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Yikes

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Like most teachers, I’m sure, I have the occasional — and one hopes irrational — dream that my students have arrayed themselves against me in ways that may or may not involve blunt-force weapons. Nightmares about verbal abuse are so common that I don’t even register them any more, but now and then I find myself waking up from a good, honest clubbing and wonder if I’d be wise to cancel classes for the rest of the week (or semester).

Reading about the case of St. Cassian, whose feast day is acknowledged on August 13, doesn’t really help the problem. I’ve written more about the poor chap here, but I’ll just highlight one description that is sure to stay with me as I prepare for yet another academic year.

Cassian, like all good martyrs, was executed for refusing to renounce his beliefs. What’s interesting about his case, though, is that he was sentenced to die at the hands of his pupils, whom he taught to read and write (and, apparently, to use shorthand). According to Alban Butler’s Lives of the the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints (1866),

He was exposed naked in the midst of two hundred boys; among whom some threw their tablets, pencils, and penknives at his face and head, and often broke them upon his body; others cut his flesh or stabbed him with their pencils, sometimes only tearing the skin and flesh, and sometimes raking in his very bowels. Some made it their barbarous sport to cut part of their [assignment] in his tender skin. Thus, covered with his own blood, and wounded in every part of his body, he cheerfully bade his little executioners not to be afraid; and to strike him with greater force . . .

Good times, good times…

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