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Francis of Assisi fell in love with dame poverty and married her


Lucía's age is that of the old women of the Bible. She's all thin but quite tall. And beneath an exterior which does not cover properly her poverty, she still stands up straight like a tree.

Nobody can believe that this so frail of a woman was before a tamer of horses.

And a tireless dancer.

Each year, around the feast of the Virgin of the Rosary, she would go running towards Mount Sixilera where the «Mamita» would wait for her. In the wee hours of the morning, the « misachico » would begin its long descent towards the village church. That hiking of wind, dust and blazing sun would last at least a good twelve hours, reaching sometimes such heights where people and even animals have a hard time breathing.

All along the footpath of stones heated by the sun, Lucía would walk barefooted and, at the sound of the music of the sikuris, she would dance with one's heart content while going ahead of the image of «her little Mama». According to what is being said, she would rarely take a break, and always for a short period, to get her breath back.

Since the accidental death of her only son, Lucia lives alone with two grand-children whose mother died when giving birth to the youngest. To feed those children, the aged Lucia does odd jobs like peeling corn in the neighboring fields.

Her only possessions are five plants of corn, two small «bendy» chickens and a clay hut covered with a G.I. sheet in the middle of a dried up river. That is where she takes refuge with the two children.

One day, I come with Eduardo to visit her. Lucia is delighted to see us. The interior of the little house is totally bare except for three old crates of bottles of soda water that are used as chairs. Each one of us takes place on a crate. We were convinced that all those crates were empty, but Lucia, with malicious eyes, extends her hand under her crate and brings out a big bottle of beer!

Laughing like young delinquents, we open the bottle.

- Let us make a toast! cries out Lucia.

- To whom? asks Eduardo who is as bewitched as I am.

- To my two friends!

Those two friends are the small statues of the two saints who are lit by a weak candle in a dark corner of the room. They are two magnificent statuettes placed in a niche adorned with painted flowers: one of John the Baptist with his lamb and the other is of St. Mark with a young cow.

- They are the ones who take care of me, tells us Lucia with a tender voice as she points a finger towards heaven.

Lucía owns nothing and gives everything. At Christmas and at Easter, she goes around visiting her dearest friends to offer them a small egg coming from one of her minuscule chickens. She calls it her «sacred egg». The only payment she will accept is a kiss like the ones given all the time in Argentina. The joy of giving is her personal wealth; it is her great treasure.

« Lucía » means « Light ».  She carries her name rather well, because she is radiant as she tells me:

- I am never short of anything, my dear little Father. I have all I need.

In the slit of her eyes which seem looking at the infinite, I think I can see written in big letters something that says: «God alone suffices».

Eloy Roy

Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages

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