Goretti, Epstein and Henry

I know almost nothing about Jeffrey Epstein, except the vague charges of sexual malfeasance, the ‘Lolita express’, and the island of sensual delights, at least of a certain sort. What I did find intriguing was that he was arrested on July 6th which, as readers may well be aware, is the memorial of Saint Maria Goretti, the young martyr for purity – she was about twelve when she died – who gave her life rather than give in to the lustful advances of her eighteen-year old, porn-addicted Alessandro. The latter was sentence to most of his life in prison, which he spent in sullen impenitence, until Maria appeared to him in a dream years later. He slowly converted, and gave his life to God, made a good confession. Upon his release, begged forgiveness of Maria’s mother and spent the rest of his days as a lay-brother in a monastery, repenting of his sins. So there is hope.

Today we remember Saint Henry, from Bavaria – whence Josef Ratzinger would also hail a millennium on – who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 until his death on this day in 1024. Underneath his complex reign in a tumultuous time shines a soul of holiness, rare in politics, one might imagine, where the ‘art of the practical’ dominates, but not impossible. He married Cunegunde but, for reasons we know not, there were no children, so Henry is the last of the Ottonian dynasty, going back to Otto I. We may well pray for those in high office; for those to whom much is given – even if they be not worthy of it, and who of us is? – much will still be demanded.