On Dec. 11, 2021, Anne Rice of “Interview with the Vampire” fame died at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif., following a stroke.
Rice, 80, penned many dramatic passages, but none as significant as the one that played out in that final hour, when she left the temporal world for eternal life.
Rice and I crossed paths through several email exchanges in August 2016. Apparently, it was characteristic of Rice to respond to emails, so though her replies to me might not have been extraordinary, I hold them dear. As a fellow baptized Catholic, Rice was a sister in Christ.
But as reporter Raymond Arroyo mentioned on his “The World Over” television program, in her writings, Rice “wrestled with faith and its absence in the world,” as evidenced by her vampire characters, who “were caught between heaven and hell, tortured by their own existence.”
Rice became an atheist at 18, but in 1998, returned to Catholicism, pledging to dedicate her writings to Christ. Later misgivings had Rice denouncing Christianity again.
I’d celebrated her return on my blog in Oct. 2009, “ Goodbye Vampires, Hello Angels (The Reversion of Anne Rice). ” So, when Rice announced on Facebook in July 2010 that she’d “quit being a Christian,” finding it “impossible to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group,” I was fittingly mystified.
But I sensed that this was not the end of her soul’s quest, and that her departure would be filled with new questions and a continued drive for satisfactory answers.
In an interview with Arroyo after her return to Christianity, Rice had explained her renewed attraction, sharing of how the Romans of Jesus’ time were “suspicious of everything coming out of the East,” and yet, “here comes this cult, started by this Nazarene, who was crucified,” and, within 110 years, Christianity had become an international religion, essentially wiping out paganism a decade later.
It didn’t make sense in ordinary terms, Rice had said, and, in studying Christ and his teachings, she’d begun to feel an “immense, mystical opening to this religion.”
Rice illuminated her misgivings in her emails to me, and I did my best to recall the beauty of the faith which had eluded her. Even now, with her final decision permanent, I find hope.
In an NPR interview , Rice had shared how she’d discovered, over time, that the vampires in her novels “were groping in the darkness; they lived in a world without God.” And that, despite her disillusionment with “organized religion,” she would “never go back to being that atheist and that pessimist that I was.”
In his December tribute to Rice, Arroyo said, according to his sources, Rice had received “last rites,” indicating her ultimate communion with the Church, noting that she’d be laid to rest at her family plot in New Orleans. “May Anne Rice rest in peace, and in the love of light of the Lord.”
I, too, pray, dear Anne, that someday, we might mingle together in the kingdom of heaven.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Jan. 3, 2022.]