Saturday 27 January 2024

deo devota (11. 297)

Likely named Julia rather than the epithet “devoted to God” and occasionally conflated with the similar hagiographies of Saint Reparata and Torpes of Pisa, the patron saint of Monaco and Corsica is venerated on this day on the occasion of her martyrdom during the Diocletian persecutions. The visiting prefect demanded Devota submit to the imperial cult and upon her refusal, steadfast in her faith, was tortured and stoned to death. The Christian community saved her body and put it on a boat bound for Africa—certain to receive a proper burial there—the vessel, beset by a storm at sea, landed on the beach of Les Gaumates, Port-Hercule in present day Monte Carlo. According to tradition, flowers are said to bloom before their season on this day and the Monegasque royal family continue to participate in a special mass and pray to her relics for safety and intercession.

Saturday 21 January 2023

i could be brown, i could be blue, i could be violet sky (10. 485)

The debut song of the Lebanese-British glam graphic designer rock artist born Michael Holbrook Penninman Jr rose to the top of the UK charts on this day in 2007—after an appearance on the talk show Later… with Jools Holland—and holding number one for five weeks would go on to become the third best-selling single for that year, bested by Amy Winehouse. From his autobiographical musical anthology, “Grace Kelly” references MIKA’s influences (“so I tried a little Freddie”) and is the opening track of his first studio album Life in Cartoon Motion and begins with a exchange of dialogue from the Princess of Monaco’s film The Country Girl. The melody is a reference to the aria “Largo al factotum” that Figaro performs in Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

Saturday 8 October 2022

santa reparata (10. 205)

Venerated on this day in celebration of her intercession that freed Florence from Ostrogoth dominance in 406, the third century maiden martyr from Caesarea Maritima is the co-patron of the Tuscan city (along with Zenobio, its first bishop) as well as sole patron of Nice. Arrested and tortured under the reign of Decius, Reparata was first saved by a miraculous rain shower from being burnt at the stake for refusing to apostatise and later decapitated with a dove’s appearance coinciding with her death to symbolise her soul ascendant, coming to be associated with Nice through the further elaboration that her body was put in a boat on borne on the breath of angles to Baie des Anges on the French Rivera. Similar traditions of posthumous relocation are associated with Torpes of Pisa—Saint-Tropez where his headless body arrived with a rooster and a dog in the boat—and Devota, patron of Monaco and Corisca with similar iconography and source of the flag, whose remains were ordered by Diocletian to be burnt to prevent veneration but was rescued from the flames and put on a boat bound for Africa but was diverted by a storm to the present day principality.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

chaรฎne de tรฉlรฉvision

Coinciding with the Principality’s National Day (La Fรชte du Prince) chosen by the reigning sovereign, Albert II, to mark his investiture ceremony in 2005, his father Rainer III on this day back in 1954 held the inaugural broadcast of the oldest extant private television network in Europe (the first, the regional Tรฉlรฉ Saar started broadcasting in February of that year and was also funded by the Prince and his backers), Tรฉlรฉ Monte Carlo, established to showcase his upcoming wedding to Grace Kelly—nearly two years in the planning.  Due to an arrangement with then French president Franรงois Mitterand, the joint Franco-Monรฉgasque venture reached viewers as far away as Montpellier in south-central France. Though the airwaves are far more crowded these days, TMC continues to show a variety of programmes, including quite a bit of original material covering the royal family and aspects of politics, culture and economics in Monaco.

Saturday 11 August 2018

peer of the realm

Marquess of the baronet of Anglesey (Ardalydd Mรดn), privy counsellor to the courts of Victoria and Edward VII and nicknamed “Toppy,” Henry Cyril Paget (*1875 - †1905) lived a short and by the reckoning of his of his fellow royals a destitute and squandered one. At age twenty-three Paget married his cousin Lilian Chetwynd and the same year came into his title with the death of his father and inherited extensive estates throughout England and Wales. Paget had the chapel of the family’s country seat converted into a one hundred-fifty seat theatre (modelled off the Dresden Opera) and staged everything from elaborate costume dramas to cabaret for invited audiences.
Paget’s plans to tour with his theatre company, already mortgaging some of property to fund the excursion, was a step too far and she had their marriage annulled—though later cared for him at his death in Monaco, bankrupt and suffering from a prolonged illness (he’d always been somewhat restrained by a weak constitution) and possibly eager to win the right to hold onto some of his prized-possessions at Monte Carlo. All of it, the jewels, private custom rail cars for his actors, the clothes, the costumes—even his dogs, were auctioned off. Neither gambling nor lovers seemed to be the cause of Paget’s downfall, however—only a rather innocent though irresponsible propensity for profligacy and performance—also nicknamed the Dancing Marquess, Paget had a signature slinky snake dance that he would do no matter what the occasion, the later which none faulted him for. Even if the obituaries in the newspapers as well as the heir (another cousin) who inherited what was left of the Anglesey lands plus the debt were harsh, that heir ordered destroyed all of Paget’s diaries and correspondence, so we’ll never know if there was more to the story. Whatever the case, the people in his troupe as well as those associated with the family manors genuinely cared for their eccentric lord and patron.

Wednesday 29 April 2015


Earlier this month, on a small but serviceably large (bigger than the Vatican and Monaco) patch of terra nullius, a disputed area along the borderlands of Serbia and Croatia, an enterprising Czech politician founded a new micronation called Liberland.
Although the fledgling nation is not officially recognised by any traditional legitimising authority yet, the boundaries are already on the map thanks to a concerted marketing and branding offensive that rivals those of many well established countries. The profile from Quartz Magazine features links to Liberland’s extensive virtual presence with designs to have a permanent, physical presence in the near future. Given the successful organising charter and faith of volunteers and aspiring citizens, it makes one wonder what constitutes a state and who else might be able to pull it off.  Do the trappings and symbols of state confer statehood alone?  What do you think?

Sunday 14 July 2013

sunday drive: bad homburg von der hรถhe

Not discouraged by a sprawling but terrible flea-market (I did however resolve to note these particular organisers that have disappointed before and avoid them in the future) I drove a few kilometers further on the path to explore the town of Bad Homburg, a bedroom community and the wealthiest in Germany due to its proximity to the financial centre but away from the hectic pace, just beyond the city limits of Frankfurt am Main.
 There was a lot of things to see besides, but I focused my windshield tour first at the Schloss and surrounding park that was chosen late in its long and storied career as a summer residence for Emperor Wilhelm II. This designation at the beginning of the twentieth century afforded the town a lot of acclaim, which grew its spa (Kur) and casino—whose directors went on to manage the casino of Monte Carlo in Monaco.
I enjoyed walking through the park, peopled with classic and modern art sculptures. I especially like the stretched motor-scooter, an East Germany NSU model, that looked like it got too close to a blackhole or neutron star, and the Red Boy by comtemporary artist Kenny Hunter.
Among the imperial influences, the Protestant Church of Christ the Redeemer (Erlรถserkirche, the problem-solver) was built in 1901, that is resoundingly Art Nouveau in style and a very distinctive fusion of Celtic symbols and mosaics that are reminiscent of the Near East. I enjoyed exploring this building as well, which reminded me of the lobby of the Empire State Building too—finished in 1908, the positive public reception initiated the Wiesbadner Programme, which saw other churches build in this style.
The Altstadt was comprised of grand avenues and narrow alleyways of half-timbered homes.
 A little lost, I regret not having ventured into the spa part of the town, with an equally large public park in the style of English Garden and its own ensemble of stories and historic buildings. 
I admit, I was a little turned- off to exploring further by the Kurhaus and Rathaus that resembled shopping centres more than civic institutions, but what lays beyond that one street ist something for H and I to see together for ourselves, next time.