It was time to organize the Beautiful Corner.
I call it the “Beautiful Corner” because that’s its name; if I were to describe it honestly, I suppose I’d call it a tacky corner– or maybe the Sticky Tack corner, since that’s what I use to hold all the icons in place. There are so many colorful icons on those two walls it looks like a patchwork quilt, but it just keeps growing.
Today, a friend sent me a big package of laminated cardboard icons: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Hildegard, Julian, Kateri, Brigid and the Myrrhbearers. I deeply love all of those saints. I had to have them in my Tacky Corner. But there was barely any room.
I did some shuffling. I took down the Divine Mercy and a couple of Theotokos icons so they could visit upstairs with the icons in my bedroom. I split the lumps of Sticky Tack and moved the holy cards closer together. Saint Anthony of Padua right up next to the Nativity icon. Theotokos the Unburnt Bush next to Our Lady of Guadalupe– two mysterious depictions of Our Lady’s maternity together. Mother of Sorrows with her seven swords. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Peter and Paul. Francis, not an icon but a tiny holy card I found blowing down the street the day I met Michael. Christopher, my husband’s middle name. Blessed Theodore Romzha, who was martyred by communists. The Orthodox saints I got from the giveaway rack in the back of the OCA church when I snuck in to pray.
I put the new lady saint icons near the Theotokos, Mary Magdalene, Therese and the archangel icons– my sisters, my aunts, my mothers according to the New Creation. I count the archangels as sisters since they’re not really men. The Eastern church names all seven who Enter and Serve; I’ve got icons of five so far.
Saint Michael is the one who reminds me most of Our Lady, though I can’t exactly say why. They feel the same.
Then, since I was tidying, I organized the relics on the card tables below the icons. I have a piece of cloth worn or touched by Therese; I don’t speak French well enough to translate the verb. I’ve got medals touched to Gemma, Lucy and Josemaria and a piece of Maria Goretti’s clothing. I’ve got a medal that has a glass bubble in the back, containing a drop of Lourdes Water.I have a braided Rosary touched to Father Mike Scanlan’s infamous relic of Saint Michael the Archangel. I’ll bet you didn’t think it was possible to have a relic of Saint Michael the archangel, did you? Well, you can if Saint Michael appears to somebody, standing on a rock in a cave, and then somebody else shaves the top off the rock and puts it in a reliquary.
I have a medal with a tiny fragment of paper under glass on the back. I was told that someone held up a prayer book during the alleged apparitions at at Garabandal, and Our Lady kissed it– so the faithful shredded up the prayer book to make relics of Our Lady’s kiss. I don’t believe in Garabandal, but I’m not going to throw away a blessed medal.
I have a Rosary made of hemp and pony beads by a deceased artist friend of my husband’s. I also have a Sacred Heart he braided out of palms.
I have a broken Rosary that used to be silver with iridescent white beads. It was handed to me by a pious lady who saw I didn’t have a piece of cloth to touch to the relics of the True Cross, the nails and the other instruments of the Passion when they came to Franciscan University for veneration. I looked at carefully it under good light. I’m sure it was silver with white beads. After I went through the line and touched it to the relics, it was gold-colored, and each bead had a pink spot shaped like a heart. I can’t explain that and I’m not going to try.
I have a battery-powered flicker candle that a beggar handed to me on the bus.
I arranged the odds and ends. I stacked the paper icons Rose has been writing on tracing paper behind the relics. I swept up the fragmented bits of blessed palm branch for burning. I snapped a picture to brag, because I didn’t know when the Beautiful Corner would look clean again. It doesn’t really look clean now, just less messy.
There’s a metaphor in all of this for the spiritual life, but I’m too tired from cleaning to think what it is.
(photo by the author)