Events

Los templarios desafían las altas temperaturas y celebran su vuelta a Novallas

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Novallas ha vuelto a retroceder en el tiempo con motivo de su feria templaria. Los caballeros, que ocuparon esta localidad durante dos siglos, han regresado desafiando las altas temperaturas. Don Fortún Aznarez, señor de Novallas, ha entregado la villa a la milicia del Temple.

Los templarios han desafiado las altas temperaturas y han celebrado su vuelta a Novallas. Esta localidad de la comarca de Tarazona ha celebrado la sexta feria templaria, incluida en el festival ‘Tierras del Moncayo’. Pese al calor asfixiante, los vecinos de la villa han respondido y muchos incluso han lucido vestimentas medievales.

A primera hora de la mañana de este sábado, los personajes históricos se han concentrado en la nueva calle nombrada en honor a los templarios. Desde allí ha partido un desfile hasta la plaza de San Antón, donde ha quedado abierto el mercado de artesanos. Este año, la mayoría de los puestos han sido montados por los propios vecinos de Novallas.

Pasado el mediodía ha tenido lugar uno de los actos más destacados de la feria. Se ha representado la entrega de la villa de Novallas a la milicia del Temple, un hecho histórico datado en el siglo XII y que protagonizó don Fortún Aznarez, el señor de Novallas. Además, seguidamente, el “maestre” ha presidido el rito de ordenación de nuevos caballeros templarios.

Y es que en Novallas pretenden crear una asociación “que recupere la historia”. “Hay algo documentado sobre que pudieron existir algunos caballeros templarios, incluso es posible que fallecieran en los alrededores con los límites de Tarazona y Monteagudo”, ha comentado Carlos Royo, uno de los novalleros que, por unas horas, ha encarnado el papel de templario.

“Recreando un poco la historia y teatralizándola hemos creado el rito de iniciación de dos caballeros, el ritual de ingreso en la orden”, ha añadido. El acto ha finalizado con la imposición de la espada sobre los hombros de sendos jóvenes que han pasado a formar parte de la orden, representando a don Guillem del Pueyo y don Gonzalo Pérez de Musalbarba.

Tarde animada

Por la tarde ha sido reabierto el mercado y los más pequeños han disfrutado con el juego de la oca, en el parque Luis Buñuel. Este juego también es obra de los templarios, quienes lo inventaron inspirándose en el Camino de Santiago. Aunque hay quien lo atribuye a los griegos e incluso a una poderosa familia de Florencia.

Los niños han recorrido Novallas a lomos de caballos y también ha podido modelar arcilla en un taller organizado expresamente para ellos. La animación no ha parado en el zoco hasta que ha llegado el momento de la lectura de la bula papal que decretó la disolución de la orden de los templarios en la Corona de Aragón. 

 

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Monzón analiza la caída de los templarios hace 700 años

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El 24 de mayo se cumple el 700 aniversario de la caída del último baluarte de la Orden del Temple, que era el castillo de Monzón, con este motivo el ayuntamiento y el Centro de Estudios ( CEHIMO) están celebrando las terceras jornadas sobre el Temple. Elisa Sanjuán, concejal de Cultura, señalaba en la inauguración que es muy importante la efemérides destacando el carácter local de la mayoría de los ponentes y como el legado de la Orden se recoge en la Domus Templi o Ruta del Temple.

El presidente de CEHIMO, Joaquín Sanz, volvía a incidir en el legado de la Orden del Temple en Monzón con 160 años de permanencia hasta la caída ante las tropas de Jaime II.

Las jornadas arrancaban con la conferencia del historiador José Antonio Adell sobre “El Proceso contra los Templarios. El Castillo de Monzón el último baluarte templario. Autor del “Ultimo templario” novela que ha tenido muy buena aceptación como reconoce Adell

Las jornadas se con la charla del historiador medieval, Carlos Laliena sobre “ La Fundación de la Orden del Temple. La Orden del Temple llega a Aragón. El Testamento de Alfonso I “ El Batallador” el día 19 de mayo, la conferencia del historiador, Francisco Castillón Cortada sobre “ El Castillo de Monzón como centro de la Encomienda Templaria. Explotación del Patrimonio el día 20 de mayo, quien repetirá al día siguiente con “ la vida cotidiana de los templarios en el Castillo de Monzón. La jornadas se clausuran el sábado día 23 con una visita al castillo de Gardeny y el Museo diocesano de Lérida.

Las jornadas están organizados por CEHIMO y el Ayuntamiento, con la colaboración de la CAI e Instituto de Estudios Altoaragoneses y subvencionado por el Departamento de Cultura del Gobierno de Aragón.

in Radiohuesca

Iniciacion e Investidura en Colombia

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El pasado 20, 21, 22 y 23 de marzo de 2009, el Priorato General de la República de Colombia bajo la obediencia de la OSMTHU, se llevó a cabo la ceremonia anual de Iniciación e Investidura, como es costumbre, en la ciudad de Barranquilla, Sede Ceremonial del Priorato y de la Encomienda Emirto De Lima y Sintiago

En esta ocasión la Iniciación de seis (6) Sargentos; la Investidura de dos (2) Sargentos Templarios como Caballeros Templarios; y el ascenso de cuatro Caballeros Templarios al grado de Caballeros Oficiales Templarios; así como la Investidura de dos (2) reconocidas personalidades al grado de Caballeros de Capítulo Honorario, fueron el motivo de los extenuantes preparativos los cuales finalizan con el arribo a la ciudad de Barranquilla de nuestro Prior General Fr.+ Rodrigo Beltrán Ángulo y del Preceptor Fr.+ Jaime Pryor.

El evento se desarrolló bajo el escenario del Mar Caribe con la calidez de los vientos alisios que acarician la vegetación tropical en esta época de año, en donde la Encomienda Emirto De Lima y Santiago, enclave al mando del Caballero Comendador Fr. + Francesco Cavalli Papa, y de su Senescal Fr.+ Enrique Jiménez Sarta, y con el concurso de los demás hermanos integrantes del mismo cumplieron con amplitud y generosidad con la tarea de investiduras que anualmente enfrentan.

En la cima del “El Morro”, elevación cercana a la ciudad de Barranquilla, santuario ancestral de los indios Mocana, hoy coronada por una pequeña capilla construida en rocas en honor a la Virgen, que es escenario del primer suceso, enmarcado por una vista abierta al Mar Caribe en presencia del choque impactante de la desembocadura del río grande de la Magdalena. Una vez llevado a cabo las formaciones e invocaciones de rigor, los peregrinos emprenden la conquista al “Morro” alcanzando finalmente el santuario donde ingresan al templo con la marcha pausada y marcada del peregrino.

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 Formación en la cima del cerro “El Morro” previo al ingreso a la Capilla

La ceremonia religiosa es celebrada por el Capellán del Enclave y posteriormente a esta se procede a Investir como Miembros del Capítulo Honorario al Excelentísimo Monseñor Víctor Tamayo y a Don Álvaro Ricaurte González, por sus méritos y reconocimientos para con la Orden.

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grupo, posteriormente a la misa, iniciando la búsqueda de los elementos 

En horas de la tarde del día sábado los Novicios: N.+ IVÁN OSORIO VARGAS, N.+ JUAN CARLOS GALVIS HERRERA, N.+ WILLIAM JOSE ESCAF STEWART, N.+ TOMAS VÁSQUEZ OSPINA, y el N.+ ALBERTO MARIO FLÓREZ CASTRO, comienzan sus trabajos y pruebas para su iniciación, y son llamados, de acuerdo a las costumbres de la Orden, a seguir la regla ancestral de recogimiento para su retiro espiritual e iniciación de los trabajos.

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Los Hermanos en sus trabajos en la playa de Puerto Velero 

El domingo, al despuntar el día, el Capítulo cierra la Iniciación y se procede a Investir a: En el grado de Sargentos Templarios, Fr.+ Iván Osorio Vargas ST, Fr.+ Juan Carlos Galvis Herrera ST, Fr.+ William José Escaf Stewart ST, Fr.+ Tomas Vásquez Ospina ST, y, Fr.+ Alberto Mario Flórez Castro ST; En el grado de Caballeros Templarios Fr.+ Luis Ernesto Criales Betancourt CT, y Fr.+ Jorge Arturo Escobar Lafuente CT; En el grado de Caballeros Oficiales Templarios Fr.+ Ricardo Sandoval Barros COT, Fr.+ Bertulio Rosales Acosta COT, Fr.+ Celin Malkun Paz COT, y Fr.+ Manuel Antonio Ricaurte Flórez COT.

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Caballeros de la Encomienda Emirto de Lima y Sintiago de la ciudad de Barranquilla, al centro el Prior General Fr+ Rodrigo Beltrán Angulo, a su derecha el Preceptor General del Priorato Fr+ Jaime Pryor Moreno , a su Izquierda el Canciller General del Priorato y Comendador del Enclave Francisco Cavalli Papa  

Terminada la Ceremonia de Investidura se procede al cierre de los trabajos, abriéndose las puertas del Templo a nuestras familias invitadas a compartir un típico plato del Caribe colombiano que ofrece la Encomienda, denominado “Sancocho”, al caer la tarde, todos los miembros de la nuestra Orden proceden a ejercitarse, como es tradicional, cabalgando en los alrededores dando muestras de sus habilidades ecuestres, se retorna en la noche a la ciudad de Barranquilla, donde la cena es escenario de conversaciones e intercambio de conocimientos en común.

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Los nuevos Sargentos de la Encomienda Fr.+ Iván Osorio Vargas ST, Fr.+ Juan Carlos Galvis Herrera ST, Fr.+ William José Escaf Stewart ST, Fr.+ Tomas Vásquez Ospina ST, y, Fr.+ Alberto Mario Flórez Castro ST
 

El día lunes los Hermanos Investidos y Ascendidos nos ilustran con sus trabajos y conferencias sobre temas concernientes a la Orden, los temas abracan desde su historia hasta el Neotemplarismo de nuestros días, en horas posteriores al almuerzo los hermanos procedentes de otras ciudades retornan a sus sitios de origen quedando en el ambiente la emoción y el sentimiento emanado de un nuevo encuentro fraternal.

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Caballeros y Sargentos participantes de la Investidura 2009 del Priorato General de la República de Colombia

 
El Priorato General de la República de Colombia se enorgullece de cumplir una vez más con la tarea ininterrumpida de continuar con la formación de nuevos templarios, que con su trabajo y esfuerzo alcancen la mayor gloria y grandeza de nuestra amada Orden.

Fr+ Rodrigo Beltrán Angulo
Prior General de la República de Colombia-OSMTHU

British Museum uncovers relics of St Benedict

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An altar containing the relics of nearly 40 saints was opened for the first time in years before going on display in a new medieval gallery in the British Museum.

Opened for the first time in the Eighties for scientific study, the 12th-century altar contained 39 relics, carefully folded into a piece of linen. Each individual relic is wrapped in fabric and bears a 13th-century vellum label with the respective saint’s name on it. Among the saints represented by relics are St John, St James and St Mary Magdalene, but the treasure of the collection is what is believed to be a relic of St Benedict of Nursia. The presence of the relics was not made public until this week.

The news was met with excitement. Mgr Keith Barltrop, who has been organising the visit of St Thérèse of Lisieux’s relics to Britain this year, said: “I think it’s rather exciting. Relics are as relevant today as they always have been. They serve as a reminder of our incarnational faith, that it inhabits the physical world, that there are bodies. I think that the bodies of holy people help us draw closer to God and the communion of saints.”

Mgr Barltrop said: “What is exciting is that the relic they seem most definite about is that of St Benedict. I think that it is important to venerate St Benedict, who after all is a saint for Europe. Even if Europe has forgotten its Christian roots, it was the monasteries that helped rebuild Europe. St Benedict played a pivotal role in this with his monastic rule.”

St Benedict is one of the patron saints of Europe. The sixth-century saint was the founder of western monasticism, which helped spread Christianity and stabilise Europe.

Dom Antony Sutch, the former headmaster of Downside, a school run by Benedictines, said: “I think there’s no doubt in the fact that having a relic contributes a great deal. It has real devotional value. To know that somebody really existed, to come into contact with that, makes that person more real and the example they set more tangible.”

James Robinson , the curator of the British Museum’s new medieval gallery, said they had opened the portable altar from Hildesheim in Germany while they were conserving the piece to display it in the gallery which opened to the public on Wednesday.

Mr Robinson said: “It’s difficult to say for certain whether these are the relics of the actual saints. All we could really ascertain was the age of the textiles, which could themselves be relics.” The fabric encasing the relic of St Benedict is ninth to 10th-century Byzantine silk, and Mr Robinson said it would have been highly prized by a high-placed ecclesiastic.

A dedicatory inscription to Abbot Theoderic III on the back of the portable altar dates it to somewhere between 1180 and 1200. The altar has a wooden core, with a central cavity for the relics covered by a Purbeck stone slab. from Dorset. The front is typical of the area of modern day Saxony, with gilt and copper panels showing the evangelists and saints, as well as two crafted from walrus ivory and two manuscript illuminations.

He said: “The altar would have been used to celebrate Mass in a space that had not been consecrated yet. I believe it was the Council of Nicea which pronounced on the criteria for celebrating Mass.

A relic of a saint needed to be in the altar and the stone itself is the right size for the footprint of a chalice.” Hildesheim is still an active place of pilgrimage dedicated to St Gotthard, who is featured with three other bishop-saints including St Bernard on the altar.

The British Museum acquired the altar in 1902 and will keep it on display in Bloomsbury. There are other relics on display in the new gallery.

By Anna Arco and Olivia Sayers

OSMTHU Electoral Procedure Opened until March 2009

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crossing the box

During the Magisterial Council Meeting that took place in Madrid, last October, at the proposal of the Convent General of the Order, it was decided to proceed with the electoral procedure for the election of the new Master. The electoral procedure, as previously approved and confirmed in Madrid, will be the same that was used to elect Master Fernando de Toro-Garland and Master Antonio Paris.

According to the wishes of the Priories of the OSMTHU, the election is called under the following terms:

i.
The Officer in charge of the election is the Chancellor.

ii.
Candidates to Mastership must have served as Priors

iii.
The Candidates present themselves to the election by sending their candidature via surface mail to the address of the Chancellery: OSMTHU – Chancellery; PO Box 44; 2725 Mem Martins; Portugal.

iv.
The candidatures sent to the Chancellor must be accompanied by a Curriculum Vitae of the Candidate to the Mastership.

v.
The candidatures must state the list of the proposed Magisterial Council of each Candidate. These comprise the following 9 Officers:

Chancellor
Secretary General
Treasurer
Seneschal
Visitor General
Preceptor
Master of Ceremonies
Registrar
Archivist

vi.
All members of the proposed Magisterial Council must have served as Priors. The Magisterial Council should represent as many countries and nationalities as possible. The candidate can add 3 Councilors to the list of officers that will become members of the Magisterial Council.

vii.
Each list that complies with these electoral rules will be designated as “A”, “B,”, “C”, and so forth by the Chancellor based on the order of arrival of the candidatures. Lists and Candidatures which don’t comply with the rule must be returned to the candidate in no more than 2 weeks after their arrival.

viii.
The election is valid if at least one list is presented. The level of abstention bears no significance to the final result, only the validated votes.

ix.
Candidatures must to be sent to the Chancellery between 1st. December 2008 and 31st. March 2009. Final candidates to be announced by circular the second week of April 2009.

x.
Voting period: 1st. May 2009 until 31st. May 2009.

xi.
Votes are to be sent to an independent Auditor to be hired for this effect. Details should be announced in April. Auditor’s Report with final voting count shall be produced no later than June 15. Final announcement to be sent with official circular the first week of July.

xii.
Installation of Master and Magisterial Council Officers: last week of July, 2009

xiii.
According to Magisterial Council decisions, supported by the General Assembly of 2007, later communicated and confirmed by the General Assembly of 2008 and Magisterial Council Meeting, only the (…) Priories [in good standing] are accredited to vote.

xiv.
Each Priory has 1 vote.

The Chancellor wishes the best of luck to all Candidates.

The Complete Guide To: Puglia

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Notte dei Templari in Trani, Puglia
Notte dei Templari in Trani, Puglia

Puglia is the stiletto at the heel of Italy. It is a long, thin region that jabs out into the Mediterranean at the far south-east of mainland Italy, and shares land borders with Basilicata and Molise. Medieval watchtowers still dot the coastline, reminding Puglians of the near-constant threat of invasion over the centuries. The Greeks had settled here long before the Romans ventured south but most of Ancient Rome’s successors have either been on their way to Rome or on their way to Greece and the Mediterranean using Puglia as a stop-over. Crusaders and traders alike were no exception. But, like Sicily, it became a crossroads of cultures. It’s now worth crusading from Puglian spur to Puglian heel.

HOT, HOT, HOT?

Depending on where you draw the boundary, Puglia is arguably Western Europe’s most easterly region, but because of the angle at which Italy is tilted it is not as far south as you may think, sitting along the same latitude as Naples. There’s a very stiff wind coming up the Adriatic most of the year but June, July and September make for fairly reliable weather. On a clear day from the seaside town of Otranto you can even see Albania across the Adriatic.

WHERE DO I START?

Most people begin with a flight to either Bari or Brindisi. Both cities are linked with Stansted by Ryanair; Bari is also linked with Gatwick by British Airways.

To make the whole journey by rail, the usual approach is via Paris, Milan and Rome. This can be achieved in a little over 24 hours (including a night in the train between France and Italy) but it would be more fun to stop along the way. Brindisi is a working port with frequent ferry links to Greece. Bari, the regional capital, is a lot more fun. It has a deliciously difficult-to-navigate old town with a fine church, the Basilica di San Nicola. It was built by the Normans, who took this part of Puglia shortly after conquering England. Here, the relics are revered both by the citizens – and by the Russians, whose patron saint he is.

After the Venetians brought the relics of St Mark to Venice, they had their eyes on a saint born in present-day Turkey. But sailors from Bari got there first and brought St Nicholas’s relics to their home port, where a great church was created for their adopted saint.

Calming storms and saving children from being sold by pirates to foreign kings was all in a day’s work for a man who became known as the protector of children. Soon enough the image of a white-bearded old man, with a red bishop’s mantle, was adopted by mostly northern cultures as the bearer of gifts to children on his saint’s day in December – now better known as Santa Claus.

MORE NORMAN WISDOM?

The Norman imprint continues at nearby Trani, a coastal town north-west of Bari. whose imposing cathedral church and tall campanile dominate. Tantalising sea views appear through the low arches below the refined beauty of immaculately carved reliefs and geometric patterns – all contending for space over the cool limestone.

Another reason for stopping in Trani is for an al fresco fish lunch at the Corte in Fiore at Via Ognisanti 18 (00 39 0883 508402; www. corteinfiore.it). You could stay in a converted convent, the four-star Hotel San Paolo al Convento at Via Statuti Marittimi 111, which overlooks the old port (00 39 0883 482949; http://www.sanpaolo-alconvento.traniweb.it). Double port-facing rooms cost €150 (£125) including breakfast.

The Knights Templar also erected a church in Trani in the old port whose restoration is nearly complete. Indeed, many “pay-as-you-go” ships would take Crusaders from Trani eastwards to save their souls and expunge the Turk for the glory of God.

The effects of the glittering court of the Normans can be seen all over Puglia through their churches and castles. The most celebrated of their monuments is the mysterious Castel Del Monte south-west of Trani (00 39 0883 569 997; http://www.castello delmonte.it). The precise purpose of this octagonal castle, perched on a hill with Romanesque and Gothic detailing, is uncertain.

The design was too impractical to be lived in, though it may have been used as a hunting lodge. The absence of a moat (the Norman norm) suggests it had no real defensive progress. We do know that Frederick II had it built in about 1240; very much a Da Vinci of his day, Frederick installed loos. At the time this was the norm in the Arab world but rarer in the West.

At the very least the castle was a symbol of Norman power, and also has the interesting property of being exactly midway between the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt and the Cathedral at Chartres in France – offering the prospect of a Da Vinci Code-style novel.

A COASTAL DRIVE?

A heavy air pervades fortified Otranto. In 1480 the Turks got to Puglia and slaughtered the town’s inhabitants. The 800 who survived would not renounce their faith and they too were slaughtered. An imposing castle was built thereafter whose courtyard and walls can be visited.

A 12th-century mosaic covers the entire nave floor at the town’s cathedral and is the largest Norman mosaic of its kind.

Stay at Palazzo de Mori (00 39 0836 801088; http://www.palazzodemori.it). It is a bed and breakfast built into the bastions of the town itself, brushed down with completely white-washed interiors and once the home of a local nobleman who fell at the hands of the invading Turks in 1480. Doubles from €75 (£65), or €150 (£130) for superior double room in July and August, including breakfast.

Take the drive south along the Adriatic coastal road, noting with relief that local motorists tend to be better behaved than on the near-death driving experience of the Amalfi coast on the opposite shore of Italy. Meander through prickly-pear covered rocky crags which hang over dozens of deep grottos at the water line. Continue south, passing through chirpy Santa Cesarea Terme with its faux Saracenic architecture and tired spas but handy for that ice-cream pit stop.

Further south is the Grotta Zinzulusa (Open daily 9am-5.30pm; call 00 39 08 36 94312 for a guide), a marine cavern clustered with stalactites and stalagmites which careful study has suggested that the Balkans were once joined to Puglia.

Soon enough you will end up at Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy’s “Land’s End” – where the heel reaches its tip. There’s decent bathing here on either side of the little port.

Driving back north, unassuming Galatina contains a frescoed treasure chest – or at least gives the sense of what one might look like from the inside. The Basilica of Santa Caterina D’Alessandria, erected in the 14th century, has an interior completely frescoed with over 150 scenes painted in the style of Giotto, with more than a nod to the more famous frescoes in Assisi in Umbria.

TAKE ME TO THE BEACH

Two-thirds of the region is coastal, but most of the best beaches are in the south: in the Salento peninsula and on the eastern Ionian coast.

Torre Lapillo, near Porto Cesareo – due south of Brindisi – has clear-as-a-bell water and soft, flat sandy beaches. Further south is the busy summer resort of Gallipoli, which shares with its better-known Turkish namesake a name derived from the Greek for “Beautiful City”. Gallipoli has plenty of sandy beaches. Beyond the beach, you could head out to the three fauna-covered Tremiti Islands replete with requisite white-washed fishing villages.

Take the 45-minute journey on a catamaran from Rodi Garganico (daily from June to September; http://www.navlib.it for schedules) north some 22km for around €12 (£10).

The smaller San Nicola Island is known for its rock caves with excellent coastal diving available from the largest island, San Domino (00 39 337 648917; http://www.tremitidivingcenter.com); without equipment the first dive of the day costs €60 (£50), and thereafter it is €35 (£23).

CAN I GET DEEPLY INTO PUGLIA?

The ultimate day out with the children is at Italy’s greatest underground cavern: at Castellana, south of Bari on the edge of the Valle D’Itria. The 1.5km walk to the end of the cavern complex at Grotta Bianca is rewarded with some of the most beautiful crystalline and coloured stone formations in the world. In addition there are spectral views of alabaster, stalagmite and stalactite natural rock sculptures. Admission is €15 (£12.40). An English-language two-hour guided tour covering 3km through to the Grotta Bianca starts on the hour between 11am and 4pm.

CITY LIFE?

You may have heard Lecce described as the “Florence of the south”. Now, the Renaissance just about passed Puglia by but the region has an urban gem in the form of Lecce: honey-toned baroque magnificence. The city seems locked in the 17th century with baroque Rome very much influencing the spatial plan of this immaculately clean little town.

Richly carved busy church façades such as Santa Croce, Sant’Irene and the Gesu confront you at nearly every square or corner.

Where there isn’t a richly carved church there’s a richly carved colour co-ordinated house draped in warm local sandstone.

Syrbar at via Libertini 67 (00 39 0832 2471 65, http://www.syrbar.it) is the right place for after-dinner cocktails to gaze at the beautifully lit Piazza del Duomo completely surrounded by grand buildings and the city’s cathedral.

After all the baroque splendour, stay somewhere with minimalist décor: the new five-star design Risorgimento Resort, Via Augusto Imperatore, 19 (00 39 08 32 24 6311; http://www.vestas-hotels-lecce.com). It is well located, too, in Piazza Sant’Oronzo – right opposite Lecce’s very own Roman amphitheatre. Superior double rooms start at €145 (£123), including breakfast.

The one place to dine is Picton at Via Idomeneo 14 (00 39 0832 332383), where the local great and good sign their linen napkins. It is closed on Mondays.

WHERE IS THE HEART OF PUGLIA?

Arguably the Valle D’Itria, slightly inland and equidistant between Bari and Brindisi. In what looks like a Greek version of Tolkien’s “Middle Earth”, low dry-stone walls look jagged but nonetheless beautifully proportioned as they cut a patchwork of smallholdings smothered over ruby-red iron-rich soil.

Single-tiered vines and Greek or Arab cubic houses sit comfortably in the middle of each smallholding bolted on to or detached from the trulli houses.

These are strange circular dwellings with conical roofs. They are built from dry stone with little or no mortar, and resolutely white-washed sometimes twice a year.

Some of the cones are painted with bizarre ancient symbols. The windows, if any, are very small. Many have been restored to a comfortable level.

Alberobello is to trulli what New York is to skyscrapers. There more than 1,000 in this protected national monument and Unesco site. They crawl up a gentle hill looking like an oncoming army of Persians in large Phrygian caps.

This is also the only town in Puglia where you’ll actually see a constant flow of tour buses and there is an impressive array of tourist trinkets on show.

One guidebook sniffily says “Most trulli are souvenir shops”, but you can even stay in one: Valle dei Trulli (00 39 080 431 0098; http://www.valledeitrulli.it) has a number on offer, sleeping up to 12 people. A typical weekly rental costs around €200 (£167) per person, depending on the season.

A more conventional base from which to explore the Valle D’Itria is the five-star Hotel Masseria del Cardinale (00 39 080 489 0335; http://www.relaisdelcardinale.com).

It’s a large converted olive farm with soldier-like olive trees as wide as an average family car filling the large estate at the foot of the Murge near Fasano. A double classic room with terrace costs between €250-€350 per night (£200-£300) including breakfast; you can also help yourself to the contents of the minibar.

The hotel has the largest swimming pool in Puglia, a stable, beauty centre and bikes for exploring the estate.

CAN I ESCAPE THE CROWDS?

Yes. Nearby Locorotondo stands proud on a hill and is a completely white-washed circular town with impressive views over the trulli-filled valley as far as Martina Franca. Grab a window table at L’Affresco at Via Nardelli 24 (00 39 080 431 6848). This is a small family-run restaurant with a fine frescoed ceiling and some of the best Puglian cuisine around. There is a jaw-dropping valley view to boot.

On the west side of valley, the baroque grabs hold of Martina Franca. There is a decent baroque town hall attributed to Bernini. The Valle D’Itria Music Festival has always been held in Bernini’s Palazzo Ducale in Martina Franca. This year’s festival runs from 17 July to 6 August; see http://www.festivaldellavalleditria.it. An antiques fair fills the town’s piazzas on the third Sunday of each month.

Ostuni is known as the “White City”. Its Spanish-inspired cathedral stands proud in the old part of the town. But on your way out, make a quick stop at the church of the Annunziata to peek at The Deposition by the 16th-century painter Paolo Veronese. With the many trade links between Puglia and Venice it’s no wonder there are a few Venetian paintings dotted around Puglia. This one was stolen 30 years but found soon after; unsurprisingly it’s well and truly locked up now behind a thick glass frame. A quiet word with the church custodian will reward the curious with a special viewing.

HOW DO I GET AROUND?

The rail network (www.trenitalia.it) is fine for travelling between the main towns of Foggia, Bari, Brindisi and Lecce, with extensions from Bari and Brindisi to Taranto.

Buses (00 39 04 362 280 481; http://www.sitabus.it) fill in some of the gaps.

Most visitors, though, will rent a car. Puglia has a very significant road running across it: the consular “mother road” – the Appian Way. This was where the young Ottavian, later to become Emperor, landed at Brindisi after the murder of his great uncle Julius Caesar, and began the march towards Rome. This ancient superhighway has now been supplanted by fast roads linking the main towns and cities, with lovely lanes extending into the country.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

As with other parts of Italy, the tourist information provision is fragmented. The main regional website is http://www.viaggiareinpuglia.it, but for specific provincial information you can also call the local tourist offices. Bari: 00 39 080 524 2244; Brindisi 00 39 083 156 2126; Lecce 00 39 0832 314 117.

Additional research by Laura Jones

****

Park life

Puglia has one of Italy’s newest national parks. The Gargano peninsula has its own mountain, Monte Calvo at 1,055m, with the plateau-like spread densely covered in valuable oak.

The nearby town of Monte Sant’Angelo (pictured) offers amazing views over the bay below and has a fine sanctuary dedicated to the archangel Michael, with 11th-century bronze doors cast in Constantinople. In addition, there is an unfinished Norman castle. You can skip through the olive groves in fine scenery at the Rifugio Foresta Umbra.

The Gargano area happens to be awash with cash: one of the largest-ever Italian state lottery wins kissed the twee fishing village of Peschici a few years ago. Better known, however, is one of the biggest pilgrim cash-machines in Christendom: San Giovanni Rotondo. The pious, controversial and recently canonised Capuchin San Padre Pio da Pietrelcina spent most of his life in the city. A one-man miracle factory, he was censored a dozen times by the Vatican, received the stigmata, was seen in two places at once and spent some time in the back of a fighter plane cockpit during the Second World War, even though he never left his monastic cell in San Giovanni Rotondo during his adult life.

Some 40 years after his death, the saint still knows how to pull in the crowds and all during this summer he’s on public view (covered with a wax effigy) in front of the great new church built by superstar architect Renzo Piano.

in The Independent

Swastikas Fly, Nazis Parade Again at Bayreuth: Shirley Apthorp

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Swastika banners unfurl over the stage, Nazi SS officers goose step in formation. It has been awhile since Bayreuth looked like this. Scattered boos from the audience augment the score of Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal.”

A new era is dawning at Bayreuth’s annual Wagner festival. And parts of it look unnervingly like the old one. That is Stefan Herheim’s whole idea. The Norwegian stage director tells “Parsifal” as an image-laden trip through German history.

The opera becomes a narrative of Wagner’s reception, from the composer’s troubled youth to the political wrangles of the German republic in Bonn and Berlin. Most of the action plays out in Bayreuth itself, the living room of Villa Wahnfried, Wagner’s house, mutating with the passage of time. In the end, Herheim holds up a mirror to the audience itself. Literally.

The booers numbered only a handful amid an enthusiastic public. The July 26 opening of the Bayreuth Festival drew a glittering crowd. Chancellor Angela Merkel; former Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher; Guido Westerwelle, the head of Germany’s Free Democrats; and an elite selection of television and stage personalities drew gaping onlookers in the afternoon bustle before the six-and-a-half-hour performance began.

Tottering on the arm of his statuesque daughter Katharina, 30, who is tipped to take over the festival together with half- sister Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 63, in August, 88-year-old Wolfgang Wagner welcomed the big-name visitors.

The Bayreuth public, exhausted by years of family dramas and power struggles, is ready for a change. That was evident in the warm response to Herheim’s frenetically didactic “Parsifal.”

Nazi Legacy

Not all of Herheim’s gestures are new. Indeed, many have become almost obligatory for provincial German houses dutifully working through a post-1968 approach to the Nazi’s legacy of dubious Wagner interpretation. But the richness and psychological depth of Herheim’s images and the seamless musicality with which he and his team have knitted them together add up to an evening of breathtaking impact.

Wagner’s tale — the ignorant Parsifal meets the knights of the Holy Grail, sets out on a quest, resists temptation, vanquishes the evil Klingsor, wins wisdom, redeems and replaces the ailing King Amfortas — is layered with complex reflection. The course of history, the nature of death and birth, the role of sexuality and eroticism in society, and the question of individual identity are all explored. It could be tedious if it were not so exquisitely wrought.

Seduction Scene

At the center of the stage is a bed, deathbed of Parsifal’s mother, place of his birth, scene of seduction. The prompt box is Wagner’s grave, or the home of the Holy Grail, a place of mysterious magnetism. Herheim’s handiwork is dazzling, Heike Scheele’s sets are a work of genius. Hours of stage magic unfold with dazzling skill.

Italian conductor Daniele Gatti makes his Bayreuth debut memorable for what may be the slowest “Parsifal” on record (4 hours and 40 minutes, not counting the intervals). To his credit, it seldom drags, and the high points burn with focused intensity. The Bayreuth orchestra does not play its best for Gatti, and neither transparency nor sharp edges feature prominently. Instead, he opts for organic development, lush curves and whispered pianissimi. Gatti listens attentively to his singers, and makes sure that we hear their every word.

Animal Power

These singers are worth hearing. In the title role, Christopher Ventris offers no-holds-barred heroism and seductively effortless sounds delivered with charisma and command. Detlef Roth’s Amfortas is worldly wise and rich in detail, Kwangchul Youn’s Gurnemanz makes every word of his marathon monologues grippingly emotional, and if Mihoko Fujimura occasionally screeches a top note or slurs her diction, her performance as Kundry has such animal power and psychotic diversity that it’s worth a small vocal trade-off.

For Katharina Wagner, who is plowing ahead with the business of marketing her own image to the universe as Bayreuth’s blonde savior, this is a promising start to an era that is already her own in all but official terms. Whether one successful staging is enough to baptize herself a world-class festival director is open to debate. Half-sister Eva was conspicuously absent from the opening-night celebrations, and the degree to which she will play a role in Katharina’s festival is equally open to speculation.

Plenty is wrong in Wagnerian Bayreuth, but after Friday it is clear that some things can still be entirely right. (Rating: ****)

“Parsifal” plays again on Aug. 6, 16 and 28. All performances are sold out. For more information, go to http://www.bayreuther-festspiele.de. The festival is sponsored by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Benecke Interior Design.

by Shirley Apthorp in Bloomberg

Santa Maria da Feira: Viagem Medieval inicia-se no Castelo

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O centro histórico da Feira assume a metamorfose que anualmente transporta a cidade ao “mundo medievo” do início de Portugal

É hoje que Santa Maria da Feira regressa ao passado. Até ao próximo dia 10, a Viagem Medieval em Terra de Santa Maria volta a catapultar o centro histórico da cidade capital do Município para as luzes da ribalta. A organização está a cargo da Câmara Municipal, em parceria com a Federação das Colectividades de Cultura e Recreio (FCCR) de Santa Maria da Feira.
O início da ‘função’ está marcado para as 17:00 horas de hoje e – nada mais apropriado! – para o Castelo da Feira.

Para o fim-de-semana, e em termos de contexto histórico, os enredos das encenações vão andar em volta da extinção da Ordem dos Templários e da criação da Ordem de Cristo e do papel de Portugal nesse desenvolvimento.

Sábado, pelas 20:00 horas, decorreram Justas Apeadas na Praça Nova; a partir das 22:00, a margem esquerda do Rio Cáster será o cenário da Sexta-Feira, Treze; a Liça, nas margens do Cáster, acolherá Justas pelas 22:00 (entrada: 4 euros); e à meia-noite O Senhor da Festa estará na escadaria do Convento dos Lóios.

No sábado, às 21:30, dar-se-á a Chegada das Ordens Militares às ruas do burgo e ao Castelo. Meia hora depois, acontecerá a Chegada da Ordem dos Templários, na zona que vai das ruas do burgo às margens do Cáster. Justas Apeadas – 20:00, na Praça Nova; Justas – 21:00 e 23:00, na Liça (4 euros); e O Senhor da Festa – 00:00, na escadaria do Convento dos Lóios, completam a encenação.

Para domingo, e além das Justas e de O Senhor da Festa, o Cortejo e Instituição da Ordem de Cristo tem início marcado para as 17:00, decorrendo na Igreja da Misericórdia/Castelo. Pelas 21:30, o Jardim dos Lóios vai enquadrar Os Milagres da Rainha Santa.

A edição deste ano da Viagem traz algumas novidades, como as apostas em novos cenários e áreas temáticas. Serão os casos da Abadia, localizada no Convento dos Lóios; dos Banhos Públicos de S. Jorge, no Lago da Quinta do Castelo; do Campo do Arqueiro, nas margens do Rio Cáster; das Noites do Castelo (com excepção do dia 6); d’O Feitiço da Coruja, nas margens do Cáster; do Arraial das Ordens Militares, na Encosta do Castelo/Margens do Cáster; dos Pequenos Guerreiros, no jardim do Convento dos Lóios; e do Jardim das Rosas, também no jardim dos Lóios.

Realce-se que, nesta edição, será (re)encenado o Assalto ao Castelo, previsto para o dia 6, a partir das 22:00 horas. Assinale-se, ainda, a Doação do Castelo a D. Afonso, no dia 8, pelas 22:00, na área das ruas do burgo e do Castelo; e a Peregrinação da Rainha Santa, que acontecerá no dia final, às 17:00, na Igreja da Misericórdia/Castelo.

Referencie-se, também, a abertura de uma Loja de roupas medievais, situada na Casa do Moinho, que vende peças de vestuário cujos preços variam entre os 40 e os 60 euros. Saliente-se que se poderá manter em funcionamento para lá do dia 10 do corrente, por exemplo, como posto de turismo.
Indo aos números, registe-se as participações de cerca de 100 artesãos, 36 grupos de animação e 31 associações. O número de voluntários é de 288 e trabalham diariamente na Viagem 1.100 pessoas.

O orçamento da edição deste ano é de 650 mil euros. A Câmara Municipal de Santa Maria da Feira paga 30% desse valor, mas prevê que em 2010 a iniciativa se auto-sustente na totalidade.

De forma a potenciar a atractividade do evento, estão a funcionar carreiras entre localidades vizinhas e o centro de Santa Maria da Feira. Assim, entre as 19:30 e as 00:00 horas, e pelo custo de 1 euro, a Transdev garante transporte entre Lourosa, S. João da Madeira, Vale de Cambra, Fajões, Oliveira de Azeméis e a Viagem Medieval. E 12 parques de estacionamento aguardam os visitantes.

“As pessoas já não admitiriam que não houvesse Viagem Medieval”, sublinhou o presidente da Câmara a respeito da realização de mais uma edição. E Alfredo Henriques realçou que “o retorno económico” para a cidade é “superior ao investimento camarário”.

Diga-se que se espera uma afluência, pelo menos, idêntica à de anos anteriores: 50 mil visitantes diários.
Por seu lado, Joaquim Tavares assinalou o grande envolvimento das colectividades locais. “A Viagem Medieval é o maior evento, com carácter de continuidade, organizado em Portugal pelo movimento associativo”, disse o presidente da FCCR. Realçou que “todas as recriações históricas” serão interpretadas por gente de Santa Maria da Feira.

O enredo histórico da Viagem Medieval

No reinado de D. Dinis, a Reconquista cristã estava praticamente encerrada. A presença da Ordem dos Templários ajudava à defesa do Reino, sendo utilizada como instrumento da política de consolidação nacional. Mas, acusações levantadas por Filipe, o Belo, de França contra os membros da Ordem, levaram o papa Clemente V a extingui-la e a promover um concílio na Hispânia para averiguar as responsabilidades nestes territórios.

D. Dinis não permitiu a alienação dos bens dos Templários e fez um pacto secreto com Fernando IV de Castela para a criação de uma nova ordem militar que receberia em doação aqueles bens. E o papa João XXII permitiu a instituição em Portugal da ‘Ordem de Cavalaria de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo’, com sede em Castro Marim.

Mais tarde, na década de vinte do séc. XIV, o reino de Portugal encontrava-se em guerra civil. De um lado, os partidários de D. Dinis e, do outro, os de seu filho e herdeiro D. Afonso, que era apoiado pela nobreza senhorial.

Em 1321, quando Gonçalo Rodrigues de Macedo era alcaide do Castelo da Feira, o futuro D. Afonso IV, a caminho do Porto, decidiu tomar o Castelo. Mas, o rei avançou com as suas tropas e retomou-lhe a posse.
No final, com a intervenção da rainha D. Isabel, donatária da Terra de Santa Maria, D. Dinis concedeu o Castelo da Feira a seu filho.

in Diário de Aveiro

El tres de agosto se celebra la VI Guardia Templaria en honor a la Patrona

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El tres de agosto va a tener lugar la VI Guardia Templaria en honor a la Patrona, según han informado fuentes de la Asociación de Templarios de Jumilla. En este acto simbólico se llevan a cabo distintas acciones a lo largo de toda la noche.

“A las cero horas el hermano capellán, que representa la máxima autoridad espiritual de la comunidad templaria de la bailía jumillana, papel interpretado por el poeta jumillano Juan Castellanos Gómez, lanza al espacio dos cohetes, uno con los colores blanquiazules de la virgen, y el otro un trueno de doble carga para avisar al diablo, y al pueblo, que el Temple de Jumilla, por Nuestra Señora, entra en guardia. Acto seguido, postrados ante las puertas de la ermita de San Agustín le rezan a la virgen la Oración de fuerza, “en la que le piden a la virgen les de fuerzas para cumplir la guardia, les proteja a ellos de todo mal, al pueblo de Jumilla y a las buenas gentes de todo el mundo”.

“A la una son recitados originales poemas a la virgen que obedecen a prestigiosas plumas locales, y también enviados desde diversos municipios españoles donde se hace referencia a la guardia templaria jumillana”.

“La Guardia de Honor a Nuestra Señora la forman las banderas de numerosos municipios de la Región de Murcia enviadas cada año ex profeso por sus alcaldías presidencias para la ocasión, y que son mencionadas en lectura pública para conocimiento del vecindario, nombres de las ciudades que también se pueden encontrar impresas en un modesto programa de la Guardia Templaria que edita la asociación templaria a todo color”. “De tres a cinco horas el Temple de Jumilla entra en silencio y meditación preparando el espíritu para el rezo del rosario de la aurora que a las 05h 30, ante las mismas puertas de la ermita, le dedican a la virgen como una despedida en comunión con Ella”.

“Los templarios jumillanos decoran el perímetro exterior de la ermita con escudos templarios que obedecen a las encomiendas más importantes que tuvo la Orden, destacando algunas de las más relevantes en la Península Ibérica, donde no se les persiguió, Ponferrada, Cáceres, también Londres, forman los escudos de aquellos castillos de la España templaria junto con cruces y apellidos ilustres jumillanos, y a todo el que se acerca y le dedica unos cristianos instantes a la virgen patrona le obsequian con un vasito de exquisito vino dulce de los formidables viñedos jumillanos, puesto a refrescar en campana de vidrio cubierta de hielo, néctar que acompañan con los ricos sequillos locales cuya elaboración se remonta a la Jumilla árabe, ya que Jumilla fue una gran villa musulmana según los numerosos vestigios y recientes descubrimientos de tumbas que se suman a las ya conocidas en esta gran macabra de Jumilla”.

“La Asociación Templarios de Jumilla, invocando y amparándose en el contenido, único en el mundo, de las Actas Capitulares del Concejo de la Villa de Jumilla fechados en 1614, 1615 y 1616, se suman a los agasajos patronales organizando su Guardia Templaria a la virgen de la Asunción, rememorando aquello que los Caballeros Templarios profesaron con total devoción durante los casi doscientos años de la existencia de la Orden”.

“La guardia en sí pretende ser una transmisión del conocimiento de la liturgia mística, llena de simbolismo templario, que adapta la Asociación Templarios de Jumilla a su actuación, no solamente en la mentada guardia, si no en el programa de actividades culturales, religiosas y festeras que a lo largo del año desarrollan tanto en el municipio de Jumilla, como Región Autónoma de Murcia y fuera de ella, actividades enmarcadas en su genuina creación que titulan; Cruzada Cultural de la bailía Templaria de Jumilla, cuya divisa y voz de combate es: Por Nuestra Señora”.

“Los templarios jumillanos procuran cultivar el conocimiento de aquello que identificó y distinguió a la poderosísima Orden del Temple, por ello, extraído del Museo del Vestir de Barcelona, y diversa documentación histórica, visten hábitos, capas con la cruz roja de las Ocho Beatitudes, portan armamento, escudos, exhiben el gonfalón templario, cota mallas, y se hacen acompañar por otro símbolo templario, una perrita guardiana que lleva el Gran Maestre, el único que está obligado a permanecer toda la noche de ronda y vela por sus hermanos de guardia”.

“Esperemos que el viajero no se haga una idea desorbitada de esta reivindicación templaria jumillana, cuya asociación es muy activa, pequeña y modesta, pero llena de reivindicación del rico patrimonio histórico y cultural que posee Jumilla, y en las guardias templarias jumillanas a Nuestra Señora encontrarán todo lo aquí expuesto, de forma sencilla y humilde, pero hay que decir que solamente son dos Caballeros Templarios los que durante seis horas nocturnas velan a la virgen patrona. El Hermano Capellán, y el Gran Maestre de la Orden del Temple del bailío de Jumilla”.

in Murcia.com

MOROS Y CRISTIANOS 2008 – Alegre y medieval

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Alegre, medieval, divertida y ligera. Así discurrió por las calles de Orihuela la Embajada Cristiana que, a cargo de la comparsa Caballeros del Rey Fernando, abrió la entrada a la ciudad del bando de la Cruz tras el boato de la Asociación. La Armengola, Mari Carmen Fernández, de granate y seguida de una numerosa fila masculina en la que se encontraban, entre otros el presidente de la Junta Central, Antonio Franco, el esposo de la protagonista, Jesús Corbalán, el ex alcalde, José Manuel Medina, el ex embajador y glosador del pregón de este año, Pepe Vegara y numerosos Caballeros Templarios, comparsa a la que pertenece la Armengola y entre los que se encontraba su hermano y presidente de la agrupación festera.

Tras ella los Caballeros del Rey Fernando dieron un espectáculo que gustó mucho entre el público. Las filas invitadas, de las comparsas Musulmanes Escorpiones y Moros J’Alhamed fueron las primeras en participar en el desfile. Mezclados entre ellos, el fuego y los cabezudos, y música, mucha y buena música como elemento primordial de una fiesta que no sería nada sin las bandas al compás de las que bailan las filas. El paso a los comparsistas lo dio un ballet de cortesanas.

Por supuesto y como ya había prometido el que cerraba esta embajada, los caballos no podían faltar en esta comparsa que año a año introduce a estos animales en sus desfiles. Con riendas largas primero y en un numeroso grupo después, los equinos hicieron las delicias del público. Más filas de esta comparsa familiar y una sorpresa, dos mujeres ataviadas como las Santas Justa y Rufina que cobraron vida para acompañar a los Caballeros del Rey Fernando. El hijo del embajador apareció sobre una carroza ataviado como el caballero principal o valido de su padre. Las banderas del reino y un ballet de banderas arroparon a las filas Las damas del Rey Fernando y Los Viejos, capitaneadas por María José Ruiz Cayuelas y Davinia Ruiz Fernández respectivamente. Y llegó el momento más esperado, una fila doble, mixta, daba escolta al embajador. En ella buena parte de su familia de sangre y festera, los encargados de introducir a Francisco Javier Ruiz en la fiesta, fueron los que le dieron el paso. Como cabo, la abanderada del 2008, Antonia Gómez García. Y por fin el embajador y su esposa. Francisco Javier y Toñi aparecieron sobre un impresionante castillo que estaba presidido por el escudo de color naranja que en nombre de toda la Corporación municipal le hizo entrega la alcaldesa, Mónica Lorente, quien cumplió su promesa y desfiló junto a los Caballeros del Rey Fernando con las participantes de su comparsa, los Escorpiones, que estuvieron con la embajada. Capitaneadas por Vanesa Meseguer, también estuvo en esa fila la concejal de Festividades, Mayte Valero.

Tras ellos el resto de comparsas cristianas los Caballeros Templarios, Caballeros de Tadmir, Caballeros del Oriol, Piratas Bucaneros, Caballeros de Santiago, Seguidores de Arums y Ruidoms y cerró la comparsa Contrabandistas, embajada del año pasado.

in Laverdad.es

Devotion to the Passion of Christ

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ecce-homo.jpg 

The sufferings of Our Lord, which culminated in His death upon the cross, seem to have been conceived of as one inseparable whole from a very early period. Even in the Acts of the Apostles (i, 3) St. Luke speaks of those to whom Christ “shewed himself alive after his passion” (meta to mathein autou). In the Vulgate this has been rendered post passionem suam, and not only the Reims Testament but the Anglican Authorized and Revised Versions, as well as the medieval English translation attributed to Wyclif, have retained the word “passion” in English. Passio also meets us in the same sense in other early writings (e.g. Tertullian, “Adv. Marcion.”, IV, 40) and the word was clearly in common use in the middle of the third century, as in Cyprian, Novatian, and Commodian. The last named writes:

“Hoc Deus hortatur, hoc lex, hoc passio Christi
Ut resurrecturos nos credamus in novo sæclo.”

St. Paul declared, and we require no further evidence to convince us that he spoke truly, that Christ crucified was “unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). The shock to Pagan feeling, caused by the ignominy of Christ’s Passion and the seeming incompatibility of the Divine nature with a felon’s death, seems not to have been without its effect upon the thought of Christians themselves. Hence, no doubt, arose that prolific growth of heretical Gnostic or Docetic sects, which denied the reality of the man Jesus Christ or of His sufferings. Hence also came the tendency in the early Christian centuries to depict the countenance of the Saviour as youthful, fair, and radiant, the very antithesis of the vir dolorum familiar to a later age (cf. Weis Libersdorf, “Christus-und Apostel-bilder”, 31 sq.) and to dwell by preference not upon His sufferings but upon His works of mercifulness, as in the Good Shepherd motive, or upon His works of power, as in the raising of Lazarus or in the resurrection figured by the history of Jonas.

But while the existence of such a tendency to draw a veil over the physical side of the Passion may readily be admitted, it would be easy to exaggerate the effect produced upon Christian feeling in the early centuries by Pagan ways of thought. Harnack goes too far when he declares that the Death and Passion of Christ were regarded by the majority of the Greeks as too sacred a mystery to be made the subject of contemplation or speculation, and when he declares that the feeling of the early Greek Church is accurately represented in the following passage of Goethe: “We draw a veil over the sufferings of Christ, simply because we revere them so deeply. We hold if to be reprehensible presumption to play, and trifle with, and embellish those profound mysteries in which the Divine depths of suffering lie hidden, never to rest until even the noblest seems mean and tasteless” (Harnack, “History Of Dogma”, tr., III, 306; cf. J. Reil, “Die frühchristlichen Darstellungen der Kreuzigung Christi”, 5). On the other hand, while Harnack speaks with caution and restraint, other more popular writers give themselves to reckless generalizations such as may be illustrated by the following passage from Archdeacon Farrar: “The aspect”, he says, “in which the early Christians viewed the cross was that of triumph and exultation, never that of moaning and misery. It was the emblem of victory and of rapture, not of blood or of anguish.” (See “The Month”, May, 1895, 89.) Of course it is true that down to the fifth century the specimens of Christian art that have been preserved to us in the catacombs and elsewhere, exhibit no traces of any sort of representation of the crucifixion. Even the simple cross is rarely found before the time of Constantine (see CROSS), and when the figure of the Divine Victim comes to be indicated, it at first appears most commonly under some symbolical form, e.g. that of a lamb, and there is no attempt as a rule to represent the crucifixion realistically. Again, the Christian literature which has survived, whether Greek or Latin, does not dwell upon the details of the Passion or very frequently fall back upon the motive of our Saviour’s sufferings. The tragedy known as “Christus Patiens”, which is printed with the works of St. Gregory Nazianzus and was formerly attributed to him, is almost certainly a work of much later date, probably not earlier than the eleventh century (see Krumbacher, “Byz. Lit.”, 746).

In spite of all this it would be rash to infer that the Passion was not a favourite subject of contemplation for Christian ascetics. To begin with, the Apostolical writings preserved in the New Testament are far from leaving the sufferings of Christ in the background as a motive of Christian endeavour; take, for instance, the words of St. Peter (1 Peter 2:19, 21, 23): “For this is thankworthy, if for conscience towards God, a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully”; “For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps”; “Who, when he was reviled, did not revile”, etc.; or again: “Christ therefore having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought” (ibid., iv, 1). So St. Paul (Galatians 2:19): “with Christ I am nailed to the cross. And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me”; and (ibid., v, 24): “they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences” (cf. Colossians 1:24); and perhaps most strikingly of all (Galatians 6:14): “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.” Seeing the great influence that the New Testament exercised from a very early period upon the leaders of Christian thought, it is impossible to believe that such passages did not leave their mark upon the devotional practice of the West, though it is easy to discover plausible reasons why this spirit should not have displayed itself more conspicuously in literature. It certainly manifested itself in the devotion of the martyrs who died in imitation of their Master, and in the spirit of martyrdom that characterized the early Church.

Further, we do actually find in such an Apostolic Father as St. Ignatius of Antioch, who, though a Syrian by birth, wrote in Greek and was in touch with Greek culture, a very continuous and practical remembrance of the Passion. After expressing in his letter to the Romans (cc. iv, ix) his desire to be martyred, and by enduring many forms of suffering to prove himself the true disciple of Jesus Christ, the saint continues: “Him I seek who dies on our behalf; Him I desire who rose again for our sake. The pangs of a new birth are upon me. Suffer me to receive the pure light. When I am come thither then shall I be a man. Permit me to be an imitator of the Passion of my God. If any man hath Him within himself, let him understand what I desire, and let him have fellow-feeling with me, for he knoweth the things which straiten me.” And again he says in his letter to the Smyrnæans (c. iv): “near to the sword, near to God (i.e. Jesus Christ), in company with wild beasts, in company with God. Only let it be in the name of Jesus Christ. So that we may suffer together with Him” (eis to sympathein auto).

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Moreover, taking the Syrian Church in general — and rich as it was in the traditions of Jerusalem it was far from being an uninfluential part of Christendom — we do find a pronounced and even emotional form of devotion to the Passion established at an early period. Already in the second century a fragment preserved to us of St. Melito of Sardis speaks as Father Faber might have spoken in modern times. Apostrophising the people of Israel, he says: “Thou slewest thy Lord and He was lifted up upon a tree and a tablet was fixed up to denote who He was that was put to death — And who was this? — Listen while ye tremble: — He on whose account the earth quaked; He that suspended the earth was hanged up; He that fixed the heavens was fixed with nails; He that supported the earth was supported upon a tree; the Lord was exposed to ignominy with a naked body; God put to death; the King of Israel slain by an Israelitish right hand. Ah! the fresh wickedness of the fresh murder! The Lord was exposed with a naked body, He was not deemed worthy even of covering, but in order that He might not be seen, the lights were turned away, and the day became dark because they were slaying God, who was naked upon the tree” (Cureton, “Spicilegium Syriacum”, 55).

No doubt the Syrian and Jewish temperament was an emotional temperament, and the tone of their literature may often remind us of the Celtic. But in any case it is certain that a most realistic presentation of Our Lord’s sufferings found favour with the Fathers of the Syrian Church apparently from the beginning. It would be easy to make long quotations of this kind from the works of St. Ephraem, St. Isaac of Antioch, and St. James of Sarugh. Zingerle in the “Theologische Quartalschrift” (1870 and 1871) has collected many of the most striking passages from the last two writers. In all this literature we find a rather turgid Oriental imagination embroidering almost every detail of the history of the Passion. Christ’s elevation upon the cross is likened by Isaac of Antioch to the action of the stork, which builds its nest upon the treetops to be safe from the insidious approach of the snake; while the crown of thorns suggests to him a wall with which the safe asylum of that nest is surrounded, protecting all the children of God who are gathered in the nest from the talons of the hawk or other winged foes (Zingerle, ibid., 1870, 108). Moreover St. Ephraem who wrote in the last quarter of the fourth century, is earlier in date and even more copious and realistic in his minute study of the physical details of the Passion. It is difficult to convey in a short quotation any true impression of the effect produced by the long-sustained note of lamentation, in which the orator and poet follows up his theme. In the Hymns on the Passion (“Ephraem Syri Hymni et Sermones,” ed. Lamy, I) the writer moves like a devout pilgrim from scene to scene, and from object to object, finding everywhere new motives for tenderness and compassion, while the seven “Sermons for Holy Week” might both for their spirit and treatment have been penned by any medieval mystic. “Glory be to Him, how much he suffered!” is an exclamation which bursts from the preacher’s lips from time to time. To illustrate the general tone, the following passage from a description of the scourging must suffice:

“After many vehement outcries against Pilate, the all-mighty One was scourged like the meanest criminal. Surely there must have been commotion and horror at the sight. Let the heavens and earth stand awestruck to behold Him who swayeth the rod of fire, Himself smitten with scourges, to behold Him who spread over the earth the veil of the skies and who set fast the foundations of the mountains, who poised the earth over the waters and sent down the blazing lightning-flash, now beaten by infamous wretches over a stone pillar that His own word had created. They, indeed, stretched out His limbs and outraged Him with mockeries. A man whom He had formed wielded the scourge. He who sustains all creatures with His might submitted His back to their stripes; He who is the Father’s right arm yielded His own arms to be extended. The pillar of ignominy was embraced by Him who bears up and sustains the heaven and the earth in all their splendour” (Lamy, I, 511 sq.). The same strain is continued over several pages, and amongst other quaint fancies St. Ephraem remarks: “The very column must have quivered as if it were alive, the cold stone must have felt that the Master was bound to it who had given it its being. The column shuddered knowing that the Lord of all creatures was being scourged”. And he adds, as a marvel, witnessed even in his own day, that the “column had contracted with fear beneath the Body of Christ”.

In the devotional atmosphere represented by such contemplations as these, it is easy to comprehend the scenes of touching emotion depicted by the pilgrim lady of Galicia who visited Jerusalem (if Dr. Meester’s protest may be safely neglected) towards the end of the fourth century. At Gethsemane she describes how “that passage of the Gospel is read where the Lord was apprehended, and when this passage has been read there is such a moaning and groaning of all the people, with weeping that the groans can be hear almost at the city. While during the three hours’ ceremony on Good Friday from midday onwards we are told: “At the several lections and prayers there is such emotion displayed and lamentation of all the people as is wonderful to hear. For there is no one, great or small, who does not weep on that day during those three hours, in a way that cannot be imagined, that the Lord should have suffered such things for us” (Peregrinatio Sylviæ in “Itinera Hierosolymitana”, ed. Geyer, 87, 89). It is difficult not to suppose that this example of the manner of honouring Our Saviour’s Passion, which was traditional in the very scenes of those sufferings, did not produce a notable impression upon Western Europe. The lady from Galicia, whether we call her Sylvia, Ætheria, or Egeria, was but one of the vast crowd of pilgrims who streamed to Jerusalem from all parts of the world. The tone of St. Jerome (see for instance the letters of Paula and Eustochium to Marcella in A.D. 386; P.L., XXII, 491) is similar, and St. Jerome’s words penetrated wherever the Latin language was spoken. An early Christian prayer, reproduced by Wessely (Les plus anciens mon. de Chris., 206), shows the same spirit.

We can hardly doubt that soon after the relics of the True Cross had been carried by devout worshippers into all Christian lands (we know the fact not only from the statement of St. Cyril of Jerusalem himself but also from inscriptions found in North Africa only a little later in date) that some ceremonial analogous to our modern “adoration” of the Cross upon Good Friday was introduced, in imitation of the similar veneration paid to the relic of the True Cross at Jerusalem. It was at this time too that the figure of the Crucified began to be depicted in Christian art, though for many centuries any attempt at a realistic presentment of the sufferings of Christ was almost unknown. Even in Gregory of Tours (De Gloria Mart.) a picture of Christ upon the cross seems to be treated as something of a novelty. Still such hymns as the “Pange lingua gloriosi prœlium certaminis”, and the “Vexilla regis”, both by Venantius Fortunatus (c. 570), clearly mark a growing tendency to dwell upon the Passion as a separate object of contemplation. The more or less dramatic recital of the Passion by three deacons representing the “Chronista”, “Christus”, and “Synagoga”, in the Office of Holy Week probably originated at the same period, and not many centuries later we begin to find the narratives of the Passion in the Four Evangelists copied separately into books of devotion. This, for example, is the case in the ninth-century English collection known as “the Book of Cerne”. An eighth century collection of devotions (manuscript Harley 2965) contains pages connected with the incidents of the Passion. In the tenth century the Cursus of the Holy Cross was added to the monastic Office (see Bishop, “Origin of the Prymer”, p. xxvii, n.).

Still more striking in its revelation of the developments of devotional imagination is the existence of such a vernacular poem as Cynewulf’s “Dream of the Rood”, in which the tree of the cross is conceived of as telling its own story. A portion of this Anglo-Saxon poem still stands engraved in runic letters upon the celebrated Ruthwell Cross in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. The italicized lines in the following represent portions of the poem which can still be read upon the stone:

I had power all
his foes to fell,
but yet I stood fast.
Then the young hero prepared himself,
That was Almighty God,
Strong and firm of mood,
he mounted the lofty cross
courageously in the sight of many,
when he willed to redeem mankind.
I trembled when the hero embraced me,
yet dared I not bow down to earth,
fall to the bosom of the ground,
but I was compelled to stand fast,
a cross was I reared,
I raised the powerful King
The lord of the heavens,
I dared not fall down.
They pierced me with dark nails,
on me are the wounds visible.

 Still it was not until the time of St. Bernard and St. Francis of Assisi that the full developments of Christian devotion to the Passion were reached. It seems highly probable that this was an indirect result of the preaching of the Crusades, and the consequent awakening of the minds of the faithful to a deeper realization of all the sacred memories represented by Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre. When Jerusalem was recaptured by the Saracens in 1187, worthy Abbot Samson of Bury St. Edmunds was so deeply moved that he put on haircloth and renounced flesh meat from that day forth — and this was not a solitary case, as the enthusiasm evoked by the Crusades conclusively shows.

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Under any circumstances it is noteworthy that the first recorded instance of stigmata (if we leave out of account the doubtful case of St. Paul) was that of St. Francis of Assisi. Since his time there have been over 320 similar manifestations which have reasonable claims to be considered genuine (Poulain, “Graces of Interior Prayer”, tr., 175). Whether we regard these as being wholly supernatural or partly natural in their origin, the comparative frequency of the phenomenon seems to point to a new attitude of Catholic mysticism in regard to the Passion of Christ, which has only established itself since the beginning of the thirteenth century. The testimony of art points to a similar conclusion. It was only at about this same period that realistic and sometimes extravagantly contorted crucifixes met with any general favour. The people, of course, lagged far behind the mystics and the religious orders, but they followed in their wake; and in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries we have innumerable illustrations of the adoption by the laity of new practices of piety to honour Our Lord’s Passion. One of the most fruitful and practical was that type of spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Places of Jerusalem, which eventually crystalized into what is now known to us as the “Way of the Cross”. The “Seven Falls” and the “Seven Bloodsheddings” of Christ may be regarded as variants of this form of devotion. How truly genuine was the piety evoked in an actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land is made very clear, among other documents, by the narrative of the journeys of the Dominican Felix Fabri at the close of the fifteenth century, and the immense labour taken to obtain exact measurements shows how deeply men’s hearts were stirred by even a counterfeit pilgrimage. Equally to this period belong both the popularity of the Little Offices of the Cross and “De Passione”, which are found in so many of the Horæ, manuscript and printed, and also the introduction of new Masses in honour of the Passion, such for example as those which are now almost universally celebrated upon the Fridays of Lent. Lastly, an inspection of the prayer-books compiled towards the close of the Middle Ages for the use of the laity, such as the “Horæ Beatæ Mariæ Virginis”, the “Hortulus Animæ”, the “Paradisus Animæ” etc., shows the existence of an immense number of prayers either connected with incidents in the Passion or addressed to Jesus Christ upon the Cross. The best known of these perhaps were the fifteen prayers attributed to St. Bridget, and described most commonly in English as “the Fifteen O’s”, from the exclamation with which each began.

In modern times a vast literature, and also a hymnology, has grown up relating directly to the Passion of Christ. Many of the innumerable works produced in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries have now been completely forgotten, though some books like the medieval “Life of Christ” by the Carthusian Ludolphus of Saxony, the “Sufferings of Christ” by Father Thomas of Jesus, the Carmelite Guevara’s “Mount of Calvary”, or “The Passion of Our Lord” by Father de La Palma, S.J., are still read. Though such writers as Justus Lipsius and Father Gretser, S.J., at the end of the sixteenth century, and Dom Calmet, O.S.B., in the eighteenth, did much to illustrate the history of the Passion from historical sources, the general tendency of all devotional literature was to ignore such means of information as were provided by archæology and science, and to turn rather to the revelations of the mystics to supplement the Gospel records.

Amongst these, the Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, of Maria Agreda, of Marina de Escobar and, in comparatively recent times, of Anne Catherine Emmerich are the most famous. Within the last fifty years, however, there has been a reaction against this procedure, a reaction due probably to the fact that so many of these revelations plainly contradict each other, for example on the question whether the right or left shoulder of Our Lord was wounded by the weight of the cross, or whether Our Saviour was nailed to the cross standing or lying. In the best modern lives of Our Saviour, such as those of Didon, Fouard, and Le Camus, every use is made of subsidiary sources of information, not neglecting even the Talmud. The work of Père Ollivier, “The Passion” (tr., 1905), follows the same course, but in many widely-read devotional works upon this subject, for example: Faber, “The Foot of the Cross”; Gallwey, “The Watches of the Passion”; Coleridge, “Passiontide” etc.; Groenings, “Hist. of the Passion” (Eng. tr); Belser, D’Gesch. d. Leidens d. Hernn; Grimm, “Leidengeschichte Christi”, the writers seem to have judged that historical or critical research was inconsistent with the ascetical purpose of their works.
__________________________________________
Written by Herbert Thurston. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ – The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Holy Week as time of purification

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Pope Benedict XVI opened Holy Week at the Vatican with the traditional Palm Sunday procession and Mass in St. Peter’s Square on March 16.

About 50,000 people attended the Eucharistic celebration. Most were young people who were observing World Youth Day in the Rome diocese, preparing for the worldwide celebration that will be held in Sydney, Australia in July.

In his homily during the Mass, Pope Benedict recalled that after his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus found the Temple cluttered with traders busy with various money-making schemes. That bit of Gospel history should cause Christians today to pause and ask themselves whether our faith is “open and pure enough,” the Pope remarked. Non-believers coming into Christian churches should be able to “see the light of the one God,” rather than be distracted, he said.

The Pope prodded the faithful to examine their consciences particularly with respect to financial affairs, recognizing that “greed is idolatry.” Like the Jewish worshippers at the time of Christ, he said, we should notice how “in various ways we actually let idols enter the worth of our faith.”

Holy Week gives the Church a fresh opportunity for purification, the Pope said. After driving away the money-changers, he said, in their place “Christ put his own healing goodness. This is the true purification of the Temple.” Referring back to Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Pope took note that Jesus was always especially anxious to embrace children. Like those children, eager for Christ’s touch, “we must abandon the pride that blineds us, that pushes us away from God as if He were our competitor,” the Pope said.

New Templar bottles designed by O-I win the Syba* “Packaging of the Year 2007″ Award

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The vaulted cellars of the Templarske Wine Company are located in the beautifully reconstructed buildings which were a former commandary of the Templar Knights back in the 13th Century. The Czech wine company uses the legendary Templar cross both as company name and emblem since their creation in 1992, although the cellars were never actually used as a winery back in that era. For the second year running, Templarske Wine company has won a prestigious SYBA “Packaging of the Year” Award for its emblematic packaging, developed in collaboration with O-I.

The range of containers combines nostalgic design with the latest trends, and includes traditional Bordeaux models with long neck and tall shoulders (two furthest bottles on right, above), and Bourgogne-inspired “vintage” models (centre and centre-left bottles), which already won the company a SYBA award in 2006. Completing the range, O-I has developed a prestigious tall, Catalan-inspired bottle with a modern flat finish and customized engraving, bearing the Company’s emblem, the “Templar’s Cross” proudly on its shoulders (far left bottle, above).

The new package is aimed at both the Horeca and retail segments. The bottles in this Templar range are available in number of shapes and colours: amber, dead leaf green and flint colours. Whilst the coloured tints are made locally at the Nove Sedlo plant in the Czech Republic, the flint bottles are produced in limited quantities nearby at an O-I facility in Germany.

The Order Welcomes New Members in Slovenia

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The OSMTHU welcomes its new members in Slovenia. As we had announced, the Priory of Slovenia met in the Castle of Turjak for a weekend of spiritual retreat and Templar ceremonial.

Prior General Fr+ Marin Zen was the perfect host to the over 100 attendants, including Fr+ Leslie Payne, Prior General of England and Wales and Fr+ Roman Vertovec, Visitor General, both members of the Magisterial Council, as well as members of the Priory of Croatia.

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We hope to be able to publish a detailed description of the days events shortly. In the meantime, we give you two photos. In the first we can see Prior Fr+ Zen investing a Knight with the attentive assistance of his officers. In the second we can see Fr+ Vertovec and Fr+ Payne during the gala dinner.

Candlemas – A Templar Celebration

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The term Candlemas (or Candelaia) derives from the late Latin “candelorum” or “candelaram” namely the blessing of candles and it indicates a holiday in astronomical time, coinciding with half winter in the rural cycle, when we approach the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The most famous popular saying about it states: “When we are at Candlemas, we are out of winter, but if it rains or the wind is blowing, we are still within winter” suggesting that if the day of Candlemas does not have good weather, you still have to wait several weeks before the end of the winter and beginning of spring. This is a moment of transition between winter / dark / end and spring / light / Birth: the passage is celebrated through the purification and preparation for the new season.

For the Catholic Church, Candlemas is the Feast of the Purification of Mary, celebrated by the Church and by the faithful on February 2 simultaneously with the presentation of Jesus in the temple which could not take place before 40 days had passed, which is the time required by the Jewish law for the purification of one who has recently given birth to a male.

The first account of the Candlemas in the Holy Land is by Eteria that describes it as a major public holiday. Later, from Jerusalem, the festivities spread throughout the East and particularly to Byzantium. With the Emperor Justinian I it became a public holiday and took the name of Ypapanté (= meeting of the Lord). The origins of Candlemas, however, have distant roots in time.

From Rome, Italy, we descend on Lupercalia which celebrated in the Ides of February, the last month of the year for the Romans, when they used to purify themselves before the advent of the new year to propitiate fertility. In this celebration, dedicated to Fauno Lupercus, two boys of a patrician family were conducted into a cave on the Palatine, consecrated to God, in which priests, having sacrificed goats, mark their forehead with a knife stained with the blood of the animals. The blood was then dried with white wet wool in milk, and then the two couples had to smile. They were dressed in skins of sacrificed animals; and the same skins were then cut into strips which were then used as whips. So dressed and whips in hand, the couple had to run around the base of the Palatine hitting anyone they might encounter, particularly women who voluntarily offered to be purified and whipped to obtain fertility. Another moment of the festival was the ‘februatio’, the purification of the city, where women ran through the streets with lit candles and torches, a symbol of light.

The use of lit torches and candles during the religious procession had two functions: the first, of a spiritual nature, showed the victory of light over darkness, the social presentation of the Divine on earth, and the other of a practical nature, resulted from the need to have visibility in travelling night in the cities where the celebrations took place. The blessing of candles, then as now, is a significant moment in the great procession called Cerorum luminibus coruscans (or “shining through candles and lights”), and it is able to generate in the hearts of the participants a strong sense of communion with the mother of Jesus. Today, the solemn offer of candles to the Pope is done by many Italian cities, as in Trapani, where popular representations recall the purification of Mary, and people bring candles, flashlights and torches to their windows, as it used to happen in Naples. The blessed candles are then kept at home by the faithful and are lit to appease the wrath of God, during violent storms, on waiting for an absent person who does not return or is kept away in serious danger, when attending to a moribund, or anytime you feel the need to invoke divine help.

The character that of a Marian feast was introduced by Pope Sergio. But it will be the Eastern mysticism that sings more profusely in its liturgy about the Virgin’s gesture especially in the antiphonal “, oh Zion, the wedding room, receive Christ your Lord…” sang in response to the first reading of the office readings. This mystical intuition is made possible by following these steps: Christmas is considered the “husband” (antiphon to the Magnificat Vespers first and second readings at antiphon) as the sun is rising on the horizon; and the Church is considered as a bride adorned, its joys are the wedding feast of Christ with the Church. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, though celebrated for a time “during the year,” is the final point of the Christmas season. The same antiphon, mentioned above, places Mary in the correct position by singing: “… (Oh Zion) hail Mary, gate of heaven, because she holds on her arms, the king of glory, the new light. The Virgin recoils, presenting the Son, born before the first-born star of the morning. Simeon keeps him in the arms, and announces to the people that he is the Lord of life and death, the Saviour of the world “. Towards the eleventh century comes to revelationem antiphon Lumen Gentium that characterizes faith and prayer of the Church in this circumstance, and the song of podsejani Simeon Nunc dimittis.

For this reason the Vatican II Council invites us to understand the intimate nature of these festivities: “The union of the Mother and the Son in redemption occurs upon virginal conception of Christ lasting until his death. And when presented to the temple by offering the gift of the poor, Simeon was heard saying that the son would become a sign of contradiction and that a sword would pierce the soul of the mother, because they revealed the thoughts of many hearts “(LG 57).

Candlemas in some places is called “Day of the bear”. In this particular day, the bear is emerges from hibernation and out of his burrow to see weather and assess whether or not he should put the nose out. A proverb from Piedmont says that if the bear has its dry bed (which would indicate a good weather for that day) for forty days he no longer exits. Another proverb similar to the first, but in this case Southern, argues that if the 2 February the weather is not good, the bear has a chance to stay in winter continues.

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The bear was also the main character of some rural rites of February, placed in the rural cycle: at the end of a simulated hunt, the bear is caught and brought inside the country where it is the object of jokes and games. The epilogue can vary either with its release or an escape and return to nature. The character of the bears is played by actors in disguise who should not be recognized until the end of the ritual show.

At Urbiano they celebrate the “feast of the bear”: a few days before the feast, hunters with the face blackened, went in search of bears, (played by a man in costume) who were invariably found the eve of the evening. Hunters, “bear”, and a tamer visited the public houses and inns with the pretext to scare people (and girls), left to become transgressivelly drunk. The day after, the bear appeares in the country and, after the tour of the village, dances with the most beautiful girl before disappearing only to be transformed in a man.

This festival occurs not only in Piedmont and areas in the Alps, but also in other regions (and nations) and, at distant times bears in the party were true animals, led around by a mountaineer who took the bear dancing in the squares of villages around the country. Then he used to disappear. In some countries, to maintain tradition, the bear was then replaced by a masked person that specifically performed the same pantomime.
At Putignano, in Puglia, bear impersonators toured the streets of the country, stopping in the squares: there, with the sound of drums, they danced the tarantella, among those present arranged in a circle. Sometimes, depending on the weather, the bear wouls mimic the act of building his refuge (u pagghiar ‘).

These rites reprised an ancient tradition that celebrated the festival of the return of light for the summer, with the defeat of the forces of darkness and cold. By performing these rituals the symbolism of bears is revealed (they go into a winter hibernation and awaken back in spring), interpreting a primitive force of nature. The bear can also be understood as representing “wild man”. In both representations there is still represent the binomial nature – man.

The number “Forty” in the Bible
The day of Candlemas is connected with the number 40, a number that represents the purification. The Book of Genesis, for instance, tells us that the deluge lasted forty days and forty nights (7.12), and, according to Matthew, chapter 4.2, Jesus’ was fasting in the desert for forty days and forty nights. On the other hand, St. Paul in his writings to the Christians in Corinth, he recalls when he received 40 lashes by the Jews. (2Cor. 11.26)

In the Bible, the number 40, with its precise religious meaning is used many times: Abraham implores to God to save Sodom if there he would find at least 40 righteous people (but had come down to less than ten in the end), and when saved from Esau he had offer 40 cows in sacrifice. In Egypt, Joseph took 40 days to embalm the body of his father, and left Egypt, Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, and when the tabernacle was built it took 40 silver bases to stand on. The explorers of the land of Canaan arriving to the Promised Land: it took them 40 days, but in return they had 40 years of punishment. Judge Abdon had 40 children, and the philistine persevered for 40 days, according to Samuel (1 Sam. 17.14).

Even the great prophet Elijah remained on Mount Horeb for 40 days and 40 nights and Jonah preached repentance to the inhabitants of Nineveh for 40 days. Therefore really lent 40 days (40 nights) of true inner penance, fasting, is not just a physical stance but spiritual experience.

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Translation with the help of Google Tools from the article published last Friday in Italian sent in by the Priory of Italy at the occasion of the publishing of the video depicting the Candlemas celebration of 2008. We apologise for any mistranslations.