Author's Notes - I don't own Frankie or Andrew or any other character in 'Stigmata'. This little ramble follows the theatrical ending of the movie, not the much more tragic director's version of the ending. It's really Father Kiernan I adore more than the movie itself, so I just wanted to write a little angsty one shot about his feelings and thoughts on Frankie and his life in general. Hope you Stigmata/Kiernan fans enjoy it, and if you have any feedback I'd love to hear it. Thank you!
A Weak Man
A 'Stigmata' Fanfic
This may come as a great surprise to you, but Father Andrew Kiernan had not been born a priest.
He had not been born into some pious listless life; maturing in a drab cloister that shunned worldly desires and turned a bind eye to temptation; only to grow up to be a being of clipped desires and virtuous needs.
No, Andrew Kiernan was still an ordinary man, and beneath that righteous and collected manner, a weak one at that.
He'd lived a typical boyhood full of boyish pursuits, achievements, disappointments, and fantasies. And when he was no longer a boy, he found himself a man; a man who experienced life as a man should. He'd loved, lost…and in the end he was hurt.
When the experience of living as a man had lost its joy, he decided to become something beyond a man; he became a priest.
After all, it was the most sanctimonious way to close himself off from a world that had left him heartbroken so early on. That wasn't to say he wasn't religious to begin with. He'd grown up Irish Catholic; he loved the Lord with all of his being. He knew that Jesus himself could understand the pain of being human far more than he could. Jesus understood heartache; Jesus understood the cold and pitiless cruelty of the world. He truly felt that Jesus was the only being who could fully understand him. In the light of that realization, perusing a career in organic chemistry seemed more than a little trite. The other reason for him becoming a priest, and the one he was more apt to tell those who often asked, were those "holes" in the theories of universal explanation. There were bigger mysteries out there to solve; bigger powers to serve……and he felt called to give himself over to those powers.
And so Andrew Kiernan fell to his knees, and not this time for superficial human love…..but for God. He had traded one set of complications for another; the uniform of a scientist for the uniform of a priest. And he indeed found it easier to hide behind the starched white collar of faith than he ever had behind the exposed throat of a modest man.
He was always a scientist before he was a priest, and maybe that was his problem. But he soon found his niche within the Church and his superiors loved his skeptical eye. He was delegated to work within "The Congregation for the Causes of the Saint"; one of the Vatican's many, many sub departments. His mission was to scientifically disprove every wild theory thrown the way of Catholic Church; be it a bleeding statue, photographic silhouettes of Jesus Christ in a roll of vacation photos, sightings of Saints at the local drugstore, or the Virgin Mary's image in somebody's jello mold. Any and all manner of 'miracles' were his to debunk; a task he performed with the utmost efficiency. He admitted to gaining some sense of brutal pleasure in refuting religious zealots and ungrounded dreamers in the face of hard science. Still, he held a firm belief that somewhere out there, there did exist a true miracle; something that would be beyond his means of clinical explanation and deepen his faith to a level he'd always desired it to be. He devoted himself to finding that miracle.
The Church itself was another problem, and Andrew found himself disenchanted with it from the start; a feeling that only grew stronger with time. The Church was a business just like any other business, full of beuocratic scheming and politics. Andrew's investigative department in the Vatican was under the jurisdiction of one Cardinal Daniel Houseman. Andrew disliked Houseman from the start, but there was little to be done about that….and besides doesn't the Lord wish us to not foster hatred for others?
There was so much corruption. The Church had more power than most people even realized; what they wanted to get out, got out, what they didn't…stayed safely locked away. There were secrets out there, secrets that the Church did not want to be brought to light. Andrew found himself brazenly seeking to discover those secrets and expose them to the rest of the world. Was he working against the Church? No, but it couldn't be said he didn't have his own hidden agenda throughout it all. Houseman could send him all over the world, and still Andrew often felt that the real mystery worth defrauding was right there in Rome.
Then, out of the middle of nowhere, Frankie Paige had come into his life, and what Andrew believed to be up was down, and what he thought was black was in fact white……what he thought was wrong, was in fact very, very right. She was right. She was also receiving the stigmata, and although he'd been typically skeptical at first it didn't take long for him to realize that even he could not contest what he was seeing happen to her with his very own eyes. He was forced to set aside his uncertainty for faith and accept the ludicrous reality that this young woman from Pennsylvania was receiving the stigmata.
Ah, Frankie Paige…..
She had been a perfect example of the rampant twenty something selfishness and disillusionment that seemed to be choking the life out of those who'd barely begun to live. Here she was, a self proclaimed atheist receiving the stigmata; something that the most devout of Catholics considered to be a gift from Christ himself. It was unheard of, but it was undeniable. Why, of all people, had Frankie received the stigmata? And why of all people did Andrew find himself dangerously drawn to her? Was it because she was simply 'the forbidden fruit'? Or was it something more? Sure, he'd found her attractive right away…but Andrew had gotten quite used to the daily temptations of women; it was a feeling he had learned to suppress long ago. There was more about her than just a pretty face though…and as she continued to receive the stigmata, so did he continue to find himself having stronger feelings for her. She'd changed along the way; growing in a spiritual depth that certainly she and even he hadn't known existed. She was so beautiful, even in those moments of agony. She both engaged and infuriated him.
When she'd tried to seduce him that day up in her apartment, he'd found it nearly beyond his power to push her away. Yet, he realized that he still possessed enough inner strength to not allow himself to fall prey to that temptation; no matter how much he wanted to. He'd told her that this sort of temptation was something he struggled with; and she'd exploited it shortly thereafter; perhaps both due to her own desires and the evil possession that had been forced into her. He'd prayed about it later, about her, about himself. He asked God for continued strength and guidance. But he already knew then that he was in love with her, and in that matter God could not help him.
Frankie's infliction with the stigmata had led to the discovery of the lost Gospel's of Saint Thomas; the miracle Andrew had been unknowingly waiting for all these years. These scriptures were said to be the words of Jesus Christ himself, and their message proved to be a serious threat to the very foundations of the Church. Frankie herself, possessed by Father Alameda, had uttered their passages:
"The Kingdom of God is within you and all around you. Not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there. Lift a stone and you will find me."
The Church claimed these scriptures heresy, a claim that was understandable given the Church's immense power and influence. Such thoughts as: "One does not need the Church to find God; God is in you….in all that is around you. All you need is faith," could ruin the Church beyond repair. They were absolutely petrified of the consequences of this knowledge becoming public.
Andrew had gone back to Brazil, at last, and unearthed the scriptures exactly where he knew they'd be. Upon finding out about his discovery, The Church wanted nothing to do with him anymore. Even with Cardinal Houseman's exposure in the cover up, the mighty Catholic Church was not so easily defeated, a reality that Andrew knew well enough. As expected, his priesthood was revoked and he was asked to permanently leave his position at the Vatican. He was reasonably upset, but not without some relief. For discovering the lost Gospel's of Thomas were more than worth the loss of his priestly status. That was the miracle he had been waiting for……..that and Frankie.
Having had the spirits within her exorcised and her wounds healing nicely, Frankie Paige was free to live the life she'd had before; a jaded life of partying, shopping and being generally self gratifying. But she'd changed; receiving the stigmata had altered her drastically. Andrew had keenly watched this change in her; from its frustrating beginnings to its angelic blooming. She was like a child taking her first faltering steps into a new realm of spirituality; wide eyed and in awe of the glory around and inside of her. She was still unsure of herself, but he could see the growing confidence in her every day and it was truly a beautiful thing to behold.
Yes, of course he had chosen to return to her. It's what a weak man would do after all.
Lying next to Frankie now, he measured his breathing against her own; it was a lulling, deep, contented tempo. But it was raining outside, and the tattoo sound of rain drops on the nearby window kept him awake despite his heavy fatigue. Frankie's slim hands, still visibly scarred and innocently folded together, lay propped up under her blonde mass of hair; her head in turn resting on his bare shoulder. Andrew brushed away a few stray strands of hair from her forehead; noting the fading scars still etched into her skin where the wounds of the crown of thorns had injured her not so long ago. From there his gaze followed the graceful line of neck, to her exposed breasts and on down to the subtle curve of her hips. He was tempted to reach out to her, to kiss her….but with well practiced swiftness he checked that desire before he could act on it. It was best to let her sleep.
He was suddenly very aware that God knew his every thought, and saw his every action. Lingering on this, Andrew was instantly filled with a sudden sense of overwhelming shame. He slowly pulled himself away from Frankie; being careful not to disturb her weighty sleep as he did so.
Crawling over the edge of the bed and onto the floor, he settled himself on his knees; relishing in typical masochistic Catholic fashion at the discomfort the hardwood floor caused his bare kneecaps. He was very aware of how vulnerable and exposed he was, fully naked to the world…..both physically and spiritually. But in this at least he had no shame; after all, God had seen him in far more compromising positions.
Crossing himself, he bowed his head and raised his clasped hands to his forehead.
In this prone state he asked God for forgiveness, for what he'd just done and for what he was likely to do again. He was a sinner; a weak man, God help him. For all his successes, he'd managed to fail in so many other ways. There was no going back now.
To his surprise he felt tears stringing his eyes. He couldn't recall the last time he'd wept. He felt both simultaneously ridiculous and relieved at the rush of emotion. But he managed to hold back anything further and instead fell into deeper prayer. After sometime he wasn't even sure what he was praying about…or if he was even praying at all.
"Andrew?" Frankie's voice from behind him, weak and sleepy, broke into his prayers. He wasn't even exactly sure how long he'd been kneeling there, but it felt like days.
He continued to keep his head bowed and back turned despite Frankie's question; slowly drawing himself back to the surface of reality.
He heard her shift; the sound of the sheets brushing against her body as she moved closer to him. "Hey…..Andrew?"
He then felt her warm hand on his shoulder, and he affectionately pinned it down with one of his own; still facing away from her.
Her voice became stronger. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
Finally turning towards her, he made no effort to hide the passion he'd felt, but was unable to look her in the face. Instead he placed an unsteady hand on her shoulder.
Frankie's concern grew. "Andrew? Oh Jesus-ah-"she quickly snapped a hand over her mouth; an apologetic expression momentarily creasing her features, "I'm sorry…..hey, come here." Pushing forward she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and drew him towards her into an embrace. She settled her chin on his shoulder; speaking softly into his ear. "What's wrong Andrew? Talk to me."
He wanted to tell her, he wanted to tell her everything; about his life before he'd been a priest, his pain and sacrifice over the years and the shame and conflict that he still felt. But she wasn't ready for all of that, she wouldn't fully understand…..not yet. Someday she would be though, and when she was ready…he would tell her.
"I was asking for forgiveness…." He responded quietly. Pulling away, he finally looked her fully in the face; dark brows knitting over his blue eyes as he struggled to regain his composure.
He sensed a question on her lips, but then she seemed to come to an understanding, and kept silent; for that he was glad. Instead she offered him a small smile and nod of acceptance that went beyond her years. He knew she wouldn't have been capable of that simple understanding just mere months ago. She had matured so much in such a short span of time. He was so proud of her; for what she'd gone through…for what she'd endured.
She leaned forward; her hands tenderly holding either side of his face as she searched his eyes with her newfound depth and understanding.
Looking at her now Andrew no longer felt the ominous restraints of sin holding him back; something had released him. He was indeed still just a man, and yes…..a weak one at that. He'd tried, and to some extent he had failed miserably. But there was some odd relief in recognizing and accepting that failure. After all, what more could he be but a mere man?
Pulling his attention back to Frankie, he finally returned her soft smile; and an unspoken message completed its exchange between them. No, he was wrong…he had not failed…at least not as a man. He had Frankie; a woman who loved him…despite his failures, or maybe even because of them. And that was something he could be proud of. So it was with renewed faith that he leaned forward and met her lips with his own.