april 20. agnes of montepulciano, baby ascetic extraordinaire
On the day of Saint Agnes' birth, strange burning torches (or "flying lights," in one account) appeared at her crib side (or surrounding her house), signaling that she was "a favored child" / "a pious child." Though Agnes came from riches, she "renounced the world" early on and never partook of its dangers / pleasures. From infancy, she spent whole hours chanting Our Fathers and Hail Marys as she knelt in the corner of a chamber. At nine, she became a "Sister of the Sack," donning a sackcloth habit or scapular. When at fifteen she was consecrated as an abbess, tiny white crosses rained from the sky, pouring on her witnesses. For fifteen years Agnes suffered in sickness in silence. She dined only on bread and water and slept on the hard ground on a rock pillow. For this they call Agnes "austere." In visions, she received communion from angels, a triad of stones from the Virgin, and real gold cross from the baby Christ, who once allowed her to hold him. By some accounts, the cross was her consolation prize for losing a tug-of-war, wherein the Christ child was the rope, with the virgin herself. Wherever Agnes knelt down to pray, flowers bloomed. She was known to levitate up to two feet while praying, exposing the fresh buds beneath her. The moment she died, all the babies in her vicinity, even those too small to speak, told of her passing and piety.
DEVIL CROWS & LEWD HOUSES
"As a child, while walking through a field, Agnes was attacked by a murder of crows. She announced they were devils intent on keeping her far from the land." The devil-crows were intent on protecting a "lewd house." Years later, "her townsmen, earnestly desiring to be possessed of her again, demolished [the] lewd house and erected upon the spot a nunnery, which they bestowed upon her."
ECHOES OF HITCHCOCK
Perhaps these peck-marked children have since founded a convent at the Bodega Bay spot where Tippi Hendren parked her car.
Google search: "i can't stop praying."
Among the 1M results:
"Scrupulosity is a rare form of OCD focused on prayers, rituals, or thoughts rather than the more common germ-phobia & compulsive hand washing."