International law was my favorite subject, because it allowed me to shine. It enabled me to use my vast repository of history and current events culled from years and years of reading history, literature, and global news. I could easily correlate what I knew of these things with the legal concepts in our law textbooks, so I had less difficulty than with my other subjects. And because of this, I could recite international law concepts with relative ease and more confidence than in my other classes, where I was timid and unassertive.

One night in class, we were discussing what made a State.

I was wearing an apple-green dress with a kilted skirt. Over it, I wore a black blazer. I was also wearing moderate heels, and some makeup and dark red lipstick, which was in vogue that season.

Our professor was talking about the Montevideo Convention, and what made a State. Then he asked if there existed a sovereign state that was also led by a purely religious group.

I volunteered to answer, as this was a topic I was rather familiar with: Vatican City. The Pope, the bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ on earth, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is also the head of state of Vatican City, which is a sovereign state of its own.The professor and I had a lively exchange. Then he asked why the Holy See was called so. This was his only question that night that I could not answer.

He explained that it was because of “sedes,” or the Latin word for “chair,” pertaining to the seat of government of the Church and that State. “Sancta Sedes,” to be precise: the holy seat of government of that State and the Roman Catholic Church.

Then he bid me sit down, and commended me for such a good discussion. He was in jovial voice.

I smiled, proud of myself for what I thought was a brilliant recitation. I wasn’t this good quite often in law school. But as I fixed the kilt of my skirt, he said something that, to this moment, haunts me.

“Si Ms. [redacted], […]

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