A glance through the Martyrologium Romanum today will produce astonishment.
Among the many saints listed today you will find,
St. Christina, virgin and martyr
Sts. Boris and Gleb
Bl. Nicholas Garlick, Robert Ludlam, and Richard Simpson
Bl. Jopseh Lambton
St. John Boste
A whole rft of Spanish martyrs…
10*. Sancti Trudonis in Brabantia, baetae Christinae, cognomenato Mirabilis, virginis, quia in ea, tum corpore afflicta, tum spiritu rapta, Dominus mirabiliter operatus est.
Yes, it is the feast of St. Christine the Astonishing today.
St. Christina was born in Brusthem, Belgium in 1150. She was orphaned at 3. At 21 she reportedly experienced something like an epileptic fit and she appeared that she had died. When Mass was being said for her, her body suddenly levitated to the ceiling of the Church. When the priest commanded her to return to earth, she did. Christine said that she had been to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. She was to return to earth to pray for souls in Purgatory. She explained later that she floated up to the roof of the church because she could not stand the smell of the people’s sins. Her description of the damned is sobering.
Probably in part because people thought she was crazy, St. Christina was very shy and avoided people, going so far as to climb trees or hiding in ovens. In those enlightened days many thought she was insane. She lived a very austere life, passing the last years of her life in St. Catherine’s convent in Saint-Trond. She died 25 July 1224.
As chronicled by her contemporaries, she threw herself into burning furnaces and there suffered great tortures for extended time uttering frightful cries, yet coming forth with no sign of burning upon her. In winter she would plunge into the frozen Meuse River for hours and days and weeks at a time all the while praying to God and imploring His Mercy. She allowed herself to be carried by the currents down river to the mill where the wheel "whirled her round in a manner frightful to behold" yet she had no dislocations or broken bones. She was chased by dogs that bit and tore her flesh. She ran from them into thickets of thorns, and though covered in blood she would return with no wound or scar.
I have no doubt people were astonished by Christine.
As far as the other St. Christine is concerned, the 3rd c. virgin martyr, you can visit her tomb and a nice catacomb in Bolsena in northern Lazio near Tuscany. Her tomb, which in centuries past was highly sought and venerated, is in the very church where the Eucharistic miracle occurred which sparked the feast of Corpus Christi. Bolsena is on the Via Francigena, which stretches between the doorway of Canterbury Cathedral and the threshold of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome.
I recommend that you prepare a nice supper tonight and enjoy, in honor of the Christines and other saints celebrated today, a glass of the nice and inexpensive Tuscan red Santa Cristina made by Antinori.
It is not, perhaps, an astonishing wine, but it will fit in every budget and it will make this day a little more special.