Cormac MacConnell: Saints on a shelf tell of changing times

On the brink of the month of the Holy Souls, it is with saints and sinners we are dealing today and, sadly too, our deeply ingrained racism and misogyny and sheer sinful roguery.
Cormac MacConnell: Saints on a shelf tell of changing times

The truth is painful, but sure that is what ye always get large doses of here, so just take it on the chin.

This was triggered by a visit to a devout Galway home during the week, and the presence on the living room shelf of that ritual small army of statues of saints, which once used protect about every home, and still stand guard over many.

You probably have a sacred kind of space like that under your own roof.

If so, I suggest you observe the disposition of the statues more closely, and be prepared to be shocked.

Before that though I wish to deal with the most heinous sinner in our recent history.

He was a cute trader and dealer in anything that might turn a profit all his long life.

His surname was Brady, he was based in Co Cavan, and it was he, through relations of the same bent based in London, who flooded all Ireland with very flawed, sub-standard metal statues of the Child of Prague, in the months before the famous Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 1932.

Flawed? You maybe have one still and, if so, the Child’s poor head has fallen off at the slightest touch or movement ever since it came into the house.

Correct? And since this tragedy occurred long before the development of superglues, the repairs, often with blobs of putty, were ineffective altogether at all times.

The pure truth again.

In the Galway home, the poor Child of Prague was still lined out in the front rank, despite his deformity.

As always he flanked Saint Patrick, and the Holy Mother, and the Little Flower, and Maria Goretti, and the other venerables down all the years.

Dramatically though... and check for yourselves... the female saints were very clearly in the second row, and were physically smaller statues than the more macho males.

And I could not find Saint Bridget at all at all.

Is that prima facia evidence of misogyny?

Judge for yourselves.

Diverting slightly from the yet to come really frightening evidence of racism, I noted sadly that poor Saint Christopher is banished altogether.

He used to stand proudly in the front row, a gentle giant, cherished by all.

Remember him? He was Greek, I think, and used to bear the Child across a dangerous river, and was the patron of travellers.

Many of you once rode bicycles with his protective medallion riveted to the front mudguard to keep you safe.

Never no more.

I did a spot of checking, and learned that he was banished from the saintly regiments for some obscure reason, as far back as 1970.

Very sad that, and the road traffic fatalities, as ye know, have been climbing ever since.

Shockingly, finally, when I looked at the very rear of the display, I discovered the clear evidence of our inherent racism, literally in a corner, and even obscured by a cobweb.

Poor Saint Martin De Porres, very sad, very small, placed where he was always placed down the generations of our real monoculture, at the very back, almost hidden from sight.

Is it relevant that Saint Martin has a clearly darker skin than any of his fellow saints, the only one of that pigment?

Again, judge for yourselves.

While you are doing so, and maybe moving the cratur to the front row, remember please that he is the patron saint of all those of mixed race, and did mighty work in his time in his native Peru and far beyond, despite the fact he was a mere Dominican brother rather than a full-blooded priest.

I sinned slightly in the Galway home. I dusted him off, lifted him out of the shadows, and placed him right beside the Child with the broken neck. The world being the way it is, he was probably demoted again by the woman of the house after I departed.

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