Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christina the Astonishing

When I first began reading about saints this one struck me and I've never forget it. It's one of the first saints I tell my dk's about.

Born to a peasant family, orphaned as a child, and raised by two older sisters. At age 21, she experienced a severe seizure of what may have been epilepsy. It was so severe as to be cateleptic, and she was thought to have died. During her funeral Mass, she suddenly recovered, and levitated to the roof of the church. Ordered down by the priest, she landed on the altar and stated that she had been to hell, purgatory, and heaven, and had been returned to earth with a ministry to pray for souls in purgatory.

Her life from that point became a series of strange incidents cataloged by a Thomas de Cantimpré, Dominican professor of theology at Louvain who was a contemporary recorded his information by interviewin witnesses, and by Cardinal Jacques de Vitny who knew her personally. She exhibited both unusual traits and abilities. For example, she could not stand the odor of other people because she could smell the sin in them, and would climb trees or buildings, hide in ovens or cupboards, or simply levitate to avoid contact. She lived in a way that was considered poverty even in the 13th century, sleeping on rocks, wearing rags, begging, and eating what came to hand. She would roll in fire or handle it without harm, stand in freezing water in the winter for hours, spend long periods in tombs, or allow herself to be dragged under water by a mill wheel, though she never sustained injury. Given to ecstasies during which she led the souls of the recently dead to purgatory, and those in purgatory to paradise.

People who knew her were divided in their opinions: she was a holy woman, touched of God, and that her actions and torments were simulations of the experiences of the souls in purgatory; she was suffering the torments of devils - or she was flatly insane. However, the prioress of Saint Catherine's convent testified that no matter how bizarre or excessive Christina's reported actions, she was always completely obedient to the prioresses orders. Friend of Louis, Count of Looz, whose castle she visited, and whose actions she rebuked. Blessed Marie of Oignies thought well of her, and Saint Lutgardis sought her advice.

Born
1150 at Brusthem near Liege, Belgium

Died
24 July 1224 at Saint Catherine's convent, Trond of natural causes

Beatified
popular devotion existed and continues, but no formal beatification has taken place; unknown if any cause is before the Congregation; because of lack for formal designation, she is sometimes listed as Saint Christina, sometimes as Blessed Christina

Patronage
insanity; lunatics; madness; mental disorders; mental handicaps; mental health caregivers; mental health professionals; mental illness; mentally ill people; psychiatrists; therapists

Of course I also like her because of her connection with patronage to mental illness...in case you didn't know I'm bipolar.

1 comment:

Moneybags said...

What an amazing saint! Thank you for this post.