We live in a world of lunatics. You want a baby? Then go sit in a chair owned by Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds. She was an 18th century weirdo who threw her life away in pointless self-flagellation, so it’s only natural that 21st century deluded irrationalists would think her furniture carries magic powers that would potentiate fertility rites.
Hair shirts and a whip hanging from the walls remind pilgrims of the grim “voluntary penance” the saint adopted after joining the strict order of Saint Peter of Alcantara.
As the religious name she took suggests, she was believed to carry the “stigmata” or wounds of Jesus. She was the first woman saint born in Naples, but there is no hint in her life story as to why her help is sought by childless women in particular.
“Are you married?” Sister Maria Giuliana whispers to a young woman sitting on the armchair, before touching the visitor’s breast and belly with a “monstrance” or reliquiary containing a vertebra and a lock of hair from the saint.
What a ridiculous waste.
Oh, but I forgot. We’re supposed to respect the religious impulse. Screw that—laugh. These jokers are absurd.