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An Earthly Guide to Sainthood

by Giovanni De Feo

First, don’t stand in the shadows.

People might see the halo on your head, which will send them to you begging for a miracle. One thing you know already but must never forget: never use miracles to ease suffering. Remember: the Essence, which burns so fiercely in our minds, uses us as an instrument. So you must avoid the truly needy. Stand clear of the homeless, beggars, gypsy mothers. Never make the mistake of visiting a hospital, for the ill are forever hungry. Likewise, steer clear of trade unions, laid-off workers and unemployed youth, for their desire for social justice is petty compared to the Essence’s holy Necessity.

Of course it is difficult to smother compassion when you lived your mortal years kindling its flames. Maybe you were a social worker, a doctor in a leprosarium, a martyr in war-time. But that was before. Now you are one of us. However terrible human pain may seem, the Essence knows better. The death of a child from polluted waters might be horrible for his mother, but the Essence knows it is part of a Pattern she cannot see. You can’t see it either, but you know it exists.

In the end compassion was a means to an end, it got you where you are now, and you should be grateful for it. Still, it is a human virtue, not a divine one. For the Essence is the source of Universal Compassion, but its nature is not human. The Essence is not compassionate toward individuals, for they are nothing compared to It; It is compassionate towards itself, for It is everything. To its universal eye, compassion and necessity are one thing. All that happens happens for a reason, even Evil, and you cannot interfere with it.

This doesn’t mean that your Leave is useless. You are in fact encouraged to do miracles. It is very important you understand which kind. To summarize it to the point of triviality: miracles must be flamboyant and useless. But let’s start from the beginning.

You cannot answer prayers with miracles involving direct deliverance of suffering. However, you can bring joy. Lottery wins are usually the most simple. The miracolati will later dream of you, which will all go to the glory of our kind. They don’t have to be big wins, we actually encourage little ones, as it keeps them hoping.

Small personal gains are also good. For example, a clerk may desire a raise, or a better job, which is perfectly fine. Don’t get tangled in politics though. If the employment contract looks terrible leave it alone. Still, you can favour one of your admirers with a little personal push. Sudden inheritances are also a classic. That involves a person dying, but it is the Essence that killed them, so don’t worry.

To give a baby to a childless couple is excellent, too. They end up naming the child after you, which is a reminder of our existence. Then there is romantic love. You are not exactly a cupid, but if a man truthfully desires a proper wife you may provide him with one. We strongly recommend against women desiring a man though, for they are always prone to thinking that it’s a miracle of their own making. If you do help them, remember to appear in their dreams just before their wedding. It is important to remind them that they owe us.

Last are the “special requests.” Now, these must be granted only to the truly worthy and they must not be overdone. If somebody wants a certain person to suffer a minor drawback, look in the Essence to see if suffering is on its way. If it is, make him/her believe it was their prayer that caused it. As we have said, we cannot deliver from sufferance. However, we can shift it around. For example, an actor wishes tremendously for a part but is beaten by a rival at an audition, yet shortly after his rival gets a minor disfigurement from a domestic fire. You see it coming, but you plant the idea it was a prayer to you that made it happen. There are two positive effects to this. First, they would never confess their desire to anyone, and this will bind them to us. Second, it will increase their belief in the supernatural. These miracolati are the ones that usually turn out to be our best soldiers. We may even use them later on to do some work against the Enemy.

Some last warning words about our Enemy. They will not be what you expected. No horns, no tails. In fact, they are pretty much like us. You may even recognize some familiar faces, some unspoken names, some half-heard stories. Nevertheless you have to watch out, for to believe them is to Fall. It’s all lies, of course, but they are very good at it. This is what they will say: They will tell you that no Essence will ever excuse suffering. That there is no such a thing as divine justice, that in fact all injustice is human, and must be fought. They will tell you that they refuse to see a Pattern in suffering, a Necessity in injustice, that the only Solace they can offer is human. They will be very convincing, bringing proof of their good faith, examples of people they have helped.

Don’t believe a word, don’t even listen to them, strike them down with Divine Flames, let them scream, let them curse you. Keep the Flames on them until they are nothing but ashes.

And then, when your deed is done, remember, don’t look back at your shadow, don’t turn. For a true saint will never doubt Necessity. That’s why we never stand in the shadows; they are dark mirrors, and we don’t need to look into them to know who we truly are.

Giovanni De Feo is a speculative fiction writer, a storyteller, and a screenwriter who lives and works in Genova, Italy. In the last decade he has been teaching literature for International Baccalaureat schools across the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. He collects Commedia’s masks and wears a handlebar mustache he is very proud of.

Lead image: “Rosary beads” (via Flickr user



  1. I loved it. Great style, great ideas. As an Italian living in the UK and about to start a blog, I hope to be able one day to master the language in a similar good way.

    Does anyone know if Giovanni has a blog?

    PS: love to ceasecows!

  2. As a recently fallen Catholic this was a hilarious piece to read. I could only laugh and laugh at it’s very serious tone (but then I’m a lover of gallows humor and sarcasm). It made my day!

    • Arabesque Arabesque

      That was more or less the idea…

  3. Interesting story and a great read.

  4. socialdee socialdee

    Thought provoking- enjoyed the language, voice and tone
    Different style, but reminds me of the Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis.

  5. Wow, this certainly got me thinking. A very interesting piece, and perfectly judged tone giving it more weight. Great stuff! H xx

  6. Thank you for sharing! Can you recommend something else by him?

    • Arabesque Arabesque

      There is a story in Conjunctions, May 2014. Best.

  7. Ghost buster in mono 🙂

  8. I think Calvino would like this

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