Catholic tradition honours the remarkable men and women who have contributed significantly to its heritage by recognising them as saints. Secular tradition like to remember specific events or causes by setting aside specific dates for their observance. This page is a start at assembling a calendar of notable dates of importance to our queer Christian community.
The Calendar of Queer Saints and Martyrs for the full year now lists only the most important of the large number that could be included – “most important”: those widely recognized as saints, and also with good reason to be described as in some sense queer.
The monthly pages provide a more comprehensive listing of queer people in church history, including some lesser figures, some for whom the descriptor “queer” is more speculative, and some who were clearly were not saints. All are important for illustrating some part of queer Christian history.
1st: Jemima Wilkinson
An eighteenth century genderqueer preacher, who was the first American woman to found a religious group, and has been described as a transgender evangelist. In the same year that America declared it’s independence from Britain, she declared her independence from gender. Jemima Wilkinson: Queer Preacher Reborn as “Public Universal Friend”(Jesus in Love Blog)
12th: Erasmus of Rotterdam
Dutch humanist and theologian, who is claimed by some as a gay icon, on the strength of a series of passionate love letters he wrote to a young monk. He is also notable as a scholar and church reformer, who argued for reform of the Catholic Church, but who did not join other reformers of the day in leaving it. Desidirius Erasmus of Rotterdam
17th: St Marina / Marinos of Antioch
One of a number of early saints, born and raised as female, but who adopted male dress and identity in order to join a male monastery, rather than a women’s equivalent. (St Marina / Marinos of Antioch, ( LGBT Catholic Handbook)
19th: St Macrina
A woman deacon and founder of a monastery of a 4th century monastery. (St Macrina , Womenpriests.org)
20th: St Marina / Marinos of Sicily
Another of the early saints, born and raised as female, but who adopted male dress and identity in order to join a male monastery, rather than a women’s equivalent. (St Marina / Marinos of Sicily, Cross-dressing’ Saint ( LGBT Catholic Handbook)
July 20 th St Wilgefortis/ Uncumber
A wonderful example of a saint who was widely revered as a miraculously bearded lady. Sadly, the explanation for the tradition seems to have been more mundane.
- St Wilgefortis/ Uncumber (Queer Saints & Martyrs)
- Wilgefortis: Bearded woman saint (Jesus in Love Blog)
21st: Daniel the Prophet
The Old Testament story of Daniel in the lion’s den is familiar to us from childhood. What the children’s bible stories don’t tell us, is that as a slave in the royal palace in Babyl0n, in all probability, he was made into a eunuch and expected to provide sexual service.
- Daniel the Prophet, OT captive and eunuch in Babyl0n c 650 BC (Queer Saints & Martyrs)
21st: SS Simeon of Emesa and John
6th century Syrian monks who were united by the rite of adelphopoeisis, a litugical blessing of a same sex union, a relationship that continued for 30 years. Both were referred to as “Bridegrooms of Christ”.
- SS Simeon of Emesa and John, Hermits, Saints and Lovers, (Queer Saints and Martyrs);
- Symeon and John: The holy fool and the hermit who loved each other (Jesus in Love Blog)
- SS. Symeon of Emesa and John (LGBT Catholic Handbook)
22nd: Mary Magdalene
The most important female disciple, who is widely believed to have been a prostitute, although there are no biblical or historical grounds for this assumption. She is important for us as a reminder of the important place of women among the early followers of Christ, and also as one who had a demonstrably close relationship with Jesus, but who developed an entirely undeserved reputation for sexual sin. (Mary Magdalene , Jesus in Love Blog)
24th: SS Boris and George
A notable pair of male lovers regarded as saints in the Orthodox church, Boris was a Russian prince of the 11th century, and George his servant – and lover.
- SS Boris and George (Queer Saints & Martyrs)
- Sts. Boris and George: United in love and death (Jesus in Love Blog)
25th: St Olympias
A 5th century woman deacon, ordained by John Chrysostom, and placed in charge of all the deacons of the great church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. (St Olympias, Womenpriests.org)
28th: St Irene
9th century Abbess of the monastery of Chrysovolantou, Constantinople (St Irene , Womenpriests.org)
29th: Martha and Mary
Among Jesus’ closest friends, Martha and Mary are described in the Bible as “sisters”, but this is probably a euphemism. At a time when women were expected to be under the control and protection of men (first their fathers or brothers, later their husbands) it would have been extremely unusual to have two women living together.