Ceci's great-aunt's antique wooden statue draws the child to the old woman's altar where Ceci experiences a small miracle. An excerpt from Part One of Saint Sullivan's Daughter:
"Santa Barbara, my mama is always mad and my daddy is--well, he's late--and it's my birthday. I just keep waiting." Ceci's hands tighted around the edge of the shelf, and she stared into the sad saint's eyes, until in one of them a teardrop formed. Down the side of Saint Barbara's nose it rolled and fell onto Ceci's thumb, cold a warm, light the wintergreen oil Pilar rubbed on her knees at night.
A shiver climbed Ceci's back and shook the teardrop off her finger. She was suddenly afraid. Never had she monkeyed with anything so important as a saint. But that was not all. Something was coming--something worse than being spanked or yelled at.
There could be very bad things in the world; she had watched the news with Daddy, seen the blurry movies of people crying about fires and earthquakes. The news wasn't as real as this feeling, balled up in her stomach, the size of an apple. Something was coming--what Tía called a catastrophe--a beautiful word Ceci loved until she learned its meaning.