What is the meaning of Pat Mora’s poem “Prayer to the Saints”?

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Pat Mora’s “Prayer to the Saints” is the first poem in a collection entitled Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints . The first-person speaker of this poem opens by telling us that when she turned sixteen, she began to recite a special prayer to the saints, whom she addresses...

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Pat Mora’s “Prayer to the Saints” is the first poem in a collection entitled Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints. The first-person speaker of this poem opens by telling us that when she turned sixteen, she began to recite a special prayer to the saints, whom she addresses as “old friends,” asking them to grant her “a handsome man who’d never stray.” The poem, like others in this collection, reflects Mora’s Mexican American and Roman Catholic upbringing.

“Prayer to the Saints” addresses over two dozen saints, asking each to grant one particular positive characteristic of the narrator’s dream man. The lines are usually (but not always exactly) rhyming couplets. For example, Mora writes, “St. Jerome, / have him build me my dream home.” A few of the couplets are in Spanish.

“Prayer to the Saints,” in my opinion, is both touching and mildly amusing. The poem imitates the “Litany of Saints,” an ancient prayer that is reserved for very solemn occasions, such as the Easter Vigil Mass and the ordination of priests and bishops.

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