(St. Peter’s Church, Munich)
She is believed to have been martyred in 310 A.D., beheaded
with a hatchet. Once kept hidden in a wooden box,
she was put on display in 1883. Each year, a feast day is held
in her honor complete with a High Mass and candle procession
on November 17th.
She was propped up one day
in a black-and-silver sepulcher
with an eternal glass view,
her vest sewn with gaudy charms,
her gloved hands clutching a chalice
half-filled with sand
and a long golden feather.
How difficult to look at those eyes,
fixed in a perpetual stare mocking death,
at her stone-studded skeleton
encased in glass, and to think
about her estranged life,
a lifetime devoted to Christ, her ex-lover,
and how you said:
"Poor, pitiful woman cheated by faith
and her celibate single-mindedness."
And then to imagine that someone
could bejewel her, knowing all along
that her most precious gem,
her locus of power,
had rotted away to bone
where "even from the tomb
the voice of nature cries."
“Munditia, Patron Saint of Lonely Women” was originally published in Willow Review, 1992.