Viewing Posts from 10/2012

Writing Habemus Papam, Part 1

Posted by Regina Doman on October 30, 2012, 5:38 am

Just to fill you in on what's been going on around Manga Hero, Gabrielle Gniewek, the previous writer of this blog, departed to join a convent in the Eastern Catholic Church.  So I was asked to take over her last project, writing an expanded 200 page biography of the Pope, and also writing this blog.  I see this blog has sat fallow for a year: I hope to revive it, at least a little.  

Habemus Papam, p. 71 Young Josef

Around this time last year, I packed up a suitcase, my laptop, and the book written by my friend Brennan Pursell, Benedict of Bavaria, got into our family farm truck, and drove 45 miles through the gorgeous fall foilage of Western Virginia to a retreat house, where I intended to spend the weekend researching and writing a comic book on our Pope Benedict XVI.  I had downloaded many articles and interviews onto my laptop (I would have no internet access) but my method is to write out a skeleton outline and fill in the fine details later on.

The retreat house was an old stone mansion, which hosts silent retreats, the perfect place for a writer.  I try to go there every year (this year, due to the economy, I'll have to abstain.)  To my surprise, for the first time I was offered a room in the old mansion itself, and found myself escorted into an elegant sitting room with bookshelves and a day bed. "This will be your room for the weekend," the moderator told me.  It was carpeted in soft pastels, with golden lamps with fringed shades and a large armchair near bookshelves.  A beautiful picture of our Lady hung between the windows. The windows were made of old mullioned glass, with dozens of small sparkling panes, and they overlooked formal gardens and beyond them, the Blue Ridge Mountains.  For a lower-middle-income housewife-and-writer, it was like being transported to a fairy-tale castle.  There was a lady's ivory wood desk with gold trim overlooking one of the windows.  I set my laptop in the middle of it, arranged my notebooks and materials around it, and sat down to work.

From time to time I had to look around to take in the view and remind myself that this was really happening to me.  Not only had I been asked to write a life of the Holy Father: I was beginning my journey in such beautiful surroundings.  And, as I was to discover, appreciating the gift of beauty is an important component in the Pope's life, so it was fitting.  Almost as though Someone had arranged it for me. ...

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