Drusilla Fotheringay- she had dispensed with the double-barrelled
Syylk of her erstwhile surname- had been very interested in the
hagiographies connected to Fleury. She flicked through a
couple of books in the Abbey shop and tried to make sense of what
exactly she had seen and felt.
Benedict she had heard of, but she was touched that there was a
connection with St Scholastica, Benedict’s twin sister. Surely she
must be a patron saint of female teachers?
Apparently not. She did ally herself with convulsive children and
thunderstorms, however. Drusilla decided to adopt her, anyway. She
would do an assembly about her in the Autumn term.
Whether St Scholastica was buried at Fleury, or at Le Mans was a moot point,
but one which hadn’t been decided. For neatness, Drusilla decided that she
had been laid to rest in the crypt with her brother.
And if Dru believed it, then it must be so, at some sort of level.
As she read more about the saint, she came to identify with her increasingly.
It was a pity that the name of the sanctified lass seemed to have connotations
with a surgical stocking which might prevent DVTs. Maybe it just resonated
with an educational publisher’s title. Or was it more coolly echoing a rock
Dru found her reassuringly familiar, whatever.
For a start, the nun had been rewarded with a meteorological miracle which put
her brother’s signs and wonders in the shade. She had been given a divine
imprimatur on her heartfelt desire and her brother had learned that rigidly
sticking to his timetable was not that better part.
Her tears had brought down a hailstorm which prevented him from returning to
Montecassino and his cell. She reproved him for not listening to her when God
had heard her. So much for the usual portrayal of Benedict with his finger over
his lips and his injunction to pin back one’s inner ears. Practise what you
preach seemed to be dinned into him by a loud thunderclap. Subtlety, Dru
thought, never cuts the moutarde with men.
Drusilla had noted that the Almighty sometimes approved of women and cut
men down to size. Or at least challenged male authority. Jesus had quite
liked women. Hadn’t he?
She did think that women could become too bossy, though. She had had
negative experience of this in school. Even her mother was having to learn
about yin/ yang and finding a balance.
Something in the air was eliciting Snod’s feminine side also. Maybe there
was hope for humankind, after all.
She sat on the wall across from the soaring spire and took out her notebook.
After sipping a beer from The Labradoodle Hotel, she penned this poem:
Their Last Supper-did she know?
(Benedict had prophesied his demise)
A twin, she dreaded separation,
so she begged him to delay departure.
He resolved to adhere to his own Rule:
to return to his cell before sundown.
An adept at resisting temptation,
he’d shooed the blackbird, mortified his fllesh
and could spot a poisoned chalice; restore
broken vessels, but worshipped his routine;
whereas Scholastica, in sincere love,
pleaded with him to tarry a little.
When tears did not avail, she cried in prayer-
the clear sky darkened and a storm arose.
Benedict became rooted to the spot.
Angry with his sibling, he lectured her,
but her petition had prevailed with God.
Three days on he witnessed a dove ascend.
Her soul took flight, leaving her corpse below,
illuminated by a beam of light.
Benedict placed her body in his tomb.
Their celestial converse carries on,
their bones together, or apart, at peace,
transcending the rules, united in love.