Friday, February 5, 2010

Lost: an anniversary

This is, of course, the anniversary of CleoPatton's walk-about adventure when we thought he might be lost.  When we found him, we thought he might still be as-good-as lost.  As I type this he is still sitting on lost-cause eggs.

When CleoPatton went missing, I would have lit a candle, but things-that-are lost fall into so many areas: Saint Anthony of Padua in general, but Saint Zita for keys, house keys in particular. I could not find a patron for lost birds or lost dinosaurs, although there are slews for lost innocence & lost innocents.  I have to figure that just comes up more often.  In light of the lost emu anniversary (& the final episode of Lost), I thought I would take a closer look at today's virgin & I am mostly sorry I did.  Her martyrdom (& the every  depiction of same) is particularly gruesome.  Let's just say those are not loaves of bread she is offering on that plate & leave it at that.

The highlights are: Agatha was born to a wealthy family & decided to dedicate her life to G*d, adopting among other things chastity as her lifestyle choice.  The church avoids the word abstinence in this context & with good reason.  Until very recently, abstinence did not mean what you might think it means: an individual who practices abstinence does not not have sex, he/she just limits all sexual acts to those partaken with a marital partner.  This means of course that abstinence as birth control is only effective if you are not married; if you are married it is the same thing as no birth control at all.  As for abstinence preventing the spread of disease that only works if your spouse is also abstinent. 

Back to Agatha:  she went with chastity (which is what most people mean when they say abstinence).  It does not matter if she was beautiful, she was of some rank & had some fortune.  That was enough for some men to want to marry her (abstinence still meant abstinence in those days & not everyone even pretended to abstain).  One in particular was able to do her great harm: imprisoning her, torturing her & in at least one version twice forcing her to work in a brothel when she refused him.  It is that last bit that really got my attention:  forced her to work in a brothel.  Twice.  Maybe I need to clarify.

Quintian/Quintianus/let's just call him Q removed Agatha from her family & caused her great suffering.  When she still refused him, he put her to work in the sex trade.  Then he brought her back to him & was again refused.  It's not the refusal that gets me, it's the offer.  After all this he still wanted ....her. 

Lets be realistic: if Q had the power to take her, etc. in the first place, he already had effective control over her lands/wealth/whatever.  He went on to demonstrate a more-than-complete-control over her person with completely over the top punishments.  But, while punishing, it seems they were not intended as punishments but persuaders.  She would not be persuaded, though & went on to die & be mutilated (or be mutilated & die, it's a toss up). Still I keep coming back to the lost part of this story, the obsession that is just hinted at. 

& that is all there is to the story really.  Agatha is unsurprisingly invoked by rape victims.  As a function of the not-loaves-of-bread, she is also patroness of breast cancer victims.  More generally from both:  torture victims & wet-nurses & then another cycle out: nurses & lay-women & all breast health.   More obscurely still: bell-founders & jewelers. 

//as for the tv show, would you believe I have never scene so much as a minute of any episode?  Any references would be lost on me.

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