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saint aelphaba of the waterfall

the seven year maunt

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"To preserve her sanctity, she went into the wilderness with her holy scriptures and a single bunch of grapes. Wild beasts threatened her, and wild men hunted after her, and she was sore distressed. Then she came upon a huge waterfall coursing off a cliff. She said, "This is my cave," and took off all her clothes, and she walked right through the screen of pounding water. Beyond was a cavern hollowed out by the splashing water. She sat down there, and in the light that came through the wall of water she read her holy book and pondered on spiritual matters. She ate a grape every now and then. When at last she had finished her grapes, she emerged from the cave. Hundreds of years had passed. There was a village built on the banks of the stream, and even a milldam nearby. The villagers shrank in horror, for as children they had all played in the cavern behind the waterfall -- lovers had trysted there -- murders and foul deeds had taken place there -- treasure had been buried there -- and never had anyone ever seen Saint Aelphaba in her naked beauty. But all Saint Aelphaba had to do was open her mouth and speak the old speech, and they all knew that it must be she, and they built a chapel in her honor. She blessed the children and the elderly, and heard the confessions of the middle-aged, and healed some sick and fed some hungry, that sort of stuff, and then disappeared behind the waterfall again with another bunch of grapes. I think a bigger bunch this time. And that's the last anyone has seen of her."

-- Gregory Maguire, Wicked