Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jane of Cácere

For reasons I am not clear on, almost every reference to Jane of Cacere is in Chinese. Not reading Chinese I have only the faintest idea why. OKay, I do not even have that. As today is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, most of the calendars are full of that event & have passed over Jane completely.

& it is easy to see why. The Feast is a celebration of one of the great leaps of faith it takes to be a catholic, maybe even a christian. I have always been amused by the term "leap" in the expression "leap of faith"; from my perspective it looks more like a surrender. I once told my bookclub that I thought religious dogmas of all kinds teach people to be gullible. I was surprised that the churchgoer among us agreed (yes, we only had one in those days).

In any event it is hard to find much about Jane. There are so many Janes. & she was a Benedictine nun & abbess who spent most of her life cloistered. & she was killed in her church (her home, her workplace) by an invading army. As women's deaths go, it does not get much more anonymous or garden-variety than that.

There is so much more to say on this that I have completely run out of steam. If you are interested, the statistics are easy enough to find.

If Jane is long gone & almost forgotten, Caceres, Spain is still there. It is a hard place to get a handle on. The Arabs came in the 8th century, the Jews were expelled in the 15th. In between, Caceres alternately thrived & suffered in that way borders in all eco-systems do. I am confident that if I got off the web & on the ground, I could find the story of Jane of Caceres easily. No doubt something now stands on the site of her martyrdom, & considering the longevity of the community it may well still be a church. On December 8th perhaps the young women of the town follow a statue covered in ribbons through the streets. Maybe they light candles & make predictions about how many children they will have. Maybe not.

I think it is too hard to remember suffering that remains alive. Again I will not look too hard for those awful statistics. It is easier to celebrate something that could have only happened the once. Or not at all. How do you celebrate the victim of a crime that is committed every day?

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