Friday, July 7, 2017

the last book I ever read (Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Eva Perón, excerpt eleven)

from Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Eva Perón by John Barnes:

On August 1, 1952, the union of food workers cabled Pope Pius XII asking ‘in the name of 160,000 members that Your Holiness initiate the process of canonization of Eva Perón.’ To support this request, the union told of a little girl paying her last respects, who said: ‘Eva was a saint. I know because she cured my mother.’ It added: ‘Many sick are now well, many sorrowful are happy because of her.’ The Vatican response was quick, smooth, and predictable. ‘While in the case of Señora de Perón the civic virtues were practiced in an evident way,’ said a Vatican spokesman, choosing his words carefully, ‘nothing is known about her religious virtues, and, at first sight, there seems not to have been any of the heroism required by the church in such matters.’

The church, it appeared, did not seem to believe that a woman who had known as many lovers as Evita before marriage was quite suitable material for sainthood. But it did not really matter. She already was a saint to hundreds of thousands of elderly Argentine women around the country who had set up shrines to her in their homes. The government, too, was planning a shrine – the world’s biggest. Her embalmed remains were to be kept permanently on view in a crypt patterned after Napolean’s tomb which was to be topped by a 450-foot statue of a descamisado in Carrara marble. But while Italian sculptors chipped away on that four-year project, in Buenos Aires the Evita legend seemed to be quietly but rapidly receding into the mists of history. More than two months after her death, the Association of Friends of Eva Perón, founded in the first hour of grief by high-placed Perónistas, had yet to hold it first meeting. The film Evita Immortal, released shortly after her death, had been withdrawn from circulation after only a short run. Press and radio had drastically reduced the amount of time and space devoted to her. The President himself never mentioned her name in public speeches anymore. It looked as through the widower in the Casa Rosada was trying to exorcise the ghost around him.

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