Thursday, 19 May 2022

assunta

Dedicated and presented to the public for the first time on this day in 1518, the larger-than-life altarpiece by Renaissance artist Tiziano Vecellio (known mononymically in English as Titian) created for the Venetian Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari established the master as leading painter on par with contemporaries Michelangelo and Raphael (coming to be called “The Sun amidst small stars,” after the last line of Paradiso). This aspect of Marian theology, that the Virgin Mother was taken up into Heaven, was counted among various albeit popular adiaphora in the sixteenth century and not made an article of faith until 1950 and still unsettled whether she was raptured while still alive or assumed after a normal death—a difference of opinion that the artist acknowledges with a barely visible stone sarcophagus at the base of the image that allows parishioners to take it or leave it. Though bold and potentially scandalous for its departure from the conventional artwork of Venice, the work was ultimately well-received and earned him further commissions for the Doge. Though unplanned and a result of the chaos of the plague which killed him, Titian was interred in the same church in 1576, aged eighty-eight.

dunstanus

With a wildly popular cult following until eventually being overshadowed by the martyred Thomas Becket, Saint Dunstan, cleric, scribe, artist, blacksmith, brewer and advisor to many kings is feted on this day on the anniversary of his death in 988 (*909). Entering monastic life in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey in the company of Irish monks who occupied the site, young Dunstan excelled at all forms of craftsmanship and scholarship and was soon appointed to the court of Athelstan. Palace intrigues ensued and other courtiers grew jealous of the noviciate’s influence and sought to disgrace Dunstan with accusations of witchcraft. Distaste for politics caused Dunstan to return to Glastonbury and build a small hermitage and during this interlude before eventually being recalled to London and then acclaimed archbishop of Canterbury as he got to know God, Dunstan reportedly developed a relationship with the Devil as well, rebuffing temptation several times, arranging for the late frosts of Franklin Nights (to fall around his future feast day) to spoil the cider harvest so his own beer might be more in demand and at the Devil’s request shod and unshod one of his hooves. The ill-advised experience turned out to be too painful for the Prince of Darkness and is apparently an enduring trauma as he cannot pass through a threshold under a horseshoe—the origin supposedly of the lucky symbol.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

7x7

conservation of momentum: a Newton’s Cradle performs Psy’s K-Pop classic  

the tweter: a sweater for two  

the elephant: an Ames inspired trainer—see previously  

trust-fall: a collection of Italian ex-votos (previously) depicting divine intervention during a stumble 

the bond bug: a three-wheeled two-seater produced by Reliant Motor Company—via Pasa Bon!  

amphorae: Ukrainian soldiers digging trenches outside of Odesa discover ancient Greek artefacts   

bill medley: the ending sequence of Dirty Dancing set to the theme of The Muppet Show—via Boing Boing

Monday, 16 May 2022

brendan the navigator

Counted as one of the twelve apostles of Ireland and best remembered for his ocean-voyage to find the Isle of the Blessed (see previously), the monastic saint from Clonfert is feted on this day in the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox traditions. Although the Vita and Navigatio from the early eighth century mostly attest to his faith and devotion to the gospel and give scant details on his seafaring, a rich mythology has formed around the adventures of Brendan (Brรฉnainn moccu Alti) and his crew, retinue and their search for Eden—which though mostly taken for religious allegory and to incorporate Christian elements into the Irish custom of the sea-going sojourn, there is some evidence in the account that they might have encountered hitherto unknown lands and icebergs and reportedly Christopher Columbus studied his tack and jibe to find favourable winds to carry him past the Canaries. Patron to the dioceses of Kerry and his home of Clonfert, Brendan is also the protector of mariners, boatmen, elderly adventurers and whales—due to one legend of them making landfall only to discover it was in fact a great sea monster called Jasconius.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

matthias the apostle

Formerly venerated on the sixth day before the Calends of March but with the calendar revisions of 1969, the commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, nominated by an assembly of disciples rather than chosen by Jesus himself to replace Judas Iscariot, was translated to this day as to take the celebration out of Lent and closer to the historical date (and as patron-protector against smallpox, coincides with the first inoculation administered by Edward Jenner in 1796 on eight-year-old James Phipps, the son of the family gardener). Though there are scant canonical details regarding his life, tradition places Matthias on the Caspian coast and evangelising to the people of the region that is modern day Georgia. Matthias’ patronage also includes tailors, carpenters, Billings Montana, Gary Indiana, Trier and alcoholics.

Friday, 13 May 2022

nossa senhora de fรกtima

The series of Marian apparitions that reportedly presented themselves to a trio of three shepherd children appeared for the first time on this day in 1917. Declared events worthy of believe after years of careful study and deliberation by the local bishop, this set off a chain of investigations of the visions of Lรบcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta Mart and Francisco that led to the coronation and veneration of the site by the mid-1950s. Appearing to the children for the first of six times, the Virgin Mary delivered the prophecy that prayer would end the Great War, promising to return soon in a more public fashion so that all would believe, a miraculous solar aberration observed by many assembled in a field on 13 October of the same year. The call to pilgrimage and the general incredulity of the witnesses was regarded with suspicion with many accusing the movement to be subversive and to overthrow the newly established republic that had first thrown off the yoke of monarchy and then dictatorship in 1910 and 1915. Sister Lรบcia—who had since taken become a nun, publishing her memoirs—detailed in 1941 that she and her companions had been entrusted with three secrets: first a vision of Hell and that whilst the Great War (WW1) had ended, more dreadful future conflicts were to come if the people were not repentant; second the need to evangelise to Russia and the restoration of the pious monarchy (an assessment enforced by the thwarted assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on this day in 1981); and thirdly—not revealed until 2000—that of the downfall of the Catholic Church, which especially hinged on whether the above attack had been carried off successfully.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

family federation for world peace and unification

Founded on this day in Seoul in 1954 by controversial entrepreneur and messianic claimant Reverend Sun Myung Moon (†1920 - *2012 and hence the colloquial name “Moonies”), the Unification Church has its origins with the family of ์ƒ์‚ฌ๋ฆฌ converting to Presbyterianism whilst under Japanese occupation around 1930 and mostly abandoning traditional Confucianist beliefs (though there is a degree of syncretism with the departure from Nicene teachings) and took up Sunday school education and later instruction. Then visited by Jesus Christ, according to church lore, on Easter 1936, Moon was personally tasked with finishing the work left undone by the crucifixion—a commission Moon accepted after a period of prayer and contemplation, evangelising after the war ended in 1945. Venturing north of the DMZ with his gospel got Moon arrested as a spy for South Korea in 1946 but was released as fighting between the northern and southern factions started in earnest and authored the movement’s scripture and theological basis, Divine Principle, which limned the church’s core beliefs of remission of debts and indemnities to restore balance with God. Though some see its publications, activism, subordinate businesses as a sort of prosperity gospel, the Unification Church’s network and holdings are minuscule in comparison with the Catholic Church or the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Monday, 25 April 2022

san marco

Variously identified as the cousin of Barnabas and textually as the anonymous water-bearer of the Last Supper and the Naked Fugitive during Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (see also), the Mark the Evangelist, fรชted on this day, would go on to author one of the gospels—by traditional accounts—and to found the episcopal See of Alexandria, among the most important of early Christianity. Sharing the iconography of the winged lion with the saint, he is venerated in Venice as the city’s and thalassocracy’s patron and in Lithuania, where he is regarded as the guardian of the harvest and there is a general fast prescribed as a well as a prohibition on disturbing the earth as to give the land a rest before the planting season begins. 25 April is a national holiday throughout Italy, but not as Saint Mark’s Day and rather as marking the 1945 anniversary of the liberation of the country by the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation and the puppet government of the fascists.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

7x7

mutually intelligible: interlocutors with no common language gravely overestimate the success of their getting the message across 

let’s have church: mystery artist of gospel album covers—via Nag on the Lake  

partygate: Prime Minister and cabinet members fined for violating lockdown protocols 

toto, i have a feeling we’re not in kansas anymore: watch an Iowa television station transition from monochrome to living colour  

coin-op: a comprehensive look at Gachapon (ใ‚ฌใƒใƒฃใƒใƒณ) across Japan  

1-bit: summon demons with this slightly racy tarot reading  

light verb variation: why some people make decisions and others take them

Saturday, 9 April 2022

jacob and sons

Originally recorded as a children’s pop cantata in 1968 at Cole Court School for Boys and workshopped some more before becoming a full-fledged fixture in the repertoire of musical theatre, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber collaborated with the group The Mixed Bag to produce The Joseph Consortium in 1971, a cross between rock opera and psychedelic kids show (previsioning another parallel composition) that was a retelling of the biblical figure and patriarch of the Book of Genesis, Joseph.  Any dream will do.

Friday, 25 March 2022

lady day

Coinciding with the Solemnity of the Annunciation, until 1752 when Great Britain and its extended imperial holdings adopted the Gregorian calendar, 25 March was New Year’s Day—liturgically, legally and fiscally—under the Julian system of reckoning time. A quarter day falling near the March equinox, it was an ideal date for arranging new contracts between landlords and tenants because it fell at a time that did not interfere with ploughing or harvest and itinerant farmers would move house and home (see also) at this time. With the British Empire lagging behind most of Western Europe in switching to “New Style,” the eleven day difference between the Gregorian and Julian calendars caused the contract-setting period to be advanced to 5 April, hence “Old Lady Day.”

Monday, 21 March 2022

benedictus

Fรชted on this day prior to the calendar reforms of 1970 on the occasion of his passing in 547 (*480), twin brother of Saint Scholastica and patron protector of Officers at Arms, spelunkers, Europe nettles and architects Benedict of Nursia is venerated in all Christian communions as the founder of Western monasticism. After establishing communities in Lazio near Rome, Benedict went to the mountains and founded an order at Monte Cassino that sought balance and moderation with his Rule promulgated in 516 that outlaid a hierarchy in the brotherhood with an abbot in charge. With chapters including both spiritual and administrative guidance, the communities adhered to the golden rule of “Ora et Labora”—prayer and work, with the days quartered and eight hours each allotted for prayer and study, sleep, manual work and charity.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

ฤ“ostreteric

Though possible an invention of the Venerable Bede as the name of the goddess does not appear in the historical record prior to its citation in his eighth century work on The Reckoning of Time describing the indigenous months of the English peoples (De mensibus Anglorum) with ฤ’osturmลnaรพ, whose deity was the namesake of Easter and many related words, since having been overtaken as Paschal Month, Eastertide celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus with the trappings of far more ancient customs. The Neopagan Wheel of the Year celebrates the equinox (by etymological reconstruction, the goddess of the sunrise) as the Feast of Ostarรข, another Germanic—and by migration and raids, Anglo-Saxon—form of her name.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

sant’ansovino

Fรชted on this day, the sainted bishop of Camerino-San Severino Marche in the Apennines refused the high office until could secure personal guarantees from Holy Roman Emperor, Louis II—for who Ansovinus was former confessor—that his congregation would be exempt from military conscription, one of the chief jobs of bishops during that time was as recruiter for the imperial army. Reportedly having the gift of inexhaustibly multiplying stores of wheat in the regional granary in Castel Raimondo and for producing a copious amount of crops from his own meagre plot of land, never refusing to share, this ninth century figure is named the patron of agriculture and the protector of small farmers.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

to know wisdom and instruction—to perceive the words of understanding

Venerated as a saint in multiple faith traditions, Mesrop Mashtots (ี„ีฅีฝึ€ีธีบ ี„ีกีทีฟีธึ), early medieval linguist, theologian and statesman, passing away on this day in 440 (*362), was the inventor of the Armenian alphabet—the first phrase rendered in that new script said to be the above passage from the Book of Proverbs. Further credited by some scholars as the creator of the Caucasian Albanian and Georgian forms of writing, Mashtot’s contribution first in royal court in service to the king and later after taking holy orders ensured that Armenian literature and identity was preserved rather than being absorbed by its larger neighbouring empires of Persia and Syria. Finalised around the year 405, the Greek-modelled system endured in its original form of thirty-six letters until the twelfth century when three additional ones were added—for f- and o-sounds, the Armenian word for alphabet, aybuben (ีกีตีขีธึ‚ีขีฅีถ) comes from the first two letters, ayb (ีก) and ben (ีข).

Friday, 11 February 2022

summa theologica

Via the weekly anthology of Web Curios, we get this nice appreciation and reminder that the resources underpinning the Internet are not self-sustaining artefacts but require care and maintenance—even if only for academic pursuits and no aspirations for virality or attempt to monetise or capitalise on the scholarship of its subject matter as the Non-Fungible Testament—in revisiting the venerable repository the Internet Sacred Text Archive, which for twenty-three years has weathered all sort of trends and beaten back the spectre of the Digital Dark Ages to curate and present foundational texts in comparative religious and folklore traditions.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

giuseppina bakhita

Declared a saint of the Canossian order in 2000, Mother Josephine Margaret Bakhita—the first Black woman to be beatified by the Catholic Church in modern times—escaped from a life of enslavement in Darfur (*1869 - †1947) and eventually entered a sisterhood at a convent in Schio outside of Vicenza. Credited by villagers as sparing the town from casualties when it was bombed during World War II, Josephine Bakhita ( ุจุฎูŠุชุฉ ) Arabic for lucky, Fortunata, her family name lost to the trauma of her early life) is the patron protectress of Sudan, South Sudan and survivors of human trafficking. Upheld as an example of hope and determination, her legacy includes several charitable and social justice causes in her original and adopted homeland.

Monday, 7 February 2022

falรฒ delle vanitร 

Though mostly used in the figurative sense, the term bonfire of the vanities is sourced back to an actual auto-da-fรฉ of thousands of articles condemned as “occasions of sin”—that is, externalities that appeal to human frailties and lead to temptation—which occurred on this day in Florence in 1497. The Shrove Tuesday bonfire held in the central square saw the destruction of countless mirrors, cosmetics, finery, playing cards, musical instruments and works of art was organised by Fra Girolamo Savonarola, personally dedicated to combating luxury in all forms and the indolence it brought, but his zealotry and aestheticism didn’t win him many friends with Pope Alexander VI condemning Savonarola to death by crucifixion and immolation in that same public square a year later.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

hypapante

One of the earliest Christian celebrations and pre-dating by centuries the establishment of Christmas and Easter, the Feast of the Presentation, reckoned forty days postpartum when couples (mostly the mother and the separation period was doubled for baby girls) partook in a ritual purification ceremony with burnt offerings to cleanse both infant child and themselves and reintegrate into the community, Candlemas and its later backformations became popular during the fourth century Plague of Justinian and it may be an appropriation of the feriae and fasti of Lupercalia and Ferฤlia that fell later in the month, the former itself a purification festival to promote health and fertility—February itself named after februa, the brooms to sweep away the detritus of the old year. Traditionally in some communities, decorations are finally taken down and candles are brought to local churches for blessing and used throughout the year.

Monday, 31 January 2022

6x6

christian pirates cable access show: a cavalcade of 1980s cult lunacy  

the conroy virtus: a novel proposal to transport the Space Shuttle that never got off the ground

h salt esq: the fish and chip fast food franchise empire that never quite materialised 

look book: a revival of the conversation pit—see previously  

il fait beau dans l’mรฉtro: a 1977 jingle for the Montrรฉal subway  

chock-a-block: an omnibus round-up of 159 British children’s television programmes you may have forgotten about—see previously