Thursday, 1 October 2015

Searching for miracles

Sorry to harp on about Rome again as if I was the only one of us to have been there, but - try as I might - I cannot quite digest the sheer scale of the place, let alone put myself in the mental position of getting any sort of a grasp on what it must have been like in its full glory.

It's the micro/macro thing again, but even that is macro compared to the rest of the Roman occupation of Europe. The details interspersed with the grand scale is what makes a shifting image that little bit more solid, and  - as always - the details have been rearranged by the Christian Church - the original Christian Church.

St Agnes was a 13 year-old girl who was executed in the stadium where the Piazza Navona now is, for refusing to marry. A whole church devoted to her now stands on the edge of the stadium, and she is the patron saint of young girls.

What makes her a saint? She was stripped naked in front of the crowds as punishment, but miraculously sprouted a thick coating of body hair to cover herself, and for this she paid with her life. But did she start off as a Christian, or was she just hi-jacked by them?

The grand scale is also reflected in the sort of relics that are housed in the Vatican's 'treasury' I put that word in parenthesis because if you seriously believed that this series of little rooms holds all the treasure that is at the disposal of the entire Catholic Church, then you would be more gullible than even they suspect you to be. But what can you believe?

Is that really the finger of Saint Peter in a crystal box, pointing toward heaven in the classic Moslem gesture? Is that really a piece of the True Cross, unlike all the other medieval bits of it - enough wood to build a battleship? Were those two lone thorns really part of Christ's crown on the cross?

It's all to do with the Mystery of Faith, so I am told by the same man who transubstantiates wafers and wine into flesh and blood.

I am not trying to tread on anyone's toes here, as I am just as keen a believer on the power of Faith as the most devout Catholic, but I always think of Tinkerbell's warning about how a fairy dies each time a child expresses their disbelief in the existence of fairies at all.

To visit Rome as a Catholic must be like going back to the place you were brought up, to visit your extended family. It must be very comforting. But what a family. Faith and Forgiveness is what holds all families together, including the black sheep - the black sheep with dog-collars included.

No parents really want to see their children grow up and leave home for fear of loneliness in old age, but most of them put a brave face on it and hope for the best. There are always the grandchildren to look forward to. Then there are the great-grandchildren...

I used to go out with a girl from a very rich but dysfunctional family, and her mother's name was Faith. Faith had a sister who I once met, called Charity.

"There is no Hope in this family", my friend told me at her wedding.

27 comments:

  1. Going to a Catholic school the names Faith Hope and Charity were not unusual. At least one family had the full set.
    Great emphasis was put on teaching us about the relics and especially those of Saint Peter. I was always confused and imagined bones in match boxes.

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  2. My sister and I were named after characters in Swallows and Amazons; had we had another sister she probably would have been called Titty.

    N.B. I own one of the True Nails.

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    1. We were named after a reading book

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    2. I used to fancy Janet. I still do.

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  3. "There is no Hope in this family", my friend told me at her wedding." I love this!

    A friend from one of my book clubs just recommended something she read about the creating of "relics". It sounded really interesting. I can't remember the name of it, though. I find all that gory Catholic stuff (relics, martyrs, etc) fascinating. All religions are weird, but Catholics take the cake!

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    1. An Italian man's daughter runs away from home to marry a stranger.

      When she returns years later, he forgives her and says, "Ice Cream - you have come back! '

      When she asks why he called her ice cream, he says, "Because you have been a wafer so long!"

      Sorry......

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  4. Your post reminds me of going to St Peter's many years ago. I practised in my very best Italian saying 'May I see the finger bone of the Saint please?' to an official looking man. He took me to the door of St Peter's and pointed me in the direction of the nearest supermarket.

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  5. I've been to Rome, and yes it was impressive enough when I saw the sights, some clearly in a state of decay but still magnificent. The sheer size of some of these places recalled to me the same sort of power the kings of Egypt held at one time.

    I love "There is no Hope in this family."

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  6. I want to be again in Rome, I was there 40 years ago, finishing my visit there in hospital after i forgot the Jewish superstition (?) that going under the Arch of Titus brings bad luck.

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  7. Very glad I'm an atheist pagan !

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    1. Oh sorry - you believe in gods, not God. I forgot.

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    2. Wrong! I do not believe in God or even Gods.
      I am an atheist and a country dweller which is what pagan actually means.

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    3. So you can't be a pagan and live in town?

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  8. Years ago, when I needed one, my credit card terminal was on a platform maintained by a company in NYC. When it hiccuped I plugged it into a phone line and called the company to troubleshoot. The fellow who answered one morning said his name was Faith, and set about helping me. We chatted while he went through the protocol. He was from India, his family was there, he was saving to bring more to this country and so on. Suddenly he stopped talking. "Are you there, Faith?" "I just saw a plane crash into the World Trade Center."
    I told him, Go. Be Safe. He was. I spoke with him several more times over the next couple of years I still exhibited.
    It's a strong memory.

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    1. I am not surprised that is it is still a strong memory! I know 2 people who witnessed the Twin Towers come down from the other side of the bay, but one of them is now dead.

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