To All The Saints I’ve Loved Before

18 Oct

The Pope had canonized six new saints.  That’s always nice to hear.

Although I myself am not a Catholic, I’m quite sweet on the saints due to an interesting relationship I had as a child with a Catholic family. When I was about nine, in an attempt to keep my brothers out of my room, I taped to my door a list of all the sins that would send you straight to hell. I thought it would give them something to think about before violating my sacred space. My mother, I fear, misinterpreted this as my interest in more spiritual issues. She spoke to a Catholic woman she worked with (New Jersey is thick with them), who agreed to start taking me to her church. Because she had a daughter my age, I was told to accompany her to catechism class.  The focus of the first lesson was the saints.

I was absolutely enchanted by the tales of ordinary people who could do extraordinary things. Seriously, anyone who can bilocate and levitate like Saint Padre Pio deserves more than just a pat on the back. And to top it off he was a stigmatist! I mean, was there nothing this guy couldn’t do?

At the time, I also appreciated the fact that so many saints were children. I was already growing increasingly aware of my own greatness, and it was good to see at least 22% of the American population recognised that children could be worthy of worship, even if not a single percent of my family did.

Finally, I was really intrigued by the concept of praying to a particular saint for a particular need. I encouraged my mother to call on Saint Zita when she lost her keys and told my father to pray to Our Lady of Fatima during that month’s gubernatorial race.  In art class, I sculpted a bust of Saint Matilda of Saxony, to counteract my falsely being accused of instigating a fight between John Gilbert and Kraig Hartley on the playground (surely no greater example of blaming the victim can be found). For my sister’s birthday, I drew a picture of Hilary of Poitiers on her card, as she is the patron saint of backward children. (It was about this time that my mother discontinued my trips to Mass.) Other saints I was particularly keen on were Nicholas of Maya (patron saint of boys), Elizabeth of Portugal (victims of jealousy), Catherine of Alexandria (girls and libraries, a perfect combination) and Jehoshaphat (jumping).  When I renamed my dollies after these saints and began referring to them as “my extended family in heaven,” my mom locked them in the cedar chest, booked me in to see a child psychologist and my excursion into the world of Catholicism was over.

One of the new few to be canonized was Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first Catholic saint, and people Down Under were rejoicing at the acknowledgment of her good work. She was a champion of the poor and of education. Some have suggested she become the patron saint of victims of sexual abuse by priests, but I can’t help wonder if there isn’t a more direct route the Pope could take in dealing with those crimes.

I would like to offer a hearty congratulations to Saint Mary of the Cross and all the other saints who recently became official. Well done all. No doubt you will be inspiring Catholics and under-appreciated child geniuses for many years to come.

One Response to “To All The Saints I’ve Loved Before”

  1. Old Doc Brandel Thursday, 19 February 2015 at 16:03 #

    I always learn so much from you, dear Agatha. I had not ever heard of St. Jehoshaphat, but I am beginning a search to find his medal and wear it around my neck. Thank you.

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