I just read an incredible article by Kristin Valdez Quade about Christina the Astonishing: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/christina-the-astonishing-1150-1224
I have bipolar depression and found Christina’s name in an internet search for patron saints of mental illness. I’m not exactly sure why we call them patron saints “of” mental illness. I’m not sure it even matters, and Christina is not a saint anyway. Not really. She was never canonized and I’m pretty sure her cause isn’t up for consideration by the Vatican.
She was more considered a holy woman. She could smell the sin on people and tended to avoid them. Aggressively. She is not an easy person to get behind or to have fuzzy feelings for, which Quade’s New Yorker piece highlights well.
I’ve spent much of my time studying what makes the supernatural world tick, and how it interacts with this world. Why exactly do people get possessed? What does it look like? Do we even recognize it when it happens? More often, people suffer from demon “oppression,” and that is certainly not easy to recognize.
It occurred to me that Christina the Astonishing was oppressed or possessed by a demon or demons. But the part that really intrigues me is that the story goes that when she died that first time, she was given the choice by God to come back to earth to offer up her earthly suffering for the souls in purgatory. She took God up on that offer.
She did suffer in her life. But it was an ugly suffering. She usually attacked the people who tried to help her, throwing their food offerings back at them, yelling their sins at them. Demons can cause some nasty suffering. It’s pretty characteristic, in fact. They are mean and cause their victims to last out at the people around them. Kind of like Christina did.
The Catholic Church has the idea of redemptive suffering. That your suffering can be offered up to help others. I’m fascinated by the idea that this suffering could possibly be demonic in nature.
What about you, gentle readers? Have you ever suffered something that had a demonic edge to it? If you’re Catholic, did you offer your suffering up as a sacrifice? The answer to both of those questions for me is “yes.”