Wednesday, 13 June 2007

St. Paris of Hilton?

Despite having previously suspected that hotel heiress Paris Hilton was indirectly responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre, recent developments have led me to believe that she might actually be on course to becoming a saint and that - in anticipation of her no doubt imminent martyrdom - thought should be given to petitioning the Holy See for her canonisation.

Of course, there are some abominable cynics whose minds are clouded by sin who would protest that she is nothing more than an excessively wealthy, spoiled little woman with eating problems and an unpleasant propensity for making amateur pornography. For the enlightened, however, it is perfectly plain that her early life of privilege and pleasure is merely the prelude to the life of sanctity and Godliness which is clearly her destiny. Consider the evidence. The biographies of some of the earliest saints display certain irrefutable similarities which only the blind could doubt. Is her remarkable wealth and apparently extraordinary lack of morals really an indicator of her permanent distance from God? Far from it! Her background is typical of ancient saintly women: if we look at the no-doubt well-known St. Pelagia, this is perfectly clear. According to the writings of the Desert Fathers, Pelagia was a"beautiful but dissolute actress... at the height of her renown, with many lovers, jewels and servants." Ring any bells?

As Ruth Mazo Karras has pointed out in her study of prostitute saints, the dissolute youth of female saints merely "provided the background against whichpenitence stood in stark contrast." The wanton abandonment of Pelagia, Thais and Mary Magdalene, for example, served as the logical prelude to their later transformation into saintly figures. Translating this to our modern case-study, it is plain that Paris Hilton's night-time rompings in hotel rooms not merely fails to impugn her claim to saintliness, but actually recommends it. This is apparent when we turn to recent developments. In July 2006, Paris announced that she was voluntarily embracing chastity. This, it is plain, is the first step on the slow path to sainthood and is, again, typical of the type. It reflects a willingess to reject her past and a desire to embrace virtue, albeit unconsciously.

That this was indeed the first step ina path to saintliness is confirmed by the most recent miracle story in Paris' life. In an interview given over the telephone from prison, Paris declared that her incarceration was a "message from God." For the sceptic, this might again seem to be implausible, but it is perfectly in keeping with the imagery and history of Christian spirituality. Remember Ps. 103: "De profundis..." etc. Recall also the life and writings of Boethius: it was in prison that this former official of Theodoric the Great composed his most famous meditation, and he uses theimage of incarceration to reflect the tomb that is the worldly body, and to emphasise the raising of the soultowards God. That Paris Hilton has indeed been given a message by God in prison is not merely far from unlikely, but is indeed even plausible!

If some still need persuading, further evidence can be adduced from her music videos. In 'Nothing in this World' (a title itself redolent of early Christian spirituality), she appears as a saviour-figure, rescuing the downtrodden schoolboy from the oppression of his contemporaries and giving him hope. He reaches bliss through her co-operation in his prayers, as the video clearly demonstrates. In 'Jealousy', she appears to tap into some of the motifs which appear in records of the persecution of early saints. Dealing with the jealousy of a friend in the song, she ambitiously engages with the thorny issue of one of the deadly sins, and relates how the envy of her chum opened her up to all sorts of troubles. The victim of enmity, Paris is made to appear "like the Devil" ands he tells that though she was "always happy", her friend was only happy "when the world was opening up my scars". "Jealousy," she concludes, "is such an evil thing". Even the briefest of analyses clearly demonstrates that this is both a cleverly constructed attack on a deadly vice, but is also reflective of the suffering of early saints. We may recall, for example,that Sulpicius Severus records how St. Martin of Tours was persecuted by envious bishops, but prevailed.

Of course, as St. Augustine points out, it will beimpossible for us mere mortals to be 100% certain that Paris Hilton is indeed a member of the Heavenly Cityof God in this life, but it is nevertheless true that all of the available evidence points towards her indeed being a modern saint in the making. Given the cynicism of our age, however, I suppose that many people will only be persuaded when she enduresher inevitable martyrdom. She has, however, already prophetically pointed to the fact that she shares some similarities with Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana,so I think there is room for hope.

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