St. Fabiola

 St. Fabiola, 35" x 60," Oil on Panel, by Melissa Carmon

St. Fabiola, 35" x 60," Oil on Panel, by Melissa Carmon


Oh my daughters, 
oh my daughters. 

They say many waters
cannot quench love
nor the rivers
drown it

St. Fabiola, you know
the terrible, dare I say it, 
that a man is merely a man

St. Fabiola
at Easter time
In the greyness between night
and a yellow morning
your mourning fresh
with swift decision your
life was remade

The earth fell away
beneath your flight
with a crack,
a Roman column
swerved and with a colossal sound
that left our ears ringing
splintered to stone shards
on the ground

Oh my glory, 
Oh my glory, 
It was as nothing

Fabiola, you found
the thing for which
men live and die
alive with eyes
that have seen the apocalypse

Two husbands, 
one unspeakable, 
but the other
shrouded in silence

O Fabiola, the world was not prepared
for the greatness of your heart

What a little girl wishes for
a royal name and
a river of riches
fine silks and linens
and dresses and gardens
and parties and servants
the privacies, the politics
and later, power

That column of dust
That column of stone. 
That column of ashes  

Dear Fabiola please tell us
was it regret? miscalculation? 
betrayal, or dashed dreams?
Or merely a love severed
seemingly forever, 
out of reach,
which rendered your possessions
simply things

We heard nothing, 
except of your repentance—
and then— 
with a swooping sure glide,
you dove, headlong 

Was it the grinding of
your heart to ribbons
that carved the wells of compassion
in your powerful gaze

What had happened to your hands
that mercy poured forth
for the human animal,  Imago Dei,
with a broken limb
still dragging behind it
the snare

For the ignorant nameless, 
the fresh wounds of the faceless,
the abandoned, the homeless,
the vulnerable traveler

From bitterness of soul, 
St. Fabiola protect us
From crying until we throw up
St Fabiola console us
From falling in a heap
St. Fabiola raise us
From gnawing at ourselves until we bleed
St. Fabiola save us
From the eternal darkness of broken hopes
St. Fabiola guide us
and to a life of freedom from all that binds us, 
St. Fabiola loose our binds.

Oh my daughters
Oh my daughters

They say
Many waters cannot
quench love
Nor the rivers drown it


Historical Background: Saint Fabiola (Born ? - 399 CE), was a member of the wealthy and powerful gens Fabia family.  Her first husband was so cruel that she was able to obtain a divorce, which was significant in Roman times.  She married again, but her second husband later died.  She reconciled herself to the church that Easter, and became a physician.  She expended her vast fortune caring for the sick, the destitute, and the dying, whom she personally served in the hospital she had built for them.  She also funded the building of monasteries in various places around the Mediterranean and kept correspondence with St. Jerome in Jerusalem.  

Melissa Carmon