One of the requirements for admission into that select club is proof that the saint-to-be interceded with God on behalf of an earthly supplicant by performing a miracle. Actually two miracles, one to be beatified or declared "blessed" and another to be finally declared a saint.
|A miracle close to home.|
The roster of Catholic saints and their miracles must run into the thousands; I couldn't find a specific tally. The late Pope John Paul II alone canonized four-hundred-and-eighty-two individuals. If you figure two miracles for each that's nearly a thousand just during his papacy.
I don't quite know how the Church classifies saints according to specialty. There is one who looks after beekeepers (St. Ambrose); comforts people with earaches (St. Polycarp) and another who protects gravediggers (St. Anthony the Abbot). No occupation seems too trivial for some saint's attention and the list keeps growing: St. Isidore of Seville is now the patron of the Internet. (For a complete list of Catholic saints and their specific interests see: http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/patrons.aspx )
Which brings us to the road to Jalpa, which goes by half a kilometer from our house and may have been the site of a miracle just yesterday—the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe—although it's very unlikely this one will ever catch the attention of the Vatican.
About three weeks ago Félix made and installed a sign at the junction of the Jalpa road and the dirt trail that leads to our house. It was an extremely homemade-looking affair, involving a two-by-three-foot piece of plywood painted yellow with "KM 5" highlighted with reflective strips we'd bought at Auto Zone.
So crude is the sign that during the day it's hard to make out what it says, though I never mentioned that to Félix for fear of hurting his artistic sensitivities. He was quite proud of the sign and mounted it on a piece of pipe we liberated from the remains of a chain link fence nearby.
The reason for the sign, in case anyone cares, was to help visitors find our place as in, "Turn left when you see the Km. 5 sign." Or more accurately it turns out, "Turn left at a yellow sign with reflective tape on it even if you can't make out what it says."
Félix warned me the sign probably would be stolen or destroyed. Three days ago it fact the board disappeared, despite various anti-theft measures. Félix had even stapled the reflective tape to the plywood. The only thing that remained was the pole which he had planted in cement.
We both looked nearby, in the culvert and across the road but couldn't find it anywhere. We just wrote it off to vandalism.
Then yesterday Félix went to his in-laws to place a dozen red roses at the foot of a homemade altar honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe—Mexico's most revered religious icon, arguably even more so than Jesus Christ Himself.
And lying near the altar was the missing sign.
Félix' mother-in-law had spotted it the day before while walking on the road to the town of Biznaga next door to our ranch. At first she'd just left it there. On the way back, though, she picked it up and took it home. What she intended to do with it is the one part of the miracle that hasn't been revealed to us yet.
Mind you, neither Félix nor I had prayed to any saint for the return of the sign. Had we been more diligent Catholics we could have asked St. Fiacre for help, him being the patron of drivers. Or St. Anthony of Padua who assists with lost objects, or if everything failed, St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes.
An hour ago Félix returned from reinstalling the sign with bigger bolts and wire reinforcements.
In case you want to visit the site of this (possibly) miraculous event, the directions are simple. On the highway from San Miguel to Querétaro take a right on the road to Jalpa, drive exactly five kilometers and there you'll see it on your left.
Unless of course one of the local youths has stolen it again.
As religious as I try to be I wouldn't count on a second miracle.