One night a jet airliner explodes at 30,000 feet over the Atlantic and all alone, one passenger, strapped into his seat, finds himself falling like a stone out of the sky from amidst the flaming wreckage.David Seaton's News Links
"Saint Francis save me!" he cries out in anguish.
Suddenly he finds himself suspended in the air some 20,000 feet over the moonlit ocean. "Oh thank you Saint Francis!" he exclaims, his heart overflowing with gratitude.
Out of the darkness of the night a deep voice asks him, "Is that Saint Francis of Assisi or Saint Francis Xavier?".
We leave him thinking over his reply.
Yesterday I compared Obama's inauguration to the Spanish custom of parading images of the Virgin Mary around the street of parched villages to break severe droughts. I must assure readers that I meant no disrespect to Our Lady by this, only indicating the faith and fervor of the devotees gathered in Washington.
Although I am no longer a Catholic, if I ever really was one, I have, since I was a tiny child, an enormous and awed affection for and devotion to Mary. In any tight spot I would be most likely to mutter a Hail Mary, probably proceeded by a "Bismallah" and with a hearty "Hari Ram" for a chaser. I am ecumenically superstitious to a fault and fully understand and empathize with those faithful who packed the Mall in Washington yesterday.
However, this business of begging the intervention of Saints is a complicated affair: if done correctly it has often proven to be very efficient, but if not carried out with full attention to important details it will mostly prove entirely useless. The failure of most petitions can be laid to this sort of error of form and objective.
Heaven is apparently a very busy place with an immense and overworked bureaucracy composed of masses of venerable thisis and blessed thats led by a fast growing multitude of full saints, all of them with their own special, but often overlapping, areas of responsibility and multitasking to distraction, with no time to lose... and like the fellow in the story above, woe be to he that gets the address of his petition wrong.
Take for example the crisis in the American banking sector, most of whose members are now being described by experts as "zombie banks".
Who to pray to?
Spanish banks are under the patronage of Saint Charles of Borromeo, whose day, the fourth of November, is a holiday for all bank employees in the country. His patronage and protection must be most efficacious, as Spanish banks have proven to be the world's least affected by the crisis and in most cases are still highly profitable. However, it doesn't seem that Saint Charles of Borromeo protects banks of any other country than Spain. More's the pity.
Most ecclesiastical authorities that I have consulted favor the apostle Saint Matthew as the patron of bankers by default, as tax collecting was his daytime job. However as an apostle I would imagine that he might be too busy to pencil in the American crisis as Americans are very reluctant to pay taxes or to frequent tax collectors either.
There is an interesting alternative saint, one who may be, in actual fact, already on the case. This holy personage is well known as the patron saint of sailors but also has been known to intervene on behalf of pawnbrokers, prisoners and unmarried women, and yes, bankers too. This versatile and multifaceted saint is none other than Saint Nicholas, better known to most Americans as -- yes, you guessed it -- Santa Claus!
I think that the bailout of the financial sector already has this saint's fingerprints all over it. And from what I am reading about the new stimulus plan it seems sure that President Obama, better his wonders to perform, is placing himself and America's bankers under the protection and patronage of Saint Nicholas too.
Of course Americans have always worshiped Saint Nicolas and all his works with a fervor unmatched in all the world and it can be said that no other people in the world have put more faith, belief and trust in this saint.
Some scoffers of little faith may say that America's devotion to Saint Nicholas is the cause of all her troubles, but I am sure that he wont let America or Obama down in our hour of need. DS