Recently during a medieval Christianity course I was introduced to saint Christina the Astonishing, a Flemish beguine saint who torments herself in these horrible, awful ways–boiling cauldrons, hanging in gallows, drowning, running through thorns. Christina does all these things without being harmed, although she feels the pain caused by them. Christina’s actions cause strife within her community, who thinks she might be possessed. Throughout, we see Christina struggling to fit in with her community her gifts always marginalize her. I found the juxtaposition of divine deeds and very human struggles fascinating.
For Christmas, Keith bought me a print painted by an artist who imagines Christina as a feminist, rebellious saint. The one I received is here. The painting depicts a scene in which God resurrects Christina to do his work on earth. She awakens during her funeral mass and flies to the rafters, shocking all those in attendance. I love how the artist highlights the feminist, rebellious undertones in the hagiography, portraying Christina in red and focusing on the priest’s attempt to restrict her actions. The artist also has another Christina painting with some of the same themes, but sadly there’s no print available.