Saint Expedite is one of my most beloved spiritual aids and allies so who better to kick off the spirits and saints category of the blog? Now Saint Expedite (pronounced Ex-peh-deetee or in some cases by my older clients who really know their stuff, Es-pee-dee) is an “unofficial” Catholic Folk Saint best known in magical communities for his ability and willingness to provide luck in a hurry.
A New-Old Saint?
Most Saints have been venerated over time-whether they are officially recognized by the church or not, but St. Expedite has a reputation for being a more “modern” Saint-this is dead wrong.
Veneration of St. Expedite most likely dates back to the Middle Ages where he was honored in Turin among other places. Records indicate that he was petitioned by devout Catholics is the 1700’s for aid with court case work-with records specifically coming from both Germany and Sicily. Because of the age of these records it was once widely assumed that St. Expedite’s veneration first originated in these two countries-though later records were found placing veneration in Turin. Though he is not recognized by the Catholic church as an official Church Saint-he was mentioned in Martyrologies dating from the Middle Ages and his iconography has been consistently stylized as a young man dressed as a Roman solider, stepping on a black raven with a banner inscribed with the word “cras”-Latin for “tomorrow”, coming out of its beak while he holds a cross with the word “hodie”-Latin for “today”, inscribed upon it.
This raven-cross symbolism springs from a story in which the Devil appeared to St. Expedite as the Devil, tempting him to put off conversion to Christianity until tomorrow (cras)-in part, one assumes, to avoid martyrdom. Expedite replies by crushing the raven under his foot and holding forth a cross with the word for Today emblazoned upon it-indicating that he will not put off till tomorrow what needs to happen today. While veneration of St. Expedite is quite old, the Catholic Church issued an attach on the Saint and was successful in removing him from the official list of Church Saints in the 1960’s.
Two popular stories contribute to Saint Expedite’s status as a “modern” saint. One dates from 1781 when remains of a Saint from a french catacomb were shipped to a Parisian convent in a crate with the words “Expedite” on the side of the crate. Tellers of the story insist that the nuns misunderstood the shipping imperative and took it for the name of the Saint. A similar tale comes from New Orleans’ Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe-with the same device-a crate with a statue of a Saint and the word “Expedite” on the side was taken for the Saint’s name. However-whether these stories are true or not they are not valid as reference points for when worship and devotion to St. Expedite began-as he is recorded in various Martyrologies from the Middle Ages under the name Expeditus-which may be a misspelling for the more common Epeditus.
Today St. Expedite is honored in various places around the world. Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean, has a widespread cult worship of St. Expedite. Roadside altars devoted to him can be found throughout the island, even though worship of him is illegal. It is unclear why St. Expedite has such a profound effect on Reunion islanders but one story attributes it to Expedite’s aid in delivering harsh and vengeful curses at some point in the island’s history. Devotions to him are largely syncretic and combine devotions to deities known in Indian and Madagascar as well.
He is honored widely in the country of Chile where a church was built in his honor after a woman brought an image of him into the country. In the summer months especially pilgrims petition him for aid and his followers come from all socio-economic levels.
In Voodoo the image of St. Expedite may be used to represent Baron Lakwa and in New Orleans he is often associated with Baron Samedi.
Working with St. Expedite
In the Hoodoo-Conjure tradition of the American South, St, Expedite is seen as a strong, supportive, and caring ally who can aid in brining about luck and change in a hurry. However, his iconography and at least two of the religio-magical traditions associated with him also speak of his role in relation to death and cursing, and then there is the court case veneration from both Sicily and Germany in the 1700’s. So who is Expedite really and what role(s) might he fill?
A champion for the persecuted: In my own work with St. Expedite I see him first and foremost as a strong champion for the persecuted. Its important to remember that claiming to be a Christian during the Roman Empire was a very dangerous thing to do and often led to persecution, torture, and death for the new converts. When we consider this along the record of Expedite being petitioned for aid in court cases and his veneration on Reunion Island for aid in placing down a vengeful curse (obviously to correct some injustice) we start to see him reveal himself as one who stands strong for persecuted people from around the world. On a personal note I find it interesting that one of the origin myths surrounding St. Expedite also indirectly involved Our Lady of Guadalupe-another syncretic Spiritual ally who also stands in defense of persecuted people around the world. These two Saints truly make a powerful pair!
Yet another Dying God: The story of the Dying God circles back again and again, like a snake circling back on itself. From death springs life, from life springs death. St. Expedite’s association with cursing, Baron Lakwa and Baron Samedi, as well as his iconography of being caught in the act of a killing a crow all point to his association with death & dying. Yet Expedite’s vibe is so positive and cheery most of the time-so what’s up with that? What I have found in working with St. Expedite myself is that he is a Death God but the death he brings about is very specific-he will kill hesitation, root out irrelevance, and destroy blocks and obstacles that stand in your way-the death he brings about makes room for the here, the now, and the needed.
Fast Luck: Today St. Expedite is most commonly petitioned to aid in luck, money, and love situations. I work with St. Expedite on behalf of clients and also on behalf of my own business and family-he is dear to me. I have successfully petitioned him many times concerning money and business for myself and for others. I have witnessed wonders in love situations that need to turn around fast but possess a relatively stable foundation on which to stand. I also have worked with him to great success in court case work. He is know to be very picky about offerings. I have found that he loves the colors red, green, and yellow. According to some of Hyatt’s work, a popular day to invoke him is Wednesday-and that is the day that I choose to leave offerings out to him. Flowers, water, and chocolate are all acceptable. In Hoodoo-Conjure there is a strong tradition of leaving out poundcake after you have successfully petitioned Expedite and it is believed that failure to properly thank the Saint can result in bad luck and even death.
In closing, I hope that this sheds a bit of light on the fascinating story behind St. Expedite. Due to his somewhat modern sounding name and a conflation of myths he will no doubt continue to be seen as a modern day Saint-but his roots reach far back into time and his power has been sought out for thousands of years. Approach him with care and humility and you will find his blessings everywhere.