March 17, 2007

The Trials of Saint Bernadette


Tonight at Top Hat Tattoo I am getting adorned with the image on this postcard that I've been carrying around since 2002. I received it from my dearest sister-friend along with my birthday gift that year and I was instantly captivated by the image. The classic early 60's style made it seem kitschy, and the obvious religious theme conjured images of the always suffering saints in my copy of Fifteen Saints for Girls. On the flipside of the postcard, the only identifier was a title that said "The Trials of Saint Bernadetté."
So, up on the wall it went. Until last year when I went to a DIY craft fair and ran into the image all over the place. None of the artists had too much information as to the origin of the image, save for the title "Anima Sola." And so she is, the Anima Sola, the Lonely Soul. For me, this image conjures thoughts on the religious persecution of women as the "arbiters of sin" due to their sexual nature. It is said that the Anima Sola traded eternal salvation for temporal love -- and thus burns in the purgatorial flames. Yet she is not consumed. She gazes heavenward, chains broken. She is at last free.
So what does St. Bernadetté have to do with this? Well, it seems that Leonard Cohen penned Song to Bernadette for Jennifer Warnes Famous Blue Raincoat album (1986), and I've been told by friends that the Anima Sola image adorned an early Cohen album cover, though the only reference I could find was on Tower of Song, a Cohen tribute album. But clearly St. Bernadetté suffered greatly in her lifetime, and I think the image references her suffering and constant physical pain.
So, when I walked into Top Hat Tattoo for my consultation yesterday and laid down my image, the store owner, Priscilla, remarked, "Whoa. You want this tomorrow? Andrew (the tattoo artist), do you know what tomorrow is?" She then laid down the EXACT SAME IMAGE claiming that his other appointment for the day was an older mexican man who wanted the Anima Sola tattoo from elbow to shoulder -- a seven hour masterpiece. Neither the artist or the owner of the shop had ever seen the image before, let alone been requested to duplicate it twice in one day. Very odd. So, of course, I took it as a sign that it was meant to be. Now, I am hoping I can get a couple of friends to join me there, because I am really nervous. This will be, by far, the largest and most visible tattoo that I have, and it will take about three hours to complete. I plan on getting it on my upper right arm, and it will be about seven inches long. I barely slept last night, worrying about my decission. Just what kind of woman gets an obsure holy card tattoo on her arm anyway? What, if anything, does this say about my character?
All questions that will soon be answered, somtime after 7:30 p.m. tongight.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi! the first time that I saw "anima sola" I was in Japan (hiroshima) and she was in a matchbox cover ...
I bought that and didn't know who she was...I thought that she was a saint or witch
by the way , nice tattoo

Flavio Barreto - Brazil
seteprint@terra.com.br

Anonymous said...

The Anima Sola is a depiction of a soul stuck in purgatory. The chains are fixed and she is bound there for eternity. It depicts a soul yearning for the pure, eternal love of Christ rather than the temporal love that got her stuck in Purgatory to begin with. It is a message about which love is righteous. And how we become a "lonely soul" if we turn our backs on Christ's love for the love of other things or people. You aren't much a Catholic if you couldn't figure that out. There is no freedom for this woman. I think you put too much of your own personal life and hopes into a something. She is stuck burning in a prison of fire. That's not a heart felt message of joy as you claim.

Anima Sola said...

Not much of a Catholic, eh? Well, I never claimed to be. However, please note that while the Anima Sola does depict the soul in purgatory, her chains are broken, not fixed. She is not consumed by these flames and the image does not convey suffering. She is looking heavenward penitentially, and it is clear that this trial is temporary, not for eternity. And if you were a good Catholic, you'd have learned that Purgatory is meant as a temporary cleansing pit-stop on the way to heaven, not a place of eternal suffering. And if I can get joy out of her message, what's it to you?

Jennifer said...

I was just surfing the web, and stumbled upon this page. Thank you for your response to Anonymous. I think Anonymous has a little uncertainty as to his/her own place spiritually, and is unfairly projecting on to you. I like your tattoo, and your personal analysis of a thought provoking piece of art.

Priyayogi{Peace} said...

hey anima sola,i just love this tat,i saw it first in da movie gothika.initially i thought psychos get it done aftr watching dat movies,but then i got to know about it on da internet nad thanks for uploading ur tat pics,dey luk awesome .

Anima Sola said...

Thanks priyayogi! Funny thing, but I've never seen Gothika yet! I fell in love with this image long before the movie came out. I wonder how many people see me walking down the street and think I'm a psycho?

Anonymous said...

The anonymous person who left that comment is a jerk, and I think your response to them was great. I myself do tattoos and was thinking about tattooing this on myself and thats how I stumbled on your page. That tattoo is awesome, the artist really did a great job!

gordon said...

I was just going through my old movie collection and stumbled upon gothika and well, got interested to put a search...when this page came out. the tattoo in the movie seems to be different than yours. This shows a serene and heavenly beauty in chain and the other one will really make you feel that the girl is in excruciating pain..see the movie..it rocks.

Chris said...

i have my own version of this image tattoed on me. I would like to share it...so it could be "googled" as well...but am not sure how.
-cw

Chris said...

i have my own version of this image tattoed. i would like to share it...so it would show up under google images...but i'm not not sure how to do this.
-cw

Anonymous said...

Very nice tatoo. I am just watching Gothika by Matthieu Kassovitz. I could do a close tatoo. ;)

animeADDICT101 said...

HI....
IM ONLY 13....
FROM PHILIPPINES IN CEBU....
WOW!!!
THAT ALL I COUL SAY....
THE 1ST TIME I SAW "ANIMA SOLA" WAS FROM THE MOVIE "GOTHIKA"
AND IT WAS AMAZING....
LOOKS COOL,POWERFUL,MEANINGFUL AND ALL.......

Antionette said...

I am very happy for you this tattoo is very deep in meaning & I understand you wanting and getting it completely. I actually have carried my postcard around as well lol...so that's funny to hear someone else did as well. I also want to get one someday, I just need to find the right placement for it. I am not sure of the where, but I know someday I will have it too. Also thank you for adding the information on her it was super informative. Take care :)

FlukeMuseum said...

I guess I'm about 2 years late with this, but, just for the record, yes, that Anima Sola image was used for the back cover of Leonard Cohen's first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen. Here's a pic:

http://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm110/drewkulele/SOLC.jpg

Anonymous said...

this is funtastic

Anonymous said...

this is funtastic

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a synchronicity to double up anima sola appointments! I am glad you saw the sign. :) I was struck by this image when searching for information on Desiderata. It looked pretty familiar-- I have a placard of the same image in my room, which I was struck by in a dingy corner of an open air market in Monterrey, Mexico when I was 18. I had to have it despite my then-boyfriend's insistence that I not get mixed up with "brujeria", or witchcraft. Oddly enough, mine is labeled "ANIMA BENDITA", so I suppose that reinforces your interpretation. Good on you for noticing that the universe was pointing you in a particular direction. Hopefully Anima Sola's role in your life has only become more clear over time.

Anonymous said...

I've decided to have Anima Sola tattooed on my arm because I've always been drawn to the image. After reading everything I can find on it, especially reading about the conflict between the physical and spiritual contexts, I'm even more convinced this an image that needs to be displayed on my body. Thanks for the blog and the comments, my decision is now even more settled than before.

CJ said...

Beautiful Tattoo! I have been haunted by that picture since I was 4 years old and first saw the image on my sisters Leonard Cohen album.

Melchizedekenoch said...

Much of Catholicism is based on "mysteries". Unknown concepts that are perceived through faith, another mystery, and the disciple spends his/her life distancing themselves from the "known", facts and practical information that makes sense. making sense is "sensual", understood through our senses. perfectly human, earthly and necessary to live in this world.
Anima Sola is a mystery. we can see the girl in a prison of flames, chains dissolving, eyes heavenward. nude and attractive. lots of sensual input, mostly visual. the colors. when i 1st showed the image to a friend, he said "she's hot". i saw what he meant. It has become an icon for secular persons to ponder upon and revel in the imagery of something that is assumed to be "spiritual". The mystery?
Spiritual entities arent perceived through our senses. imagery, color, recognition of shapes and proportions. theories on the information stored and conclusions made on the input, is mundanely human and done by the minute, even in the animal kingdom, decisions are made based on sensual input. the mystery of why anima sola had to be a permanent logo on your self image will come to you when your senses grow tired of it and the thrill has gone and you forgot it's there. Then you will understand her profoundly with depth and revelation that had nothing to do with your tat. from within. "the unworthy": melchizedekenoch@aol.com

Jennifer Molina said...

Hi....I feel like the Anima Sola herself....I want this tat so bad,I was married when I was 16 to a S.O.B. of a man who beat me every chance he got..I trusted him and loved him and I gave up my youth and freedom to be his wife which turned out to be a living nightmare....I am now 41 and have finally started beleieving in myself once more and finding out who I am,I am married to a wonderful mexican man who treats me like I have always deserved to be treated...a queen,but I have a lot of issues to work thru yet...I feel I cant truly relate to this image from my heart...I WILL HAVE A TAT OF HER this year!!!

Anonymous said...

I love anima sola I her statu she amazin I luv how she loks luv da tatto wrk
I wanted to get her tatted on my arm a lot of ppl said iamcrazy dats da devil etc .I dnt pay mine iam into all da saints especaily da females like both dominators anima sola etc