temptation.

I chose to instead focus the story more on Saint Margaret, rather than on the devil she meets during her night in the dungeon, since Saint Margaret and the things she faced were the point of interest for me. 

My beginning is also quite a bit shorter and somewhat different to the source material, which has the provost fall in love with her on sight and have her brought to him, and it's focused more on him working to convert her, rather than the other way round. I thought the switch made for a more consistent narrative, since she repeatedly shows her dedication to her Lord. The ending with the executioner is also somewhat tweaked, so as to fit with this theme as well.

I hope you enjoyed my rendition of this story!


Story Source: Saint Margaret from The Golden Legend, edited by F. S. Ellis

Image Source: St. Marina the Martyr hammering a devil

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Reading Notes: Women Saints of the Golden Legend, Part A

Orthodox Icon of Saint Juliana

Of all of the stories in Part A for the Women Saints of the Golden Legend unit, three of them stood out to me in some manner or another. I'm not yet sure which one I might adapt, so I took the time to somewhat summarize each in order to be able to look back over them later.

Saint Juliana

The legend of Saint Juliana was interesting in large part due to Saint Juliana's conversation with the devil. Characterizing the devil and why he does the sinful and wicked things that he does could be really interesting, particularly given how the text is written in a rather older style of English, so I'd have some room to take my own interpretation of it. 

I also found it interesting the trials that Saint Juliana was able to survive and recover from. She was healed by an angel after being broken upon the wheel, survived being dropped into molten lead by having the lead cool around her, before finally being decapitated. And then after her decapitation, the man who'd called for it and his attendants had their ship sank and their bodies eaten by the beasts of the sea.

Saint Margaret

The legend of Saint Margaret is a rather admirable tale, in that she was steadfast in her conviction even when her flesh was torn and scraped from her bones. After which, she was thrown in prison and visited twice by the devil, once in the form of a dragon, which she banished or defeated by using the sign of the cross, and once in the form of a human, and she threw the devil to the ground when he visited her in human form and pinned him beneath her heel. She then proceeded to question the devil before she banished him back to hell.

When she was brought out of the prison the next day, she was thrown into the fire and burned with brands for refusing to pray to the provost's gods. After this, she was bound and put into a vessel to drown. But instead of drowning, she rose up from the water free of harm, and was crowned by a dove from heaven, which caused five thousand men to be converted and then executed for their faith. She then received word from her Lord that heaven's gates were open for her, and after she prayed, she asked the executioner to behead her so that she might go. The executioner was reluctant, but ultimately beheaded Saint Margaret and then dropped dead himself. Once Saint Margaret was dead, the provost buried her body in the house of someone unconnected to her so that she would be unlikely to inspire others.

Saint Christine

The legend of Saint Christine sees her suffering a great many torments. When her father tries to convince her to worship his gods, she disowns him as her father and refuses. When he is gone, she breaks the silver and gold idols into pieces and gives the pieces out to the peasants. When her father returned and found them missing, he had twelve men beat on Saint Christine until they dropped, but she still yet lived and claimed that if his gods were so powerful, the men would have been able to keep going. 

After this, her father put her in prison, and her mother came to visit her and tried to convince her to accept her father's gods. Her mother fails, and when she tells her father, he has Saint Christine brought before him and tells her to pray to his gods or else he'd disown her and have her tortured. She then claims she is no daughter of his, and calls him a son of Satan. After this, her father commands that her flesh be torn and pulled with iron hooks and that her limbs be broken and torn apart.

Saint Christine then took a part of her flesh and threw it at her father. She was then put on a wheel and a fire was lit underneath, but instead of burning her, it spread and consumed five hundred men. The father believes it to be an act of necromancy, and has her cast into the sea with a weight around her neck. Christ descended to baptize her in the sea, after which she was carried back to land by the archangel Michael. Her father was in shock, and demanded she be thrown in prison and beheaded the next morning, but her father fell dead in the night.

Her father was succeeded by the judge Dion, who had Saint Christine thrown into a burning tub of oil, rosin and pitch, which was shaken to help her burn faster, but Saint Christine was instead rejuvenated by it. Dion then had her head shaved and marched her through the streets naked to the temple of Apollo, which she turned into dust, and Dion died right there. 

After Dion came Julianus, who has two asps, two adders and two servents put on her, but the snakes did not harm her and stayed calm. When Julianus tries to have a enchanter make the snakes attack her, the snakes instead killed the enchanter. Saint Christine then said they should go to a desert, where she resurrected the enchanter. Julianus then had Saint Christine's breasts cut off, from which flowed milk and blood. He then had Saint Christine's tongue cut out, but she retained the ability to talk and threw the cut out tongue at the judge, which took out one of his eyes. After this, she was struck with an arrow in the side and then in the heart, and with this she finally died. 


Saint Juliana from The Golden Legend, edited by F. S. Ellis

Saint Margaret from The Golden Legend, edited by F. S. Ellis

Saint Christine from The Golden Legend, edited by F. S. Ellis

Week 4 Story: The Wolf of Saint Francis

  The Wolf of Saint Francis Saint Francis was a devout follower of the Lord, and was greatly kind to all of those he came across, be they a ...