I Want To Do That, Too

by Susie Whelehan | The Sky Laughs At Borders

I Want To Do That, Too


Yesterday I heard of St. Christina the Astonishing

for the very first time and today I was asked

to try to write “something astonishing”.

Astonishing, yes?

Well, not very, but,

prepare to be astonished by Christina

who died from a seizure at 21

in 1224 except she didn’t die—

at her funeral she sat up in her casket

and flew to the ceiling shouting—

“I can’t stand the stench of sin on you people!”


So, let’s compile A Checklist of Astonishing Things:

Her death? Her refusal to die? Her flight?

The fact that she could smell sin?

Check, check, check, check.     

She said angels had taken her to hell

and purgatory where she saw people in agony

(some of whom she knew!) before flying her

to heaven to see the Lord himself

who offered her a choice—

stay with him forever or

endure daily pain on Earth

for the sake of The Poor Souls in Purgatory—

and she chose to return.


Oh my suffering Lord.


And suffer she did, especially

when she threw herself into fires,

writhed in pain

and stepped out of the flames unscathed.



Or when she repeatedly

threw herself into the river,

got swept up in the water wheel

and, each time came ashore unhurt.



She eventually died, peacefully, at age 74.

Not surprisingly, Christina is the patron saint

of people with mental illness.

I will be calling on her myself.


As I listened to her story in a church basement

I was looking at a painting on the wall—

a large patchwork of faces,

everyday people. Nobody special.

My face could have been there.

Or yours.

Some suffering, impoverished,

tired, a few smiling…

And above each head, a halo,

a thin gold circle of holiness

making the vulnerable venerable.

The artist considered everyone a saint.

I found that astonishing.

I want to do that, too.



(image – anonymous)