Little is known of the true figure who represented St. Expedite. However, he continues to draw a strong following, particularly in the Latin culture and within certain areas of Europe. He is also deeply associated to the folklore of the Creoles of Louisiana and of the Haitians.
Most likely, a martyr did exist. However, his name was not St. Expedite. He certainly has had a following since the middle ages. One theory suggest that he was a Roman soldier who was deeply devoted to Christianity. The term, “expeditus” translates to “soldier” in Latin which is why St. Expedite is often associated as a soldier saint. The myth is that there was once a Roman soldier who was in the process of converting to Christianity. One the day he was to convert, the devil appeared to him as a crow and tried to get him to halt his conversion. Instead, St. Expedite crushed the bird and with his foot and held out a cross that stated “today.” The oldest representations of him depict a young Roman soldier. Under one foot he is crushing a black crow. The crow has a banner flowing out if its mouth the reads “tomorrow” in Latin. With an outstretched arm, St. Expedite holds out a cross the with a written inscription that states, “today.”
The strongest origin evidence points to Turin during the middle ages which is not surprisingly located in Northern Italy. Turin was clearly under Roman rule and was certainly part of the Roman Empire for centuries. It’s important to note that during Emperor Constantine’s rule, Christianity became the formal religion of the Roman Empire during the 4th century. Prior to that, Christianity was something of an underground religion, one that had a secret society that often met within the confines of the Roman catacombs. During this period, Christians were persecuted. It undoubtedly took great courage to convert to such a hidden and dangerous religion of that particular time period. Do not be mistaken, although Constantine did legitimize Christianity, there continued to be substantial religious controversy in Rome well into the 5th century as an onslaught of invaders came in to claim Rome as their own including the Visogoths, Vandals and Alans. One can imagine that converting to Christianity even up to the 5th century had its dangers.
Another theory suggests that a relic containing the bones of a saint arrived at a particular at a French monastery during the 1700’s. Those who received the box saw the words “expedite” written along the box. They simply assumed this was the name of the person to which the bones were attached. I tend to doubt this theory as there are clear descriptions of St. Expedite from the middle ages.
In Voodoo, particularly in Haiti, the representation of St. Expedite is often associated to “Baron La Croix” or commonly known as “Baron Lakwa”. Baron Lakwa is the Lao spirit of death and sexuality. He serves an important function as he reminds his followers that life is meant to be enjoyed. Similar to Eshu, he represents the doorway between the material world and the land of the dead and he is known for his sense of humor. In New Orleans Voodoo, St. Expedite is associated to Baron Samedi also associated to death and is considered to be the eldest of all the Lao. He too stands at the crossroads and is often portrayed as a tall man who is exceptionally handsome with a skull like face.
When it comes to Hoodoo, Saint Expedite is frequently petitioned as he is known for bringing luck quickly. He is also known to aid in gambling and his image can often be seen on particular gaming amulets. The customary offering is to leave him a fresh glass of water (Florida water works great too), traditional pound cake and fresh flowers. The 4/6 domino can also be revered and placed on his altar and then carried within one’s pocket for good luck.
St Expedite is known to aid those who are being persecuted. He is a fantastic Saint to work with when one finds themselves in a crunch, has an onslaught of legal problems or simply needs fast cash. I consider him the emergency Saint as he is known to help when crisis hits hard and one needs a interceding right away.