Sinners and Saints
Joanne Faries

Cathy Whitten, a sophomore abroad, craned her neck to admire the stained glass windows of Barcelona’s Santa Maria Del Mar. The Gothic edifice offered superb images of St. Peter and St. Paul on the west door. Daylight streamed in and Cathy, overwhelmed by the beauty, stumbled to a pew. She bowed her head and didn’t pray so much as give praise. As an architecture student, she was stunned by this amazing city, enthralled by the cathedrals. “I’m so grateful.”  

She started as a soft voice addressed her in English, “Welcome my child. How can I help you?”  

“You surprised me, Father. I’m a student tourist wandering into churches.”  

“American?” he asked and she nodded.  “I’m Father Utrillo and actually I’m on exchange from the U.S., Notre Dame. So, we are both students. Let me give you a tour…”  

“I’m Cathy and I’d love to see more.”  

“Let’s move along, then.” They strolled as he talked about the history, windows and artwork – statues and woodcarvings. He finished his talk with a small anecdote. “More of a myth. They say that if you take confession and lie, you will hear the Hallelujah chorus and a background of chants. I’ve not witnessed this phenomenon, but Father Garza claims it is so.”  

She shuddered. “I’m not sure if I should take the chance.”  

He gave a hearty laugh. “Come, confess and then you can enjoy Barcelona parties tonight with a clean slate.” He indicated a small wooden door for her, and he entered the other side. Once situated he slid open a tiny window.  

Cathy gave the sign of the cross and began, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.”  

“How many days since your last confession?”  

“Days?  More like weeks or months.” There was a pause and then Cathy spoke hesitantly, “Do you hear that Father? I swear I hear something. Let me say, it’s been a year. A year since I’ve been to confession.”  

“Ten Hail Marys and come back to the fold weekly. Now, is there anything you wish to tell me?”  

“Um, not really. Busy studying. Not much time for trouble.” Cathy shifted in the confessional. “Okay, I passed out from too much sangria last week. And I lied to my parents on the phone about grades.” Her voice rose in fear. “I hear music, Father, I’m hearing Hallelujah…yes, I slept with the professor, but only once. I gotta go.”  

Cathy banged the door in haste and scurried out of Santa Maria Del Mar, brushing past another priest who greeted Father Utrillo, “Tsk. Scaring young sinners with your stories and rigged music?”  

Utrillo chuckled. “All Hallow’s Eve, Father, and even tomorrow, eh, I’m no saint.”  

First published: November, 2009
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