Visiting prisoners is considered by the Catholic Church a Corporal Act of Mercy. It stems back from the time of the early church when Jesus, Peter, and Paul as well as many early saints were considered outlaws.
As Oscar Wilde once said, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
I guess that’s why, no matter where Tony or my cousin Dickie Vee, ended up we, my husband and I, would go and visit them. One such trip was to the Atlanta penitentiary in the 70s where they were doing time.
I guess when you have that much time on your hands; it gives you the opportunity to reflect on your life and the possibility redemption. At least I hoped it did.
Tony promised me this would be his last “trip” and that when he returned home it would be to stay. But I knew given the kind of “business” he was in – that there was only one way out. You were in for life – or until you died. It made me sad to think about it.
Changing the subject to something on a lighter note, Dickie Vee handed me a newly finished drawing he’d completed of the Weeping Virgin. It was beautiful to behold.
At the time there were lots of articles in the Catholic newspapers on a miraculous statue of the Weeping Virgin. I had longed to see it but it was somewhere in Europe. So I put it out of my mind.
Oddly enough, I was to have another encounter with this Weeping Virgin but I didn’t know it at the time.
Several months after our visit to Atlanta, we learned the Weeping Virgin was coming to America. And not only that, there was a scheduled visit at our church. But to top it off – literally – they selected my daughter Maddy to place a crown of roses on her head. We were honored.
(Guido would also like me to mention that he was an altar boy at this Mass – head altar boy to be precise.)
I guess it was because I saw the drawing of the Weeping Virgin while visiting Tony and Dickie Vee, and now I had a personal tie with the statue, it made me think that somehow the Virgin was sent to watch over all of her children – even the wayward ones.