Beyond the prolific writing career, the fascinating personal life, and the peacocks (lots of peacocks) Flannery O'Connor was a devout and inspirational Catholic. Word on Fire contributor Father Damian Ference takes a look at the writer today on the Word on Fire blog.
One of the greatest disciples of the twentieth century was neither a priest, nor a religious, nor a married person. She was a celibate, single woman who spent the last thirteen years of her life battling lupus while writing some of the best fiction the world has ever known, while living on a 455-acre dairy farm in Milledgeville, Georgia with her mother, her books, and forty-four peacocks. Her name was Flannery O’Connor.
Mary Flannery O’Connor, the only child of Edward O’Connor and Regina Cline O’Connor, was born and baptized in Savannah, Georgia in 1925. She was raised in a strong Catholic circle, as she literally grew up in the shadow of the Church – the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist – which was a stone’s throw from the O’Connor home, impossible to miss from the family room window and her parents’ second-floor bedroom. Edward and Regina sent Flannery to Catholic school, but were themselves her first and best teachers in the ways of faith, as they promised at her baptism.
O’Connor went to high school and college in Georgia, but left the South to enroll in the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where she earned her master’s degree. From there she moved to New York and then Connecticut, which is where she thought she would stay as her writing career developed. But around Christmas of 1950 she became very ill and moved back to Georgia and was eventually diagnosed with lupus, the same disease that took her father’s life when she was a teenager. She and her mother moved to an old family farm in Milledgeville which Flannery named, Andalusia...