Here in the city whose patron is St. Francis (more about that later), I keep thinking that the new pope of the same name might as well go ahead and canonize — or at least beatify — Georgia O’Keeffe.
Yes, there are some obstacles. For one, she was not Roman Catholic, not particularly Christian at all. But what a move to bring more of the bourgeois bohemians into the fold it would be!
Consider the devotion that she inspires.
Walking down Grant Street the other day, I could see little flocks of pilgrims (mostly female, mostly of a certain age) streaming off the streets around the plaza, headed for her shrine.
That shrine, meanwhile, is merely part of an entire O’Keeffe complex, where the pilgrim may enrich her life with programs and lectures on memoir-writing, “art & leadership for adults,” plein-air pastel drawing, “O’Keefe’s language of forms,” and many other sacred subjects.
Advanced initiates might seek a stipend in American modernism.
Many single women move to the little town of Aibquiu, a Santa Fe acquaintance tells me, where one may for a fee tour just part of O’Keeffe’s home there: the living room, kitchen, and pantry only, I am told. Have any of them experienced miracles? That would help the sainthood application clear a major hurdle.
Her other home, Ghost Ranch, has functioned as a spiritual retreat center for many years. (It is owned by Protestants, which could be a problem. But no matter.)
Her followers look to her for lessons on the art of living and even study her rather plain menus for guidance on how an artist eats.
While her cultus already provides an economic lift to the old provincial capital, beatification or canonization would certainly increase that even more.
Just tell the bishops to keep their distance. Otherwise, it’s a win-win situation. Are you listening, Holy Father?