Monday, October 31, 2005

Feast of All Saints...

In honour of the feast, a link to this 15th Century French Manuscript. Catholic Nerds are (as an act of mortification) requested to refrain from the temptation to identify each and every saint on the page. ;-)

In the news...

From the Telegraph, we learn that Guy Fawkes had too much gunpowder:
The makers of a television programme built a full-sized replica of the 17th
century House of Lords before following Fawkes's meticulous plans and detonating
36 barrels of explosive beneath it.
Filmed inside the mocked-up chamber -
packed with sensors and crash test dummies to represent King James I, peers,
bishops and MPs - the documentary shows in graphic detail what would have
happened if Fawkes had been successful.
The programme, which cost £1 million
to make, shows that the massacre would have succeeded with half of the amount of
gunpowder that was in place in November 1605.

Now, that sounds like good TV - educational and a big explosion!
The Telegraph also reports on the American magazine Don Diva which is aimed at the gangsta (ahem!) demographic:
An American magazine about gangster life that was originally aimed at
prisoners is selling so well that it is to go on sale in major stores.
To the
alarm of those working in crime prevention, Don Diva, which calls itself "the
original street bible", has become required reading in many inner cities.
It features interviews with convicts, and includes tips on where to hide
drugs and buy the best diamond-studded gold teeth and money-counting
Critics say the glossy quarterly - which carries the warning,
"Parental Advisory: Gangsta Content" - glamorises and promotes violent gangland
lifestyles. Its supporters say the coverage reflects the reality, and
consequences, of crime: perpetrators end up in prison or dead.
Initially, nearly all its subscribers were in prison. Today only 10
per cent of its readers are inmates
, and the magazine will soon be on
sale at large retail outlets such as Tower Records and Borders.

The Guardian reports on Berluscioni's continuing mixed-messages about Iraq:
Silvio Berlusconi, one of George Bush's closest allies, says he repeatedly tried
to talk the US president out of invading Iraq, in comments to be broadcast
In the television interview, which goes out on the day the Italian
prime minister flies to Washington to meet Mr Bush, Mr Berlusconi says he even
enlisted the help of the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gadafy, in
behind-the-scenes efforts to stop America going to war.
"I have never been
convinced war was the best way to succeed in making a country democratic and
extract it from an albeit bloody dictatorship," he says. "I tried on several
occasions to convince the American president not to wage war."

The Corriere della Sera's English page reports on a former Communist mayor who is now an enclosed nun.

The Eucharist & Pontifications...

There's some cracking stuff about the Eucharist on Pontifications at the moment - here's the latest post.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


I made a little pilgrimage to the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme today. They restored the Chapel of the Relics (of Our Lord's Passion) and so I was able to visit them in their traditional location for the first time in a little while. Having said a few prayers there, I moved into a side room wherein was displayed a reproduction of the Shroud of Turin. In that room was a door, with a grille covered with a red and gold curtain. A faded inscription read 'Relics of the Saints' and I pushed the curtain aside. Seeing nothing but darkness, I poked my digital camera in between the bars of the grille, turned on the flash and snapped. This is the result. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
If you download the picture, you can use whatever image software is on your computer to make out some of the saints names. St Hilary is there, as is St Nereus and the mitred young man on the left is St Stephen. As you can see, it's almost like a lumber room of relics. It's not at all uncommon for Roman churches to have huge collections of relics in their sacristies or in a side chapel. Most notable, in my opinion, is the relics chapel in St Paul outside the Walls and an altar in S. Ignazio which is decorated with the bones of dozens of Jesuit martyrs.
All Saints' Day is coming up, and some churches take the opportunity to put their relics on display. Particularly worth visiting is St Peter's - dozens of reliquaires are placed atop the huge Papal Altar.

Holy Door (Lateran Basilica)

Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Restaurant Freeloader Nabbed!

ANSA) - Rome, October 26 - A woman who makes a habit of refusing to pay for lavish meals has been banned from Rome .
The 40-year-old from Viterbo got her marching orders when she flatly turned down pleas for cash after a 360-euro fish lunch in one of Rome's most chic restaurants. Staff called the police as the woman sat back to digest a heap of shrimps, cuttlefish and glazed gilthead in a swish eatery on the capital's famed Via Veneto.
In a bid to justify her actions, the woman stressed that she never preyed on less expensive restaurants or trattorias. But the argument didn't go down too well .
She promptly received a 'foglio di via' - an order to get out of Rome, and stay out.
Personally, I'm always a little surprised that more people DON'T walk out of restaurants without paying. That observation usually makes me a little more positive about human nature.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fra Angelico exhibition in New York

My American readers might be interested in this (from
(ANSA) - New York, October 24 - Renaissance genius and patron saint of artists Fra Angelico is set to wow New York with the first major American exhibition of his work .
The Metropolitan Museum has combed 50 collections all over the world to serve up 75 works by the master and several more by his pupils. The show spotlights Angelico's pellucid, ethereal altar panels, his otherworldly Madonna and Childs and the intricate decorativeness of his smaller works.
The Met exhibition, which marks the 550th anniversary of the angelic friar's death, runs from October 26 to January 29.


Go read Sancta Sanctis on Fan-fiction and Tradition and Scripture and Tradition in Jane Austen.
Also, I am very much taken with Newman when he enters into flights of rhetorical questioning. This was written as an Anglican upholding the notion of Apostolic Tradition:
This is what these authors forget when they write so magisterially and fluently. They agree in ignoring the existence, in fact—nay, the probability, or the very possibility—of an Apostolical Tradition, supplementary to and interpretative of Scripture. The idea of such an aid to Christian teaching does not seem even to enter into their comprehension. They take for granted that the accumulated knowledge about our Lord and His religion which must have flowed from the lips of the Apostles upon their converts, in their familiar conversations, catechizings, preachings, ecclesiastical determinations, prayers, was clean swept away and perished with the closing of the canon and the death of St. John. All the information of the great forty days came to nought, except so far as it accidentally strayed into one or other passage of the Apostolic Epistles. No one had ever any curiosity to ask the Apostles, during the remnant of their lives, any point of faith; no one had felt interest enough to ascertain from them who their Master was, why He died, and with what results. No one retained any memory of their teaching concerning God, or the human soul, or the unseen state, or the world of saints and angels, or the Church on earth; no one had sought for explanation of any verse in St. Matthew or St. Luke, of the doctrine contained in the first or in the sixth chapters of St. John, or of the symbol of "the Lamb," or of the nature of "the Spirit"; or, anyhow, nothing had been asked, nothing answered, but what already was recorded by a singular chance in the books of the New Testament, or at least nothing that was of the slightest importance and worth preserving. The great Churches of the day, at Corinth, Rome, Antioch, and Ephesus, the learned school of Alexandria, knew in the year A.D. 100 and onwards as much of all these matters as we do now, and no more. Their interpretations of the sacred writings were just on a par with the private judgments of clever commentators, orthodox or heterodox, now—one as good as another, conjectural, personal, inferential, unauthoritative. "Pious opinions," as they have been called, "theories upon facts," "dogmatical and sententious wisdom," "hieroglyphics, casting shadows," "metaphors explanatory of metaphors," "vain conceits," "presumptuous impositions,"—it seems nothing better than these remains to us, these are all the leavings, if we are to credit Chillingworth, Locke, Hoadley and the rest, of the contemporaries and the disciples of our Lord.

White Supremacist Teen Pop-Stars...

From the Telegraph:
America's white supremacist movement has an angelic new face: twin teenage pop stars whose songs preach messages of racial hatred.
Prussian Blue, a "white power" band now recording its second album, is described as a sinister version of the Olsen Twins, the squeaky clean child actresses of the 1990s. It is attracting more and more fans among young white nationalists.
Lamb and Lynx Gaede, blonde, blue-eyed 13-year-olds from Bakersfield, California, have been entertaining all-white crowds with their music since the age of nine. Lamb plays the guitar and Lynx the violin.
Their songs have titles such as Sacrifice, a tribute to Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, that praises him as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up".
The twins' first album featured songs called Road to Valhalla and Aryan Man, Awake. They depict a world "where freedom exists for only those with darker skin" and encourage the Aryan man to awake and "turn that fear to hate".
The twins recently came under fire for stipulating that money they donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina should go to whites only. In a recent interview with the magazine Viceland, they were asked what was the "most important social issue facing the white race right now". They replied: "Not having enough white babies born to replace ourselves and generally not having good quality white people being born."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Interesting employment law case in the UK

From the Guardian:
How do you launch a claim for sex discrimination if your employer is God? Helen Percy was suspended from her job as an associate Church of Scotland minister in the Angus glens in 1997 when as a single woman she was accused of having sex with a married elder. She resigned and took a claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination to an employment tribunal.
But her case has been thrown out by the tribunal, the employment appeal tribunal, and the court of session in Edinburgh. Each institution ruled it had no jurisdiction to hear the case - because in Britain, uniquely, clergy enjoy none of the employment rights the rest of us take for granted. An earlier case involving a Church of England rector, Ray Owen, found that, under laws dating back nearly a century, clergy were not church employees at all but office holders - in effect employed by God.
Today Ms Percy's eight-year battle - now a claim for sex discrimination only - will go to the House of Lords, which could rule that in the 21st century clergy should, like everyone else, have the rights and protections that go with holding down a job. Mr Owen's attempt to take his case to the lords failed in 2001, when they refused his petition to hear the case.
The five law lords will have to decide how the 1921 Church of Scotland Act, which lays down the church's right to regulate its own affairs, interacts with the EU's 1976 equal treatment directive, which provides that men and women must be treated equally at work.
The act declares that the church receives from "the Lord Jesus Christ, its Divine King and Head" and "from Him alone" the right and power "subject to no civil authority to legislate, and to adjudicate finally, in all matters of doctrine, worship, government, and discipline in the Church, including the right to determine all questions concerning membership and office in the Church".

Also in the Guardian, news of a Koran recital contest:
With senior militant leaders looking on, Palestinian officials opened an international competition yesterday testing participants' knowledge of the Qur'an.
Some 700 people, including diplomats and leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas crowded into a cultural centre for the first day of the al-Aqsa international competition for the holy Qur'an.
Yousef Salameh, Palestinian minister of religious affairs, commended the non-Arabic speakers for learning to recite the Qur'an "better than us, who have Arabic as a mother tongue".
Muslims believe there is a place secured in heaven those who memorise the Qur'an and follow its dictates. Those who memorise its 30 sections are given the title of honorary sheikh.

Building in a Bag?

This potentially very useful idea is reported in the Telegraph:
Two students have invented "a building in a bag" for refugees and relief organisations used to relying on tents for months, or even years, after human disasters.
Their Concrete Canvas structure can be put to use as a secure and clean home, storage space or a base for medical treatment and can be erected within a day.
It is based on the same principle as a plaster-cast bandage, using fabric seeped in concrete that can be shaped and inflated when wet then dries solid.
Mr Brewin, who served for a year in the Royal Engineers, said: "The technology offers several big advantages over canvas, in that you can have a hard building from day one of a crisis.
"Unlike a tent, it can be secured to protect equipment from looters and can be sterile from infections for carrying out medical procedures.
"Because it is a rigid structure, you can easily add sandbags to insulate it to make it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. One of the big problems with tents in Pakistan now is that it will soon be extremely cold."

Stuart Question...

I know that monarchists and the like are not unknown in the Catholic blogosphere. Perhaps one of you could answer a question. These pictures (click to enlarge) are of a funerary monument from the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, here in Rome. The deceased seems to be claiming to be the last of the Stuarts. Now, I've had a look at a few Stuart geneologies on the web and can find no trace of him. Now, my (possibly faulty) reading of the Latin leaves open the interpretation that he was part of a minor branch of the family. Anyone know any more about this Charles Stuart? Any comments about the coat of arms on the monument?
[Edited to add:
D'oh! Per Gary in the comments box, I was misreading the inscription.
I'll resist the temptation to delete this post and will live it as a monument to my more-than-occasional stupidity.
Needless to say, I was reading the word 'reges' as being a form of 'rex'. But if it were, it would have been in the plural nominative, vocative or accusative, which doesn't fit.
*Returns to Latin class*]

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Synod Propositions...

The propisitions of the Synod to the Holy Father have been released in Italian. Proposition 32 about the celebration of the Eucharist for small groups is interesting...
A proposito delle Sante Messe celebrate per piccoli gruppi, esse devono favorire una partecipazione più consapevole, attiva e fruttuosa all’Eucaristia. Sono stati proposti i seguenti criteri:
(Regarding Holy Masses celebrated for small groups, the must favour a more aware, active and fruitful participation in the Eucharist. The following criteria are proposed:)
- i piccoli gruppi devono servire a unificare la comunità parrocchiale, non a frammentarla;
(Small groups must serve to unify the parochial community, not to divide it)
- devono rispettare le esigenze delle varie categorie di fedeli, così da favorire la partecipazione fruttuosa dell’intera assemblea;
(They must respect the needs of various categories of the faithful so as to favour the fruitful participation of the entire assembly)
- devono essere guidati da direttive chiare e precise;
(They must be guided by clear and precise directives)
- devono tener presente che, nella misura del possibile, bisogna preservare l’unità della famiglia.
(They must bear in mind thatm, in so far as possible, the unity of the family need to be preserved)
Funnily enough, those criteria match exactly the usual criticisms made about the 'Neo-Cathecumenal Way.' Their practice of liturgical oddities, many small Masses on a Sunday for those at different stages of 'the Way', and accusations of disruption to normal family and parochial seem to have provoked the synod to issue this not-so-subtle suggestion that something needs to be done.


Folks, I took my camera for a walk this afternoon and share with you a few things that I spotted.
Click on the pictures to see larger versions of the same.

The monument to Cardinal Gasparri in the Lateran basilica. The books on the bottom right are the Lateran Treaty and the 1917 (not the 1913 Code as I had previously written... there was never any such code!) Code of Canon Law for which he was largely responsible.

St Matthew in the Lateran Basilica. Note the bag of money under his foot and his status as an evangelist is symbolised by fact that he's reading a book.

The most multi-lingual confessional in the city is found in St Mary Majors. One priest does speak all those languages. Have you ever wanted to confess in Latin?

Pope St Pius V. Also in St Mary Majors.

A fine (IMHO) tomb in the church of S. Prassade. This chap used to be Patricarch of Alexandria.

This might be handy...

A Polish site with the offices of some of the more important feast-days taken from the current Latin breviary.

And you thought the Jesuits had influence...

I'm not a particular fan of The Tablet, but did spot an interesting little story which had as its source the former Master-General of the Dominicans Timothy Radcliffe. It seems that the 40,000 strong French Dominican pilgrimage to Lourdes this year promised to be a disaster as it coincided with a French railway strike. However, the friars persuaded the union to allow 27 special trains to run, transporting 20,000 pilgrims to Lourdes.


From the Telegraph:
Oetzi, the 5,300-year-old ice mummy discovered in the Italian Alps, is at the centre of a bitter court battle as three different people try to claim the €50,000 (£33,000) reward for discovering him.
Credit for finding the prehistoric hunter, whose remains were perfectly preserved in the Oztal glacer on the Italian-Austrian border, originally went to two German hikers, Erika and Helmut Simon.
But Mrs Simon, whose husband died last year, now faces rival claims from two other women who say they were part of the same mountaineering party that came across him in 1991.
Their claims are being heard in court in Bolzano in northern Italy, where Oetzi is on display, and where he generates £2 million a year for the city from tourists.
The first rival claimant is Swiss woman Sandra Nemeth, who claims to have spat on the mummy to ''mark'' it with her DNA after a row on the hillside with the Simons over who made the discovery. She has asked for a DNA test on the remains but experts believe that there is little chance of finding any trace. The second claimant is Magdalena Mohar Jarc, from Ljubliana, Slovenia.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Today's Office of Readings

Today's reading from St Peter Chrysologus is particularly striking:
The man made from the earth is the pattern of those who belong to the earth; the man from heaven is the pattern of those who belong to heaven. How is it that these last, though they do not belong to heaven by birth, will yet belong to heaven, men who do not remain what they were by birth but persevere in being what they have become by rebirth? The reason is, brethren, that the heavenly Spirit, by the mysterious infusion of his light, gives fertility to the womb of the virginal font. The Spirit brings forth as men belonging to heaven those whose earthly ancestry brought them forth as men belonging to the earth, and in a condition of wretchedness; he gives them the likeness of their Creator. Now that we are reborn, refashioned in the image of our Creator, we must fulfil what the Apostle commands: So, as we have worn the likeness of the man of earth, let us also wear the likeness of the man of heaven.
Now that we are reborn, as I have said, in the likeness of our Lord, and have indeed been adopted by God as his children, let us put on the complete image of our Creator so as to be wholly like him, not in the glory that he alone possesses, but in innocence, simplicity, gentleness, patience, humility, mercy, harmony, those qualities in which he chose to become, and to be, one with us.
I suppose that there are few modern preachers who would be so explicit in their imagery when preaching about baptismal regeneration. (When did you last hear a sermon about that?) An exception would be the late Dominican theologian Fr Herbert McCabe who rather provocatively defended the superiority of Pius XII's renewed Easter Vigil over that of Paul VI because the former brought out more clearly the aspect of the paschal candle bringing fertility to the womb-like baptismal font which gives birth to believers. Now, I suspect some of my readers may well be raising an eyebrow at that, but St Peter Chrysologus and Fr McCabe do well in provoking us to consider what new life our baptism has given us and whether we really do consider ourselves as having been 'born again' by virtue of that sacrament.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Check out the Cnytr's post on why not to be a Neo-Cath. Amen, sister!
Boeciana goes tuneful and composes a 'Trid Love Song' :
You're the top,
You're the Roman Canon;
You're the top,
You're the Creed in Latin;

Enbrithiliel tells the very POD story of Our Lady of Piat.
In the Telegraph: 2 Days in Rome for Stg£100. Also worth a look is Lord Carey's argument against a proposed religious hatred bill. (Mockery is good for the faithful, says Carey)
There's also an interesting article about Italian fathers being the oldest in the world:
The Italian statistics agency Istat said yesterday that the average age for the first child in Italy for a man is 33, the highest in the world, compared to 31 in France and Spain.
In Italy 40 per cent of 30- to 34- year-old Italian males still live at home, Istat said. Worse, the urge to procreate does not increase with age for the Italian man as it does with women. Istat said men who married at 35 were 80 per cent less likely to want a child than those who married at 25.
That's actually one of the major social problems in Italy - mamismo, rather than machismo. Italian women frequently complain that their husbands are still attached to their mothers' apron strings even when they finally do move out of home.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I pray this might be true!

From the Times...
THE Vatican is preparing to give England its first post- Reformation saint by putting Cardinal Newman — the 19th-century priest whose conversion from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism shocked Victorian England — on the road to canonisation, thanks to a long-awaited miracle.
Although a dossier on Cardinal Newman’s beatification was first opened in 1958, no miracles had, until now, been attributed to his intercession. “I had to tell John Paul that the English are not very good at miracles,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said. “It’s not that we are not pious, but the English tend to think of God as a gentleman who should not be bullied.”
Yesterday, however, the cleric responsible for arguing Newman’s cause, Father Paul Chavasse, the Provost of Birmingham Oratory, which was founded by Newman in 1848, said that a deacon in the Diocese of Boston in the United States had testified that he had recovered from a spinal disease after praying to Cardinal Newman. “At last we have a miracle cure,” he said.
I have been hearing whispers about this miracle for the past couple of years - I urge all with an interest in the cause to pray for Newman's swift beatification.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


One of my favourite sites is the Web Gallery of Art and I love when I stumble across something like this self-portrait by the Dutch artist David Bailly.
As the page explains: [...] the artist was in fact 67 years old when he painted this picture in 1651.
(snip)The youthful artist's face, by contrast, shows Bailly as he was at an earlier stage in his life, more than four decades previously. Thus, by changing the time references of past fiction and present reality, the painting suggests that the young artist is anticipating his future age, which - though part of the present in 1651 - appears to belong to the past, as conveyed through the medium of the portrait. The young man, who appears to be so real within the first-degree reality of the painting, really represents a state of the past.

Also from the WGA is this depiction (anonymous) of St Luke painting the Virgin which is best described as 'cute'.

St Luke...

In celebration of his feast...

Bonfigli's Annunciation with St Luke taling notes...

Clockwork Computing...

Sometimes the old technologies have their uses. The Telegraph has this interesting story about the development of a clockwork powered laptop for some of the poorer countries of the world.
The British inventor whose clockwork radios brought the poorest and most remote parts of the world into the broadcasting age has been asked to help bring them computers.
Trevor Bayliss has flown to America to help design and build a wind up generator for a new laptop computer that is hoped will bring the internet to even the most impoverished and far flung parts of the third world

Monday, October 17, 2005

One for the history/cryptography buffs...

From the Telegraph:
An original typescript of the deciphered Zimmerman Telegram, one of the greatest coups mounted by Britain's intelligence services, has been discovered.
The document is believed to be the actual telegram shown to the American ambassador in London in 1917 that proved Germany's hostility to the United States and guaranteed President Woodrow Wilson's entry into the First Word War.
Historians say no single piece of paper did more to guarantee victory in the Great War for Britain and her allies.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday morning...

... is brought to you by Pius XII and Gretchen.
(Picture taken from Pio XII Attraverso Le Immagini by Margherita Marchione)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Another art story...

From the BBC:
A previously unseen painting by Leonardo da Vinci has gone on public display for the first time in Italy.
Da Vinci created the version of the painting known as Virgin of the Rocks with his student Giampetrino between 1495 and 1497.
It is being exhibited at Ancona's Mole Vanvitelliana museum alongside a portrait of Mary Magdalene, also said to have been painted by the pair.

Fascinating Art Theory about Botticelli's Primavera

From - Rome, October 14 - One of the most famous and most studied paintings of the Renaissance hides a carefully coded map of 15th-century Italian politics, it was claimed on Friday .
[But] Enrico Guidoni, a lecturer in art history at Rome's La Sapienza University, believes that although this may be true it is far from being the whole story .
Presenting his new book in Rome, he said it was crucial to remember who Botticelli was working for when he painted the picture. His employer was a cousin of Lorenzo de Medici, the powerful and art-loving ruler of Florence who has gone down in history as 'the Magnificent' .
The Primavera painting shows a secret strategy Lorenzo de Medici' had worked out to unite the major Italian city states in peaceful co-existence, Guidoni argued .
The nine figures represent important cities in 15th century Italy, he continued, listing what he said were linguistic links between the some of the characters portrayed and the cities they stood for .
The figure covered in flowers usually identified as Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, is Florence; the cupid representing love, or 'Amor' in Italian, is Rome; the falling girl on the right, named as Ver (Latin for spring), is Venice. Guidoni said the three women who formed a small group on the right, apparently representing the three graces of mythology, were three key maritime powers: Pisa, Naples and Genoa .
The military-looking figure on the far left was Milan, source of weapons and arms at the time; the serene, motherly figure in the centre was Mantua; and the cold-looking one on the extreme right, bearing down on 'Venice', was Bolzano .
Guidoni's deductions and interpretations are explained in a recently published book, which outlines Lorenzo de Medici's efforts in the 1480s to begin forging his alliances .

The Augustinian Canons of Klosterneuburg

One of the more distinctive religious habits seen about Rome is that of the Augustinian Canons of Klosterneubury which resembles the ordinary black cassock with what appears to be a white ribbon trailing fore and aft. (See picture)
Anyway, I was fascinated to come across the following web-page explaining the evolution of their habit. Note too: On solemn feasts the canon in solemn vows also wears a violet mozzetta or shoulder cape for offices in the church.

From sour-faced saints deliver us!

Today being the feast of the great Teresa of Avila, I'm reminded of an (apocryphal?) anecdote about her.
It's said that she used to advise her sisters that if a Dominincan was coming to dine that they should prepare a nice piece of fish because Dominicans like to eat. However, if a Jesuit was coming they should instead prepare questions; Jesuits like like to answer questions. (The cynical would say instead that Jesuits like to hear themselves answer questions.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Peasant Christ Restored...

From - Florence, October 13 - A figure of Christ at the centre of a celebrated tiff between Donatello and Filippo Brunelleschi returned to its home in the Florence Basilica of Santa Croce on Thursday after a major clean-up .
According to Vasari, after finishing the work, Donatello anxiously asked his close friend Brunelleschi what he thought of it .
He was mortified when the architect blasted his realistic Christ figure as "peasant" like .
In Vasari's words, "Filippo said that it seemed to him that Donatello had put the body of a peasant on the cross, not the body of Jesus Christ." Angered by the comment, Donatello challenged Brunelleschi to do better, reportedly saying "you get some wood and try to make one yourself." Brunelleschi went home and secretly started work on a crucifix, determined to show Donatello what he thought a Christ should look like .
When he had finished the cross, the architect invited Donatello to lunch .
Vasari then recounts that "going into the hall, Donatello paused to study Filippo's crucifix and found it so perfect that he was completely overwhelmed and dropped his hands in astonishment; whereupon his apron fell and the eggs, cheeses and the rest of the lunch tumbled to the floor and smashed." "Your job is making Christs and mine is making peasants", Vasari quotes Donatello as humbly telling Brunelleschi .


From the Telegraph:
The ghost of Catherine de Médici, blamed for one of France's bloodiest massacres, is now haunting its politics after a mystery candidate using her name announced that she - or he - would stand for president.
The intelligence services, political establishment and media were all desperate to unmask the identity of the figure behind yesterday's declaration, announced with a 270-page book entitled "I'm Coming - It's Later Than You Think".
To judge by early hints, "Catherine" favours an enigmatic but also populist analysis of France's ills, exploiting themes aired by the Right, Left and political centre.
As widow of Henri II, Catherine became the ruthless power behind the throne of a France beset by the religious conflicts of 16th-century Europe. It was under her authority that Roman Catholic mobs began the 1572 St Bartholomew's Day massacres in which tens of thousands of Protestant Huguenots were slaughtered.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Famous Belgians!

From The Guardian:
Lovers of one of the anoraks' favourite parlour games - the challenge to name ten famous Belgians - will be delighted to learn that, in the tradition of London buses, two top 10 lists have come along at once.
Belgian television has decided to follow the success of BBC1's Great Britons series - which identified the top 10 Brits of all time - by running its own version.
There are two lists - one for French speakers living in Wallonia, in the southern half of the country, and another for Flemish speakers living in Flanders, in the north.
Anoraks will no doubt be pleased to learn that the two lists bear no relation to each other, opening up the possibility that the truly dedicated will soon be able to turn the game into Name 20 Famous Belgians.
Can anyone name any Belgian saints?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I've previously posted snippets from The Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome. One of the nice features is the way in which it gives little drawings of some of the more common religious habits in the manner of a birdwatcher's manual. I've often thought that it'd be interesting to do an updated manual of religious habits.
A new addition - Wheat & Weeds!
Dali Crucifix Found?
(ANSA) - Ancona, October 12 - An art expert has uncovered a sculpture of Christ on the Cross he claims Salvador Dali made to thank an Italian friar who exorcised him .
Armando Ginesi found the piece, measuring 60cm by 30cm, among the personal belongings of Gabriele Maria Berardi, a friar who died in 1984, in a storeroom in Rome .
He has shown the work to two Spanish experts on the Surrealist artist. They agreed that there are "sufficient stylistic reasons" to believe it was made by Dali .

Silly Roman Tricks...

One of the things that one begins to do when one has lived in Rome for a while is play 'spot the cleric' in restaurants. Even when they dress down, it's usually not too hard to spot a bunch of priests on an evening out. It's also not uncommon to spot groups of three (2 men, one woman) and with a little observation figure out that it's a married couple taking a priest-friend out for a meal.
Now that the synod is on, it's a case of spot the incognito bishops. It's rarely very difficult - the little groups of grey-haired men in cheap suits (no ties, and horror of horrors sometimes shirts buttoned up to the collar) are quickly identified. Last night, however, one group made it too easy. The fact that one had forgotten to leave his (super-sized!) pectoral cross at home spoiled all chance of anonymity for his colleagues.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Eco sets Pendulum in motion

Rome, October 8 - Foucault's Pendulum, one of the most famous scientific experiments in history, was recreated in Bologna on Saturday with the help of Italian philosopher and author Umberto Eco .
The experiment provided the title for the second of Eco's best-selling novels .
"I've been pursued by the Pendulum ever since I wrote that book, receiving invitations from museums all over the world who have put one up," Eco told the hundreds of people who crowded into a Bologna church .
"It's my curse, the Pendulum is everywhere and I no longer manage to escape the attentions of those who think they've found the only still point in the Universe," he said .
Via Michelle's Mental Cluster

Another wonderful obituary...

From the Telegraph:
Sig Frohlich, who has died aged 97, was a bit-part actor for much of his long career in Hollywood, playing messengers, waiters, callboys, clerks and soldiers, rarely earning even a flicker of recognition from viewers over 50 years.
But he achieved some lasting celebrity as one of the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz (1939). This was despite the fact that he was completely disguised in a monkey costume and uttered no words on screen.
In 1935 he was a mutineer in Mutiny on the Bounty, starring Clark Gable, and a gentleman in A Tale of Two Cities. He had his first screen credit in the crime drama Riffraff (1936), with Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy. The following year he was cast in Speed (with James Stewart) and Born to Dance (with Eleanor Powell); he was also a soldier of the evil Emperor Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon series.
If some wondered whether he minded the modesty of his career, Frohlich, whose surname means happy in German, had no doubt. He was MGM's most senior star, and he was delighted to sign autographs for visitors to his nursing home. He died on September 30.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fascinating Obituary in the Telegraph

Monsignor Gerald Chidgey RIP.
Monsignor Gerald Chidgey, who has died aged 85, was involved in distributing Allied propaganda for British Intelligence in Spain while studying for the priesthood during the Second World War.

Read it all

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Is this good?

To be quite honest, I'm not at all well informed about the Potter phenomenon...
You scored as Albus Dumbledore. Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.

Severus Snape


Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Remus Lupin


Ron Weasley


Harry Potter


Ginny Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Sirius Black


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

(Stolen from the Cnytr)