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Tracie Morell

The Venerable Prostitute Saint of Egypt

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The youngest child of 12, she was
the only girl. Turned her first trick
before the word woman was known.

She has no memory of the first taste of man,
that bitterness. She learned to soften
her palate with the scent of Lind oil

on her tongue. Her father believed
her purpose was to sate the insatiable
urges. Her mother gave up her body

so her unasked-for girl could have breath.
His eyes told her the secrets of
the widower. Done with her,

he handed her to his 11 sons. Any
desolate tract was a safer place for a pretty girl
than that house of men. On the day

of her birth, 12 years after the death of her mother,
Aegyptica faced the desert. Armed
with only the commodity of her body,

she set out on a pilgrimage of survival,
living on the sustenance of bodily passions
alone. There were men who loved her,

but it was the lion, who could read minds,
she yearned for. She had met it before
she reached the church made by men

where her body blazed from steam. Pilgrims
loved her scent, beauty contained in
all she was. When the lion, Theotokos,

had first licked her fresh wounds of flesh,
she realized the look of breath—the one
her mother had given her. Naked

in front of naysaying men, the lion's touch
was a comfort which gave meaning
to bread, offering a felt language

having no words. She wanted to keep this,
so out of passion, and in silence, the lion's breath
turned into 3 loaves of bread and told her

to redeem her wounds because they were
not her fault. The lion gave her all
breath uttered to speak, the truth.

Polish Mystic Saint of Bread and Dogs

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Her last taste of the broken bread
was in the Pradnik Sanatorium Chapel,
long before they called her Saint.

As Sister Mary Faustina of the Blessed
Sacrament coughed, the bread

speckled with consumption. The dogs
began to congregate with her

arrival. Kitchen hands laid the bread
of Christ, made with gouda and stout,

on a makeshift altar made of saw horses
and a warped and splintered mahogany door
covered with naught but a threadbare sheet.

First came an Owczarek Podhalanski,
a dirty animal; but it could translate prayers.

More came, all different breeds. The Hounds
of Hell came later, already hundreds there

to witness a dying nun's visions. It was
the arrival of the beasts that told the men,
who owned the Word, that she had been

touched. Those men did not know
that truth never has the same meaning
twice. On the day of speckled bread,

dogs knelt for a Nun carried to the altar.

Saint Tatiana of Rome, and Those Who Suffered

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Fasting, her knees had taken on
a permanent color of bruises, and pain
all up her back. Having
no idea how far from compassion
the world was, she believed

prayer would save anything,
recited Matthew 18:9 while believers
gouged out her eyes. No longer seeing
the perversions around her, her mind
took on the permanent speed

of thought. If the blind
saint were able to see
the liquid screen of my HDTV,
she'd have to know only the good
are dead, that everyone else watches

everything so much that nothing is
seen. All she has left
is her name. All she wants
is to be nothing more than dust
in the air, invisible to the naked eye.

Patron Saint of Sex and Heads

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Commanding a troop of 11,000 elite virgin soldiers,
her mission was to seduce the Huns,
to keep them from Cologne. Cyriacus,
the so-called Pope, joined the battalion

to win Ursula's affection. He secretly vowed—
on one of the nights Jesus came to cuddle him
till morning, singing various heavenly Novenas—
that he would plant his seed in her. Popes

were different when God was away on business.
Ursula knew no man could be trusted, and her troops
were hot and tired from the long pilgrimage
on foot. Ursula could see the holiest of chaste men

desired to be inside her. She needed to lead
her soldiers to camp by water. Cyriacus blessed
the pool so all 11,001 curves of cajolery could bathe
their sins in sanctity. All the soldiers, especially

the one named Cordula, treasured Ursula. The love
mutual, they would feed each other cherries
naked under the judgmental sky. The Pope was
a jealous man, and always, when he saw Ursula

and Cordula spitting pits into the sanctified water,
hatred for both sirens would pulse in his temple.
Finally he fled to find the Huns to warn them
of the great seduction heading for their beds,

but he was too late and they couldn't believe him
when faced with the virgins. The women were
left to live together as flowers that have no seeds,
having beheaded every man they'd encountered.

The Saint of Veiled Silence and Mother of Two Saints

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Silent under the veil, everyone believed
she was devoted to the word.

She was terrified of things that happen.

Born to a man who waged wars with neighbors
and lived a very long time, the night

of her first born, with her wrists and ankles
bound, she screamed for relief

but was given a horse bit instead.

In the morning, when she came to,
her daughter beside her in a sopping mess
of placenta and goose feathers,

her husband lashed her twice across her face
so she would next have a son. Her womb

had not yet stopped bleeding and she was
barely breathing, still he planted more seeds.

Her husband, her father's brother, had
appetites for more than just fine breads.

She produced no male heir. So she had
conversations with what she thought

was God, a secret listener who would listen
to her secrets and etch them on paper

and pound them in the dough she helped
the wet-nurse-cook prepare. People thought

she was 20, but she was only 14, her hips
built for children. Her face was a painting

before she became obsessed. She chewed through
5 horse bits in all, surrounding herself
with the comfort of other women

who labored to bake bread for some God.

➥ Bio