Thursday, May 3, 2007

Saints meme

In response to Sarabite:

Four favorite saints:

1. St. Maria Goretti. I was baptized at St. Maria Goretti Church in New Orleans East and have always had a particular affection for her life story, in all its macabre details (it says something about my psychology inchildhood). When I wasn't determined to become the pope (not out of belief in women's ordination, but solely out of firm conviction that God was reserving the papal crown for me), I really hoped to die a martyr at the age of 12. What could be better than to be stabbed multiple times and then forgive one's would-be rapist while having the names of the Blessed Virgin and Our Lord on your lips? My mother was concerned. But though my 13th year passed without major event, she's still a favorite saint - one of those who showed such remarkable piety at an early age.

2. Two Italian St. Catherines: (I'm cheating) St. Catherine of Siena and St. Catherine of Genoa, born one century apart, and both writing Dialogues. (I can't turn my nose up at St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Catherine Laboure either - there's something about the name Catherine...)

3. St. Joseph: Here's a man who could have been considered all sorts of crazy for listening to what a voice/angel is saying to him in his dreams about his pregnant betrothed carrying the Messiah. And yet he goes along with it. Gullible and faith-filled can appear awfully similar to the undiscerning. But he also showed compassion in not turning Mary over for an offense that was punishable by death before angel voices had whispered to him. There's a wonderful painting of the Holy Family on the Flight to Egypt - it's one of those technically awful paintings that incorporates overly enthusiastic Catholic devotion where Christ is a blond, rosy cheeked sleeping cherub, the Blessed Virgin wears pink and blue and gazes loving down at his cute blond curls, and St. Joseph, curly gray beard flying, wraps his arms around them both while looking with grim determination - steely blue eyes - into the wind that is causing his locks to flow behind him. It sounds like the description of the cover of a Harlequin romance novel and I think it's somewhat inspired by that aesthetic, and yet it conveys better than any I've seen the importance of St. Joseph - his protection, his strength, his leadership, of the Holy Family. And according to tradition, he died in the arms of both the Virgin and the Lord (he is the patron of departing souls). What could be better?

4. St. Stephen, St. Cecilia, St. Agnes, Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, St. Anastasia, St. Lawrence... (I'm really cheating!): I like the early martyrs, that's all. And I've always felt bad for St. James the Less/Little.

Favorite Blessed: Fra Giovanni da Fiesole better known as the Blessed Fra Angelico. At his beatification in 1982, in the words of John Paul II:

"Angelico was reported to say, "He who does Christ's work must stay with Christ always." This motto earned him the epithet "Blessed Angelico," because of the perfect integrity of his life and the almost divine beauty of the images he painted, to a superlative extent those of the Blessed Virgin Mary."

The work directly above is Madonna with Angels and Sts. Dominic and Catherine (c 1435) Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome; the one below is Christ in Limbo (c 1440), San Marco, Florence.

Someone who should already be blessed: Henriette Delille, a Creole woman in New Orleans who defied the placage system and persevered over a great deal of discrimination to found a religious order (being mixed race, she wasn't allowed to join a white convent) for mixed race and black women, the Sisters of the Holy Family, who ministered to and educated slaves and urged them to be baptized, and have educated and catechized countless black Catholics in southern Louisiana for the past 150 years. She once wrote, "I believe in God. I hope in God. I love and I want to live and die for God."

Someone who should be canonized (who is most likely not going to be):

I'm surprised some rather unscrupulous French pope hasn't canonized Abbot Suger of St.-Denis yet. And wouldn't his canonization now be utterly scandalous to those who advocate separation of Church and State? He did take the criticisms of St. Bernard of Clairvaux to heart in his own personal dwellings, at least, but give him sainthood for his role of inspiration and patron of Gothic art. (To the left is a picture of the Abbey Church of St.-Denis. In his words:

Thus, when--out of my delight in the beauty of the house of God--the loveliness of the many colored gems has called me away from external cares, and worthy meditation has induced me to reflect, transferring that which is material to that which is immaterial, on the diversity of the sacred virtues: then it seems to me that I see myself dwelling, as it were, in some strange region of the Universe which neither exists entirely in the slime of the earth nor entirely in the purity of Heaven; and that, by the grace of God, I can be transported from this inferior to that higher world in an anagogical manner.

Marvel not at the gold and the expense but at the craftsmanship of the work. Bright is the noble work; but, being nobly bright, the work should brighten the minds, so that they may travel, through the true lights, to the True Light where Christ is the true door.

And since plastic artists are so under-represented in th
e calender of saints (compared to the number of saints who wrote words about God, why not all those who created images of God?), Pietro Cavallini, come on down too for sainthood.

The mosaic is The Annunication (1291) at Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome; the fresco is The Last Judgment (c 1294) at Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome.

And Sarabite knows I have no friends and I communicate with no one.


Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Yes, bad religious art can covey some real truths. That's why we shouldn't turn our noses to it absolutely.

And the quote from Abbot Suger was interesting. I obviously liked it very much, considering my leanings.

And as for cheating, I suppose you are forgiven.

CrimsonCatholic said...

And Sarabite knows I have no friends and I communicate with no one.

So you're fitting in well at Chicago, then? ;-)

Well, if we ever cross paths in NorCal, SoCal, Texas, or Louisiana (or anywhere else, but those are the only places I really go anymore), I'll be happy to buy you the beverage of your choice and chat for as long as you'll stand me. Blogosphere buddies aren't good for much, but given the opportunity, we can give actual friends a run for their money.

AG said...

Haha, a bit facetious. Sarabite knows that I don't really post on othe blogs - as AG - nor do I have a blog roll. And my real-life friends, the cowards, refuse to post on my blog.

Alas, if things go well I will be leaving Chicago in less than two months time (my defense is Wednesday - yeah!), after which time I may be in CA and take you up on your gracious offer. I'll review quantum mechanics and shine my Aggie ring before meeting with you, I promise.