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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 24th St. Christina the Astonishing

I remember reading a list published somewhere of the worst Catholic Saints. I usually just ignore such inflammatory claptrap (and unfailingly from the 'separated brethren, as we are now to call them) but one name jumped out at me, the name of today's saint: St. Christina the Astonishing.

I can understand why someone would be a bit startled by her story...after all, "astonishing' is right in her name. But I think she is a saint anyone would be proud to adopt as their patron.

St. Christina and her two sisters were orphaned when Christina was 15 years old. She was a pious girl and as the pious sometimes are wont to do, she didn't take very good care of herself. I think a lot of the pious just figure," oh well, I'm not going to have my body someday anyhow, why not just let it go."

When she was 22 years old Christina died, but during her own funeral, right after the Agnus Dei, she suddenly blew out of her coffin and flew up to the church rafters, which pretty much cleared the church except for the parish priest and her devoted sister, who stayed to try to talk her down. She refused to come down, however, because of the horrific smell of "human sin."

You see, while Christina was dead she was taken on a tour of hell where she saw many people she knew. Then she visited Purgatory and saw even more people she knew. And then, being a saint, she went to heaven, but was given the choice to come back to earth and suffer for the souls in purgatory to get some of them out.

Here's how Purgatory works, you stay there suffering horribly (but very happily because you are indeed going to heaven...you don't fall through a crack in the Purgatory floor and drop into hell) until your soul is cleansed. But you can get out sooner if people here on earth (we're called "the Church Militant") say special prayers for you or even better, take up some of the slack by suffering for you.

So back St. Christina came, right after the Agnus Dei, devoting her life to suffering for the souls there, but trying to stay away from everyone else here who smelled to her like rotting flesh. She balanced on fences and twiggy branches with the little birdies and stuffed herself into ovens and stood on rooftops.

She looked like a homeless person.

She is the patron saint of psychiatrists and people with psychiatric disorders. And outright loonies.

And don't you just feel that way sometimes? How many times have you said to yourself, "Am I crazy?" Wouldn't you like to balance on a fence somewhere instead of going into the office? Or crawl into the microwave at the office, if you could fit? Wouldn't you like to stay in your pajamas and walk around town? Doesn't everyone else just stink sometimes?

And aren't you just astonishing?

Celebrate the feast of St. Christina the Astonishing today. Continue on your astonishing path and risk being misunderstood.


Sister Mary Martha said...

Offhand I would say no, since pride is a sin. But then, I think Mother Angelica has a fan club and she's about as pious as you can get. So go for it. I'm not on line just to hear myself talk. Okay, maybe I am, but it's nice to know someone's actually listening.

Anonymous said...

I was just researching Saint Christina.
I need a saint to be my patron for confirmation.
Should I pick St.Christina?

Anonymous said...

Hello Sister Mary Martha,

I found your site while looking for places to shamelessly promote my new painting of St. Christina the Astonishing. It's been a three-year labor of love. The title is "Saint Christina the Astonishing -- a Pelican in the Wilderness (Psalm 102)". The address is:

Now, that address is too long and probably won't come through. I'll link the painting to my signature, or just go to http://www.cynthialarge.com and look at the first painting listed. You'll also find another painting of St. Christina there, which I see you already have on your site. Without attribution? Bad nun! I know you'll remedy this, though. Thank you, by the way, for the informative post about St. Christina. I got a letter once from a woman who had an autistic child; she felt that Christina might be a patron saint for autism, because some of her behaviors are typical for that disorder. It's an interesting thought.

God bless you,

Ivy said...

When I was in my third year of high school, preparing for confirmation, I researched saints to choose my name. The story of St. Christina the Astonishing jumped out at me, as the more I read about her, the more I loved her.

With my own struggles with mental illness, and my own ups and downs with the faith, Christina's astonishing story has alway rung true to my own experiences. Thank you for sharing her story with the world via your wonderful blog.