Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 18 Make-Up: Classic Saint Marty, New Cartoon, Sweet Dreams

This Classic Saint Marty comes from March 19, 2010.  It's one of my favorite posts I've ever written.  Don't read it just before you go to sleep.  It might give you  nightmares.

Saint Marty needs to take a shower now and go to bed.  Sweet dreams.

March 19:  Saint Alexander

Saint John Vianney, d. 1859

Last night was Manly Man Poetry Night with my pastor friend. We went to Big Boy again and had onion rings and Diet Pepsi. Just to shake things up, we also ordered deep-fried mozzarella cheese sticks. I am a fairly anal retentive person, so I'd been working on a poem for most of the day. It came from a poetry exercise out of the same book as last week, The Practice of Poetry, and was, oddly enough, suggested by the same poet, Lee Upton. This exercise was titled "Tabloid Tone Exercise," and the challenge was to take a headline from a supermarket tabloid and write a serious poem based on the headline.

Saint Catherine Laboure, d. 1876

I decided to kill two birds with one stone and combine my poem somehow with the day's saint, Alexander, a third century bishop and martyr. Alexander spent a lot of time in prison and exile. He was condemned to execution eventually for being a Christian, but the wild animals that were supposed to tear him to pieces wouldn't cooperate. The book says, "they refused to attack him." Instead, he was thrown back into prison, where he died around 250 A.D.

Saint Maria Mazzarello, d. 1881

The headline I chose from the Weekly World News ( I used to have a subscription) was "Ancient Bones Tell Frightening Story: Skull Speaks." If you didn't guess by the picture of Catherine of Bologna a few days ago, I'm of a morbid inclination, and this headline appealed to me on a few levels.

Saint Bernadette Soubirous, d. 1879

One of my fascinations with saints is the age-old tradition of relics. When holy men or women died in the past, their remains, in part or whole, were much sought after. Often, a saint's head ended up in one place while a saint's body ended up somewhere else. (It sounds gross, but stay with me.) Eventually, a classification for these relics developed. A first class relic is "a part of the saint (bone, hair, etc.) and the instruments of Christ's passion." A second class relic is "something owned by the saint or instruments of torture used against a martyr." A third class relic is "something that has been touched to a 1st or 2nd class relic. You can make your own 3rd class relic by touching an object to a 1st or 2nd class relic, including the tomb of a saint." (You're probably seeing where I'm headed with the poem by now.)

Blessed Imelda Lambertini, d. 1333

A church in Pittsburgh houses the largest collection of relics outside of the Vatican (some 4,000 to 5,000 items, including a full skeleton , a few skulls, and some teeth.) The relics were gathered by a priest, Suibertus Mollinger, who himself is on the road to sainthood, I believe. He was the pastor of Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish. Father Mollinger paid for the building of the original Saint Anthony's Chapel to display the collection himself. Eventually, additions were made to the building, which was officially dedicated on June 13, 1892.

Saint Vincent de Paul, d. 1660

That's the source material for the poem in today's post. Except for the details about the life of Saint Alexander, the rest of the poem is fictionalized-Father Cassius, Sacred Heart Parish, the eyes of Vincent de Paul, talking skull, and all. If the poem offends you, I'm sorry. That's not my intent. Please read on in the spirit in which I wrote the following lines, with sick curiosity, a little reverence, and a lot of good humor. I present to you my contribution to this week's Manly Man Poetry Night:

Ancient Bones Tell Frightening Story: Skull Speaks

Father Cassius owned 1,012 relics,
Had a museum built at Sacred Heart Parish,
A marble hall to contain his ossuaries,
Tabernacles, monstrances, chalices,
Shoe boxes, cigar boxes, hat boxes.
Each held a relic from some holy body,
A fragment of sacred muscle, a chip
Of benevolent bone. He had the braid
Belonging to Mary-Magdalene Martinengo,
Long and dark as a Lenten novena;
Fidelis of Sigmaringen's pink tongue,
Gleaming with miraculous spit;
Ethelwald's ring of shriveled foreskin,
Reputed to cure urinary tract infections;
The big toe of Teresa of Avila, used
To dispel both headaches and athlete's foot;
Roch, AKA Rocco, represented by semen
On a robe which opened closed wombs,
Warded off impure thoughts and dreams;
Sharbel Makhluf's left lung, floating,
Delicate as an angel fish, in a glass bowl;
Vincent de Paul's donated eyes,
Prunes on a silver plate, serving the cause
Of glaucoma and cataracts in the poor;
The left breast of Veronica of Guiliani,
Supple and full as a cow's udder,
Invoked in time of drought, famine;
The pubic curls of Monegundis, folded
In tissue, saved for the balding world;
High up, in a box labeled "Alex,"
A skull, dark as polished onyx,
Slept on a bed of cotton and straw.
Some nights, as votive candles licked
The walls at vespers "amen,"
Father Cassius heard the skull
Open its tongueless jaws, sing
A psalm of prison and death,
Exile and chains, of Jerusalem,
Wild boars, panthers tamed,
The banishment of soul from skin.
The skull would wail, grind
Fractured teeth, weep
For its missing neck, vertebrae,
Scapula, ribs, ulna, femur,
Coccyx. The skull would mourn
Until lauds pink light in the sky,
Wanting to be complete, whole, one,
Like the body of Christ
Three days after the cross.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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