“Secretly taking masculine garb in order to disguise herself as a man….” This 12th century English woman fled a marriage enforced by her abusive mother and lived for years hidden in a hermit’s cell until freed. Read her life in C. H. Talbot, trans., The Life of Christina of Markyate: A Twelfth-Century Holy Woman, Samuel Fanous and Henrietta Leyser, eds (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
I love student Anthony Russo’s take on Christina. It’s playful and fun–all the while acknowledging Christina’s hardships. Here is Anthony’s take–all from the perspective of a disaffected teen.
CHRISTINA OF MARKYATE:
by Anthony Robert Russo
A Brief Account of the Life of Christina of Markyate*
As a child, Christina would pray out loud. She believed that, because her words were intended for Jesus, other people wouldn’t overhear what she said. She was wrong, her parents and siblings heard her praying out loud, and everybody made fun of her. Christina would grow up to become stubborn and rebellious, devoting herself to her religious beliefs instead of conforming to the demands of jerkface society.
When Christina was a little older she met a bishop, who was already “dating” Christina’s aunt, who decided that he would like to “date” Christina as well. Christina’s parents thought that this was a nifty idea because then the bishop would owe them a favor. Christina, however, wished to retain her, uh, “purity” and to go steady with Jesus whom she intended to marry. Christina used her wits to escape the bishop. Angry and frustrated, the bishop plotted to get his revenge and deprive her of her cherished “purity”.
Anyway, the bishop and Christina’s parents forced her to get engaged to a guy named Bert. Bert wasn’t really a bad guy, but he wasn’t very smart or brave either and everybody in town was using peer pressure to get him to get Christina to give up her spiritual beliefs and marry him. Eventually everyone ended up chasing Christina all over the place, so she prayed super hard and hid behind a curtain and nobody could find her. Later she was being chased around by Bert again but Christina prayed super hard again and jumped over a really tall fence and got away.
So then like Christina ran away from home and hid out in a tiny room for a long time. A friend brought her food and water twice a day and let her out to go to the bathroom, but mostly she was all alone and couldn’t move and there was no TV or internet or anything to do at all.
There’s an old movie called Altered States and in it this guy locks himself in a tiny room and goes crazy and turns into a cave man. Even though this insane thing happens it’s kind of a boring movie, really. Christina didn’t devolve like that but she did start having cool visions where she was like visited by the Virgin Mary and had conversations with Jesus and stuff. I guess it was more like that island movie where Tom Hanks talks to a beach ball.
Eventually everyone realizes that Christina is never going to marry Bert and that Christina only does what Christina wants. Mainly Christina wants to be left alone and imagine that she’s married to Jesus so basically she’s given a church and does that for the rest of her life.
*Based on recollections of a personal reading of The Life of Christina of Markyate.
Rainy Day Fun: How to Simulate Christina’s Holy Visions
- Find a small person.
- Find a large locker.
- Lock the small person in the large locker for five years or so.*
- Remember to let the small person out of the locker twice a day for food and bathroom breaks! But make sure you aren’t followed or discovered by the authorities.**
- Ask the person if they’ve had any cool visions while they were locked in the locker.
*Check with an adult or guardian to make certain this is legal where you live.
** This is especially important if step 3 is illegal in your area.
Was Christina Cool or Uncool?
This is a pretty complicated question. On the one hand, everyone kind of picked on Christina, so everyone was uncool to her. So it makes sense that she would decide that she was better than all the crappy uncool jerks around her and that she was special and had a special relationship with Jesus.
Thinking you’re better than everyone else? That’s kind of uncool. I bet Jesus thinks that’s dumb.
At the same time, though, Christina stood up for herself and her beliefs no matter what else anybody said or did, and that’s hardcore cool, that is like straight-edge punk rock cool. Like real punk rock, Minor Threat or Bikini Kill, not Green Day which is for jerks and jerkfaces. I really hate Green Day and it makes me angry that a crappy band like that had a career and a Broadway show.
Bikini Kill and Jesus totally stood up for what they believed in.
So I guess that it’s tough to say for sure what’s cool and what’s uncool. The best thing probably in general is not to be a jerk.
I’m not going to put any links here. Why should I? This page is on the internet so if you’re looking at it I’m guessing you know how to at least do an internet search. I’ll help you do an internet search if you need me to, but only if you pay me.
Works Cited/Image Sources
The Life Of Christina Of Markyate. Trans. C.H. Talbot. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998. Print.
“Anchoress – Toyah WIlcox.” DVD Beaver. n.p, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014
“Radio Smart Talk: What To Do If A Child Is Bullied And If A Child Is A Bully.” Transforming Health. WITF, 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
“Separated At Birth.” Woodge. n.p., 11 Sep. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
© 2014 Anthony Robert Russo
By Anthony Robert Russo