Asterix and the Soothsayer – Book 19

Asterix and the Soothsayer – Book 19

Asterix and the Soothsayer (French: Le Devin, “The Divine”) is the nineteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote issues 652-673 in 1972.

Frightened by a thunderstorm, the Gauls — with the exception of Getafix, who is at his annual druid meeting — are huddled in the chief’s hut, when they are visited by a soothsayer, called Prolix, who predicts that “when the storm is over, the weather will improve” and additionally predicts a fight (caused by the villagers’ habitual argument over the over-ripeness of fish sold by fishmonger Unhygenix). Asterix alone correctly identifies the soothsayer as a charlatan.

Upon Prolix’s departure, the chief’s wife Impedimenta preserves him in hiding near the village, where she and the other villagers question him at will; forbidding only Asterix and Obelix. Later, Obelix eludes Impedimenta and, upon encountering Prolix, chases him up a tree. Prolix diverts him by claiming to see a vision of a beautiful woman who loves warriors matching Obelix’s description. Obelix returns to the village and almost instantly falls for Mrs. Geriatrix. Prolix meanwhile is arrested by an optio, who brings Prolix before the centurion of the Roman camp Compendium, who decides to use the imposter’s persuasive skills against the Gauls. Upon Impedimenta’s discovery of Asterix near Prolix’s camp, consternation spreads among the villagers on grounds of a threatened sacrilege. At the Romans’ behest, Prolix returns, claiming dramatically that soon the air in the village will become polluted by a divine curse. Terrified, most of the villagers flee to a nearby island for the curse to exhaust itself, while Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix stay behind.

The Romans soon arrive to claim the village, while Asterix and Obelix hide in the undergrowth. Getafix the druid returns from his conference, and hearing of the situation, turns Prolix’s ruse against him by creating and spreading a foul-smelling mixture of gasses. These expel the Romans, Prolix, and Cacofonix the Bard, who returns to the other Gauls on the island to confirm Prolix’s prophecy. Prolix himself is perplexed by this confirmation, while the Centurion sends word to Caesar that “all of Gaul is now conquered”; and hoping to become dictator himself, he has the soothsayer tell him exaggerated stories of the luxuries emperors enjoy. Getafix, Asterix and Obelix join the other villagers on the island, where Getafix reveals he created the “foul air” that expelled the Romans; but Impedimenta and the other women remain convinced Prolix was genuine, on grounds of his having flattered them in earlier predictions. Asterix therefore determines to take the soothsayer by surprise and thus prove him fallible.

To this end, the Gaulish men and women attack the Roman camp together; and when the Centurion demands to know why Prolix did not warn him of this, the latter admits his ignorance. Convinced of the soothsayer’s fraudulence, Impedimenta beats him and the Centurion. Returning to the village, the Gauls meet Bulbus Crocus, an envoy of Julius Caesar’s, come to confirm the Centurion’s claim that the village is conquered, and expel him. In the Roman camp, Crocus demotes the Centurion to a common soldier, who is then commanded by the Optio to clean the camp alone. Prolix is expelled from the camp, swears to give up soothsaying, and is driven away by a thunderstorm. The Gaulish village is soon at peace, with the exception of Cacofonix, who still daydreams of himself as a famous singer.

Saint Mary MacKillop – July 19

Saint Mary MacKillop – July 19

If Saint Mary MacKillop were alive today, she would be a household name. It’s not that she sought the limelight. On the contrary, she simply wanted to serve the poor wherever she found them in her native Australia. But along the way, she managed to arouse the ire of some rather powerful churchmen. One even excommunicated her for a time.

Born in Melbourne in 1842, to parents who had emigrated from Scotland, Mary grew up in a family that faced constant financial struggles. As a young woman she was drawn to religious life but could not find an existing order of Sisters that met her needs. In 1860, she met Father Julian Woods, who became her spiritual director. Together they founded a new community of women—the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Josephite Sisters. Its members were to staff schools especially for poor children, as well as orphanages, and do other works of charity.

As the congregation grew, so did Mary MacKillop’s problems. Her priest-friend proved unreliable in many ways and his responsibilities for direction of the Sisters were removed. Meanwhile, Mary had the support of some local bishops as she and her Sisters went about their work. But the bishop in South Australia, aging and relying on others for advice, briefly excommunicated Mary—charging her with disobedience—and dispensed 50 of her Sisters from their vows. In truth, the bishop’s quarrel was about power and who had authority over whom. He ultimately rescinded his order of excommunication.

Mary insisted that her congregation should be governed by an elected mother general answerable to Rome, not to the local bishop. There also were disputes about whether or not the congregation could own property. In the end, Rome proved to be Mary’s best source of support. After a long wait official approval of the congregation—and how it was to be governed—came from Pope Leo XIII.

Despite her struggles with Church authorities, Mary MacKillop and her Sisters were able to offer social services that few, if any, government agencies in Australia could. They served Protestants and Catholics alike. They worked among the aborigines. They taught in schools and orphanages and served unmarried mothers.

Money, actually the lack of it, was a constant worry. But the Sisters who begged from door to door, were bolstered by faith and by the conviction that their struggles were opportunities to grow closer to God.

By the time Mary was approaching the end of her life, the congregation was thriving. She died in 1909 at the age of 67. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1995. In 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI canonized her, she became Australia’s first saint. Her Liturgical Feast Day is August 8.