Saint You Know Who

   There are two ways in which I have clear vision and knowledge that as we grow older our physical abilities change.  One way is by the experience of self.   The other way is by the experience of being with Mom as she goes through her 90’s.  

    With each hurdle that Mom has to face, I have seemed to add on a saint or two or three to a litany asking for help.   Of late, there are problems with her feet/ankles not always cooperating when we try to help her up; then there are the knees which now knock badly; also her neck becomes easily very stiff; and her throat often has to be cleared; and we’ll end here with the sore from basal carcinoma that she has on her nose.  It is not life threatening, but it can cause discomfort.  

   So St. Peter is invoked to help with her feet since he and Our Lord had a little discussion about feet at the Last Supper; St. Dismas is given care of the knees, since unlike Jesus’ his were broken on Calvary; the neck goes to the care of St. Thomas More since he so blithely offered his up on the chopping block; throat is easy:  St. Blaise; and then came the nose.  

    Basal cell….causes the nose to be very tender.   The sore never heals completely, and it is aggravated and painful if it is bumped.   Of late, we seem to be bumping into it a lot, causing it to bleed.   I thought, “We’ve got to get a saint to help us with this.” 

    As I was going through the litany at night by Mom’s bedside, I couldn’t think of anybody for the nose.   I noticed that men were being invoked for all other things, so I tried to think of a santa (Spanish for woman saint – not St. Nick).  Nobody.  So I just asked for somebody.

    After praying with Mom, I began to read Night Prayer from the Magnificat.  This is not something I usually do, actually never do, but for some reason that night I decided to do it.   Right after night prayers in Magnificat is a new feature called “Saint Who?” and this month this section features saints who suffered from chronic illnesses.   The chronic sufferer of the day was Saint Ezekiel Moreno y Diaz.   Saint who?  

    I began to read about this Spanish born Augustinian saint who went as a missionary to the Philippines and became sick with malaria which affected him the rest of his life.   He then was sent to Colombia and ended up being named bishop.   In his 17th year in Colombia, he contracted a rare cancer of the nose.   Of course, he did.   Mom’s basal … is the most common form of cancer and Ezekiel’s was among the rarest forms:   a perfect match.   St. Ezekiel decided to stay in Colombia and “rest gently in the arms of Jesus” but friends persuaded him to return to Spain to be treated.   Two surgeries with little anesthesia later and months of intense pain he began to lose his ability to hear, speak and see.   He died August 19, 1906, but he lives now to help Mom with her cancer sore, especially that we can keep from bumping into it and aggravating it.

    Even with all the difficulties that have been listed here, yesterday Mom had a new nurse visit and she smiled at Angelia who said that Mom was clearly in no discomfort.  She wanted to attribute this to the care we have been giving her, but really what we can give is prayer, leaving the care in the hands of the likes of St. Ezekiel Moreno Diaz who is no longer a Saint Who to us.


Jezu, ufam Tobie.