Friday, February 17, 2006

A'Crusading We Will Go

The cigar box art in the previous post put me in the mood for a crusader weekend.

The not-so-infinitely-tolerant face of Christendom, which the Mohammedan Menace needs to see more often.

Putting the smackdown on the Mohammedan heresy.

An heroic Templar tapestry (modern).

A Templar at prayer.

The last stand of the Templars.

I Don't Know If the Cigars Were Any Good

But I like the box art.

Please Keep Our Filippino Brothers In Christ In Your Prayers

There was a terrible mudslide on Leyte island, which seems to have wiped out a village of 2,500 people. At least 1,500 are missing and presumed dead. And you will remember that the Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia.

Well, So Much For Our Snow

Remember that blizzard, the "Blizzard of '06," that we had last weekend. The snow was a five-day wonder. The 13 or so inches are virtually gone, courtesy of 3 days with temperatures in the 50s. It is supposed to get colder tomorrow, but we here in Boston are enjoying what has been, so far (said with all ten fingers and ten toes crossed) a mild winter.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Looks Like Cardinal Law's Dogsbody Is Being Taken Care Of

From Whispers In the Loggia.

And dogsbody was not the first word that came to mind about Monsignor McInerny. Howie Carr's favorite characterization was first.

I Just Happened To Be Looking Around At the Met's Website

The Virgin Annunciate
They have an exhibit on the paintings of Sicilian Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina running through March 5th. Still a couple of weeks to check it out.

And while you are there, check out the collection at The Cloisters.

English chasuble, 1400s.

St. John the Evangelist, aachen, 9th century

Seated Vigin and Child, Burgundian, c. 1130.

Parisian Diptych with Coronation of the Virgin and the Doom, c. 1260

Reliquary c. 1330, attributed to Jean de Touyl.

Annunciation Triptych from a Tournai altarpiece c.1425 by Robert Campin

A view of the gothic chapel. Think this would make a nice new banner illustration for Recta Ratio after Easter? I do, too, but there are copyright problems.

Worth a trip to NYC? Too bad this place is just a museum, not a living Catholic community, as so much of the Catholic cultural heritage is enshirned there (acquired, like the items at the Isabella Stewart Gardener Musuem and Hammond Castle, by rich protestants).

Are You a Little Tired Of Bloggers Who Are Good Writers Constantly Flogging Their Books?

I know I am. If you are going to blog, blog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Oldest Known English-Language Valentine

It was written in Norfolk around 1477. Can't read it?

Neither could I, but the BBC had a better look:

"Unto my right well-beloved Valentine John Paston, squire, be this bill delivered.

"Right reverent and worshipful and my right well-beloved valentine, I recommend me unto you full heartedly, desiring to hear of your welfare, which I beseech Almighty God long for to preserve unto his pleasure and your hearts desire.

"And if it pleases you to hear of my welfare, I am not in good health of body nor of heart, nor shall I be till I hear from you.

"For there knows no creature what pain that I endure, And even on the pain of death I would reveal no more.

"And my lady my mother hath laboured the matter to my father full diligently, but she can no more get than you already know of, for which God knoweth I am full sorry.

"But if you love me, as I trust verily that you do, you will not leave me therefore.

"For even if you had not half the livelihood that you have, for to do the greatest labour that any woman alive might, I would not forsake you.

Love you truly

"And if you command me to keep me true wherever I go, indeed I will do all my might you to love and never anyone else.

"And if my friends say that I do amiss, they shall not stop me from doing so.

"My heart me bids evermore to love you truly over all earthly things.

"And if they be never so angry, I trust it shall be better in time coming.

"No more to you at this time, but the Holy Trinity have you in keeping.

"And I beseech you that this bill be not seen by any non earthly creature save only yourself.

"And this letter was written at Topcroft with full heavy heart.

"Be your own Margery Brews."

According to the BBC, there is evidence that Margery and John married and had two children. A happy ending, then, despite the evident worries over money. Would that all romances ended so happily.

Saints Valentine

Saint Valentine Baptizing Saint Lucilla, by Jacopo Bassano, c. 1575

Actually, there are at least two Saint Valentines, all martyrs of the Roman persecutions honored today. Valentine of Rome, and Valentine of Terni. Because of the similarities in their hagiographies, some believe that they are the same man.

The Golden Legend offers these few paragraphs about one Saint Valentine, Valentine of Rome.

Catholic On-Line offers this summation of our Saints Valentine (or is it just Saint Valentine?):

The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].

Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."

St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

No matter what his origins, his feast day is one of the most widely observed in Christendom (up there with Saint Patrick, Saint Joseph, and Saint Nicholas). The popular observance has varied from the Catholic reality somewhat, as it is popularly the day to indulge your loved one with roses (outrageously priced, of course), chocolate, cards, champagne, dinner out, and sexy lingerie. So, in other words, it is a slightly more extravagant version of every other day.

Why this emphasis on coupling (much of it these days rather illicit)? In Europe, about the middle of February, birds mate and establish nests together. That is the origin of the connection. In Europe, spring comes a little earlier, and while it may still be cool, hormone-inspired spring coupling seems natural there now. Saint Valentine happens to be celebrated in mid-February, and that is why his feast has taken on the significance it has.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Requiescat In Pace

Author Peter Benchley, who penned Jaws, has died at the age of 65 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and fatal scarring of the lungs. He had been married for 41 years. He was as Phillips Exeter old boy. Requiescat in pace.

At Long Last

An annual harbinger of spring has taken place here in Boston today, the movement of the Red Sox equipment from Fenway to Florida. So spring training is a few days away now. Pitchers and catchers report Saturday.

Yesterday Was Septuagesima Sunday

Boston's indult Mass was cancelled due to the weather, and the Novus Ordo low Mass I attended early Sunday, of course, gave no hint that the season of Septuagesima was upon us.

No matter which rite you prefer, this season of carnival does not have to be all relentless (and morally questionable) partying. It can be can be usefully employed in deciding what Lenten reflections and reading will be worthwhile, and determining what sacrifices to make during Lent. Time to wash and, if necessary, mend the purple cloths for all the religious images and crucifixes in the house, and locate that crown of thorns for the coffee table. It is, after all, pre-Lent.

I have just re-adjusted the colors over at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group to reflect this change in liturgical emphasis. On Ash Wednesday, it goes to all shades of lenten purple and pink, just like last year.

We Survived the Blizzard of '06

It wasn't that bad, really. We only had about 13 inches of snow here in Boston, and it is difficult to be certain even of that, because there was so much blowing and drifting due to very high winds. It was cold enough throughout the storm to make the snow light and powdery.

Today it is sunny, and well-shovelled sidewalks are melting nicely, while poorly shovelled ones are treacherous.

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