A Patron for Life
St Augustine has become a patron of mine for a few reasons. There’s the obvious one in that he is a saint who was one of the greatest writers and teachers in Western Civilization. What’s not to love when you do the work that I do? Then, there is the more personal reason, or how I came to focus on this saint and go deeper in reading him and understanding more of his life.
19 years ago today, before I was deeply into reading the lives of the saints, I was scheduled for a mastectomy and reconstruction after a diagnosis of breast cancer. I wrote about this more extensively last year.
After more consultations and weighing risks and benefits, I consented to a mastectomy with reconstruction. And there was a date placed on the calendar several weeks hence. August 28. It became burned in my brain. Ever since my finding of the lump, a shadow seemed to be cast that was hard to shake. August 28, we would pray, would vanquish that.
Looking for any kind of redemption for that day, I opened the church calendar to find that it was St Augustine’s feast day… perhaps the greatest mind of Western Christianity — with over five million words written as a bishop and theologian, after his legendary conversion. God did his best work in Augustine after Augustine relinquished all to Him.
And, here I am, again, asking for Augustine’s great intercession and his inspiration to be a source of both of intercession and inspiration in my own life. Year 19 has included thus far a wonderful summer, even it has been keeping me away from the writing desk and from Among Women.
Visiting St Augustine
Listeners of Among Women, and my close friends, know that this summer I was far from home for about six weeks. It started out great. At the end of May, Bob and I took two weeks to drive down to Florida. Our final destination at the end of those two weeks was Clearwater, where I would go to spiritual direction school. Or what I’m affectionately renaming as my Summer Jesus Camp. (I hope to share something of that time a bit later on.)
In the first ten days of our road trip, we were able to visit Gettysburg, the shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton in Maryland, drive the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, visit family in Myrtle Beach, enjoy Charleston, and attend the CNMC in Atlanta with all our podcasting friends... and former colleagues.
The last four days were spent on Florida’s northern coast in St Augustine, and Cocoa Beach, to tour the “space coast”, AKA the Kennedy Space Center. But first we treated ourselves to a mini-pilgrimage in the Cathedral of St Augustine. (Now down there they say AWW-gus-teen. Up here we say a-GUS-tin. But I digress.)
It was a real joy to pray in the oldest parish in the United States, and to honor my patron in sickness and in health… and a real intercessor when it comes to teaching the faith!
Note: Click on photos to enlarge them.
The Life of Augustine in Glass
Yet what was most dramatic about this church was the stained glass. Some of the most beautiful I’ve seen of late, created at the beginning of the 20th century in Germany, over 100 years ago. All portrayed scenes from St Augustine’s life. Here’s a few…
And I’m saving my favorite for last… I simply love this rendering of the relationship between a holy mother and son. The colors here do not do the glass justice. See the video below for more.
All photos above are 2015 Copyright Pat Gohn, All Rights Reserved.
A brief history of the Cathedral of St Augustine... Catholics landing in Florida in 1565, and its extensive renovation in recent months..
My favorite prayer, and there are many attributed to St Augustine…
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy. Amen.
– St Augustine of Hippo-