Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies

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At a graduate student party in a Hyde Park apartment on Chicago's south side in the early 1960s, John Bellairs first told his friends the story about his miraculous discovery of Saint Fidgeta, the patroness of nervous and unmanageable children. Partly inspired by his Catholic upbringing as well as his teaching at a girl's Catholic school, the character first appeared in the June/July 1965 edition of the Catholic publication, the Critic. The following year, the article became the first of twelve chapters of his first book.

This hilarious spoof is one of the merriest books in many a moon. Catholics will particularly enjoy St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies, but readers of any religion – or none – will appreciate its fresh and funny approach.

"Bellairs somehow manages to be neither moralizing or immoral, merely irreverent as opposed to profane...he is obviously so versed in the subject that you can't help but feel a little love for the universe he so artfully skewers." - J. Ergo.

"...an excellent satire. I thoroughly believe it should be required reading for all teaching orders of nuns."- Louis J. Iasillo.

"Sick." - Father Thurston N. Davis, S.J., (1965).


About the Book

The story of St. Fidgeta was published in the June-July edition of the Critic, in 1965. The book was titled, at one point, The Grand Central Schism and Other Parodies for Catholics.

St. Fidgeta orignally cost $2.95, as shown on the inside flap of the book jacket; today, having been out of print for decades, it commands high prices from most online booksellers.

St. Fidgeta was chosen as a representative of parody for a Shimer College Humanities course. Bellairs taught the class during the spring 1967 semester, part of his one year teaching at the small Illinois college.

The character of Saint Fidgeta has a cameo in The Pedant and the Shuffly.

Marilyn Fitschen relates a story that twenty years after publication, a copy of the book was found in an abandoned missionary cottage on an island off the coast of Borneo.

The photo of Bellairs seen on the back flap of the dust jacket was the only picture of the author to ever appear on one of his books.

Jacket design for the book was by Loretta Trezzo.

Out of print for decades, the book was released as part of the 2009 Bellairs anthology, Magic Mirrors.

Adaptations

There are no known adaptations of this work.

Allusions

William X. Kienzle's book Death Wears a Red Hat (1980) alludes to St. Fidgeta, specifically the story of St. Pudibunda as seen in chapter one.

Dedication

dedicate

I would like to thank my friends, Dale and Marilyn Fitschen, for all their help. They suffered through endless readings from the Urtext and gave me many suggestions and ideas. I would also like to thank my friend Bernard Kent Markwell, to whom St. Fidgeta first appeared on rainy day in front of the Oriental Institute in Chicago. He was struck to the ground by the vision, and after he had rolled about for a bit, he got up and told me what he had seen. He also gave me many ideas: in fact, if you do not like some part of this book, you may attribute it to him.
John Bellairs, December 1965

Dale Fitschen was a longtime friend of Bellairs, having first met him while both were students at the University of Chicago. While Bellairs wrote, Dale edited and his wife, Marilyn Fitschen, illustrated. Bernard K. Markwell (1938-2003) was another friend from the University of Chicago. Coincidentally all three would go on to become former flimsies in John’s second book.

Academia

Who's who?

Bill Buckley
Would William Buckley really buy seats at Yankee Stadium to get his message out?

What's what?

Monk's bread
Was Monk’s Bread really too good for words?

Where's there?

Golden House
What made Nero's golden house so golden?

When's then?

Al Smith
Why was Alfred Smith's run for president so controversial?

St. Fidgeta is the patroness of nervous and unmanageable children. Her shrine is the church of Santa Fidgeta in Tormento, near Fobbio insouthern Italy. There one may see the miraculous statues of St. Fidgeta, attributed to the Catholic Casting Company of Chicago, Illinois. The statue has been seen to squirm noticeably on her feast day, and so on that day restless children from all over Europe have been dragged to the shrine by equally nervous, worn-out, and half-mad parents.

In 1959, the name of St. Floradora was silently dropped from the Roll of Saints, but the pandemonium that followed this decision was far from silent. Embittered Irish Catholics razed the Shrine of St. Floradora at Ballyspitteen and used the rubble to derail the night train from Belfast. And in Chicago, the twelve churches names for the now disgraced saint were hastily rededicated to St. Nymphadota, a third-century ascetic from Leptis Magna who lived for thirty years in a hollow tree, subsisting on a diet of deathwatch beetles.