The Nick Cave Labyrinth
From: Butler's Lives of the Saints
July 24 Christina the Astonishing, Virgin (A.D. 1224)
Christina was born at Brusthem in the diocese of Liege, in 1150, and at
the age of fifteen was left an orphan, with two elder sisters. When she
was about twenty-two Christina had a seizure, was assumed to be dead,
and in due course was carried in an open coffin to the church,
where a Mass of requiem was begun. Suddenly, after the Agnus Dei,
Christina sat up, soared to the beams of the roof, and there perched
herself. Everyone fled from the church except her elder sister, who,
though thoroughly frightened, gave a good example of recollection to
the others bystopping till the end of Mass. The priest then made
Christina come down (it was said that she had taken refuge up there
because she could not bear the smell of sinful human bodies).
She averred that she had actually been dead; that she had gone down to
Hell and there recognized many friends, and to Purgatory, where she had
seem more friends, and then to Heaven.
This was only the beginning of a series of hardly less incredible
occurrences. Christina fled into remote places, climbed trees and
towers and rocks, and crawled into ovens, to escape from the smell
of humans. She would handle fire with impunity and, in the coldest
weather, dash into the river, or into a mill-race and be carried
unharmed under the wheel. She prayed balancing herself on the top
of a hurdle or curled up on the ground in such a way that she looked
like a ball. Not unnaturally, everyone thought she was mad or
'full of devils,' and attempts were made to confine her, but she always
broke loose. Eventually she was caught by a man who had to give her
a violent blow on the leg to do it, and it was thought her leg was
broken. She was therefore taken to the house of a surgeon in Liege,
who put splints on the limb and chained her to a pillar for safety.
She escaped in the nights. On one occasion when a priest, not knowing
her and frightened by her appearance, had refused to give her communion,
she rushed wildly through the streets, jumped into the Meuse, and swam
away. She lived by begging, dressed in rags, and behaved in a
The last years of her life Christina passed in the convent of St.
Catherine at Saint-Trond, and there she died at the age of seventy-four.
Even while she lived there some who regarded her with great respect.
Louis, Count of Looz, treated her as a friend, welcoming her to his
castle, accepting her rebukes, and on his deathbed insisting on
manifesting his conscience to her. Blessed Mary of Oignies had regard
for her, the prioress of St Catherine's praised her obedience, and St
Lutgardis sought her advice.
I give up