|“Used with permission from the artist, Cynthia Large.”|
Alright, let’s face it. Is this the time of year, just after Thanksgiving, when you start dreading the impending “Holiday (Don’t call it Christmas) Season?” You know, the season of nightly news stories about how schools won’t allow the display of Christian symbols, the already beginning onslaught of commercialism and advertising, the atheist sloganeering that degrades an event so sacred, and all the politically correct puffery about how to speak of the Holy Celebration of The Birthday – Christ’s Mass – without actually saying it.
It’s almost intolerable and almost ruinous, like the odor of the hydro-treated petroleum distillates of Goo Gone® invading a warm and apple-cinnamony glowing kitchen. Pee-yew!How to rise above it all? Well, there’s a unique, if not peculiar, saint who would probably react the way I’d like to react in the middle of holiday nonsense, St. Christina of Liége, also more appropriately named, St. Christina the Astonishing. She frequently tried to escape, well, worldly stinkiness.
St. Christina the Astonishing was born in 1150 and left an orphan at the age of fifteen with two elder sisters. She astonished her community at a most unexpected time.
“When she was about twenty-two Christina had a seizure, was assumed to be dead, and in due course was carried in an open coffin to the church, where a Mass of requiem was begun. Suddenly, after the Agnus Dei, Christina sat up, soared to the beams of the roof, and there perched herself. Everyone fled from the church except her elder sister, who, though thoroughly frightened, gave a good example of recollection to the others by stopping till the end of Mass. The priest then made Christina come down (it was said that she had taken refuge up there because she could not bear the smell of sinful human bodies). She averred that she had actually been dead; that she had gone down to Hell and there recognized many friends, and to Purgatory, where she had seen more friends, and then to Heaven.” [Butler’s Lives of the Saints]
|“A Pelican in the Wilderness” |
Used with permission from the artist, Cynthia Large.”
Some think of it as the body moving physically closer to Heaven because the soul is already so in communion with God’s will. Some physicists have suggested that levitation is the result of the mind tapping into the quantum vacuums zero point energy, whatever that is exactly.
Whatever it is, it happens and it has been well-documented in the lives of the saints. I don’t expect to fly up to the rafters if I see some tasteless advertisements, but I definitely will stop and smile at the astonishing ideas any time the stinkiness threatens to lower my spirits.
He’ll probably understand.
There is much more to her story. Enjoy this essay, “Christina’s Life,” by the artist, Cynthia Large, to read more about St. Christina of Liége and to visit the gallery of Cynthia’s other beautiful works, or to purchase prints of them.