Thursday, 10 April 2014

Heavens! 21st century saints

I learned something new and rather delightful this week. 

That in itself is not unusual – most weeks I stumble across some new nugget of knowledge that makes me go “Hmmm”, “Huh?” or “Ha ha!”.

What makes this week’s revelation noteworthy was the fact that it was related to religion.

It was to my great delight that I discovered that St Kevin – yes folks, Kev himself – is the Patron Saint of blackbirds. How cool (and how unnecessary) is that?

Further research revealed that there’s a saint for pretty much anything you can think of, including the beatified protector of invincible people, the one and only (but surely underworked and bored stupid) St Drausinus.

Then there was Genesius of Rome, a stand-up comic of his time who experienced a conversion whilst on stage mocking a Christian baptism. I guess the modern equivalent would be Tim Minchin falling to his knees shouting “Halleluyah!” – and meaning it – slap in the middle of his “Thank you, God” song. Considering that he was sainted for giving up comedy, it’s a bit odd that he’s the patron saint of comedians. But I guess You-Know-Who works in mysterious ways, doesn't He/She/It?. Genesius is also the dude who keeps an eye on actors, clowns, lawyers, barristers, converts, dancers, musicians, printers, stenographers and…   torture victims (what?).
I definitely fall into at least three of those categories (I’ll let you guess which) and perhaps more, so I suppose he should be my guy. Shame I don’t do the whole God thing, really.

But heavens to Betsy! (More of her later). This is the 21st century, an increasingly secular age in which lip service is paid to all creeds and credos. So, why shouldn’t the godless get saints too?

Here are some of suggestions for saints particularly suited to our times and the special needs of western civilisation in this modern, oh-so-enlightened age.

Our Lady of Aspartame, Patron Saint of junk food dieters. You know the ones I mean – the ones who run a mile when someone offers a grape, screaming in horror at the thought of “All that sugar!”, but who happily glug back the diet Coke whilst nibbling daintily on a fat-free, taste-free, nutrition-free E-number bar. After all, if Coco Chanel had meant us to be lumpy and bumpy, designer jeans would come in sizes larger than Pre-teen Famine Victim, wouldn’t they? Our Lady is the one who protects them from the derision of the dumpy and confirms their deeply-held belief first uttered by their founding priestess Wallace Simpson, that a woman can never be too thin.
Her devotees can be found wandering the aisles of H&M, chewing on caffeine patches, bemoaning the 'huge' sizes and mindlessly repeating their mantra “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”.

At the other end of scale we find St Barry of Bridgend, the Patron Saint of binge drinkers. Positively Dionyssean in his outlook, Baz demands that his devotes pay homage to him every Friday and Saturday night by downing the body weight of a baby African elephant in cheap booze before discovering an almost spiritual inability to walk down the street without regurgitating on stray dogs or taking a dump under a streetlight. 
Saint Baz looks rewards his faithful followers by providing them with sensible friends who take away their car keys (and most importantly, their mobile phones) before a night out. Not a merciful saint, however, he leaves those to fail to worship him to literally left stew in their own juice.

Some of those who escape the clutches of St Barry inevitably end up in mocking embrace of Simon of Cowell, protector of the deluded talentless. They can be found most weekends, hogging the karaoke machines in pubs and clubs and being egged on by drunken followers of Baz to go for it and audition for the latest exercise in reality humiliation the box is offering. Best known for building 'em up, then ruthlessly knocking ‘em down, St Simon’s golden rule is to be cruel to be kind, or kind to be cruel, whichever generates the highest ratings and biggest turnover. 

St Angelina of the Perpetual Pout inspires particular devotion from her followers, as she represents the absolute possibility of transforming from vice-addled bimbo to earth motherly sainthood, by virtue of a few judiciously selected adoptions, the ability to give birth and the uncanny ability to make a sack-cloth sari drape her body like a frock from a designer known for his 'Va-Va-Voom'. Most of the time, her eyes are downcast, but perfectly mascara-ed, as she endures the penance of daily bee stings to keep her lips swollen like a guppy suffering from anaphylaxic shock.

I can’t close without mentioning St Betsy (I did promise, after all). She’s my favourite, and when I grow up I want to be just like her, complete with the lop-sided halo and barbed wire wings. She’s the patron saint of feisty old ladies, who refuse to age gracefully, probably drink a little too much and definitely have the dirtiest jokes.

These are just a small sample from the pantheon of modern-day saints. I’m sure you know some I haven’t discovered yet – so, please, enlighten me.
I SO want to believe.

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