A wide spot in my imagination.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Patron Saint of Pawnshops?

Meet St. James of the Marche. Great name, huh? He runs a little non-profit here in Zen, Texas. A little organization with the catchy name Mountains of Charity.

Okay, he actually lived in Italy in the 1400s, but I wish he lived in my town.

James was a Franciscan. (One of my Franciscan friends once described Franciscans as "the Baptists of the Catholics." By that he meant poor, devout and enjoying of a common meal -- in the Franciscans' case, sharing the common table of the order; in the Baptists' case, sharing a potluck supper.) Today is his feast day. (Not being Catholic, I'm intrigued by the Catholics' calendar of saints and sneak a peak at it online like some of my friends sneak peaks at porn.)

But, back to James of the Marche. It seems he was a preacher, wanderer, and fast-follower. And one of those people who lived out his faith with a meddling zeal. That's what caused him to found his Mountains of Charity (montes piatates). One of the things that ticked James off about the world around him were the people of his day who charged exorbitant interest rates. So, James founded non-profit credit organizations that loaned money for very low interest rate on pawned items.

(I must admit, pawn shops, like Catholic saints calendars, intrigue me.)

But, again, back to James. His non-profit sounds great, huh? Not to everybody. Twice, hired assassins tried to take out old James, but lost their nerve.

Here in Zen, word on the street is that payday lenders and other such upstanding biznesses are charging working people up to 300% on loans.

Maybe we should build a statue to St. James of the Marche here in Zen. Maybe I'll go ask the payday lenders to make the first donation.


  1. I like this wide spot in your imagination.
    Reminds me of a joke related to me by a Jesuit friend:
    The Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits were having a big meeting that went well into the middle of the night. Suddenly all the lights went out in the meeting room. The Franciscans immediately debated the exorbitant fees charged by the retreat management, and the Dominicans began preaching and chanting. But the Jesuits went to the basement, found the fuse box and reset the breaker.

  2. Which brings me to my next post, ending with a quote from a Jesuit. Maybe tomorrow a Dominican.