Wednesday, November 26

If you value your life, never use the phrase "Turkey Day" in my presence. There's more to Thanksgiving than stuffing your face. Not much, these days, but there's at least a little bit of the reason for the season still back there somewhere if you squint. We will overlook the whole Puritan/Separatist thing for now, considering the first real Thanksgiving was held by Spanish Catholics in Texas, in 1598:
"We built a great bonfire and roasted meat and fish, and then sat down to a repast the like of which we had never enjoyed before." Before this bountiful meal, Don Juan de Oñate personally nailed a cross to a living tree and prayed, "Open the door to these heathens, establish the church altars where the body and blood of the Son of God may be offered, open to us the way to security and peace for their preservation and ours, and give to our king and to me in his royal name, peaceful possession of these kingdoms and provinces for His blessed glory. Amen. (Source).
Or maybe Anglican Cavaliers in Virginia. Or maybe Zheng He, the Chinese admiral, or the Welsh, or Vikings, or St. Brendan. Or Erik von Däniken's ancient astronauts, if we're really being inclusive and politically correct.

New York Sleeps, the Papal States, Army Pyjamas, and the Boy Scouts

I am heading home to the sacred red clay of North Florida for Thanksgiving with my parents and grandmother; not only will it be warmer than New York, but we'll be spending the next few days in a delightful little house a few feet from the seashore. It being the Panhandle rather than Miami it will be too cold to swim, and the weather will probably be the agreeably muted late-fall grey that nonetheless so strongly and elementally reminds me of my childhood. Escaping New York's gravitational pull is like trying to launch into outer space, but getting to La Guardia at 5:20 in the morning does the trick. I have never seen my street so peaceful, still and agreeably cozy than when I waited on the stoop for the cab; it could have been South Bend, and there was even something reminiscent of Notre Dame in the way the sconces, big fat globes of light glowed, against the institutional-looking brick of the apartment across the way. It is reassuring to know that at least for a few hours each night the city that never sleeps at least takes a nap.


Never again will I choose a book on Italian unification for plane reading. It's too infuriating. On balance, prying the States of the Church from the Holy See's hands was a blessing in disguise, freeing up Holy Mother Church from the embarassing and often corrupt task of governing the ungovernable (i.e., Italians), but given the tenor of the times--radicalism, atheism, Bismarck, and the last period in history when Freemasons were actually scary rather than mildly absurd--one can understand the Blessed Pius IX's stubborn insistence that the papacy's spiritual independence demanded temporal sovereignty. It still does, even on a very limited level, considering the Vatican City State is a very real, very temporal piece of land, if not a very big one.

Perhaps Pius should have cut his losses at the end and accepted the entire west bank of the Tiber (a considerably more generous offer than what was finally realized in 1929) but the Italian kingdom was hardly a secure, permanent polity in 1870. (It still isn't, and there are at least sizable minorities, some cranks, some not, that would probably rejoice at a partition into several secular states). In hindsight, some of his actions seem puzzling, but in the context of the times they were not so pigheadedly reactionary as they seem.

The sobering example of the Patriarchate of Constantinople comes to mind--beginning with Gregory V being strung up in full vestments from the front gate of his palace on Easter Sunday, 1821, to the current chokehold the secular Turkish government holds over its selection of successors. Even de jure Vatican sovereignty was barely enough to keep Pio Nono's successor Pius XII safe during World War II from the machinations of princes, after all. On the other hand, a certain internationalizing spiritual independence has sprung from this tiny postage-stamp of territory that has allowed the papacy to be a grand figure on the world stage once again, and it is difficult to see how in an ideal world such a circle would be squared. Perhaps mercifully, it is above my paygrade, and entirely theoretical to boot.


Sitting in the Atlanta airport, as I do every time I fly, I have noticed quite a lot of soldiers and even a sailor or two. A few thoughts. First, a big thank you to all our men and women in uniform. That goes without saying. Whatever our readers may think of foreign policy (and that's quite a Gordian knot to untie or cut no matter where you fall on the political spectrum these days), that's something I think we can all agree on. Secondly: The new pixelated camouflage uniforms look like pyjamas. Can't we give our fighting men at least a belt or a few more pockets or something? First the beret thing, and now this? The rank and file can't help it but surely there's someone in the Pentagon who can.

While we're at it, there has to be a better way of hiding the velcro they stick all our patches to rather than sewing them down. I understand sometimes insignia has to be removed now and then, but given the Army's fondness for throwing money down holes in the ground, you'd think they could get someone from one of those fashion shows so popular these days to fix the problem. Also, do we really need camouflage in an airport? I'm glad to see the army is substituting a version of traditional dress blues for the olive-green walking-out uniform (probably because most of the time our fighting men wear pyjamas), but I also saw a Marine and a sailor waiting in the airport in full rig, and, guys, there's really no comparison. At the very least, it might help with recruiting.

(I will, however, not try to make the argument the French did in 1914, that red pants would be the secret weapon to winning the war.)

That being said, after that whiny interlude, thanks again, and you're all in our prayers.


While we're on the subject of uniforms, the Boy Scouts have a newer, drabber version of their traditional dress out in honor of their Centennial. (I'm told the previous version was designed, by, of all people, Oscar de la Renta. Not sure who came up with this.) Given the historic occasion I would have thought this would be a fine opportunity to break out the Smokey the Bear hats, but as far as I can tell the main difference is changing the few remaining flashes of red to darker green, and the removal of the hallowed kneesocks, whick makes the uniform shorts look even sillier than before. I suppose it's tasteful and a bit less gaudy than previously, but I'm not really a fan. Not that I can really complain--I was not the most successful boy scout in the world, though I think I was the only fellow in my troop who was actually not a pyromaniac. That being said, does the world need yet more beige and taupe? We are getting so afraid of color and ornament as to be approaching the status of a pathology.

Catholics: Pio Nono Wants You to Have a Fun Time

Sometimes, pious obedience to our holy religion does demand such sacrifices:

"Meanwhile, in the Holy City, the pope tried hard to buck up his supporters' sagging spirits. In February 1864, Odo Russell, Britain's perceptive--if acerbic--envoy to Rome, reported that Pius was eager for the upcoming Carnival celebrations to be as successful as ever. The partisans of Italian unification responded by calling for a boycott. The Italianissimi, Russell wrote, "won't attend the Carnival and won't dance, whilst the Papalini or neri ["blacks"; the Roman aristocrats devoted to the pope were called the black nobility] dance frantically to show their devotion to the Pope because His Holiness told two old princesses that he wished all the faithful to be [...] happy. In consequence we saw this winter at the balls given by the pious Papalini, the oldest dowagers attempting to be frolicksome, and old Princess Borghese, who has scarcely been able to walk for the last half-century, hobbled through a quadrille with Field Marshal Duke Saldanha who has not danced since the Congress of Vienna, and all this in the name of religion!"

--David I. Kertzner, Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes, the Kings, and Garibaldi's Rebels in the Struggle to Rule Modern Italy, p. 14.

Tuesday, November 25


New Line Art from Matthew Alderman

Matthew Alderman. S. Katherine among the Philosophers. 4" x 5", ink on vellum with marker. September 2008. Artist's Collection.

Word of the Day: Catherinette

"Catherinettes was a traditional French label for girls of twenty-five years old who were still unmarried by the Feast of Saint Catherine (25th November). A special celebration was offered to them on this day, while everyone wished them a fast end to their singlehood.

"Since the Middle Ages, girls were under the protection of St Catherine (while Saint Nicolas cared for the boys). Girls participated in devotion groups to the saint, and were responsible for the confection of a beautiful headdress to 'cap' her statue each year on November 25th. The young women left the group when marrying, hence 'capping Saint Catherine' became, for a female, synonymous to 'being still single at/after 25.'

"Following the changes of women's and marriage's status in society, this custom progressively died all over France, with the exception of the hatmaking and dressmaking trades, wherein unmarried women, after they turned twenty-five, would attend a ball on St Catherine's Day in a hat made specially for the occasion; to wear such a hat was referred to as "capping St. Catherine" (coiffer sainte Catherine)." (Source).

(Mercifully for me, there appears to be no male equivalent to the term in use.)

St. Katherine Goes AWOL

A reader in Ireland writes:
This Tuesday [that is, today] is the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria, patron of the western part of our parish. Local folklore doesn't agree with the claim of the Orthodox monks of the Transfiguration Abbey on Mount Sinai to have her body. Legend has it that the saint's remains were placed in a barrel after her martyrdom, and were washed ashore at Ventry beach. The first man to come across her remains was unable to lift the barrel, so a whole gang of men was summoned together to bring the relics of the saint to be interred in the local cemetery. To this day, prayers are recited in the cemetery in honour of St Catherine. It is said that in earlier centuries she used to favour her devotees by appearing to them whilst they 'made their rounds'. However, this stopped when the first protestant burial in that graveyard occurred.
I suppose if St. Martha could make alive it to Provence, this isn't too much of a stretch. At least the monks at Sinai get to keep the burning bush anyway.

Sunday, November 23


Happy Feast of Christ the King!

Friday, November 21


Band Name Meme!

It must be something contrarian in my nature; I don't often post on memes I get tagged for, but I do enjoy the opt-in ones. And, as devoted readers may know, we here at the Shrine have a long-standing love affair with band-name related games.

So really, when I found the Band and Album Meme on Bettnet, how could I resist? Just click each link and put the results together:
  1. Band Name: Random Wikipeda Link
  2. Album Title: Random quote generator (take the last four words from the first quote on the page)
  3. Album Art: Flickr Interesting Photo (pick one)
My results for band name, album title, and art.

And the resulting album cover:


We will never run out of caption contests again...

Thanks to the Life Magazine image archive now being hosted by Google, we now have a nearly endless supply of images like this:

Whapster Dan and I were up into the wee hours this morning swapping our finds on this site. If you're looking for a similarly delightful, yet educational, way to blow some time, try searching "pope," of course, although plugging in specific popes' names gets you more results (the search maxes out at 200 for whatever reason). "Notre Dame" also pulled up some fun photos of the sisters fighting Communism by day and performing musical comedy by night.

A couple of other favorites: "Your Grace, I believe the Vatican is that way." and (on the inset) "I don't know, how did I win?"

(H/T for this find goes to the forums on a knitting website ... long story)

Thursday, November 20


Oh, Babelfish, What Sins Are Committed in Thy Name

Reading this hallucigenically-bad translation from the (otherwise quite cool) Abbey of Monte Cassino website makes me wonder if St. Benedict had an unheralded apostolate to the Dadaists:

The Diocese of Montecassino is red-establish to that one of the ancient Casinum. At the beginning of the century YOU, for a phenomenon that verified sin from the end of the previous century, this episcopal center was lacking in Shepherdesses. S. Benedict therefore to its arrival on the mount of Cassino had to complete a great action of apostolate, especially between the surrounding populations, than in the campaigns and on mounts they still followed cults and customs pay some. The gotica war before and the invasion longobarda after ended but with sweeping up all the ecclesiastical organization of the time. It only later could settle down itself, and in the zone of the single Cassinate at the beginning of century VIII it could be considered restored, leaning itself on the monastero revived one of Montecassino.

The centers live to you in fact, than to work of the colonizzatrice reclamation of the monaci they had come forming itself in the immense one goes donated them from the Duca of Benevento Gisulfo II, closely remained legacies to the abbey, also in the sphere of the spiritual jurisdiction. This state of fact came favorite and recognized from the supreme Authority of the Church, that Montecassino with its dependencies like territory to being himself considered, independent from others.If the more ancient sources are committees with regard to in altered shapes, such acknowledgment without doubt did not have to be late very, since sees the Abbots to act liberations independently and, also in the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction the confirmation documents then, that they are joints until we, go back to the second half of IX the century with i papi Nicolò I, Giovanni VIII and Giovanni X.

This is worth for how much refers to the so-called "Earth of S. Benedict", but to it they came added also to other nuclei with the own territories and jurisdictions. First of all that one of S. Liberatore to the Maiella, perhaps founded from Montecassino, to which sure it belonged already in century IX, when it appears in the history. Late those joined to more than. Angel of Barrea and S. Peter Avellana.Beyond these monasteriali centers, other donations came to still increase the within of the Earth of 5. Benedict: like that one of the Cetraro in Calabria, donated from Sikelgaita, moglie of Roberto the Guiscardo.

In these borders, in century XI, it turned out already united and compact our Diocese, said legally Territorial Abbey, whose several zones concurred to form one knits moral unit, even if some like that one of the Maiella and the other of the Avellana, could be considered indeed they were same they, equally, Territorial Abbeys, joined under only shepherdesses, cassinese Abbot.

The importance and the extension of our Diocese induced Pope Giovanni XXII to raise the abbaziale center to episcopal, with special clauses. In such legal and spiritual position our Diocese was recognized and confirmed also from the Papi that applied the norms of Concilio of Trento, especially with actions of Sisto V, City VIII, Benedict XIII. And then Devout Benedict XIV WAYS of it included the acknowledgment in theirs Agree to you with the Court of Naples. Moreover, already from the end of ` the 600, to Montecassino it had been joined an other jurisdiction, anch' Territorial it, that one that is of S Vincenzo to the Volturno. In such a way, while the ancient monastero, that it had many ties with the cassinese Abbey remained freed from the Commenda, turned out also knit the territorial continuity between the zone of the Cassinate and that one of the Sangro high.

In the 1834 Montecassino, stremato from the vicissitudes of the French revolution, while rinunziava to far away the territory of Cetraro in favor of the Bishop of S.Marco and Bisignano, it received in exchange the Prepositura di Atina.In such a way, in a time arc ultramillenarian, the voice of our "Ecclesia Casinensis" has been expressed and continuous to express itself with its particular stamp in the great ecclesiale concert that forms the mystical Body of Christ.


Wednesday, November 19


There Should Be More Abbots with Seven Mitres Each

"The Diocese of Monte Cassino includes most of the Abruzzi, and is one of the most extensive in Italy. It was formed by uniting seven ancient dioceses, a fact which is borne in mind by the interesting custom that, when the abbot sings pontifical High Mass, he uses seven different precious mitres in succession. As ordinary the abbot is directly subject to the Holy See, and the choir monks take rank as the chapter of the diocese, of which the abbatial basilica of Monte Cassino is the cathedral. The conferring of sacred orders, blessing of Holy Oils, and administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation are the only pontifical functions which the abbot does not exercise. The vicar-general is usually one of the community."

--from the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia, naturally.

Multiple-mitre-tip to reader Sam.

HWTN Fall Lineup - or Something

So, our corporate masters over at the Bohemian State Closed-Circuit Television Network (which recently acquired an overspent HWTN for three Maria Theresa thalers--still accepted in Ethiopia!--and some of Pius VIII's pocket lint) recently demanded some info on our new TV lineup (either that, or our summary arrest by the Holy Vehm). After a rather jittery committee meeting of about twenty minutes, ten of which were spent arguing about the role of the assistant priest at a Lyonnaise pontifical mass, and a further five about ways we could trick Sarah Chalke into making a pilot show for us without her realizing it, we managed to get together these ideas, which we then presented to our sponsors on a crumped sheet of lined notepaper. (In my defense, it was college-ruled). Our suggestions, and corporate representative Frau Mesmer's reactions:

Godly Chaste Poverty - Like Dirty Sexy Money, but with Franciscans. But no dirt, sex, or money.

Frau Mesmer: What's left?*

30 Petrus - Emily Lemon (Tina Fey), head writer of the renamed Joordan Traacy Show, featuring the deranged Dutch Dominican of the same name, struggles to make sure her top star doesn't inadvertently commit heresy, schism, or a latae sentae excommunicable offense while being interviewed by Mother Angelica. Using tranquilizer darts if necessary. Blerg.

Frau Mesmer: But how is she going to act and manage Alaska at the same time?

(NB: We're still trying to explain to the Frau that Saturday Night Live isn't real. And also, we're not sure how we're going to get Tina to star after Dan lost the miraculous pocket lint of Pius VIII in the studio washing-machine, which sort of destroys 95% of this quarter's budget. My suggestion of luring her in via a deluxe Star Wars DVD box set placed underneath a large box propped up with a stick was not well-received. Neither were subsequent variations involving jelly-beans, doughnuts, oreos, and a very large butterfly net.)

Fringe - Papal operative Sister Olivia Dunham and her associate, the brilliant but slightly addled SSPX Bishop Walter Bishop join forces to stop the nefarious and twisting conspiracy known only as The Pattern--a labyrinthine effort by the Freemasons to steal the world's supply of maniple fringe to subvert the Motu Proprio.

Think of it as a cross between The X-Files and the Wippel's catalog.

Frau Mesmer: Wippel's is too Anglican, make it Barbiconi. But the plot is otherwise quite believable.

(NB: This is why I worry about my job sometimes.)

House, O.P. - This week, Dominican Fr. Gregory House diagnoses a case of ruptured hermeneutic in the visiting Cardinal Kasper, even though everyone thinks it's just a mild, harmless case of ecumenical rash. Guest appearance by Edward Schillebeeckx as the text of an eye-chart, and a lot of weird, atmospheric tubular music.

Frau Mesmer: But Hugh Laurie is too skinny to be a Dominican!

(Respondeo dicendum: Why do you think he's so bitter?)

Informercial: Wayne Newton sings Songs of the Carlists 30-CD Set, yours for only twenty installments of 30 scudi each--

We only got that far before Frau Mesmer exploded into a 30-minute diatribe about the wrongful outcome of the War of the Spanish Succession, and who cares about different Bourbon Spaniards, give it back to the friggin' Hapsburgs.


*I haven't actually seen the show I'm parodying here, but ignorance has never stopped me before.

Monday, November 17


Help a Starving Papist Get a Scholarship!

Shrine friend Thomas Peters, the American Papist, whose newsy, well-researched blog has more professionalism in its pinky finger than I'll ever have in a week of Sundays, needs your help! (Mixed metaphor much?) He is in line for a scholarship, and needs your help. Here's how:
I'm in serious running to receive a $10,000 scholarship for blogging as a student. Voting for me here ("Thomas Peters") only takes a few seconds, and I would deeply appreciate you spreading the word amongst your friends, facebook, readers, email lists, etc.
If this cause goes viral among the Catholic online community, I could have real shot at winning, which would mean more time blogging as opposed to, well, trying to pay the electric bill. Reading in the dark is no fun. Think of it as a little good deed for today. Thank you!
Currently, he's number two in the running, which is pretty impressive. But you can make it even more impressive with a click of the mouse. What are you waiting for? Go vote! You don't even have to stand in line for an hour, with a headcold, surrounded by Upper East Side yuppies like last time!

Friday, November 14


Continuing the Memento Mori Theme, Just in Time for Lunch

If the Capuchin Bone Church and the Reliquary of the Martyrs of Otranto wasn't enough, why not visit the Chapel of Bones in Évora, Portugal? More here, via this video. If only the Travel Channel did shows like this.

Catholicism: Because Halloween doesn't really get cranked up until the Octave of All Souls. (And all the rest of the month).

Thursday, November 13


So, if they demolished the building, would that mean they had a 100% attendance rate?

New York Episcopal church removes pews to attract believers.

Philip Neri, Fool for Christ

"How, in cold words, can we capture the spirit of Philip or explain the charm this hunter of souls exercised over his prey? There can be no doubt that what first attracted people to Philip was the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit in his soul. Not everyone experienced it in the same way, but no one who spend any length of time in his company was in any doubt about it. The manifestations of this presence were sometimes extraordinary.

"His extravagant behavior cannot be passed over without some explanation. Why, for example, when certain Polish noblemen came to visit him at the Vallicella [the church adjoining the present-day Roman Oratory], seeking edification, did he have read aloud the most ridiculous passages from Pastor Arlotto saying that it was his spiritual reading? Why, when invited to the house of one of his penitents, a rich Roman lady who had invited him to meet her worldly relatives, did he arrive with half his beard shaved off? Why, when some scholarly Bishop, little given to jesting, attended his Mass, did he commit every possible error in pronunciation? Why did he sometimes wear a red jersey or a fur coat over his cassock? Why did he walk through the streets carrying a bouquet of flowers in his hand, or perform a burlesque dance before an audience of Cardinals chanting comic verses which he made up as he went along?

"Was it merely to make a fool of himself and cause others to think little of him? His buffonery cannot be so simply explained, for we must take into consideration the pranks he was constantly playing on others. These pranks took many forms; some were merely unexpected and ludicrous, as when he pulled the impressive beard of a Swiss Guard, others were more elaborate, as when he sent Baronius to a wineshop to sample all the wines before buying half a bottle; to make it all the worse he had to offer a gold piece in payment and ask for change. Then there was the somewhat scandalous prank he used to play on people who came to him for miraculous cures. He would give them a small sachet which they were to place on the affected part, with the proviso that they must on no account open it. As soon as he died the recipients could restrain their curiosity no longer. On opening up their sachets they found that they contained nothing more than a cheap holy medal!

"Certainly, Philip acted in this way to lower himself in the eyes of the world yet there are many saints who would have found it difficult even to understand anyone using such strange methods of doing so. Philip engaged in these jests because he had a natural tendency that way and saw it as no part of his duty to resist a tendency that was not fundamentally evil. Philip did not exaggerate his eccentricities simply in order to pass as an addle-pate; his unbounded humour was the spontaneous expression of that freedom which to him was inseparable from being in a state of grace, the freedom of the children of God.

"He knew that the devil is ever striving to make us take grace for granted, claim it as a right or place ourselves on an equality with God and that is why he continually prevented those about him from taking themselves too seriously. The only antidote to deadly seriousness into which pride can lead us is, when all is said and done, the joyful simplicity of the children of God. Why should children in their Father’s arms be other than joyful? They alone in the world have the secret of true freedom and happiness, and even if those who cannot fathom the reason for their joy, judge it madness, they can, with a clear conscience, make their own the words of Wisdom: ‘I was at His side... my delight increasing with every day, as I made play before Him all the while, made play in this world of dust, with the sons of Adam for my play-fellows.’ (Proverbs viii. 31.)"

--Louis Bouyer

For more from Bouyer on St. Philip, excerpted from his The Roman Socrates, click here.

(Cappa hood tip to Fra J.M.B.)

Wednesday, November 12


I'm not sure where I found this image, but it is the month of the Holy Souls, so memento mori already, people.

Real Estate

Man: "Are the moldings original?"
Dr. House: "Original? They were here before the house!"

Sorry, Julie, but I'm Going to Have to Call You on This

The question to ask, is this more an offense against chastity or charity? I say the latter.

As our medievalist friend says, "Ugly ties offend God." The same goes for wearing crocheted hamburgers.

Tuesday, November 11


New Line Art by Matthew Alderman

Matthew Alderman. The Dream of S. Martin. 4.6" x 10.8", Ink on Vellum. Commissioned by a medical gentleman in Wales. October 2008. Private Collection, Great Britain.

"In a winter time as Martin passed by the gate of Amiens, he met a poor man all naked, to whom no man gave any alms. Then Martin drew out his sword and carved his mantle therewith in two pieces in the middle, and gave that one half to the poor man, for he had nothing else to give to him, and he clad himself with that other half. The next night following, he saw our Lord Jesu Christ in heaven clothed with that part that he had given to the poor man, and said to the angels that were about him: Martin, yet new in the faith, hath covered me with this vesture. Of which thing this holy man was not enhanced in vain glory, but he knew thereby the bounty of God."

~Bl. Jacobus de Voragine, O.P., The Golden Legend, or, the Lives of the Saints, Englished by William Caxton, 1483

Monday, November 10


Potential Coolness

Catholic Literary Writing is, as the name suggests, artful; artful in the
absence of formula, in the weight of the prose, and, importantly, in its
addressing, without censor, that which is true to the human experience.
Catholic Literary Writing is, "Literary, yet artfully overt."
Someone give these people a medal. I've been waiting to hear something like this for ages now, at least outside the conference room at Dappled Things, of course. (I mean, the virtual conference room. We don't have a real one.) For more, see Leoness Books: "Not Your Daddy's Catholic Publisher." They're currently doing a novel contest.

For the Catholic Nerd Who Has Everything about a Gothic-style computer, just like Albertus Magnus used to use?

Okay, this one is a bit odd-looking, but I like the concept, an idea that has been suggested to me by at least one reader in the past. Why shouldn't technology be beautiful?

(Biretta tip to friend Thomas).

In the same vein, anyone here remember my Baroque Gas Station? See below for the final version.

Wednesday, November 5


A Curiosity of Marian Art

The Eternal Father Painting the Image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Anonymous, 18th century.

Another Van Eyck Madonna

Lucca Madonna, by Jan van Eyck, 1436.
...The Virgin has been identified as a portrait of the painters's wife,
Margaretha, of whom van Eyck also made a secular portrait. It portrays the
Virgin sitting on a throne with four small lion statues, a reference to the
throne of Solomon, which had twelve lions on the sides and steps. In
Iconography this depiction of Madonna and Child, with Jesus sitting on Mary's
knee, is called the Throne of Wisdom, and is a common iconological type. As the Speculum Humanae Salvationis put it: "the throne of the true Solomon is
the most Blessed Virgin Mary, / In which sat Jesus Christ, the true wisdom." As
in many paintings by van Eyck and his contemporaries, this comparison is further
elaborated by specifically comparing Mary to an altar, where on her flat lap she
supports the infant Christ, just as the altar supports the presence of Christ in
the host at Mass. The white cloth beneath him, over the richer coloured cloth of
Mary's dress, and the niche to the right which resembles a piscina where water
for the priest to wash his hands was kept, all contribute to the comparison. The
unusual shape of the room, very narrow for such a large chair, suggests a small



Madonna and Child Reading by Jan van Eyck, 1433. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Jan van Eyck's macaronic Latin-Greek-Flemish motto, ALC IXH XAN ("As [best] I can") can be seen in the upper left-hand corner.

Monday, November 3



In case you need a break from election coverage as much as I do, here are I few stories I've run into lately:

WSJ: Is the Pope's Newspaper Catholic? With New Editor, It's Broader Than Ever
An interesting account of recent changes at L'Osservatore Romano, including a broader range of topics and a less text-heavy format. Especially intriguing for those interested in the future of Catholic media.

From RAI's recent "La Bibbia Giorno e Notte" (site and videos in Italian): Pope Benedict XVI and Roberto Benigni read from the Bible. (And Andrea Bocelli sings some Bach.)
Even if you don't speak Italian, it is rather moving to just hear scripture read out like this, outside of the contexts in which we so often take it for granted.
Lectors: take a few notes from Benigni; he's reading mostly geneologies, but he still makes them sound like a fascinating part of the story. Also, his diction is clear and slow enough for me to follow along with my very out-of-practice Italian, without being anything akin to plodding.
Found via Amy Welborn.

From The Onion, via Lucy at PSoCL: "Local Woman Devotes Life to Doing God's Busy Work"
I won't tell you how far I had to read before I figured out that this was The Onion, and not some diocesan paper.

And, in our particular love for all things quirky and Catholic, The Evolution of the Popemobile.
Via AmP.

And since this post is all about distractions, how about a caption contest from that last item? Sorry, I couldn't pick just one:

(click to enlarge)
Left: JPII enjoys the monorail at Epcot; Center: Pope Benedict tries to sneak off for a quiet nighttime car ride with Jesus, with little success; Right: The chauffeur had been off-roading for some time before he realized that he had lost the Pope entirely.

P.S. Random musing: Considering that it seems to end in some sort of accident, is "Space Oddity" really the best song for Lincoln to use in their automotive advertisements?


New Logo Design by Matthew Alderman

Emblem of the St. Cecilia Society of Norwalk, Connecticut. Commissioned by the society and designed by Matthew Alderman, September 2008.

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