The Possibilities of Sainthood

T
HE
P
OSSIBILITIES OF
S
AINTHOOD

T
HE
P
OSSIBILITIES
OF
S
AINTHOOD

DONNA FREITAS

FRANCES FOSTER BOOKS

FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX
NEW YORK

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

TITLE

COPYRIGHT

DEDICATION

PART 1: THE PATRON SAINT OF FIGS AND FIG TREES

 

CHAPTER 1: I PRAY TO ST. SEBASTIAN ABOUT GYM CLASS AND THANK GOD I'M NOT NAMED AFTER THE PATRON SAINT OF SNAKEBITES

 

CHAPTER 2: MY MOTHER CALLS ME A PROSTITUTE, WHICH IS CODE FOR “ANTONIA, YOU LOOK SEXY TODAY,” AND I ASK ST. DENIS THE BEHEADED BISHOP FOR ASSISTANCE

 

CHAPTER 3: I RUN INTO MICHAEL, THE PSEUDO-ARCHANGEL, WHO IS SO NOT ANGELIC

 

CHAPTER 4: SISTER NOELLA (POSSIBLY A SECRET EMISSARY FROM THE VATICAN) TEACHES BIOLOGY WHILE MARIA AND I PASS NOTES

 

CHAPTER 5: I GET READY FOR MY MONDAY AFTERNOON SHIFT AND REMINISCE ABOUT THE FIRST TIME I MET MICHAEL

 

CHAPTER 6: THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, ANDY ROTELLINI, VISITS THE STORE AND I AM WITNESS TO A MAJOR MIRACLE

 

CHAPTER 7: ANDY IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND, AND SEVEN ANGELS GUARD US FROM PREDATORY BOYS IN THE HA–BISHOP FRANCIS PARKING LOT

 

CHAPTER 8: SISTER MARY MARGARET FAILS TO TEACH US ANYTHING, AND VERONICA AND I HAVE A PUBLIC SPAT

 

CHAPTER 9: I DRAG LILA INTO THE DREARY LIBRARY STACKS AND DETERMINE THAT I NEED TO START WEARING A BRA ON THE ROAD TO SAINTHOOD

 

CHAPTER 10: MARIA AND I GOSSIP AT THE ICE RINK, AND SHE HANDS MY INNOCENCE TO MICHAEL IN EXCHANGE FOR SOME ALONE-TIME WITH JOHN

 

CHAPTER 11: MICHAEL DRIVES ME HOME AND WE SHARE A MOMENT

 

CHAPTER 12: I WORRY ABOUT MY FIG PROPOSAL, AND “THE ANTI-ANGEL” PAYS ME A VISIT

 

CHAPTER 13: I PRAY TO ST. WALBURGA ABOUT THE FIG-TREE BURYING AND LOSE THE POWER OF SPEECH DURING ANDY'S FIRST SHIFT AT THE MARKET

 

CHAPTER 14: IT'S RAINING MEN WHILE MARIA AND I ARE BUSY PRUNING

 

CHAPTER 15: I CONFRONT MY MOTHER ABOUT HER NONEXISTENT DATING LIFE AND I EXPERIENCE TRAGIC VATICAN REJECTION

PART 2: THE PATRON SAINT OF PEOPLE WHO MAKE PASTA

 

CHAPTER 16: MOM, GRAM, AND I PREPARE FOR THE FEAST OF ST. LUCIA, AND I PRAY TO ST. AUGUSTINE, THE SAINT WHO ONCE LOVED SEX, ABOUT ANDY

 

CHAPTER 17: THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS

 

CHAPTER 18: I DRAFT AN EMERGENCY SAINT PROPOSAL, AND GET IN GRAM'S CAR, RISKING LIFE AND LIMB

 

CHAPTER 19: MARIA AND I DEBRIEF “THE UNTHINKABLE” AND SHE TELLS ME HER “OTHER IDEAS”

 

CHAPTER 20: I TRY NOT TO CATCH ON FIRE WHILE I PASS OUT COOKIES FOR THE FEAST OF ST. LUCIA

 

CHAPTER 21: I CONFRONT AN UNINVITED GUEST IN MY ROOM, VERONICA GETS IN THE WAY, AND CATHOLICS THE WORLD OVER RECEIVE SHOCKING NEWS

 

CHAPTER 22: WE EAGERLY AWAIT OUR NEW HOLY FATHER

PART 3: THE PATRON SAINT OF FIRST KISSES AND KISSING

 

CHAPTER 23: MARIA AND I MAKE OURSELVES LOOK IRRESISTIBLE, AND SHE TRIES TO CONVINCE ME OF WHAT MY HEART SHOULD ALREADY KNOW

 

CHAPTER 24: MY HEART GOES PITTER-PATTER AND I FINALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO GET WEAK IN THE KNEES

 

CHAPTER 25: !!!!!! (YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO READ TO FIND OUT)

 

CHAPTER 26: MY MOTHER AND I PERSONALLY EXPERIENCE ALL OF THE TOP FIVE WAYS ITALIANS EXPRESS LOVE IN ONE SITTING

 

CHAPTER 27: I LEARN SURPRISING NEWS ABOUT MY REPUTATION AND I HOPE THAT THE SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, AND MAYBE EVEN THE FIFTH TIME IS THE CHARM

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Copyright © 2008 by Donna Freitas

All rights reserved

Distributed in Canada by Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.

Printed in the United States of America

Designed by Robbin Gourley

First edition, 2008

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www.fsgkidsbooks.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Freitas, Donna.

The possibilities of sainthood / Donna Freitas.—1st ed.

    p.   cm.

Summary: While regularly petitioning the Vatican to make her the first living saint, fifteen-year-old Antonia Labella prays to assorted patron saints for everything from help with preparing the family's fig trees for a Rhode Island winter to getting her first kiss from the right boy.

ISBN-13: 978-0-374-36087-0

ISBN-10: 0-374-36087-1

[1. Saints—Fiction.  2. Italian Americans—Fiction.  3. Family life—Rhode Island—Fiction.  4. Catholic schools—Fiction.  5. Schools—Fiction.  6. Conduct of life—Fiction.  7. Rhode Island—Fiction.]  I. Title.

PZ7.F8844 Pos 2008
[Fic]—dc22

2007033298

In memory of three special made-up saints in my life who've gone on to that great palace in the sky:

my academic mentor, Monsignor Stephen Happel, the Patron Saint of High Places

my grandmother, Amalia Goglia, the Patron Saint of Artichokes and People Who Say Yes When Mom and Dad Say No

and most especially my mother, Concetta Lucia Freitas, the
Real
Patron Saint of People Who Make Pasta

P
ART 1
The Patron Saint of Figs and Fig Trees

 

Vatican Committee on Sainthood
Vatican City
Rome, Italy

 

November 1

 

To Whom It May Concern (ideally the Pope if he's available):

I'm writing to inform you of a serious oversight in the area of patron saint specializations. As yet, there is no Patron Saint of Figs and Fig Trees. I mean, I know over there in Italy they practically grow wild and all because of the idyllic climate, but let me tell you, trying to keep fig trees alive through a Rhode Island winter requires divine intervention. Do you have any idea what we have to do when it starts to get cold? Not only do we have to prune them, we have to bury them! Let me be clear: come winter, I, that's me, Antonia, BURY our fig trees. Have you ever tried to bury a tree? It's not exactly an afternoon job. Of course, it's worth it when those yummy, succulent figs start bursting to life come springtime. (Yes, that's right: spring. It's miraculous really. Our figs, the LABELLA family figs, show up in springtime, not summer!) But anyway, I think it would really help Catholic fig growers all over the world and especially in Rhode Island if we had a Patron Saint of Figs, because, Lord knows, I'd pray to this saint. I
mean, if we can have a Patron Saint AGAINST CATERPILLARS (Caterpillars? What's so bad about caterpillars?), I don't think a saint specializing in figs is too much to ask.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Blessings,
Antonia Lucia Labella
Labella's Market of Federal Hill
33 Atwells Avenue
Providence, RI USA
[email protected]

 

P.S. Incidentally, if you are looking for someone to fill these particular shoes, that would be those of the new Patron Saint of Figs, I'd be delighted to take the job. In fact, I insist! I can be reached by e-mail, or you could always just come by the market. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that if you need to get in touch with me, I'm easy to reach. Hope to hear from you soon!

1
I P
RAY TO
S
T
. S
EBASTIAN
A
BOUT
G
YM
C
LASS AND
T
HANK
G
OD
I'
M
N
OT
N
AMED
A
FTER THE
P
ATRON
S
AINT OF
S
NAKEBITES

I gazed up at the familiar boy. A golden aura surrounds his beautiful, muscular body, arrows poking into him from every direction.

Poor saint, I thought to myself. I hope it doesn't hurt.

Sebastian's stare was piercing, as if he were looking right through me. As if his gaze were another arrow pointed my way.

I closed my eyes but the image stayed. It should. The picture of St. Sebastian had been hanging on the wall in our living room for as long as I could remember, right near the old-fashioned record player my mother listened to when she was dusting all the other saint statues and figurines, her daily tribute to the men and women who watch over us. Occasionally I'd come home from school and Mom would be belting out “That's Amore” or “Volare” in her just-off-the-boat Italian accent. I had to be careful not to bring anyone up to the apartment when I heard music
playing, or they might think she was crazy. She's a character, my mother.

But then, all Catholics are a weird bunch. Especially the Italian ones.

I opened my eyes and read quietly from my Saint Diary.

 

Dear St. Sebastian:

O Patron Saint of Athletes, please help me not look stupid tomorrow in gym class when we play soccer even though I am not very fast, kick the ball in the wrong direction occasionally, and sometimes forget which team I'm on. And I promise I won't sit down out on the field this time if they make me play defense again and I get bored. Ideally, I'd like to play more like Hilary, our star soccer player (even though she is named after the Patron Saint of Snakebites). But if I can't be as good as Hilary, I'll settle for just not getting picked last. And don't forget about Mrs. Bevalaqua. It would be really great if her arthritis got better so she could walk again. Thank you, St. Sebastian, for your intercession in these matters.

I lit the worn-down pillar candle beneath sexy Sebastian and gave him a longing look, as if I could will him to step out of his frame. It was right about then that my moment alone with the half-naked, holy babe was interrupted.

“Time to get ready for bed, Antonia! It's getting late and you have school tomorrow,” Mom yelled from the kitchen.

“I'm
praying
,” I called back, my voice all “Please don't interrupt my saint time,” aware that the surest way into whatever flexibility my mother could offer was through piety.

“Five more minutes, then!”

I started to close my diary when I noticed that the corner of my St. Anthony mass card was peeling. I smoothed the edge gently, lovingly, as if I were brushing the cheek of Andy Rotellini, the boy I'd been in love with since the summer before ninth grade. A crease was beginning to mark the murky blue sky surrounding Anthony, dark against the gleam of his halo. I dipped my pinkie into the pool of hot wax around the candlewick and placed a tiny drop on the corner of the card, refastening it to the page. Below St. Anthony's image was a pocket made of thick, red linen paper, stuffed with devotions and prayers, some on random scraps of this and that, others scribbled on colorful Post-its. Anthony's page had more devotions than any other saint in my diary.

My Saint Diaries were my most sacred possessions.


I'm praying
, Mommy,” said a voice behind me, singsong
and catty, sending a shiver up my spine. Not the scary sort of shiver or even the good kind, but the “blech” kind you felt when you met up with something disgusting. “I'm such a good little holier-than-thou girl,
Mommy
,” the voice went on, its nasal tone like nails against a chalkboard.

“Veronica,” I said, whirling around to face my cousin—who also starred as the evil nemesis in my life, not to be overly melodramatic or anything, because it is totally true. Veronica is eVil with a capital V. I tucked my Saint Diary behind me, making sure it was hidden.

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