Sunday, July 29, 2007

Christine the Astonishing (Christina Mirabilis) - a July 24 omission

In the comments section for July , Shannon wrote:

Jane, in your list of fabulous women in July, you haven't yet met St. Christine the Astonishing? I love her. She hated the stench of sin so badly that at her funeral she flew to the rafters til all the sinners left the church.

I once started a story about her showing up in our modern day wearing pink sneakers. She went around confronting sinners, pointing her finger at them and warning them about the stench of hell. Her followers would make a circle around the sinner and chant, "Pink, pink, you stink!"

I'll write that story one of these days.

Yes, folks, Christina Mirabilis, Christine (or Christina) the Astonishing (or Marvelous), is for real! Sorry to have missed her. She is not on the Episcopal calendar. That's what I get for emigrating from the Roman Catholic fold. As an ecumenist, I should be ashamed of myself: I'm supposed to be saint-watching all across the Christian spectrum, East, West, North, South. (Padre Rob is particularly good at connecting folks with Eastern saints, though he currently has a Western saint up, blessed Tammy Faye.) Thank Godde my old buddy Shannon is on the fabulous women watch. Thank you, Shannon. And yes, write that story!

So here are some biographies of Christina.

Scroll down a bit when you get to this one.

This one notes, as does the previous one, that Christine was in what is now Belgium. As is Saint Dymphna,* Christine is a patron of people with mental illness and nervous disorders. What is it with Belgium?

* Dymphna fled to the Low Countries as well and in present-day Belgium, the site of her martyrdom still has a community-based therapeutic community for people with mental illnesses.

I will have a chance to check this out first-hand, though not to visit various shrines, when I spend a few days in Leuven (a.k.a. Louvain) in November at an international conference.

Here's more on Christina.

And there's a (loosely based) book inspired by her!

And a theatre production in the U.K.! (Also mentioned here, a nice little write-up courtesy of the BBC.)

She's also inspired this little bit of silliness.

Christy at Dry Bones Dance, whom I've been reading for a year or so, has a 2005 post, it turns out, about this very same Christina.

This one is also interesting, from Ship of Fools.

I like this woman. I'm going to find a way to incorporate her into my History of Christianity course this fall since I have section on the 12th and turn-of-the-13th century. She'll be terrific as a counterweight to Aquinas: he was large and ponderous, she flew up to the rafters. Seriously -- I really am going to figure out some way to get her in there. I do have a set of women mystics in the course. Women couldn't go to university, so they had visions and revelations, and that is the theology we have from them.

And I've decided the next best thing to being rector of a parish called St. Mary of Magdala or St. Macrina would be to be rector, or vicar, of St. Christina the Astonishing. I don't yet know of any church by that name (there are a few St. Mary Magdalenes and Macrinas out there, though very few). So -- founding rector, St. Christina the Astonishing? Give me five or ten years.

I can dream big, can't I?

Meanwhile, I really must write this little devotional book called The Women of July.

Thanks again to Shannon for leading us to Christina. Check out Shannon's blog. She's a prison chaplain. Down-to-earth, spiritually alive, direct-talkin', and funny. She's pretty mirabilis herself.

6 comments:

johnieb said...

Such a fierce, quirky delightful creature that God wrought here.

Part of my pleasure, I am realizing, is at the beauty and grace and loveliness of so much that I have done without for so long, but always knew was there for the asking. I wanted to be a Medievalist as an undergraduate, but realized I was unlikely to start the necessary languages at twenty five. And I now know the riches of hagiography, at least a little: thanks.

blessing and peace

Grandmère Mimi said...

She was astonishing, all right. I think most of the saints appear a little mad to us ordinary mortals. Certainly, Francis of Assisi does to me, and he is one of my favorites. Julian of Norwich is another. I could go on and on, so I'd best stop.

I'd heard of St. Dymphna, because I knew a nun by that name, and all the nuns took saints' names back in the day.

Jane R said...

Grandmère Mimi, I think sometimes it's the other way around: they appear mad and it reassures us, because we are a little nuts too, so we figure we have a chance at sainthood as well and we are all part of the same crazy family of God's friends.

Both of these can be true at once, of course, your rationale and mine.

JohnieB, it's never too late to learn Latin. :-)

johnieb said...

Yes, but 10th c. CE Arabic?

johnieb said...

A brief report on the morning so far may be appropriate to this thread.

Kairos was about 5:30 AM, I judged, but I was running late. Still, by 8 the landscapers' power tools start--mowers, weed whackers, and the like; until then it's the birds' songs, dogs greeting the morning light, and the soft doppler whoosh of early cars on a quiet residential street.

And then the sustained jingle of a shopping cart being pushed at a fast clip down a long block: Monday? Oh, our Special Pickup Day. She's making a quick first light survey, but not stopping to consider any choices: just a brisk look by this veteran of who knows what wars.

In Europe, nine hundred years ago, such a one was welcomed by the prioress of St. Catherine's, Cardinal de Vitny, and Louis, Count of Looz, among others, who had decades of any personal ties she would accept with her. Whom does the Chief of the Hartford Insurance Barons, or the leading candidate(s) cultivate?

I imagine greeting her on one of her rounds, and quickly reject it; I see her face, shocked and confused and afraid: a stranger? Something different? Perhaps she relies on not being noticed as her sure defense, and I would not threaten that. I thank God for her visitation, and wish her peace and all she needs.

Shannon said...

Jane, you're a gem. What a wealth of information on the woman Johnieb calls "Crazy Christie." I am laughing so hard. What a gift. And now I really will write that story. How can I resist??

Shannon