Saturday, August 17, 2013

Who's your Favorite Saint?

The mind boggles at the options.  The saints had messy curious lives which makes them oddities populating a strange world.   I had the paperback books of saints as a child preparing for my communion.  I never understood Catherine who was tortured with a toothed wheel and beheaded or Lucy, depicted with her eyes on a plate. It’s amazing these stories were given to impressionable children to read.  Knowing nothing other than the name Teresa, (Therese) Little Flower, I chose her.  She looked gentle enough.  She fit in with my love of the Jesus of a blurry painting of the blond man with the red pulsating heart. At the age of 7 I proclaimed I wanted to be a nun.  “You’ll have to sleep on a bed of nails.”  I was told.  I don’t care, I’ll do it, was my answer. Years later in a film depicting  Teresa’s life, she drank the tubercular sputum from an infected lung.  My connection through name was permanently severed. 

    These days I have a book of the saints (Saints, A year in Faith and Art)  with golden pages and short biographies.  I discovered the namesakes of all the street names I knew in Barcelona, like Saint Anthony Mary Claret ( a confessor to the king and therefore suspect) or Sant Roc, a hermit and healer who was miraculously cured by an angel and nourished by a dog.  There is the dramatic, the outrageous about the saints. I like the layer in the religious hierarchy they represent though I couldn’t imagine praying to them to intercede to God for me.  Why would I, when, like a good pagan, I believe God is everywhere, within or without.  How would they serve as a model?

     That brings me to Teresa of Avila, another namesake.  In “A Tremor of Bliss, Contemporary Writers on the Saints”, Francine Prose writes “ Teresa claimed to hate writing, to be unable to write, her work is full of self-doubt, of excuses for procrastinations and apologies..Whys is she not-for these reasons alone- the patron saint of writers?”  Indeed.  So along with my inusuk, budda, ganesh statue, dirt from Latvia, the black virgin of Aglona, and other icons, I try to cover all the bases.  I need that statue of Teresa next. 


And an old poem, as I’m clearing out papers…

                       Apolonia Painted



We pointed out the flaws,

Look, a dog as big as a house

in the background,

no perspective here,

But Apolonia painted

and danced,

Her wig askew

after vodka shots,

Apolonia painted

and promised love



  1. Before the day of our Saint it was almost as important as our birthday. To our pagan model of society now Saints are a way of celebrating holidays sometimes like in Spain San Juan, San Jose, San Jaime,etc or Saint Patrick´s day in Ireland or in the States. Things changes but names of Saints still remains

  2. I remember having a Book of Saints as a child too, and although I don´t remember the details , I remember that some of the stories were very strange reading material indeed for little kids. Your post brought up memories, and also reflects how our ideas about religious teachings change as we grow. Thanks for the thoughts Terez.

  3. Thanks for the comments! Nemogreen- you have a great blog!