Tuesday, July 6, 2010

St. Martin of Tours (316 to Nov. 8, 397)

Tucked into an Easter basket from my parents one year, when I was an adult living on my own, was a paperback book about the significance of age throughout history. It was filled with trivia and tidbits, but what caught my eye was the section that said Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" when she was in her 40s. I was shocked. Not just because I have a degree in English, but because most people know she was 21 when the novel was published.
Not one who's quick to criticize, I thought it best to write to the author and tell him I enjoyed the book despite the major error. A couple of weeks after I mailed the letter, I got a call from a guy who called himself "J.F." and what transpired was a two-year correspondence through letter writing.
I learned that along with writing the book, J.F. loved travelling to Europe (he sent me detailed itineraries from most of his trips), taught at a college in Michigan, had been in several serious relationships, had a best friend named Larry, liked to eat risotto, and took warm baths in "good smelling" gel.
J.F. enjoyed autumn mornings which reminded him of being in elementary school and one of his favorites cities was Stuttgart, Germany. He always sent me notes on lovely museum cards or carefully chosen note paper.
From me, he learned that I once married a Jewish guy outside the Roman Catholic Church, had the marriage blessed, and then went through a divorce and annullment. I had travelled to Europe several times and the Caribbean, was happy to live alone, and that I would never marry again even if Jesus Christ came down from Heaven and asked me.
Then one day, I received a final card from J.F. and a woman named Heather saying they had gotten married.
I never had feelings for J.F. and we never met. It was more like a pen friend thing at a time when there was no e-mailing. I was forced to put my thoughts on paper and express myself concisely like a college writing assignment.
And, it was better than counseling, because the person who read the letter didn't know me and could give sound advice from a distance.
St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Germany (one of J.F.'s special places). He was born in modern day Hungary in 316. St. Martin was a bishop of Tours, France and because of his connection to Hungary and France is called a spiritual "bridge" throughout Europe.
His biography was written by a contemporary, Sulpicius Severus. St. Martin rescued the young orphan St. Brice of Tours.
St. Martin died on Nov. 8, 397 in France. His feast day is Nov. 11.

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