As we approached the house she opened the half door, stepped out on the flagstone, still with a gaze of bewilderment, but relaxed a little when Maura identified herself, greeting the old lady warmly. They embraced, I was introduced as a ‘good woman from the County of Wexford,’ and after a little bit of casual chat about her wellbeing, the weather and Maura’s family, we were invited in to her little kitchen.

It was like entering an ancient shrine. Dim-lit and adorned with little altars, statutes of all shapes and sizes, pictures of the saints, candles everywhere, some flickering in the darkness of the room and a mild scent of incense, giving it a feeling of sanctity and spiritualism. I got the immediate impression that there was certainly something saintly about this old woman as she seemed to have created her own little Heaven in her kitchen.

We sat down on a wooden bench and she sat directly in front of us.

“Now tell me, what has brought two fine women to Lizzy Farrell’s little abode today?”

Maura explained why we came. She looked me up and down with eyes that I felt were seeing right through me.

“You look a fine healthy woman to me. I can’t see why I can’t help you. You have come to the right place.”

“Oh, thank you,” I said, Padge and I would love to have even one child.”

“Have you a good faith? Do you pray?”

I told her we had been praying now for years for the blessing of a family, but we were beginning to doubt if it would ever happen.

“Nonsense woman,” she exclaimed, “nothing is beyond God’s power.”

She rose, went to the old dresser, got two large candles, one pink and one blue, tied in the centre to form a cross and handed them to me.

“Hold them now until I tell you about this. My gift was given to me by my mother and her gift was got from her mother. The power to heal an infertile woman comes from Saint Elizabeth, and that’s why we were all christened Elisabeth. My grandmother’s name was Liza, my mother was Betty and I’m Lizzy, but the three names are all short for Elizabeth. The name Elizabeth is the Hebrew word for Worshipper of God and that is what they were and I am too.”

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