july 24. christina the astonishing
Patron saint of millers, people with mental disorders, mental health workers, lunatics, therapists, psychiatrists
In her early 20s, Christina suffered a seizure so severe that witnesses thought she had died. The seizure, some say, was brought on by extreme inward contemplation and bodily neglect (or, as one blogger suggests, she died of "letting herself go"). During her funeral, Christina arose from catalepsy "full of vigor" and "levitated up to the rafters" because she "could not bear the smell of sinful people there." Christina maintained that she had indeed passed through Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. She said that as soon as her body discharged it, angels received her soul and carried it to Purgatory, a locale she mistook for Hell due to the extreme torments its visitors endured. In Heaven she met with God, who gave her a choice: she could stay put or return to earth. On earth she would suffer aplenty, but the souls in Purgatory would be delivered from the flames, and she'd convert earthbound criminals through her example.
Back on earth, she threw herself into furnaces and wailed while ablaze, only to emerge burn- and soot-free. In the winter months, she plunged in the icy river for days and/or weeks at a time. She let a mill's wheel whirl her and drown her without breaking or dislocating her parts. Rabid dogs bloodied her, snapping her flesh and chasing her through thickets of thorns, but she'd wind up without any wounds. An introvert, she climbed high into trees and hid out in ovens to avoid contact with others. Many thought she was prey to a demon possession and attempted to capture her, but she always escaped.
A man once broke Christina's leg to "subdue" her for being too spirited, but she managed to flee to the tree tops unharmed; there her virginal breasts wept nourishing milk to sustain her. Her miraculous breasts also leaked oil, which she used to flavor her bread and treat her festering sores. This was fortunate for Christina, who complained that human food was like "swallowing frog's bowels."