Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sodano's Gone... Bertone's in...

From the Bolletino...
The Holy Father has accepted Cardinal Sondano's resignation as Secretary of State and appointed Cardinal Tarcasio Bertone, former No.2 at the CDF and Archbishop of Genoa as his replacement.
He's also replaced the American Cardinal Edmund Szoka as President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State with Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Some interesting details in this Telegraph piece about Britain's Order of the Garter:
The robes are hanging from rails in dust-proof bags, each meticulously labelled. Boxes are stacking up along the walls and marked with different names - Sir John Major, Sir Timothy Colman, The Baroness Thatcher.
Behind the barred door of the strong room, heavy gold and enamel collars are being taken out of their blue-cushioned cases and given a brisk going over with a cloth.
This is the scene at the offices of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood in whose capable and experienced hands hangs the success of Garter Day, a celebration of the world's oldest order of chivalry. And the pace is frantic.
Today will be a special day for the Queen. With her birthday announcement that the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex would be made Royal Knights, it will be the first time all four of her children join the annual Garter procession, an ostentatious display of ostrich plumes, glittering insignia and velvet mantles at Windsor Castle.
Founded by Edward III in 1348, and said to be based on the Arthurian Knights of the Round Table, it is the world's most ancient and exclusive club.
There are, in addition, Royal Knights from the Royal Family, including the Lady the Princess Royal, and Stranger Knights, mainly from European royal families but also, in a post-war act of reconciliation, the Emperor of Japan.
The blue velvet mantles - originally meant to reflect the Middle Ages' idea of heaven - each has a red vestigial hood and is adorned with the Garter heraldic shield. They cost about £4,500 and each new member has the choice of buying a new one or wearing an older one.
Both the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex have opted for new for today's ceremony, and they will foot the bill. Others, such as the Duke of Abercorn who wears his great-grandfather's, prefer family robes. They are usually worn only once a year, and spend the other 364 days locked away in a special climate-controlled room in Cambridge.
The collars are a different matter. Each comprise 30 troy ounces of gold knots alternating with enamelled red roses of St George, the order's patron saint, and are adorned with a hanging three-dimensional figure of him slaying the dragon. They are few in number and would cost at least £12,000 to replace.
Most date from the 1930s, but the oldest, worn by the Duke of Abercorn, dates from the 1750s. For insurance purposes the knights prefer to leave them locked in the chancery's strongroom, taken out only for Garter Day, or designated "Collar Days" when they must be worn at ceremonial occasions on feast days and special royal anniversaries, though never after sunset.
Each knight, or lady, also receives the glittering Garter Star and a blue riband bearing a smaller badge called the Lesser George - most of which they keep at home.
The most incomprehensible piece of kit, however, is the garter itself, in dark blue for the knights and pale blue with a buckle for the ladies. The order's motto, Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks evil of it), is spelled out in gold lettering.
In keeping with ancient tradition, it will be tied around the left calf of both the duke and earl during their investiture in front of the other knights and ladies in the Throne Room at Windsor Castle.
All insignia and robes must be personally handed back to the Queen on death, a ritual performed by an heir in a private audience. Their banner, which hangs in St George's Chapel, the spiritual home of the order, will then be removed.
No one really knows the reason why the garter was chosen as the order's emblem.
Modern scholars have cast doubt on the tradition that it was inspired by a garter dropped by Joan, Countess of Salisbury, at a ball in Calais which Edward III retrieved and bound to his own leg.
It seems more likely to represent a strap used to attach a sword, as seen on knights on 14th century brasses.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm going to write a will just like this one...

From the Telegraph:
All Souls College, Oxford, announced yesterday that it was not prepared to relocate a sundial designed by Sir Christopher Wren in order to receive a bequest from a former fellow who made it a condition of his will.
The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that Dr John Simmons, an Oxford academic and All Souls historian who died last year aged 90, had left his old college an undisclosed sum from his £880,000 estate, but only if the sundial was put back to its former position in the quadrangle.
The sundial, designed in 1658, was moved to a position against the Codrington Library in the 1870s.
Dr Simmons, an emeritus fellow and a leading Slavonic scholar believed the symmetry of the North Quadrangle was upset by the repositioning of the sundial.
In his will he calls for it to be "re-erected where it was originally positioned by Sir Christopher Wren; that is to say over the south front of the college chapel".
A spokesman for the college said: "The college has decided to decline the bequest," adding that the conditions were "too onerous".

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Trinity Sunday...

Firmly I Believe and Truly - Newman
Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three, and God is One;
and I next acknowledge duly
manhood taken by the Son.

And I trust and hope most fully
in that Manhood crucified;
and each thought and deed unruly
do to death, as he has died.

Simply to his grace and wholly
light and life and strength belong,
and I love supremely, solely,
him the holy, him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
for the love of him alone,
holy Church as his creation,
and her teachings are his own.

Adoration aye be given,
with and through the angelic host,
to the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Reccommend me a book...
As is my custom at this time of year, I'm putting together a little order with Amazon to keep myself amused over the Summer. Anyone got any suggestions? I'm not particularly looking for Theology books - some nice fiction or history would be good reading. So, if anyone's got any suggestions, please put them in the comments boxes.
I suppose the novel I've enjoyed reading most in the past few months is Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - a very charming and thought-provoking book.
I've also enjoyed Freakonmics which applies the techniques of economic analysis to a variety of problems. However, I don't give it an unqualified recommendation - the economist in question, Stephen Levitt speculates that the legalization of abortion in the States lead to a decline in violent crime. I'm willing to accept his disclaimer that he's just analysing the phenomenon without having an agenda to push - but I can well understand the inclusion of that argument making people reluctant to read the book.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A very nice thought...

Rocco posts about the condition of the former nuncio to the States and suggests sending Archbishop Montalvo good wishes. He ends his posts on this note:
Again, it's also a good moment to think of the many retired or ill priests and others we know in our own midst. The worst pain of old age or health troubles is often that of loneliness, so if you know someone who's suffering in this way, keep in mind that the best medicine is often the simple reminder of another's caring.
Amen! It can be a real privilege to share time with retired priests and religious and I know from experience that it's very easy for a priest to end up in retirement far removed from family and/or parishioners.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Some memories...

Folks, I'm still alive, albeit lacking the time and inclination to 'blog.
So, for the sake of posting something, I thought I'd link to some Youtube videos that bring me back to the 1980s.
Paul McCartney and Rupert the Bear - We All Stand Together (The Frog Song)
Not a Pentecost reference - but rather Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire. (As mentioned by Enbrethiliel who seems to have almost as good taste as I do in these matters! ;) )
Nena's 99 Red Balloons.
And from the late 1970s Abba's Thank You for the Music.

In the News...

From the Telegraph:
Although the Democratic Republic of Congo will next month hold its first democratic elections since its independence from Belgium in 1960, televised exorcisms rather than political debates are dominating the airwaves in a country where the majority of the population still believes in black magic, the broadcast networks are saturated with a dozen religious channels competing for converts, most of them owned by Christian cults led by charismatic preachers. (Read the whole thing)
And also, rather disappointingly:
The coronation of the Prince of Wales must be an "interfaith" event, the former Archbishop of Canterbury has controversially claimed.
Lord Carey believes that the next coronation needs "very significant changes" so that it is "inclusive" of other religions that have spread across Britain.
His comments, which are likely to cause a rift within the Church of England, suggest that Lord Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury for 11 years until 2002, has been won over by arguments from Prince Charles.
The prince, who will become Supreme Governor of the Church of England when he becomes king, has already said that he wants to be Defender of Faith - not Defender of the Faith - when he accedes to the throne.
Lord Carey's comments will set him and the prince against Dr Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, and other senior figures in the Church of England. Dr Williams has emphasised the need for Prince Charles to defend the Church of England when he becomes king.
Of bishops and casinos...
A giant gambling company is attempting to win over a Church of England bishop who is strongly opposed to plans for a Las Vegas-style super-casino.
The South Africa-based Sun City Casino group has met the Rt Rev John Nicholls, the Bishop of Sheffield, to discuss how Church projects, including a centre for the homeless, could benefit if a controversial £200 million gaming complex is given the go-ahead.
The disclosure that a company which boasts that it can "meet your every desire", is actively lobbying an Anglican bishop is likely to heighten concerns about government plans to establish a super-casino with 1,250 slot machines and unlimited jackpots.