Thursday, July 20


A Follow-Up to Andy's Pax Americana Post

An alert reader informs me that the mysterious German inscription on Andy's Marian holy card,

Ganz schön bist du, meine Freundin, und keine Makel is in dir.
is literally, "Entirely beautiful are you, my [female] friend, and no blemish is in you." This works out roughly to being that passage from the Song of Songs, "Thou art lovely, my love, and there is not spot within you," or "Tota pulchra est, amica mea, et macula non est in te," a lovely turn of phrase which is permanently burned in my memory as a street-shrine near the Pantheon I used to pass every day in Rome bore this inscription below an image of the Virgin. That, and it's what the drunken missionary at the beginning of the Michael Caine movie Zulu is mumbling when they lock him up in that shed.

I find it interesting that "amica mea" works out to "meine Freundin" in German and "my love" in some English translations, given the chaste implications of "friend" in English. But then the Song of Songs is shot through with such seemingly contradictory imagery--the sister-bride, for instance--which reminds us, as Christopher West once put it, highlights the ordered sacredness of sexual love, properly understood. It is also interesting to note, as my correspondent did, that Makel is a clear cognate of macula or spot, from which one gets Immaculata and presumably the Spanish mancha or stain. (I suppose Man of La Mancha would make a great name for a Madrid dry-cleaning service, now that I think about it.)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?