In the news alongside the celebration of her sainthood is another much-abused and eventually a suicidal young woman, whose more contemporary humiliations were also vast (though very different). The sacred and the secular could not be more dissonant than that: because death happened this month, we will make facebook pages and political points; because death happened centuries back, and has become "elevated" through the work of many, death becomes redemption, and a helpmeet in the beyond.
Martyrs, saints, angels, whatever stories and prayers we learn we carry with us, life-formative.
As a Catholic girl it was St. Joan d'Arc, the warrior princess mystic, and St. Joseph the carpenter step-dad of Jesus, and St Francis Xavier, whose stories I grew to know best: St. Anne was always represented, standing alone in the church-- who's that?
These representations much more promising, the recurrent pressure on Church to be natural, to be more accomodating of human life: actually, it isn't all suffering, though we do receive great dollops of that.
Jo + Anne:
~In discussing many things with a friend across the sea, I have read these chastening words:
The married woman has no future without her husband. If she does vain vrats leaving aside service to her husband, she is destined to be reborn as a child widow”.
~from Lakshmi Purana, Balaram Das, transl. Dr. Jaganath Prasad Das
[prose translation pdf]
Yet in the end the Goddess does exactly that.
Having a vast pantheon is instructive: life is more than suffering, and in suffering we need this knowledge most.
Life is more than a series of suicides, losses, wars and begats.
Final image: Lakshmi ritual image for worship (Diwali)
Artist is not named: "Kumaon Folk Painting on Paper"
Images of St. Anne & St. Joachim, various artists/online sources