In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Communion of Saints, and; Holy Thursday
  • Julie Stoner (bio)

Communion of Saints

Our catechists believed that if we kids were made to emulate our namesake saints instead of Spider-Man and Cinderella, All Hallows’ Eve would once again become a holy vigil, not a night of ghouls and—more satanic still—pop culture icons.

At home, we told our mom, who rolled her eyes and said the three of us were on our own, because she’d sewn an Indian, a tiger, and something else (a witch, I think) already, and she was done with Halloween, she said.

As for us, we girls had no intention of being seen outside on Halloween in costumes that would surely guarantee immediate religious persecution. But neither could we join the church procession as witch or tiger. Indian attire might work, if one of us were named Kateri (not yet called Saint, but close enough at Blessèd). As it was, we girls were on our own.

Veronica, the eldest, had it easy. She drew the face of Jesus on a cloth, then did her usual primping at the mirror. (She always had an image to uphold.)

Tamera Jean dressed up as Joan of Arc, complete with homemade armor, sword, and shield— her tomboy antics now endorsed by God. So she was in her element as well.

But I was stumped. I’d never even heard Saint Julie mentioned. Was there one? I asked my mom. She said there must have been, because the priest had let her baptize me that way; but I’d been named for someone Mom once knew: “No saint there,” she laughed.

Just be Saint Ann, since that’s your middle name. As Mary’s mom, [End Page 115] you’d really only have to dress a doll in pink and blue, and carry it.”

I gagged. I hated dolls, and even if I deigned to carry one in honor of Saint Ann, the few that had survived my parenthood were too unclean to play the role of Mary. My sisters said they’d never lend me theirs at any price. So I was on my own.

Days went by, and I was getting desperate.

I borrowed Grandma’s well-thumbed book of saints and found a ghastly Julie picture. No, she wasn’t like Sebastian, full of arrows whose archers must have climbed a lot of trees and dug a lot of trenches, to achieve those entry angles. (He was executed by his fellow soldiers, and I knew firsthand the lengths to which one’s peers might go to punish non-conformists, so I thought the painting lifelike.)

Neither was she like Agatha, her breasts upon a tray, and thus the patron saint of bread and bells— two primmer explanations for the domes she seemed to offer like a waitress.

No, Julie’s image left all that behind.

With swiftly-mounting horror, I assessed her wimple and her habit. This was awful. Julie symbolized conformity— the very thing Sebastian had resisted; against which Joan of Arc had raised her sword; the thing I feared would swallow me alive unless I fought it fiercely every day. Julie carried nothing to assert her own identity—no broken wheel, no pen and book, no lily. I imagined the dreaded “Who are YOU supposed to be?” bombarding me, unless I wore a sign. [End Page 116] Really, I’d do just as well to shout, “My saint’s so dull, a nametag was required!”

At least she had a nickname, though. The caption said Julie was “the Smiling Saint,” and yes, she smiled, although she didn’t show her teeth. She pressed her lips together and raised her cheeks— a strategy I recognized, because from first grade on, I’d smiled like that myself to hide my snaggleteeth. Though that alone would have made my flesh crawl, something worse chilled me to the core: her white-rimmed eyes ogled madly, stupidly, above my own familiar, unrevealing smile.

That wasn’t merely creepy—that was more disturbing than a tray of severed breasts.

My patron saint’s an idiot, I gasped. There must be some mistake. I skimmed the text, looking for an...


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pp. 115-120
Launched on MUSE
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