Monday, November 26


Field Marshal Mary

Incidentally, I recently read that the Virgin Mary holds the rank of field marshal in the Army of the Republic of Paraguay, and is often decked out with the appropriate sash of office in her various shrines in Asunción (full name: Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción).* Given that less-than-august institution's persistent fondness for smuggling in recent decades (el contrabando es el precio de la paz, or something along those lines), I do not know whether to be amused or frightened, and I imagine so does Our Lady.

*I'm not sure precisely where these are, but I'm told she's shown wearing her medals at the oddly secular Panteón Nacional de los Héroes, a handsome if somewhat scaled down version of the Tomb of Napoleon that houses the cenotaphs of, among others, the Mad Dr. Francia, an excommunicated Rousseauian despot and Bela Lugosi lookalike whose body was fed to an alligator after his death, and the Mad Marshal López, whose main achievements included nearly destroying his own country and getting himself canonized by his court chaplain while still alive. (Emperor Faustin of Haiti allegedly did the same thing, incidentally. Declaring himself a saint, not destroying his country--though he may have done that too, I don't know.)

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