holy stained glass

My mother showed me Pre-Raphaelite paintings
when I was about 15. 
She was trying to persuade me to modernize
my aesthetic, to get a little more in step
with the times I was born to–
to cut my hair, which looked like theirs.
I did not cut my hair. 
I wanted to be art.
My hair, I thought, was the sign  
of a mortal muse. 
The muse of the Pre-Raphaelites
was painted
as Ophelia, dying, and 
as Beatrice, dying, with pale
poppies in her hands. 
Elizabeth Siddal
was married and buried, 
pillowed on a bed of poetry and regret sworn
to last forever,
Rossetti’s sorrow lasted seven years
before her bones lost their power.
He stole back the gift of his atonement, willing
to live with her loss, but not without
his lines.
Muses die, tears dry,
art lasts forever.
A muse’s wounds run only so deep, 
her wounds do not kill.
The blood she leaves,
mingled with her own, runs pomegranate red,
stained glass holy,
bright as sin, but her wounds
do not kill. Her wounds lose their sting over time,
her wounds are transfigured into
brushstrokes and poetic lines
to be gazed upon and analyzed.
I am no muse. 
I am a poet. 
I will not marry my death.
I will take the wounds I am given,
dress them up in words to glow
and fade, 
dig up nothing I choose to bury.
I might change my hair.


 Grace Babcock © 2017

Novena to the Holy Spirit
Day 9

✞ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. ✞

Through Jesus, Your Son
You sent the Paraclete to be at our side
To reconcile all creation to You

Grant that we may be forever open
To Jesus’ invitation to
Receive the Holy Spirit

Father, open our hearts to accept
Your forgiveness for our sins
And to offer that same forgiveness
To those who we feel have offended us

For merciful forgiveness
Is the essence of Your love
Revealed in Your Son

Come, O Divine Spirit
Fill our hearts with Your heavenly fruits

Your Charity
And Self-control
That we may
By faithful submission to Your inspiration
Merit to be united eternally with You
In the love of the Father
And the Son


Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be

Queen Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 – 16 November 1093) also known as Margaret of Wessex and Saint Margaret of Scotland.

Granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside and grandniece of King Edward the Confessor, Margaret was well educated, mostly in Hungary, where her family was raised in exile during the rule of the Danish kings in England. As one of the last members of the Anglo-Saxon royal family, she was in danger after the Norman Conquest and took refuge at the court of Malcolm the Third, king of Scotland, made famous by Shakespeare in his play Macbeth. Intelligent, beautiful, and devout, Margaret married Malcolm in 1069 or 1070. Their union was exceptionally happy and fruitful for the Scottish nation, producing eight children. Two of her children, Alexander and David, became kings of Scotland. Through Margaret and her daughter Matilda English monarchs from the reign of Henry the Second to the present day can trace their ancestry to the pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon kings of England.

According to her biographer Turgot, prior of Durham and bishop of Saint Andrews, Margaret sought with considerable zeal to reform what she considered to be careless practices in the Church in Scotland, then at a low ebb in its ecclesial life. She insisted that the observance of Lent was to begin on Ash Wednesday, rather than on the following Monday. She further insisted that the Mass be celebrated according to the accepted Roman rite of the Church, and not in barbarous form and language. The Lord’s Day was to be a day when, she said, “we apply ourselves only to prayers”. She played a prominent role in the foundation of monasteries, churches, orphanages, and hostels for pilgrims. She and Malcolm together worked to rebuild the abbey of Iona, made famous centuries before by Columba and Aidan, and they had Dumfermline built to be a burial place for the Scottish royal family, like a Scottish Westminster Abbey.

Margaret’s private life was devoted to prayer and reading, lavish almsgiving (including the ransoming of Anglo-Saxon captives), and ecclesiastical needlework. She saw to the spiritual welfare of her large household, providing servants with opportunity for regular worship and prayer. Her influence over the king was considerable as he, strong-willed and initially rough in character, came through love for her to value what she valued. Turgot wrote that Malcolm saw “that Christ truly dwelt in her heart…what she rejected, he rejected…what she loved, he for love of her loved too.” Although he could not read, he liked to see the books she used at prayer and would have them embellished with gold and silver bindings. One such book thought to be hers, a pocket Gospel with fine portraits of the Evangelists, survives in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. A psalter at Edinburgh University Library may well have been hers, too.

Margaret lived just long enough to learn of the tragic deaths of her husband and one of their sons on a military expedition against the English king William Rufus, who had confiscated her father’s estates in England. Worn by her austerities and the rigors of childbearing, Margaret died on the sixteenth of November, 1093, at the age of forty-seven. She was buried beside Malcolm at Dunfermline, and her body was translated in 1250. At the Reformation, her body and Malcolm’s were translated to the Escorial in Madrid. Her work among the people and her reforms of the Church made her Scotland’s most beloved saint, and the Roman Catholic Church named her a patron of Scotland in 1673.

Pictured: St.Margaret of Scotland, stained glass, Holy Cross, Swainby, North Yorkshire