Yesterday, October 27, was the day Pope Francis specified as a day of prayer for peace. My local parish, unencumbered by desire for moral clarity, invited all parishioners to a noon Mass followed by a special rosary for peace—in the abstract. Refusal to take sides burlesques the famed events of 1571 when Christendom kept churches open and prayed the rosary during the Battle of Lepanto. Yes, Pope Pius V enjoined all Christians to pray. But not for peace. He called them to pray that the Holy League would defeat the formidable Ottoman fleet. Continue Reading
Unraveling the cat’s cradle of Catherine of Siena’s “writings” yields a twisty path into the politics of saint-making. The Saint Catherine of popular imagination is a composite of biography and invention. Glossed by shared cultural assumptions and aims, the hybrid is taken as historic. Idealization and legend are cherished as fact. Referring to Catherine’s productivity as writings is the customary way of naming it. Categorized among medieval women writers, the saint is sometimes depicted at a writing desk with pen in hand. Continue Reading
Fra Filippo’s resplendent Madonna della Cintola, in the previous post, sent me to a favorite passage in The Waning of the Middle Ages. Johan Huizinga‘s portrait of the linchpins of the medieval world—the ideas that bound together religion, art, and literature—has a few things to say about relics. The significance of them to the culture that embraced them is an integral part of medieval civilization.
The distinctly corporeal conception of the saints was accentuated by the veneration of their relics, not only permitted by the Church but forming an integral part of religion.Continue Reading
The sexual saga of Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, S.J., a priapic theologian, artist, and abuser of women, has gotten enough press. Now Catholics ask: “What should we do with his art?” It is the wrong question. The only reason it arises is the infuriating fact that what should be done cannot be done. Punishment ought to be carried out on the man himself. Rupnik should be castrated. Unhappily, we do not do that anymore. So we fantasize about wreaking vengeance on his mosaics. Continue Reading
“The Archbishop is on fire to defend the faith!” So began Maggie Gallagher’s June 3rd broadcast email touting Archbishop Cordileone’s “stinging rebuke” to Marin County’s DA for having dropped felony charges against vandals on the grounds of Mission San Rafael. As executive director of the Benedict XVI Institute in San Francisco, Ms. Gallagher publicizes the activities of the institute. She also promotes the public persona of the archbishop, advisor-in-chief on the institute’s board. Acting as publicist, her first objective is a spring board for the second. Continue Reading