Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Presbyterian with a Monstrance of Penicillium Mold

Devout Presbyterian layperson and wartime penicillin researcher Gladys Hobby recounts in her book "Penicillin : Meeting The Challenge" of  her rounds carrying a petri dish containing a big circular 'wedged' penicillium mold, every day through the wards at Presbyterian-Columbia Hospital.

This daily pilgrimage served no medical or scientific purpose, but it did serve the moral purpose of helping to sustain the spirits of the young SBE patients there.

They all knew that faced imminent and inevitable death from their disease, unless the tiny team of which she was a part of could produce in time enough of the natural penicillin to save their lives.

Anyone who has even seen an artistic rendering of  such 'wedged' penicillium mold and an artistic rendering of a Monstrance is immediately struck, as I was, that the two paintings are very hard to tell apart.

As a Catholic, I particularly relish the image of a Calvinist Protestant dutifully carrying a monstrance, so alien to her religious traditions ( and albeit a monstrance of penicillin-hope), daily through the pain-filled wards.

Truly, God works in mysterious ways ....

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