Recently I became interested in learning more about Saint Expedite, also known as St. Expeditus, and in Italian, Sant’Espedito (di Melitene Martire).
Some of my friends have chosen Expedite as their patron and everything I had heard was that Expedite does just what his name purports: he expedites whatever you need, and fast.
His origin story and his actual life are surrounded in speculation, contradiction, and mystery. Some say he may have never existed. Many sources that do acknowledge his existence agree he died on April 19 in 303, martyred by decapitation in Melitene, Turkey as part of the Diocletian Persecution. Thus his feast day is April 19 and in some churches he is venerated on the 19th of each month. He has, however, been removed from the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar due to ambiguity surrounding the date of death and his actual existence and martyrdom.
Expedite is shown as a Roman centurion, squashing a crow with his foot and holding a cross aloft. The crow has a banner with the word “CRAS” written on it (proCRAStination – in Latin “cras” translates to “tomorrow” – and “cra” is the sound crows make) and the cross is inscribed with the word “HODIE” – meaning “today” in Latin.
Legend has it that Expedite decided to convert to Christianity, the Devil came to him in the form of the crow trying to get him to put it off, and Expedite refused and said he’d convert immediately—today, not tomorrow.
In her book The Conjurer’s Guide to St. Expedite, Denise M. Alvarado says that in Louisiana religious cultures, St. Expedite has a syncretic (fused) relationship with Creole Voudou, where he is associated with the Iwa (Loa) Baron Samedi, the spirit of death, guardian of cemeteries and the head of the family of ancestral spirits called the Guede. (There’s much more history to that and how laws called Black Codes in Louisiana prohibited slaves and anyone else from practicing any religion other than Catholicism, which can explain why deities from other religions became “syncretized” onto Catholic saints. I recommend her book for this history as well as many practical conjure tips and prayers to this saint.)
The other day I was in a major bureaucratic pinch here in Rome that seemed impossible. I was going to be late for work and needed the whole mess to just get (ex)SPED(ited) UP and fixed. I had Expedite on the back burner of my brain as something I was learning more about. Out of nowhere at that moment the thought popped into my head: why not give a silent shout out to Expedite; he’s supposed to help with stuff like this. I wonder if just silently calling on him might make a difference?
I kid you not, after I said a silent prayer to the Minute Saint (so named for his speedy work), the whole thing got wrapped up in a matter of two minutes. I made it back for my work shift and was on my way.
Would it have been resolved anyways?
I’ve had two other incredible episodes nearly identical to this one in the two weeks since. The proof is in the pudding. I’ve called on him three times in rather impossible and very urgent circumstances, and in each case got results immediately or in less than 24 hours. My friend petitioned him for me once, before I knew about him, when my children were traveling with their dad through Houston on the day Hurricane Irma hit. While they were in the air flying towards Houston, the airport there canceled over 500 flights out, including their connecting flight. My friend petitioned St. Expedite, and inexplicably, my kids and their dad got rebooked on what may have been one of the last remaining and uncanceled flights out of Houston, before the airport was shut down for days and hundreds upon hundreds of passengers got stranded. Call it luck. I call it divine intervention.
Here’s the thing, when it comes to cards, magic, and the like: skeptics will say it’s magical thinking and you can’t prove causality. This is the invisible area where faith, synchronicity, unseen threads, and metaphysical/philosophical idealism enter into play.
Admittedly, the puns, duplicate origin stories and so-called copyist blunders in the Matryrologies do little to legitimize St. Expedite in the eyes of the Church or among skeptics. However, there is something to this saint, something that makes him recognized as a powerful spirit in many areas of the world. Could it be that everyone is delusional? Are all of the people who love and revere him as they do simply loving and revering a concept and a fictional saint?
(p. 33, The Conjurer’s Guide to Saint Expedite, Denise M. Alvarado)
I’d ask, perhaps more importantly: does it really matter, if people are getting results?
I learned about how to make an altar to Expedite and give offerings and payments for granted intentions. He is known to enjoy pound cake, white rum, red flowers, shiny coins, and notoriety. Just make sure you pay up right away if you promise him an offering in return for his help.
In Rome, there’s a statue of Sant’Espedito in the church of Santa Maria di Loreto, just inside the door on the right:
Those papers you see at his feet were photocopies of a prayer in Italian invoking Expedite for a special intention, left there by a devotee, instructing anyone to invoke the saint for their own special intention, and then make 25 photocopies and leave them at his feet. Tucked and hidden behind his left foot I also saw a folded up piece of paper, most likely with a special intention or perhaps a thank you (although gratitude to Expedite, generally speaking, is supposed to be public to spread his fame). Denise M. Alvarado also mentions how, although it’s forbidden to leave petitions and offerings at the feet of the “infamous” St. Expedite statue at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in New Orleans, apparently devotees find clever ways of leaving them anyways.
How does this tie in with tarot and cartomancy? For me, anything mysterious that requires some type of faith in random chance (ie, actively allowing for the release of direct human/ego manipulation or control), has an invisible and inexplicable component, yet resonates strongly and seems to “work”, is fascinating. (For more on “how tarot works” see Five Tarot Experts Explain How Tarot Works).
On that note, let’s ask St. Expedite what he thinks about all of this, shall we? In honor of his Roman centurion roots, let’s use a singularly Italian and delightfully chatty card deck, the Vera Sibilla.
St. Expedite, what message do you have for those who wish to work with you as their patron?
Domestico (Jack of Clubs) – Malinconia (Five of Diamonds) – Disperato per gelosia (Eight of Spades)
What immediately strikes me here are the two rather desperate situations we see in the sad woman of Malinconia (“melancholy”) and the Disperato per gelosia (“desperate jealousy” – a charmingly dramatic card that has always struck me as so over-the-top it’s nearly comical, poor guy). St. Expedite is the one who rushes in to help so-called “lost causes” so here it seems to me that he’s saying “call on me when you feel desperate or you feel all hope is lost or you’re in an impossible situation.” Note the gesture of the man in the Domestico card, motioning towards the two examples, and note how the card shows the man standing before an open doorway into them.
In the Sibilla, the Domestico card represents someone you can call on for advice and support. That’s Expedite, showing himself to us here as faithful helper and servant. It’s also a sort of introduction: he’s tipping his hat and welcoming you to call on him for help.
For more about St. Expedite:
- St. Expedite.org
- Saint Expedite in Hoodoo and Conjure – Lucky Mojo
- A Novena to St. Expeditus – Thought Co.
- The Conjurer’s Guide to Saint Expedite
- Prayers to St. Expedite/Guede Limbo – Papa Hector’s Blog
[Post-script: Literally one second after I hit “publish” on this post, I received an email in my inbox with the subject line “This saint does the impossible!” and inviting me to pray a novena to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless, lost, and impossible causes, whose feast day is coming up on October 28. Ok, St. Jude, we hear you! We know you work together with St. Expedite! Here’s the novena link.]