03 March 2015
Her Terrible Beauty
by David Dean
Yes, only a few hundred million of us woke up knowing this today. What the devil does it have to do with my latest groundbreaking literary effort? Very little, actually, but since this auspicious occasion just happens to be coming up, I thought I'd smoothly weave it in. Just watch my handiwork.
My story takes place in antebellum Alabama, circa 1831, within the diocese of Mobile and concerns a brother and sister, murders and miracles, duels and deceptions. It ends with a hanging. St. Patrick has nothing to do with any of it. Yet, if you go to Mobile, as I have, and visit the magnificent Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception you will discover a small, unique statue of him situated to the right of the altar. If you look up, and you should, you will find a ceiling exquisitely rendered in gold leaf patterns of alternating fleur-de-lis and shamrocks, heraldic symbols of both France and Ireland. Mobile, like most of the Gulf Coast, was originally colonized by the French and, in fact, it was here that the first Mardi Gras was celebrated in North America; not in New Orleans. This was in 1703--another fun fact. It is celebrated in Mobile to this day.
How did St. Patrick sneak into this decidedly French environment, you may ask? The answer lies with all the Irish priests and bishops entombed in the vault beneath the Cathedral. In those days, the Irish were mighty and prodigious evangelizers of the Catholic faith and were forever charging into the breach. It appears that they charged into the Mobile colony. The French and the Irish have a long relationship actually, as both have found themselves squared off repeatedly with their mutual enemy, the English. One happy result of this alliance was Hennessey Cognac; another the breathtaking ceiling of the Cathedral. More fun facts as promised.
P.S. During my time here the news broke of Harper Lee's impending book release. This was big down here as Monroeville, a nearby community, is both Ms. Lee's home and the setting for "To Kill A Mockingbird."
P.P.S. Oh yes, almost forgot, our fellow SleuthSayer, Dale Andrews, vacations yearly in nearby Gulf Shores, Alabama--a final fun fact.