Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Saints above! Flying friar joins comic superheroes

From The Times (UK) Online (which I have found is not always the most accurate of sources in matters relating to the Church.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the Flying Friar, a real life 16th-century monk who has become the latest addition to the world of comic book superheroes.

Joseph of Copertino, a Franciscan priest renowned for his ability to levitate, will join the world of costumed crusaders next week when a new graphic novel is published in Britain and America.

The Flying Friar, by Rich Johnston and Thomas Nachlik, is based on one of the Church’s most extraordinary saints who, although canonised for his extreme modesty and patience, is more remarkable for his apparent ability to fly and demonstrate supernatural strength.

[…] Joseph Desa was initially an outcast, born into such extreme poverty in 1603 that he was delivered in a shed. He seemed to be a simpleton and was nicknamed The Gaper because of his habit of wandering around open mouthed.

He lost his father at a young age and was resented by his mother, who attempted to rid herself of him by having him join a Capuchin monastery.

Even this seemed beyond him, and he was thrown out after eight months because of his vacant attitude and habit of dropping crockery. Only after being admitted as a novice to a Franciscan order in Grottella did he begin to display his powers, which were witnessed by people of unchallenged integrity, according to the Vatican. Joseph’s most spectacular feats were his ability to soar high over the chapel’s altars and, on one occasion, to help workmen to erect a Calvary Cross 36ft high by levitating himself and lifting the heavy cross “as if it were straw”.

Until now he has found fame as the patron saint of pilots and air stewards, but next week The Flying Friar will arrive in comic bookshops across Britain.

Mr Johnston, a British author of graphic novels, attempted to keep his character faithful to the saint, but has embellished his adventures by creating a fictional adversary in the style of Superman’s enemy, Lex Luthor. The story involves Joseph’s struggle with Lux Luther, a ficticious childhood friend and great nephew of Martin Luther, the founder of Protestant Reformation.

In the final act, Joseph must use his special powers to avert Luther’s plan to rain fiery death on Copertino, his home town.

This could be the start of an encouraging trend in comic books. I remember the old Justice League of America; maybe with a few more characters we could put together a Holineness League of Christendom, fighting Satan and his minions with their preternatural powers. In addition to the flying St. Joseph of Copertino, we could have:

I can picture them now, taking on the abortion industry, stamping out ponographers and pushers, converting the Islamofascists, softening the hearts of athiests, and leading apostate bishops to repentance. Go HLC!

Any other suggestions?