Religion

El Papa y la última cruzada en la Orden de Malta

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El Vaticano busca reforzar la identidad de la congregación como orden religiosa laica de la Iglesia frente a la resistencia de un sector de esta institución casi milenaria que interpreta los cambios como una amenaza a su soberanía.

Desde hace cinco años, se libra una cruzada en torno a la Orden de Malta en la que el Papa Francisco no se mantiene al margen. Primero forzó la renuncia del inglés Matthew Festing como Gran Maestre, la suprema autoridad. A finales de 2020 encomendó al cardenal Silvano María Tomasi la misión de impulsar la renovación espiritual de esta institución casi milenaria y reformar su Carta Constitucional y el Código. Salvo contratiempos, el sumo pontífice anunciará en las próximas semanas el futuro de la congregación con los cambios propuestos por el purpurado.

Será el desenlace al pulso que un sector influyente de los caballeros de Malta ha tratado de echar al Vaticano con la intención de mantener el statu quo actual frente al deseo del Papa de reforzar la identidad de la congregación como orden religiosa laica de la Iglesia católica. Fundada por fray Gerardo Tum para dar asistencia a los peregrinos en Jerusalén en el siglo XI (en la época de las cruzadas), a lo que se añadió posteriormente la actividad militar para la defensa de Tierra Santa, está presente hoy en 120 países y sigue desarrollando una labor asistencial y humanitaria nueve siglos después. Tiene su sede en Roma desde 1798, tras conquistar Napoleón Bonaparte la isla de Malta.

El trasfondo de esta rebelión es el deseo de esa corriente por quedar al margen de la Iglesia, invocando la controvertida sentencia que el Tribunal Supremo de la Signatura Apostólica de la Santa Sede dictó el 5 de febrero de 2o11, dos años antes de que Jorge Bergoglio fuera elegido Papa en sustitución de Benedicto XVI. Ese fallo venía a reconocer que la orden no estaba sujeta al control de la Iglesia por su condición de soberana, lo que rompía una dependencia canónica que se mantenía desde que el Papa Pascual II concedió la bula en el año 1113.

Ese pronunciamiento chocaba con la sentencia en la que el Tribunal Cardenalicio -el 24 de enero de 1953, durante el papado de Pío XII- había establecido la naturaleza de la Soberana Orden de Malta, su relación con la Santa Sede y la dependencia que sus integrantes tenían de la Iglesia sin distinción de clases ni de categorías. Se trazaba así el marco con la intención de reforzar la espiritualidad de la congregación, una de las más antiguas instituciones de la civilización occidental y cristiana: en 2048 cumplirá mil años.

En la práctica, el pronunciamiento del Tribunal Supremo de la Signatura Apostólica de la Santa de 2011 no ha tenido ningún efecto jurídico. Prueba de ello son los plenos poderes que el Papa ha concedido al cardenal Tomasi para que pudiera culminar sin obstáculos el encargo que le hizo cuando el 1 de noviembre de 2020 lo nombró delegado especial ante la Soberana Orden Militar Hospitalaria de Jerusalén, de Rodas y de Malta. Esas atribuciones incluían la posibilidad de arrogarse «aspectos del gobierno ordinario» de la congregación y la facultad incluso de derogar la Carta Constitucional y el actual Código Melitense, según detalla la carta que el máximo representante de la Iglesia le envió el pasado 25 de octubre.

La crisis que el Vaticano pretende cerrar ahora tiene su origen en diciembre de 2016, cuando se obligó a dimitir al alemán Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager como Gran Canciller de la Orden de Malta. El Gran Maestre Matthew Festing lo acusaba de no haber impedido la distribución de preservativos en países del mundo donde la congregación desarrolla proyectos sanitarios a través de voluntarios, según informó el diario romano Il Messaggero.

En enero de 2017, el Papa Francisco forzó la renuncia de Festing, después de que la orden hubiera impedido una inspección de la comisión que había nombrado el Vaticano para esclarecer el cese de Von Boeselager. El gran maestre presentó su dimisión el 24 de enero y, al día siguiente, el sumo pontífice la aceptó. Roma intervenía de facto la orden y, a la espera del nombramiento de un delegado pontificio, resolvía que se encargara del gobierno de la congregación un lugarteniente interino.

Restitución del Gran Canciller

La persona elegida fue Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, que, en una de sus primeras decisiones, anuló los decretos de medidas disciplinarias adoptados contra Boeselager y acordó su restitución como Gran Canciller con carácter inmediato. «No existe base alguna que fundamente una acusación contra él, y quisiera felicitarle por haber insistido respetuosamente en una adecuada aplicación de nuestra Constitución y nuestro Código», escribió días después Von Rumerstein en una carta dirigida a los miembros de la Orden de Malta, voluntarios, empleados y colaboradores. Esa interinidad acabó el 2 de mayo de 2018 con la elección como Gran Maestre de Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, fallecido en abril de 2020.

Es precisamente Von Boeselager quien años después encabeza la resistencia a los cambios que promueve el Vaticano junto a otras asociaciones nacionales de la orden, como la francesa, alemana, polaca y libanesa. Este sector entiende que la reforma constitucional que proyecta el cardenal Tomasi por encargo del Papa supone una seria amenaza para la soberanía de la congregación y su gobierno independiente. El nuevo régimen sustraería la capacidad de decisión y dirección a los actuales rectores.

La Santa Sede busca la renovación espiritual reforzando la identidad de la Orden de Malta como comunidad religiosa laica de la Iglesia católica, lo que conllevará una modificación de la vigente Carta Constitucional y el Código. Esta norma fue promulgada el 27 de junio de 1961 -en el ecuador del mandato de Juan XXIII- y revisada por el Capítulo General Extraordinario celebrado a finales de abril de 1997.

De los borradores que han trascendido y de lo que Tomasi ha venido avanzando en reuniones con miembros de la orden se deduce que el Vaticano pretende una observancia más estricta de los votos religiosos por parte de los profesos (miembros de la primera clase) para reforzar el compromiso con la labor que desarrolla la congregación. Ello conllevaría el ofrecimiento de practicar los tres votos (pobreza, obediencia y castidad) y la posibilidad de vivir en comunidad bajo el sostenimiento económico de la orden, lo que les permitiría dedicarse plenamente a la actividad asistencial sin necesidad de tener que ejercer otra profesión al margen.

Los cambios normativos afectarían también a los requisitos exigidos para poder ser profeso, los que pueden ocupar puestos de mando. De salir adelante la reforma de Tomasi, ya no sería necesario acreditar el cumplimiento de la prueba de nobleza como se exige ahora. Ello limita el número de candidatos para optar al cargo de Gran Maestre, hasta el punto de que en la actualidad sólo 11 de los 32 profesos cumplen tal condición. Y algunos superan ya los noventa años.

Tras la muerte de Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, el portugués Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas-Boas asumió las funciones de lugarteniente interino hasta que el lombardo Marco Luzzago -pariente del Papa Pablo VI- fue designado lugarteniente interino del Gran Maestre el 8 de noviembre de 2020. Es la máxima autoridad de la orden en este momento.

La elección del Gran Maestre culminará el proceso emprendido por el Vaticano y se llevará a cabo una vez que se aprueba la Carta Constitucional con las nuevas disposiciones. El cardenal Tomasi tiene intención de convocar un capítulo general para discutir los borradores con los integrantes del grupo de trabajo que se ha constituido con miembros de la orden, encabezados por el presidente de la Asociación Libanesa: Marwan Sehnaoui.

«Es muy respetado por la Santa Sede y es apto para llevar el proceso a una conclusión que conduzca a la renovación espiritual y la reforma de la Primera Clase, como lo pidió el Santo Padre, manteniendo la soberanía de la Orden, su gobierno independiente, su servicio ininterrumpido a los enfermos y pobres, sus relaciones cordiales dentro de la Santa Sede y su fidelidad inquebrantable a la Iglesia y al Santo Padre», justifica el Gran Canciller Boeselager en una carta enviada el pasado 19 de enero a los miembros del Consejo Soberano y del Consejo de Gobierno, los procuradores de los grandes prioratos, los regentes de los subprioratos, los presidentes de las asociaciones nacionales y los jefes de las misiones diplomáticas de la orden.

Tras reunirse a finales de enero en audiencia privada con el Papa, Tomasi ha informado de que aquél quiere reunirse con algunos miembros que representan a los profesos, el gobierno de la orden, procuradores de los prioratos y presidentes de las asociaciones para presentarles los puntos clave de la reforma, por lo que se ha suspendido la reunión del grupo de trabajo mixto que se había fijado para los próximos 22 y 23 de febrero. «Cualquier otra actividad [antes del encuentro con el Papa] será considerada un acto de desobediencia al santo padre», ha advertido el cardenal.

A la espera de que se celebre ese cónclave, se da por seguro que el Papa Francisco decidirá en breve el futuro de la Orden de Malta bajo el planteamiento en el que se viene trabajando desde finales de 2020 y que ha despertado abiertos recelos en un sector de la congregación. Eso significaría que el italiano Tomasi termina imponiendo su criterio y ganándole el pulso al alemán Von Boeselager.

in elindependiente.com por ANTONIO SALVADOR

How a Special Diet Kept the Knights Templar Fighting Fit

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GRAYBEARDS WERE THIN ON THE ground in the 13th century. For even wealthy landholding males, average life expectancy was about 31 years, rising to 48 years for those who made it to their twenties. The Knights Templar, then, must have seemed to have some magical potion: Many members of this Catholic military order lived long past 60. And even then, they often died at the hands of their enemies, rather than from illness.

In 1314, Jacques de Molay, the order’s final Grand Master, was burned alive at the age of 70. Geoffrei de Charney, who was executed in the same year, is usually said to have been around 63. This longevity seems to have been almost commonplace. Fellow Grand Masters Thibaud Gaudin, Hugues de Payens, and Armand de Périgord, to name just a few, all lived into their sixties. For the times, this would have been positively geriatric.

“The exceptional longevity of Templar Knights was generally attributed to a special divine gift,” writes the Catholic scholar Francesco Franceschi in a journal article about their salubrious practices. But modern research suggests an alternative: The order’s compulsory dietary rules may have contributed to their long lives and good health.

Contrary to many modern portrayals, the Knights seem to have lived genuinely humble lives, in service to God. Their dietary choices and obligations reflect this. Though the order grew rich from carefully handled donations and by safeguarding traveling pilgrims’ money, the men themselves took formal vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They were not permitted even to speak to women. For nearly 200 years, the order thrived across Europe, peaking at around 15,000 members by the end of the 13th century. Most of all, they were expert warriors, and their ranks comprised some of the best fighters, warriors, and jousters in the world.

Early in the 12th century, the French abbot Bérnard de Clairvaux helped assemble a long and complex list of rules, which structured the knights’ lives. This rulebook became known as the Primitive Rule of the Templars, and drew from the teachings of the saints Augustine and Benedict. But many of the rules originated in the order. Though the document was completed in 1129, writes Judith Upton-Ward, the Templar Knights had already been in existence for several years, “and had built up its own traditions and customs … To a considerable extent, then, the Primitive Rule is based upon existing practices.”

The rules were many, and various. The knights were to protect orphans, widows, and churches; eschew the company of “obviously excommunicated” men; and not stand up in church when praying or singing. Even sumptuary laws prioritized humbleness: Their monk’s habits were one color alone, though on warm days between Easter and Halloween, the rules decreed, they were allowed to wear a linen shirt. (Pointed shoes were always forbidden.) But the rules also extended into their dietary practices: How they ate, what they ate, and who they ate with.

Their meals do not seem to have been raucous affairs. Knights were obliged to eat together, but to do so silently. If they needed the salt, they had to ask for it to be passed “quietly and privately … with all humility and submission.” A sort of buddy system existed, partly due to a mystifying “shortage of bowls.” This may have been more a show of abstinence than anything else, like the knights’ emblem, which was of two men sharing a horse.

Knights ate in pairs, and were told to “study the other more closely,” to make sure that neither was scarfing more than his share or entertaining any kind of “secret abstinence.” (It’s not clear what knights were supposed to do if their partner wasn’t eating as he should—though shouting at the table seems to have been especially forbidden.) After eating, everyone sat in silence and gave thanks. Scraps of bread were collected and given to the poor, and whole loaves set aside for future meals.

The knights’ diets seem to have been a balancing act between the ordinary fasting demands on monks, and the fact that these knights lived active, military lives. You couldn’t crusade, or joust, on an empty stomach. (Although the Knights Templar only jousted in combat or training—not for sport.) So three times a week, the knights were permitted to eat meat—even though it was “understood that the custom of eating flesh corrupts the body.” On Sundays, everyone ate meat, with higher-up members permitted both lunch and dinner with some kind of roast animal. Accounts from the time show that this was often beef, ham, or bacon, with salt for seasoning or to cure the meat.

It’s likely that these portions were considerable: If the knights weren’t allowed meat due to a Tuesday fast, the next day it would be available “in plenty.” One source suggests that cooks loaded enough meat onto their plates “to feed two poor men with the leftovers.”

But on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, the knights ate more spartan, vegetable-filled meals. Although the rules describe these meals as “two or three meals of vegetables or other dishes eaten with bread,” they also often included milk, eggs, and cheese. Otherwise, they might eat potage, made with oats or pulses, gruels, or fiber-rich vegetable stews. (The wealthier brothers might mix in expensive spices, such as cumin.) In their gardens, they grew fruits and vegetables, especially Mediterranean produce such as figs, almonds, pomegranates, olives, and corn (grain).* These healthy foodstuffs likely also made their way into their meals.

Once a week, on Fridays, they observed a Lenten fast—no eggs, milk, or other animal products. For hearty fare, they relied on dried or salted fish, and dairy or egg substitutes made from almond milk. Even here, however, there are pragmatic concessions. The weak and sick abstained from these fasts and received “meat, flesh, birds, and all other foods which bring good health,” to return them to fighting shape as quickly as possible.

All the while, brothers drank wine—but this too was restricted. Everyone had an identical ration, which was diluted, and they were advised that alcohol should “not be taken to excess, but in moderation. For Solomon said … wine corrupts the wise.” In the Holy Lands, they allegedly mixed a potent cocktail of antiseptic aloe vera, hemp, and palm wine, known as the Elixir of Jerusalem, which may have helped accelerate healing from injuries.

Franceschi describes other regulations beyond the Primitive Rules that were “specifically designed to avoid the spreading of infections.” These included mandatory handwashing before eating or praying, and exempting brothers in charge of manual tasks outdoors from food preparation or serving. Some of these innovations, picked up without any awareness of germs, may have resulted from interactions with Arab doctors, renowned during the period for their superior medical knowledge. By medieval medical standards, Templar Knights were at its apex, able to treat many illnesses and to take care of their weak.

The order was one of the richest in the world—yet these rules prevented the knights from sitting on their laurels or gorging themselves on fatty, cured meat. In fact, many of these rules resemble modern dietary advice: Lots of vegetables, meat on occasion, and wine in moderation. A meal fit not for a king on a throne, but a knight with some serious crusading to do.

in atlasobscura by NATASHA FROST

The Supper at Emmaus: A coded symbol hidden in a masterpiece

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Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus features a snag in a wicker basket that mirrors an underground Christian emblem, writes Kelly Grovier.

Sometimes a flaw isn’t a flaw at all but a flourish – a stroke of genius. Take, for example, the tiny fray in the weave of the wicker basket that teeters on the edge of the table at the centre of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s early 17th-Century masterpiece The Supper at Emmaus, among the greatest treasures in the rich collection of the UK’s National Gallery. Though countless eyes have marvelled at the mysterious drama unfolding in the shadowy interior of the inn in which the recently resurrected Christ has just revealed his true identity to a pair of dumbstruck disciples, the significance of an almost imperceptible imperfection has gone unnoticed in the four centuries since the painting was commissioned by the Italian nobleman Ciriaco Mattei in 1601. A loose twig, sticking out from the plait of the woven fruit bowl, is a dainty defect from which the work’s truest meaning can be unravelled. Alone among the countless symbols that punctuate the religious painting, this delicately described detail – half in shade, half in light – transforms Caravaggio’s celebrated canvas from a mere illustration of scripture scene into something active and daring – a spiritual challenge whose stakes could not be higher.

To appreciate the full implications of this easily overlooked detail, it is worth reminding ourselves of the contours of the bigger picture Caravaggio is conjuring. The source for The Supper at Emmaus – a subject that has inspired everyone from Rembrandt to Velasquez, Pontormo to Cavarozzi – is the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke, which tells the story of Christ’s intimate repast with two of his disciples, Luke and Cleopas, who have failed to recognise him after his return from the dead. As the bread has already been broken and blessed, the time has come, according to the gospel’s account, for Christ to “open” the eyes of his followers and for him to vanish “out of their sight”.

The painting, in other words, captures a mystical threshold, the millisecond before Christ, who is hauntingly haloed by a stranger’s shadow on the wall behind him, disappears from the world. In that immeasurable instant between revelation and evaporation, Caravaggio hatches a suspended, otherworldly world. To the left of the basket, Christ’s paternal uncle, Cleopas, pushes himself up from his chair in panicked astonishment at the disclosure – his sharp elbows poking through the worn-out sleeves of his coat. On the other side of the wicker bowl, to our right, Luke flings his arms out wide, mirroring the very posture on the cross into which Christ’s own limbs had been nailed at the time of his painful death. Meanwhile, the unfazed innkeeper, who stands beside Christ, gazes on uncomprehendingly – hearing the same words that Christ has uttered to his thunderstruck disciples, but unable to grasp their significance.

Caravaggio must have been keenly aware in choreographing this extraordinary scene, poised as it is between our perishable realm and an eternal one that lies beyond, that the contrasting reactions of those present for the big reveal – the nonplussed innkeeper, on the one hand, and Christ’s stunned and speechless followers, on the other – were also those that his own painting had the power to elicit. It is one thing to illustrate a moment of revelation that others have experienced. It is quite another thing to make the observers of his work actually participate in the awe of that epiphany – to transform the canvas into the very stage on which a spiritual awakening is potentially and perpetually possible.

Caravaggio was keenly aware that a painting has the potential to exceed the limitations of a static surface and become a platform for transcendence

But how? “It is as if,” the art historian Andrew Graham Dixon mused in his searching biography of the artist, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, while discussing this same work, “the painter has asked himself a series of direct, straightforward questions about the story that he was given to depict. What happens to the world when a miracle takes place? How might it be possible to tell, should the risen Christ suddenly come among us? What do things actually look like at such moments?” A master of light and darkness who wielded his brush like a magician’s wand, coaxing from chiaroscuro a semblance of tangible form, Caravaggio was as keenly aware as any artist has ever been that a painting has the potential to exceed the limitations of a static surface and become a platform for transcendence.

Enter the wicker fruit basket. This anything-but-still Still Life in Caravaggio’s painting is the key prop in his ingenious effort to reach out to us, to ensure our interest in the scene he is portraying is elevated beyond the passive into something urgent and active. With virtuoso Trompe-l’œil sculpting of substance and shadow that creates the illusion that the object is projecting out of the canvas, the artist has carefully situated the woven vessel on the very edge of the table.

The basket is a precarious nudge away from tumbling out of the painting altogether and into our space, spilling into reality its contents of bursting pomegranates and swollen grapes, rotting russets and radiant quince, which the artist has filled with ripeness to the core. But it’s the interruption in the weave of straw that subliminally snags the eye of the mind – a fray consisting of two intersecting curves that the artist describes with calculating care – one swerving upwards, the other down, to form the unexpected, if irrefutable, shape of a stylised fish, or “Ichthys” in the parlance of ancient Christian symbolism.

According to early ecclesiastical tradition, the Ichthys emblem, which dates back to the 2nd Century as a sign of Christian belief, was employed as a kind of secret handshake by followers who feared persecution from non-believers. To ensure that one was in the company of a fellow adherent of the church’s precepts, a semi-circular arch was traced on the ground. If that seemingly innocuous gesture was joined by a mirroring arch drawn by the stranger, thereby forming the crude outline of a fish, the silent ritual of acknowledging the dominion of Christ was considered reciprocated.

The act, intended to help one acknowledge the presence of a Christian, is clearly relevant to a painting devoted to the very subject of spiritual recognition. By conscientiously accenting only a portion of the Ichthys outline by casting a sliver of light on one of the loose twigs while keeping the other, behind it, in relative shadow, Caravaggio approximates the rustic ritual of inscribing one half of the fish symbol. From there, an acceptance of the overture to recognise the miracle at hand is entirely up to the observer of his work. Whether we chose to receive the gesture is up to us.

Unconvinced that the artist intended to braid into his basket an encrypted Christian symbol? Look closely at the silhouette that the pile of fruit casts on to the shroud-like tablecloth to the right of the wicker bowl. There, an even more emphatic shape of a fish, with a sharp lunate tail fin forever flipping behind it, can be seen sailing headlong into the basket, pulling our gaze with it in its wake.

Nor is it the first time that Caravaggio found himself melting a shadowy still life into a display bursting with scaly surprises. Seven years before he painted The Supper at Emmaus, the artist created an edgily charming portrait of a young man recoiling from a reptile that has nipped his unsuspecting finger as he fiddles with the arrangement of flowers and fruit. It is as if Caravaggio, when he came to create The Supper at Emmaus half a decade later, has managed to contain and sublimate the unleashed intensity of Boy Bitten by a Lizard – a version of which is also in the National Gallery – and harness its energy into something spiritually subtler, expectant, and forever on the verge of snapping.

Five years after he completed The Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio undertook the subject again for a version of the gospel story that now hangs in Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. A much starker interpretation of the scene, whose shadows have thickened into an engulfing bleakness, this later canvas is far more sombrous in temperament than his initial vision. The basket of fruit, with its lyrical flourishes of unravelling wicker and finning shadows, has vanished entirely from the table. Rather than attempting to bridge the mystical world of the painting with ours, Caravaggio has begun instead to push us away and to seal us out from the dismal abyss into which he and his canvas seem to be sinking. No stranger to the darkness, which increasingly called to him in the stressful final years of his life – with routine run-ins with the law, homicidal brawls, and eventually his own mysterious death in 1610 under circumstances that remain murky to this day – Caravaggio seems less and less to have perceived his paintings as the mystical stages on which others can find their souls than a projection of the gathering gloom in which his own soul was shrouded.

by  Kelly Grovier, bbc.com/culture

Templar Corps Academy starts second module of online Course next saturday

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The TEMPLAR ORDER FOUNDATION COURSE 2020 is the most extensive and comprehensive study Course about the Templars available. It gives students an organized and thoroughly researched and documented vision of the subjects at hand. Divided in five Modules, it methodically addresses five fundamental pillars that organize the basic themes, allowing for a clear overview and understanding of the different aspects of the Order.

MODULE II – THEOLOGY AND RELIGION
4 Sessions, 8h

> Main liturgical feasts: Cycle of light – Easter, Pentecost, Saint-John
> Main liturgical feasts: Cycle of darkness – Epiphany, Saint-John Evangelist
> Devotions and Sanctoral: The Virgin Mary, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist, Bethany (Mary Magdalene, Lazarus), others
> Templar Liturgy
> Beliefs and Influences: Old Testament References (Genesis, Psalms, Abraham, Solomon)
> Beliefs and Influences: Eastern Christianity, Copt Christianity, Early Christianity
> Beliefs and Influences: Focus on John’s Gospel
> The Primitive Rule and Religion
> Ecclesiastic organization and Privilege

More information here: Templar Corps International Academy

La commanderie de Paulhac, berceau des chevaliers de l’Ordre du Temple en Creuse

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La commanderie de Paulhac a été bâtie vers l’an 1200 par les chevaliers de l’Ordre du Temple, plus communément appelés Templiers. Cet édifice où séjournaient les moines-soldats était le plus important de la région limousine et il est possible de le visiter tous les jeudis de l’été.

“La commanderie de Paulhac est témoin du passage des Templiers en Creusesurtout par les messages qui sont inscrits sur les murs et taillés dans la pierre. Des messages d’abnégation pour les Templiers, pour les pèlerins ou pour le commun des mortels” explique Françoise Devernin, guide-conférencière à l’Office de tourisme Monts et vallées Ouest-Creuse. Tous les jeudis de l’été à 10h30, elle assure une visite de la commanderie de Paulhac à Saint-Etienne-de-Fursac (Creuse).

Une commanderie était la demeure de moines-soldats. En l’occurrence ici, celles Templiers. C’est là qu’ils venaient, quand ils n’étaient pas au combat, pour cultiver la terre notamment. Pour la visiter en compagnie de Françoise, il faut prendre contact avec l’Office de tourisme de Fursac pour réserver.

Des fresques murales témoins du passage des Templiers en Creuse

“Il y a un calendrier mural derrière l’autel, qui ressemble à une bande-dessinée. C’était le calendrier des champs” raconte Françoise devant un groupe de vingt passionnés. D’autres dessins sont représentés sur le mur comme la célèbre croix rouge propre à l’Ordre du Temple. Pour le reste, le Christ est mis en scène mais aussi des moment de la vie quotidienne.

Parmi les curieux du jour, il y a Simon, un retraité venu de Bonnat pour l’occasion. Alors que l’ensemble du groupe admire les fresques murales, lui n’a qu’une question à la bouche. “Elle est de quand cette échelle au sol ?”demande-t-il à Françoise, la guide avant d’enchaîner : “vous vous rendez compte de comment dresser ça ? Ça doit peser un âne mort !”. Et malgré le fait qu’il reste seulement une église et une chapelle sur le domaine, Simon est quand même content d’être venu. Il ironise : “c’est plus intéressant de venir ici que d’aller voir la Joconde en plein milieu de la foule”.  

Cette commanderie était l’une des plus importantes de la région limousine qui en comptait une quinzaine. Celle de Paulhac a été bâtie vers l’an 1200 et a été le théâtre de l’implication des Templiers dans notre département. Avant de disparaître au début du XIVe siècle après avoir été chassés par le roi de France, Philippe le Bel, et le Pape, Clément V.

Et si vous ne souhaitez pas vous en arrêter là avec l’histoire des Templiers en Creuse, vous pouvez également visiter la commanderie de Lavaufranche dans le Nord du département.

  • Pour les moins de 12 ans, la visite coûte 3 euros. Il faut ajouter un euro symbolique supplémentaire pour les autres.

Par Bastien Thomas, France Bleu Creuse

Alandroal vai recuperar integralmente capela com mais de seiscentos anos

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O município de Alandroal anunciou hoje o estabelecimento de um protocolo de colaboração com a Direção Regional de Cultura do Alentejo (DRCAlentejo), a Paróquia de Terena, S. Pedro e a Confraria de Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova, entidades proprietária e zeladora da Capela da Boa Nova, do século XIV, que vai permitir a intervenção de conservação, restauro e reabilitação daquele património histórico em três fases sucessivas.

A primeira, com projeto técnico já desenvolvido pela DRCAlentejo e cedido ao município, incide sobre a cobertura e todo o exterior do imóvel. A segunda e terceira, com projetos técnicos a desenvolver pela autarquia, correspondem, respetivamente, ao restauro do interior da capela e aos arranjos exteriores ao monumento.

O protocolo agora assinado será enquadrador de uma candidatura a fundos do PO regional com o objetivo da recuperação integral deste relevante Monumento Nacional, mas o município vai avançar já para a concretização da primeira fase devido à urgência da intervenção, uma vez que já neste ano, realizou, em colaboração com a DRCAlentejo, arranjos de emergência na cobertura que se revelaram insuficientes face à dimensão do problema.

O imóvel, que por estas razões está incluído na Carta de Risco do Património Cultural, é um dos mais relevantes santuários marianos no Alentejo e “apesar das múltiplas dúvidas que se colocam a respeito da (sua) origem, construção e funcionalidade (…) está para além de qualquer dúvida o estatuto desta obra como uma das mais importantes de quantas se realizaram em Portugal durante o século XIV. Com o grande monumento de Flor da Rosa e, parcialmente, com a fase gótica da igreja de Vera Cruz de Marmelar, a Boa Nova integra a tipologia de “igrejas-fortalezas”, categoria histórico-artística que pretende diferenciar entre as construções religiosas fortificadas (como Leça do Balio) e as verdadeiras fortalezas, cuja planimetria, volumetria e espacialidade obedece, em tudo, a pressupostos.”

in tribunaalentejo.pt

Saint Thomas Becket

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Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, b. Dec. 21, 1118 (?); d. Dec. 29, 1170

Thomas Becket , Saint, martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, b. at London, December 21, 1118 (?); d. at Canterbury, December 29, 1170. St. Thomas was born of parents who, coming from Normandy, had settled in England some years previously. No reliance can be placed upon the legend that his mother was a Saracen. In after life his humble birth was made the subject of spiteful comment, though his parents were not peasants, but people of some mark, and from his earliest years their son had been well taught and had associated with gentlefolk. He learned to read at Merton Abbey and then studied in Paris. On leaving school he employed himself in secretarial work, first with Sir Richer de l’Aigle and then with his kinsman, Osbert Huitdeniers, who was “Justiciar” of London. Somewhere about the year 1141, under circumstances that are variously related, he entered the service of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and in that household he won his master’s favor and eventually became the most trusted of all his clerks. A description embodied in the Icelandic Saga and derived probably from Robert of Cricklade gives a vivid portrait of him at this period. “To look upon he was slim of growth and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and loveable in his conversation, frank of speech in his discourses, but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment and understanding that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner.” Theobald recognized his capacity, made use of him in many delicate negotiations, and after allowing him to go for a year to study civil and canon law at Bologna and Auxerre, ordained him deacon in 1154, after bestowing upon him several preferments, the most important of which was the Archdeaconry of Canterbury (see Radford, “Thomas of London”, p. 53).

It was just at this period that King Stephen died and the young monarch Henry II became unquestioned master of the kingdom. He took “Thomas of London”, as Becket was then most commonly called, for his chancellor, and in that office Thomas at the age of thirty-six became, with the possible exception of the justiciar, the most powerful subject in Henry’s wide dominions. The chroniclers speak with wonder of the relations which existed between the chancellor and the sovereign, who was twelve years his junior. People declared that “they had but one heart and one mind”. Often the king and his minister behaved like two schoolboys at play. But although they hunted or rode at the head of an army together it was no mere comradeship in pastime which united them. Both were hard workers, and both, we may believe, had the prosperity of the kingdom deeply at heart. Whether the chancellor, who was after all the elder man, was the true originator of the administrative reforms which Henry introduced cannot now be clearly determined. In many matters they saw eye to eye. The king’s imperial views and love of splendor were quite to the taste of his minister. When Thomas went to France in 1158 to negotiate a marriage treaty, he travelled with such pomp that the people said: “If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?”

In 1153 Thomas acted as justice itinerant in three counties. In 1159 he seems to have been the chief organizer of Henry’s expedition to Toulouse, upon which he accompanied him, and though it seems to be untrue that the impost of “scutage” was called into existence for that occasion (Round, “Feudal England”, 268-73), still Thomas undoubtedly pressed on the exaction of this money contribution in lieu of military service and enforced it against ecclesiastics in such a way that bitter complaints were made of the disproportionately heavy burden thus imposed upon the Church. In the military operations Thomas took a leading part, and Garnier, a French chronicler, who lived to write of the virtues of St. Thomas and his martyrdom, declares that in these encounters he saw him unhorse many French knights. Deacon though he was, he led the most daring attacks in person, and Edward Grim also gives us to understand that in laying waste the enemy’s country with fire and sword the chancellor’s principles did not materially differ from those of the other commanders of his time. But although, as men then reported, “he put off the archdeacon”, in this and other ways, he was very far from assuming the licentious manners of those around him. No word was ever breathed against his personal purity. Foul conduct or foul speech, lying or unchastity were hateful to him, and on occasion he punished them severely. He seems at all times to have had clear principles with regard to the claims of the Church, and even during this period of his chancellorship he more than once risked Henry’s grievous displeasure. For example, he opposed the dispensation which Henry for political reasons extorted from the pope, and strove to prevent the marriage of Mary, Abbess of Romsey, to Matthew of Boulogne. But to the very limits of what his conscience permitted, Thomas identified himself with his master’s interests, and Tennyson is true to history when he makes the archbishop say:

I served our Theobald well when I was with him: I served King Henry well as Chancellor: I am his no more, and I must serve the Church.

Archbishop Theobald died in 1161, and in the course of the next year Henry seems to have decided that it would be good policy to prepare the way for further schemes of reform by securing the advancement of his chancellor to the primacy. Our authorities are agreed that from the first Thomas drew back in alarm. “I know your plans for the Church”, he said, “you will assert claims which I, if I were archbishop, must needs oppose.” But Henry would not be gainsaid, and Thomas at the instance of Cardinal Henry of Pisa, who urged it upon him as a service to religion, yielded in spite of his misgivings. He was ordained priest on Saturday in Whitweek and consecrated bishop the next day, Sunday, June 3, 1162. It seems to have been St. Thomas who obtained for England the privilege of keeping the feast of the Blessed Trinity on that Sunday, the anniversary of his consecration, and more than a century afterwards this custom was adopted by the papal Court itself and eventually imposed upon the whole world.

A great change took place in the saint’s way of life after his consecration as archbishop. Even as chancellor he had practiced secret austerities, but now in view of the struggle he clearly saw before him he gave himself to fastings and disciplines, hair shirts, protracted vigils, and constant prayers. Before the end of the year 1162 he stripped himself of all signs of the lavish display which he had previously affected. On August 10 he went barefoot to receive the envoy who brought him the pallium from Rome. Contrary to the king’s wish he resigned the chancellorship. Whereupon Henry seems to have required him to surrender certain ecclesiastical preferments which he still retained, notably the archdeaconry, and when this was not done at once showed bitter displeasure. Other misunderstandings soon followed. The archbishop, having, as he believed, the king’s express permission, set about to reclaim alienated estates belonging to his see, a procedure which again gave offense. Still more serious was the open resistance which he made to the king’s proposal that a voluntary offering to the sheriffs should be paid into the royal treasury. As the first recorded instance of any determined opposition to the king’s arbitrary will in a matter of taxation, the incident is of much constitutional importance. The saint’s protest seems to have been successful, but the relations with the king only grew more strained.

Soon after this the great matter of dispute was reached in the resistance made by Thomas to the king’s officials when they attempted to assert jurisdiction over criminous clerks. The question has been dealt with in some detail in the article England (V, 436). That the saint himself had no wish to be lenient with criminous clerks has been well shown by Norgate (Angevin Kings, ii, 22). It was with him simply a question of principle. St. Thomas seems all along to have suspected Henry of a design to strike at the independence of what the king regarded as a too powerful Church. With this view Henry summoned the bishops at Westminster (October 1, 1163) to sanction certain as yet unspecified articles which he called his grandfather’s customs (avitoe consuetudines), one of the known objects of which was to bring clerics guilty of crimes under the jurisdiction of the secular courts. The other bishops, as the demand was still in the vague, showed a willingness to submit, though with the condition “saving our order”, upon which St. Thomas inflexibly insisted. The king’s resentment was thereupon manifested by requiring the archbishop to surrender certain castles he had hitherto retained, and by other acts of unfriendliness. In deference to what he believed to be the pope’s wish, the archbishop in December consented to make some concessions by giving a personal and private undertaking to the king to obey his customs “loyally and in good faith”. But when Henry shortly afterwards at Clarendon (January 13, 1164) sought to draw the saint on to a formal and public acceptance of the “Constitutions of Clarendon”, under which name the sixteen articles, the avitoe consuetudines as finally drafted, have been commonly known, St. Thomas, though at first yielding somewhat to the solicitations of the other bishops, in the end took up an attitude of uncompromising resistance.

Then followed a period of unworthy and vindictive persecution. When opposing a claim made against him by John the Marshal, Thomas upon a frivolous pretext was found guilty of contempt of court. For this he was sentenced to pay £500; other demands for large sums of money followed, and finally, though a complete release of all claims against him as chancellor had been given on his becoming archbishop, he was required to render an account of nearly all the moneys which had passed through his hands in his discharge of the office. Eventually a sum of nearly £30,000 was demanded of him. His fellow bishops, summoned by Henry to a council at Northampton, implored him to throw himself unreservedly upon the king’s mercy, but St. Thomas, instead of yielding, solemnly warned them and threatened them. Then, after celebrating Mass, he took his archiepiscopal cross into his own hand and presented himself thus in the royal council chamber. The king demanded that sentence should be passed upon him, but in the confusion and discussion which ensued the saint with uplifted cross made his way out throughthe mob of angry courtiers. He fled away secretly that night (October 13, 1164), sailed in disguise from Sandwich (November 2), and, after being cordially welcomed by Louis VII of France, he threw himself at the feet of Pope Alexander III, then at Sens, on November 23 The pope, who had given a cold reception to certain episcopal envoys sent by Henry, welcomed the saint very kindly, and refused to accept his resignation of his see. On November 30, Thomas went to take up his residence at the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy, though he was compelled to leave this refuge a year later, as Henry, after confiscating the archbishop’s property and banishing all the Becket kinsfolk, threatened to wreak his vengeance on the whole Cistercian Order if they continued to harbor him.

The negotiations between Henry, the pope, and the archbishop dragged on for the next four years without the position being sensibly changed. Although the saint remained firm in his resistance to the principle of the Constitutions of Clarendon, he was willing to make any concessions that could be reasonably asked of him, and on January 6, 1169, when the kings of England and France were in conference at Montmirail, he threw himself at Henry’s feet, but as he still refused to accept the obnoxious customs Henry repulsed him. At last in 1170 some sort of reconciliation was patched up. The question of the customs was not mentioned and Henry professed himself willing to be guided by the archbishop’s council as to amends due to the See of Canterbury for the recent violation of its rights in the crowning of Henry’s son by the Archbishop of York. On December 1, 1170, St. Thomas again landed in England, and was received with every demonstration of popular enthusiasm. But trouble almost immediately occurred in connection with the absolution of two of the bishops, whose sentence of excommunication St. Thomas had brought with him, as well as over the restoration by the de Broc family of the archbishop’s castle at Saltwood. How far Henry was directly responsible for the tragedy which soon after occurred on December 29 is not quite clear. Four knights who came from France demanded the absolution of the bishops. St. Thomas would not comply. They left for a space, but came back at Vesper time with a band of armed men. To their angry question, “Where is the traitor?” the saint boldly replied, “Here I am, no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God.” They tried to drag him from the church, but were unable, and in the end they slew him where he stood, scattering his brains on the pavement. His faithful companion, Edward Grim, who bore his cross, was wounded in the struggle.

A tremendous reaction of feeling followed this deed of blood. In an extraordinarily brief space of time devotion to the martyred archbishop had spread all through Europe. The pope promulgated the bull of canonization, little more than two years after the martyrdom, February 21, 1173. On July 12, 1174, Henry II did public penance, and was scourged at the archbishop’s tomb. An immense number of miracles were worked, and for the rest of the Middle Ages the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe. The martyr’s holy remains are believed to have been destroyed in September, 1538, when nearly all the other shrines in England were dismantled; but the matter is by no means clear, and, although the weight of learned opinion is adverse, there are still those who believe that a skeleton found in the crypt in January, 1888, is the body of St. Thomas. The story that Henry VIII in 1538 summoned the archbishop to stand his trial for high treason, and that when, in June, 1538, the trial had been held and the accused pronounced contumacious, the body was ordered to be disinterred and burnt, is probably apocryphal.

by Herbert Thurston in catholic.com

Una productora alemana graba en València del 24 al 26 de octubre un documental sobre el Santo Grial

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El director de documentales Alexander Landsberger vendrá a Valencia los días 24, 25 y 26 de octubre para rodar un documental sobre el Santo Grial que se prevé emitir en la televisión pública alemana.

El documental incluirá en el relato la nueva aportación realizada por la doctora en Historia del Arte por la Universitat de València (UV) Ana Mafé que en su tesis doctoral concluye “por primera vez” que el Cáliz de Valencia es una copa “de factura hebrea” y que, por sus características, coincide con el relato del evangelio y con la época en la que se data la Última Cena de Jesucristo.

La idea de grabar el documental se gestó en marzo, tras conocer el resultado de la investigación, con el objetivo de dar a conocer a nivel internacional las nueva informaciones que ratifican el Santo Cáliz de Valencia como el origen del constructo medieval del conocido Santo Grial, según ha informado en un comunicado la productora Story House Productions GmbH encargada del proyecto.

La película del Santo Grial, que es parte de una serie documental de los mitos más grandes del mundo llamada “Mitos de la humanidad”, producida por la productora en nombre de la emisora de televisión pública alemana ZDFinfo, es un documental de 45 minutos que cuenta la historia de una de las reliquias más sagradas de la humanidad.

El equipo, que también filmará en San Juan de la Peña y Jacetania los días 22 y 23 de octubre con la presencia del historiador Michael Hesemann, seguirán el Camino del Santo Grial y explicarán el porqué de su inspiración para el poema medieval Parzifal de Wolfram von Eschenbach.

La serie se prevé transmitir en ZDFinfo en el verano de 2020 y la compañía distribuirá una versión internacional del programa en todo el mundo.

in Valencianoticias, por

Congratulations to the new Cardinals

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From Master Antonio Paris, OSMTHU comments on a full day of engagements:

“Concistoro per la Creazione di Nuovi Cardinali. Basilica Papale di San Pietro. Con il Cardinale Pietro Parolin Segretario di Stato Vaticano.”

Congratulations also to Mons. Tolentino de Mendonça, new Portuguese Cardinal, currently heading the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archive.

 

The Mystery of the Our Father’s Ending

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Why do Christians say the Our Father (the “Lord’s Prayer”) slightly differently?

Catholics conclude with “deliver us from evil,” whereas most Protestants, following Matthew 6:13 in the King James Version, go on to say something like, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

Are Catholics leaving out this phrase from Jesus’ prayer, or are Protestants adding to it?

Neither seems to be a good idea for Christians (e.g., Deut. 4:2, 12:21; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:19). To some Protestants, the Catholic omission seems like a clear example of the Church “subtracting from Scripture” (due to some “tradition of men,” perhaps). However, the history behind this little phrase is a bit more involved—and it argues for the reliability of Church tradition, not against it.

The first thing to note is that the prayer differs even among the Gospels themselves. Although the form in Matthew is the one used by nearly all Christians today, a shorter version is recorded in Luke chapter 11, where it ends with “lead us not into temptation” (v.4). So technically, one would be completely biblically justified in simply ending the prayer there.

A second interesting thing is that the verse in question is not included in the “oldest and best” biblical manuscripts, and is therefore not considered by the majority of biblical scholars today, whether Catholic or Protestant, to be part of the original biblical text. The King James Version of the Bible is based on the Textus Receptus, which itself was not based on the oldest manuscripts we have today. Neither Codex Sinaiticus nor Vaticanus contains the verse—in fact, the earliest witness we have to the longer ending of the Our Father is a late fourth- or early fifth-century parchment called Codex Washingtonensis.

The English wording of the Our Father that Protestants use today reflects the version based on the English version of the Bible produced by Tyndale in 1525. Tyndale’s version was not found in the liturgical tradition of western Christendom until the 1637 Scottish Book of Common Prayer. And although the longer ending remains popular today, there are many Bibles that do not include it. Catholic Bible translations (e.g., the Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims, or the New American) have never included it, and most Protestant Bibles do not either.[1] Even modern versions of the King James includes a footnote stating that the phrase is omitted in older manuscripts.

Furthermore, although early Church Fathers such as Jerome, Gregory the Great, Ambrose, and Augustine wrote of the importance and beauty of the “Our Father” prayer, none of them included the phrase when they referenced it. The commentaries on the prayer by Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian do not include it either. John Chrysostom did discuss the phrase in his fourth-century homily on Matthew (19:10).

When we turn from Scripture commentary to Church Tradition, we find this phrase (which resembles 1 Chronicles 29:11) in ancient liturgical use as a short doxology (praise response) to the Lord’s Prayer. The Christian manual known as the Didache (c. A.D. 95) has a short version of the doxology after the Our Father in chapter 8, and the longer reading is found in the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions (7.24). From there it was incorporated into the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as well. Thus, it seems that this phrase might very well have been a doxology—a conclusion to the original prayer that Jesus instructed his disciples to say.

Scriptural and traditional evidence points to a fourth-century addition of the phrase to the original prayer. It is likely that around this time, a scribe familiar with the liturgy added the doxology to Sacred Scripture while copying the Our Father passage, and it found its way into later translations of the Bible itself. These copies eventually outnumbered the more ancient documents, and the phrase was included in the Gospels in the majority of ancient Bible manuscripts from then on.

When early Protestants produced their own Bible translations in the sixteenth century, they used the majority text as their source. The result was that their translations included the phrase as if it were part of the original Gospel writings. In England, Tyndale’s translation included it, and when Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church, he decreed its inclusion in worship. Finally, the virulently anti-Catholic Queen Elizabeth had it included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Once it was brought over to America by the Puritans, the phrase’s addition was further solidified.

So, in conclusion, it seems that English Protestants added a traditional Catholic prayer to the Bible in order to distance themselves from what they thought were unbiblical Catholic traditions. Although Protestants have corrected many of their modern Bible translations, it seems their tradition(!) of adding a Catholic doxology to the scriptural Lord’s Prayer may take a bit more time to overcome.


[1]  The ASV, CEV, ESV, GWT, GNT, NET, NIV, NIRV, NLT, and TNIV do not include the phrase, and others such as the HCSB, NASB, and NCV often bracket the phrase to set it off from the original text.

by Douglas M. Beaumont, in catholic.com

Son of God – Discussion of how this expression is used in the Old and New Testaments

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Son of God. IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.—The title “son of God” is frequent in the Old Testament. The word “son” was employed among the Semites to signify not only filiation, but other close connection or intimate relationship. Thus, “a son of strength” was a hero, a warrior, “son of wickedness” a wicked man, “sons of pride” wild beasts, “son of possession” a possessor, “son of pledging” a hostage, “son of lightning” a swift bird, “son of death” one doomed to death, “son of a bow” an arrow, “son of Belial” a wicked man, “sons of prophets” disciples of prophets, etc. The title “son of God” was applied in the Old Testament to persons having any special relationship with God. Angels, just and pious men, the descendants of Seth, were called “sons of God” (Job, i, 6; ii, 1; Ps. lxxxviii, 7; Wisd., ii, 13; etc.). In a similar manner it was given to Israelites (Deut., xiv, 1); and of Israel, as a nation, we read: “And thou shalt say to him: Thus saith the Lord: Israel is my son, my firstborn. I have said to thee: Let my son go, that he may serve me” (Ex., iv, 22 sq.). The leaders of the people, kings, princes, judges, as holding authority from God, were called sons of God. The theocratic king as lieutenant of God, and especially when he was providentially selected to be a type of the Messiah, was honored with the title “son of God”. But the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Elect of God, was par excellence called the Son of God (Pa. ii, 7). Even Wellhausen admits that Ps. ii is Messianic (see Hast., “Dict. of the Bible”, IV, 571). The prophecies regarding the Messiah became clearer as time went on, and the result is ably summed up by Sanday (ibid.): “The Scriptures of which we have been speaking mark so many different contributions to the total result, but the result, when it is attained, has the completeness of an organic whole. A Figure was created—projected as it were upon the clouds which was invested with all the attributes of a person. And the minds of men were turned towards it in an attitude of expectation. It makes no matter that the lines of the Figure are drawn from different originals. They meet at last in a single portraiture. And we should never have known how perfectly they meet if we had not the New Testament picture to compare with that of the Old Testament. The most literal fulfillment of prediction would not be more conclusive proof that all the course of the world and all the threads of history are in one guiding Hand.” The Messiah besides being the Son of God was to be called Emmanuel (God with us), Wonderful, Counselor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, Prince of Peace (Is., viii, 8; ix, 6) (see Messiah).

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.—The title “the Son of God” is frequently applied to Jesus Christ in the Gospels and Epistles. In the latter it is everywhere employed as a short formula for expressing His Divinity (Sanday); and this usage throws light on the meaning to be attached to it in many passages of the Gospels. The angel announced: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High … the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke, i, 32, 35). Nathaniel, at his first meeting, called Him the Son of God (John, i, 49). The devils called Him by the same name, the Jews ironically, and the Apostles after He quelled the storm. In all these cases its meaning was equivalent to the Messiah, at least. But much more is implied in the confession of St. Peter, the testimony of the Father, and the words of Jesus Christ.

Confession of St. Peter.—We read in Matt., xvi, 15, 16: “Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.” The parallel passages have: “Thou art the Christ” (Mark, viii, 29), “The Christ of God” (Luke, ix, 20). There can be no doubt that St. Matthew gives the original form of the expression, and that St. Mark and St. Luke in giving “the Christ” (the Messiah), instead, used it in the sense in which they understood it when they wrote, viz. as equivalent to “the incarnate Son of God” (see Rose, VI). Sanday, writing of St. Peter’s confession, says: “the context clearly proves that Matthew had before him some further tradition, possibly that of the Logia, but in any case a tradition that has the look of being original” (Hastings, “Dict. of the Bible”). As Rose well points out, in the minds of the Evangelists Jesus Christ was the Messiah because He was the Son of God, and not the Son of God because He was the Messiah.

Testimony of the Father.—At the Baptism.—”And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. And behold a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt., iii, 16, 17). “And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Mark, i, 11; Luke, iii, 22).

At the Transfiguration.—”And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him” (Matt., xvii, 5; Mark, ix, 6; Luke, ix, 35). Though Rose admits that the words spoken at the Baptism need not necessarily mean more than what was suggested by the Old Testament, viz. Son of God is equal to the Messiah, still, as the same words were used on both occasions, it is likely they had the same meaning in both cases. The Transfiguration took place within a week after St. Peter’s confession, and the words were used in the meaning in which the three disciples would then understand them; and at the Baptism it is probable that only Christ, and perhaps the Baptist, heard them, so that it is not necessary to interpret them according to the current opinions of the crowd. Even so cautious a critic as the Anglican Professor Sanday writes on these passages: “And if, on the occasions in question, the Spirit of God did intimate prophetically to chosen witnesses, more or fewer, a revelation couched partly in the language of the ancient Scriptures, it would by no means follow that the meaning of the revelation was limited to the meaning of the older Scriptures. On the contrary, it would be likely enough that the old words would be charged with new meaning—that, indeed the revelation … would yet be in substance a new revelation ….And we may assume that to His (Christ’s) mind the announcement `Thou art my Son’ meant not only all that it ever meant to the most enlightened seers of the past, but, yet more, all that the response of His own heart told Him that it meant in the present…. But it is possible, and we should be justified in supposing—not by way of dogmatic assertion but by way of pious belief—in view of the later history and the progress of subsequent revelation, that the words were intended to suggest a new truth, not hitherto made known, viz. that the Son was Son not only in the sense of the Messianic King, or of an Ideal People, but that the idea of sonship was fulfilled in Him in a way yet more mysterious and yet more essential; in other words, that He was Son, not merely in prophetic revelation, but in actual transcendent fact before the foundation of the world” (Hastings, “Dict. of the Bible”).

Testimony of Jesus Christ.—(I) The Synoptics.—The key to this is contained in His words, after the Resurrection: “I ascend to my Father and to your Father” (John, xx, 17). He always spoke of my Father, never of our Father. He said to the disciples: “Thus then shall you pray: Our Father”, etc. He everywhere draws the clearest possible distinction between the way in which God was His Father and in which He was the Father of all creatures. His expressions clearly prove that He claimed to be of the same nature with God; and His claims to Divine Sonship are contained very clearly in the Synoptic Gospels, though not as frequently as in St. John.

“Did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business?” (Luke, ii, 49); “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me you, that work iniquity” (Matt., vii, 21-23). “Everyone therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt., x, 32). “At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him. Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Matt., xi, 25-30; Luke, x, 21, 22). In the parable of the wicked husbandmen the son is distinguished from all other messengers: “Therefore having yet one son, most dear to him; he also sent him unto them last of all, saying: They will reverence my son. But the husbandmen said one to another: This is the heir; come let us kill him” (Mark, xii, 6). Compare Matt., xxii, 2, “The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son.” In Matt., xvii, 25, He states that as Son of God He is free from the temple tax. “David therefore himself calleth him Lord, and whence is he then his son?” (Mark, xii, 37). He is Lord of the angels. He shall come “in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And he shall send his angels” (Matt., xxiv, 30, 31). He confessed before Caiphas that he was the Son of the blessed God (Mark, xiv, 61-2). “Going therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost … and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matt., xxviii, 19, 20).

The claims of Jesus Christ, as set forth in the Synoptic Gospels, are so great that Salmon is justified in writing (Introd. to New Test., p. 197): “We deny that they [Christ’s utterances in the Fourth Gospel] are at all inconsistent with what is attributed to Him in the Synoptic Gospels. On the contrary, the dignity of our Savior’s person, and the duty of adhering to Him, are as strongly stated in the discourses which St. Matthew puts into His mouth as in any later Gospel…. The Synoptic Evangelists all agree in representing Jesus as persisting in this claim [of Supreme Judge] to the end, and finally incurring condemnation for blasphemy from the high-priest and the Jewish Council. . It follows that the claims which the Synoptic Gospels represent our Lord as making for Himself are so high … that, if we accept the Synoptic Gospels as truly representing the character of our Lord’s language about Himself, we certainly have no right to reject St. John’s account, on the score that he puts too exalted language about Himself into the mouth of our Lord.”

St. John’s Gospel.—It will not be necessary to give more than a few passages from St. John’s Gospel. “My Father worketh until now; and I work. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things which he himself doth: and greater works than these will he shew him, that you may wonder. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and giveth life: so the Son also giveth life to whom he will. For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given’ all judgment to the Son. That all may honor the Son, as they honor the Father” (v, 17, 20-23). “And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that everyone who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day” (vi, 40). “Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee….And now glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with thee” (xvii, 1, 5).

St. Paul.—St. Paul in the Epistles, which were written much earlier than most of our Gospels, clearly teaches the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and that He was the true Son of God; and it is important to remember that his enemies the Judaizers never dared to attack this teaching, a fact which proves that they could not find the smallest semblance of a discrepancy between his doctrines on this point and that of the other Apostles.

Son of Man.—In the Old Testament “son of man” is always translated in the Septuaginst without the article as Greek: uios anthropou. It is employed as a poetical synonym for man, or for the ideal man, e.g. “God is not as a man, that he should lie, nor as a son of man, that he should be changed” (Num., xxiii, 19). “Blessed is the man that doth this and the son of man that shall lay hold on this” (Is., lvi, 2). “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand: and upon the son of man whom thou hast confirmed for thyself” (Ps. lxxix, 18). The Prophet Ezechiel is addressed by God as “son of man” more than ninety times, e.g. “Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak to thee” (Ezech., ii, 1). This usage is confined to Ezechiel except one passage in Daniel, where Gabriel said: “Understand, O son of man, for in the time of the end the vision shall be fulfilled” (Dan., viii, 17).

In the great vision of Daniel, after the appearance of the four beasts, we read: “I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like a son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented him before him. And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom shall not be destroyed” (vii, 13 sq.). The person who appears here as son of man is interpreted by many non-Catholics as representing the Messianic kingdom, but there is nothing to prevent the passage from being taken to represent not only the Messianic kingdom, but par excellence the Messianic king. In the explanation, verse 17, the four beasts are “four kings” R.V., not “four kingdoms” as translated by D. V., though they appear to signify four kingdoms as well, for the characteristics of oriental kingdoms were identified with the characters of their kings. So when it is said in verse 18: “But the saints of the most high God shall take the kingdom: and they shall possess the kingdom for ever and ever”, the king is no more excluded here than in the case of the four beasts. The “son of man” here was early interpreted of the Messiah, in the Book of Henoch, where the expression is used almost as a Messianic title, though there is a good deal in Drummond’s argument that even here it was not used as a Messianic title notwithstanding the fact that it was understood of the Messiah. It has to be added that in the time of Christ it was not very widely, if at all, known as a Messianic title.

The employment of the expression in the Gospels is very remarkable. It is used to designate Jesus Christ no fewer than eighty-one times—thirty times in St. Matthew, fourteen times in St. Mark, twenty-five times in St. Luke, and twelve times in St. John. Contrary to what obtains in the Septuagint, it appears everywhere with the article, as o uios tou anthropou. Greek scholars are agreed that the correct translation of this is “the son of man”, not “the son of the man”. The possible ambiguity may be one of the reasons why it is seldom or never found in the early Greek Fathers as a title for Christ. But the most remarkable thing connected with “the Son of Man” is that it is found only in the mouth of Christ. It is never employed by the disciples or Evangelists, nor by the early Christian writers. It is found once only in Acts, where St. Stephen exclaims: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God” (vii, 55). The whole incident proves that it was a well-known expression of Christ’s. Though the saying was so frequently employed by Christ, the disciples preferred some more honorific title and we do not find it at all in St. Paul nor in the other Epistles. St. Paul perhaps uses something like an equivalent when he calls Christ the second or last Adam. The writers of the Epistles, moreover, probably wished to avoid the Greek ambiguity just alluded to.

The expression is Christ’s, in spite of the futile attempts of some German Rationalists and others to show that He could not have used it. It was not invented by the writers of the Gospels to whom it did not appear to be a favorite title, as they never use it of Christ themselves. It was not derived by them from what is asserted was a false interpretation of Daniel, because it appears in the early portions of the public ministry where there is no reference to Daniel. The objection that Christ could not have used it in Aramaic because the only similar expression was bar-nasha, which then meant only “man”, bar having by that time lost its meaning of “son”, is not of much weight. Only little is known of the Aramaic spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ; and as Drummond points out special meaning could be given to the word by the emphasis with which it was pronounced, even if bar-nasha had lost its primary meaning in Palestine, which is not at all proved. As the same writer shows, there were other expressions in Aramaic which Christ could have employed for the purpose, and Sanday suggests that He may have occasionally spoken in Greek.

The early Fathers were of the opinion that the expression was used out of humility and to show Christ’s human nature, and this is very probable considering the early rise of Docetism. This is also the opinion of Cornelius a Lapide. Others, such as Knabenbauer, think that He adopted a title which would not give umbrage to His enemies, and which, as time went on, was capable of being applied so as to cover His Messianic claims—to include everything that had been foretold of the representative man, the second Adam, the suffering servant of Jehovah, the Messianic king.

By C. Aherne in catholic.com

La fin des travaux de restauration du château de Quéribus

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Le chantier aura duré sept mois. Le château cathare de Quéribus, à la frontière entre l’Aude et les Pyrénées-Orientales, a subi une cure de jouvence. Un chantier indispensable pour ce site qui date du Xe siècle.

Les visiteurs ont pu redécouvrir ce mardi le château de Quéribus après sept mois de travaux. Un chantier périlleux en raison de la localisation du château cathare : en haut d’une falaise, à 728 mètres d’altitude.

Des maçons alpinistes !

Il a fallu utiliser des hélicoptères pour acheminer le matériel nécessaire (eau, chaux, sable, etc..) au pied de l’édifice. Parmi les travaux réalisés : le rejointoiement des murs. Pour Bruno Schenck, premier adjoint au maire de Cucugnan “c’était impératif. On pouvait passer la moitié du bras entre les pierres ! Cela n’avait jamais été fait depuis des siècles.” Il a aussi fallu s’occuper de plusieurs voûtes. Celle entre le corps de logis et le parvis du donjon a été refaite à l’ancienne, avec des moellons, et l’autre a été réalisée avec des pierres de taille travaillées sur place.

Le chantier a été compliqué techniquement. Un seul mot d’ordre: respecter l’architecture médiévale de l’époque. Ce sont des maçons spécialisés qui s’en sont chargés, des maçons alpinistes accrochés à la façade pour certains travaux, comme sur le donjon.

Bruno Schenck, l’adjoint au maire de Cucugnan est fier du résultat: “c’est un vrai bonheur d’avoir réalisé ce chantier, c’est essentiel pour le maintien du patrimoine. Le dossier en vue d’un classement au patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO continue, mais c’est très long !”

Par Isabelle Rolland, Sébastien Berriot, France Bleu Roussillon, France Bleu Occitanie

How to Resolve Alleged Gospel Contradictions

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Christians have always known that the four canonical Gospels describe the same major events in Christ’s life but in different ways. For example, consider what God says at Jesus’ baptism. In Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22, God says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” But in Matthew 3:17 God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” So which is it? Did God say, “You are my beloved son” or “This is my beloved son?”

The apocryphal second-century Gospel of the Ebionites proposed a novel answer to this question. In this account, written more than a century after the events it purports to describe, the Father speaks three times—presumably to account for what Matthew, Mark, and Luke record. But this seems implausible given that none of the canonical Gospels—the ones the Church recognizes to be inspired—describe the Father speaking more than once. Besides, would the Father really need to repeat himself to the crowd, or to Jesus, when both could hear what he said the first time?[1]

A better explanation for passages like these is that they differ only in what they say, not in what they assert. This brings us to a good rule of thumb: differing Gospel descriptions do not equal contradictions. A true contradiction in Scripture would occur only when two statements taken together assert that both “X” and “not X” are true at the same time and in the same circumstance. Non-identical descriptions are not necessarily contradictions, because the author may not have asserted the literal truth of every detail in his account. This is understandable, given the nature of ancient historical writing.

How to write history

The second-century Roman author Lucian of Samosata said that the historian “must sacrifice to no God but Truth” and that “Facts are not to be collected at haphazard but with careful, laborious, repeated investigation.”[2] This parallels the prologue of Luke’s Gospel in which the evangelist describes gathering sources in order to create his historical record of what Jesus said and did. Both Luke and Lucian were committed to accurately recording the past, but Lucian also wrote, “The historian’s spirit should not be without a touch of the poetical.”[3]

Consider, for example, how ancient historians recorded speeches that were given decades or centuries earlier. According to Lucian, speeches “should suit the character both of the speaker and of the occasion . . . but in these cases you have the counsel’s right of showing your eloquence.”[4]

In other words, historians can compose speeches with words that were never actually spoken as long as the words they choose are something the person would have said. Thucydides, one of ancient Greece’s most important historians, put it this way: with reference to the speeches in this history, some

were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one’s memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said.[5]

Historiography scholar Jonas Grethlein corroborates this: “It is widely agreed that most speeches in ancient historiography do not reproduce verba ipissima [what was originally said].”[6] As long as the meaning of the speaker was preserved, an ancient historian was free to use words that differed from what the speaker might actually have said.

We do this even today when we paraphrase speeches given at formal events. After all, when we are asked, “What did the speaker say?” we give a summary with some quotation—not an hour-long recitation.

What is true of ancient historians is also true of the authors of the Gospels. They were concerned with recording history, but their style of historical writing was not the same as the histories we are familiar with today. According to New Testament scholar Craig Keener,

It is anachronistic to assume that ancient and modern histories would share all the same generic features (such as the way speeches should be composed) simply because we employ the same term today to describe both . . . Ancient historians sometimes fleshed out scenes and speeches to produce a coherent narrative in a way that their contemporaries expected but that modern academic historians would not consider acceptable when writing for their own peers.[7]

This is why when we read the Gospels we must distinguish between truths the evangelists were asserting and details they provided to accompany those assertions. The latter could vary in accordance with the standards of ancient historical writing without compromising the truths the author wanted to express to his audience.

Effects on the Gospels

Let’s return to the example of Jesus’ baptism. All three evangelists agree that at this event God publicly revealed himself to be the Father of Jesus. The accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke differ only in the words they used to describe that revelation. Matthew chose to emphasize how this message affected the crowd, whereas Mark and Luke emphasized how the message affected Jesus. There is no contradiction, because all three writers are asserting the same truth: that Jesus is God’s Son. They only do so in different ways.

The same can be said of the cock crowing before Peter’s denial. Each evangelist records this detail differently (possibly because they used different sources), but they all assert the same truth: that the cock’s crow coincided with Peter’s denial of Jesus. In fact, sometimes these differences reveal more about the author of a story than the story he was describing.

For example, think about how Mark describes the hemorrhaging woman who Jesus healed. He says she “suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26). Luke, “the beloved physician” (see Colossians 4:14), on the other hand, may not have wanted to unduly criticize his peers, so he simply said the woman “spent all her living upon physicians and could not be healed by any one” (Luke 8:43). Both statements assert the same thing—the best human medicine could not help this woman. They simply describe this fact differently.

In conclusion, it is a fallacy to say the Gospels must either be chronologically ordered and detail rich accounts of the life of Christ, or else they must be fictional, theological treatises. Instead, the closest literary genre that describes the Gospels is bioi, or ancient biography.[8]

According to Richard Burridge, ancient biography, “was a flexible genre having strong relationships with history, encomium and rhetoric, moral philosophy and the concern for character.”[9] The purpose of bioi was to recount stories of important people for the purpose of edifying readers, not merely to recount historical facts in the life of a certain person.

Burridge goes on to say, “[T]rying to decode the Gospels through the genre of modern biography, when the author encoded his message in the genre of ancient [biography], will lead to another nonsense—blaming the text for not containing modern predilections which it was never meant to contain.”[10] This includes blaming Mark for not describing Jesus’ infancy, blaming John for not describing events like the Last Supper, or blaming the evangelists as a whole for not conforming to our expectations of a modern biography or newspaper article.

The differences among the Gospel accounts are also typical of ancient Roman historical writing. For example, there are three contradictory ancient accounts of what Emperor Nero did during the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64. Some say he metaphorically “fiddled while Rome burned,” but others say he had nothing to do with the fire.[11]

Since scholars rarely doubt the accuracy of non=biblical ancient Roman history in spite of these contradictions, they should give the same benefit of the doubt to the Gospels and not hastily write them off as unhistorical contradictions just because they differ in the details they record.

_____________________________________

Notes

[1] Even Tatian the Syrian, who authored the earliest known attempt to harmonize the four Gospels in the Diatessaron, says that God only spoke once and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (4.28).

[2] “H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, trans., The Works of Lucian of Samosata, Vol. II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), 129–31.”

[3] Ibid, 130.

[4] Ibid, 134.

[5] “Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.22.1. Cited in Brant Pitre, The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for “Christ (New York: Doubleday, 2016), 79–81.”

[6] “Jonas Grethlein, Experience and Teleology in Ancient Historiography: “Futures Past” from Herodotus to Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 64.

[7] “Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2009), 110.”

[8] “It has become much clearer that the Gospels are in fact very similar in type to ancient biographies (Greek, bioi; Latin, vitae).” James D.G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2003), 185.”

[9] “Richard Burridge, What Are the Gospels?: A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography, second edition (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2004), 67.”

[10] Ibid., 249.

[11] “Our main sources for the fire are Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio. All three of these ancient Roman historians agree there was a fire in Rome, but they disagree about the actions of the emperor, who many believed had started the fire in order to free up space for the construction of a future palace. Was Nero not responsible and away in the city of Antium during the fire as Tacitus says (Annals 15.44)? Did Nero send men to burn the city and watch from the tower of Maecenas as Suetonius says (Life of Nero 38)? Or did Nero start the fire himself and watch from the rooftop of the imperial palace as Dio Cassius says (Roman History 62.16–17)? See also Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 570.”

in catholic.com

Mary Magdalen – Treatment of the New Testament figure

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Mary Magdalen , so called either from Magdala near Tiberias on the west shore of Galilee, or, possibly from a Talmudic expression MNRLA SY`RA NSYYA, i.e.” curling women’s hair”, which the Talmud explains as of an adulteress. In the New Testament she is mentioned among the women who accompanied Christ and ministered to Him (Luke, viii, 2-3), where it is also said that seven devils had been cast out of her (Mark, xvi, 9). She is next named as standing at the foot of the cross (Mark, xv, 40; Matt., xxvii, 56; John, xix, 25; Luke, xxiii, 49). She saw Christ laid in the tomb, and she was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection. The Greek Fathers, as a whole, distinguish the three persons: the “sinner” of Luke, vii, 36-50; the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Luke, x, 38-42, and John, xi; and Mary Magdalen. On the other hand most of the Latins hold that these three were one and the same. Protestant critics, however, believe there were two, if not three, distinct persons. It is impossible to demonstrate the identity of the three; but those commentators undoubtedly go too far who assert, as does Westcott (on John, xi, 1), “that the identity of Mary with Mary Magdalene is a mere conjecture supported by no direct evidence, and opposed to the general tenour of the gospels”. It is the identification of Mary of Bethany with the “sinner” of Luke, vii, 37, which is most combatted by Protestants (see Plummer, “International Critical Comment. on St. Luke”, p. 209). It almost seems as if this reluctance to identify the “sinner” with the sister of Martha were due to a failure to grasp the full significance of the forgiveness of sin. (See Mayor in Hastings, “Dictionary of the Bible”, III, 284.) The harmonizing tendencies of so many modern critics, too, are responsible for much of the existing confusion.

The first fact mentioned in the Gospel relating to the question under discussion is the anointing of Christ’s feet by a woman, a “sinner” in the city (Luke, vii, 37-50). This belongs to the Galilean ministry, it precedes the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand and the third Passover. Immediately afterwards St. Luke describes a missionary circuit in Galilee and tells us of the women who ministered to Christ, among them being “Mary who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth” (Luke, viii, 2); but he does not tell us that she is to be identified with the” sinner” of the previous chapter. In x, 38-42, he tells us of Christ’s visit to Martha and Mary” in a certain town”; it is impossible to identify this town, but it is clear from ix, 53, that Christ had definitively left Galilee, and it is quite possible that this “town” was Bethany. This seems confirmed by the preceding parable of the good Samaritan, which must almost certainly have been spoken on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem. But here again we note that there is no suggestion of an identification of the three persons, viz., the “sinner”, Mary Magdalen, and Mary of Bethany; and if we had only St. Luke to guide us we should certainly have no grounds for so identifying them. St. John, however, clearly identifies Mary of Bethany with the woman who anointed Christ’s feet (xii; cf. Matt., xxvit and Mark, xiv). It is remarkable that already in xi, 2, St. John has spoken of Mary as “she that anointed the Lord’s feet”, e aleipsasa; it is commonly said that he refers to the subsequent anointing which he himself describes in xii, 3-8; but it may be questioned whether he would have used e aleipsasa if another woman, and she a “sinner” in the city, had done the same. It is conceivable that St. John, just because he is writing so long after the event and at a time when Mary was dead, wishes to point out to us that she was really the same as the “sinner”. In the same way St. Luke may have veiled her identity precisely because he did not wish to defame one who was yet living; he certainly does something similar in the case of St. Matthew whose identity with Levi the publican (v, 7) he conceals.

If the foregoing argument holds good, Mary of Bethany and the “sinner” are one and the same. But an examination of St. John’s Gospel makes it almost impossible to deny the identity of Mary of Bethany with Mary Magdalen. From St. John we learn the name of the “woman” who anointed Christ’s feet previous to the last supper. We may remark here that it seems unnecessary to hold that because St. Matthew and St. Mark say “two days before the Passover”, while St. John says “six days” there were, therefore, two distinct anointings following one another. St. John does not necessarily mean that the supper and the anointing took place six days before, but only that Christ came to Bethany six days before the Passover. At that supper, then, Mary received the glorious encomium, “she hath wrought a good work upon Me.. in pouring this ointment upon My body she hath done it for My burial. wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached… that also which she bath done shall be told for a memory of her.” Is it credible, in view of all this, that this Mary should have no place at the foot of the cross, nor at the tomb of Christ? Yet it is Mary Magdalen who, according to all the Evangelists, stood at the foot of the cross and assisted at the entombment and was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection. And while St. John calls, her “Mary Magdalen” in xix, 25, xx, 1, 18, he calls her simply “Mary” in xx, 11 and 16.

In the view we have advocated the series of events forms a consistent whole the “sinner” comes early in the ministry to seek for pardon; she is described immediately afterwards as Mary Magdalen “out of whom seven devils were gone forth”; shortly after, we find her “sitting at the Lord’s feet and hearing His words”. To the Catholic mind it all seems fitting and natural. At a later period Mary and Martha turn to “the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, and He restores to them their brother Lazarus; a short time afterwards they make Him a supper and Mary once more repeats the act she had performed when a penitent. At the Passion she stands near by; she sees Him laid in the tomb; and she is the first witness of His Resurrection—excepting always His Mother, to whom He must needs have appeared first, though the New Testament is silent on this point. In our view, then, there were two anointings of Christ’s feet—it should surely be no difficulty that St. Matthew and St. Mark speak of His head—the first (Luke, vii) took place at a comparatively early date; the second, two days before the last Passover. But it was one and the same woman who performed this pious act on each occasion.

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY OF ST. MARY MAGDALEN.—The Greek Church maintains that the saint retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin and there died, that her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are there preserved. Gregory of Tours, “De miraculis”, I, xxx, supports the statement that she went to Ephesus. However, according to a French tradition (LAZARUS OF BETHANY, Saint), Mary, Lazarus, and some companions came to Marseilles and converted the whole of Provence. Magdalen is said to have retired to a hill, La Sainte-Baume, near by, where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. When the time of her death arrived she was carried by angels to Aix and into the oratory of St. Maximinus, where she received the viaticum; her body was then laid in an oratory constructed by St. Maximinus at Villa Lath, afterwards called St. Maxi-min. History is silent about these relics till 745, when, according to the chronicler Sigebert, they were removed to Vezelay through fear of the Saracens. No record is preserved of their return, but in 1279, when Charles II, King of Naples, erected a convent at La Sainte-Baume for the Dominicans, the shrine was found intact, with an inscription stating why they were hidden. In 1600 the relics were placed in a sarcophagus sent by Clement VIII, the head being placed in a separate vessel. In 1814 the church of La Ste Baume, wrecked during the Revolution, was restored, and in 1822 the grotto was consecrated afresh. The head of the saint now lies there, where it has lain so long, and where it has been the center of so many pilgrimages.

by Hugh Pope, in catholic.com

Uncanny Bible Coincidences

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There are many ways to argue for the historical reliability of the Gospels. One compelling approach is to point to what nineteenth-century Anglican priest J.J. Blunt called “undesigned coincidences.”

These occur when you have two texts containing pieces of information that fit together in ways that corroborate each other—without the authors having colluded to plant the information. The existence of such interlocking details in the Gospels suggest their veracity. They don’t corroborate each other in ways that you would expect if the authors were colluding. They’re not conspicuous verbatim agreements on the main facts, suggesting a conspiracy, but rather random details that fit together in subtle ways that may not be immediately apparent.

So many undesigned coincidences in the Gospels have been identified that a whole book can be written on them. But let me just share two of them.

  • Undesigned coincidence #1: Luke’s account of the feeding of the five thousand provides a detail that explains why Jesus asks Philip where they can buy some bread in John’s account of the same event (John 6:5; Luke 9:10-12).

John sets up the feeding of the five thousand with a conversation that Jesus has with Philip, in which Jesus asks, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip responds in distress, telling Jesus, “two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little” (v.6).

What’s important for our purposes is that Jesus asks Philip. Why does he? You might think that Jesus would ask someone a little more important, like Peter, James, or John, rather than an apostle whose name is always listed among the second tier of apostles in Scripture (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13-14).

We find a clue at the beginning of Luke’s account of the same miracle, in chapter 9. Luke tells us that Jesus took the apostles and “withdrew apart to a city called Bethsaida” (v.10). This is important because according to John 1:43, “Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.”

Being from Bethsaida, Philip would’ve had current local knowledge of where to buy bread. Thus, we have a plausible explanation for why Jesus asks Philip. Luke provides a piece of information that John lacks, but in an indirect way that doesn’t seem to be planned; hence an “undesigned coincidence.”

But someone may object, “Of course, John 1:43 tells us that Philip was from Bethsaida, but he also says that Andrew and Peter were from there as well. So why didn’t Jesus ask Peter or Andrew? They would have had the same local knowledge, right?”

This would be true if they were all residents there at the time of the miracle. But we have evidence that they weren’t: they were residents of Capernaum. In Mark 1:21, we read about how Jesus, along with Simon, Andrew, James, and John, “went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath . . . entered a synagogue and taught.” Then in verse 29, Mark tells us, “And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.”

Peter and Andrew, therefore, although originally from Bethsaida, were living in Capernaum during the time of Jesus’s ministry. As such, they wouldn’t have known the best place in Bethsaida to buy bread.  But Phillip did.

  • Undesigned coincidence #2: Mark’s account of the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law (1:21, 29-32) provides a detail that explains why people in Matthew’s account waited until evening to approach Jesus for healing (8:14-16).

Here’s what we read in Matthew 8:14-16:

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.

Why did people wait until evening to bring to Jesus those who were possessed and sick? You would think they’d want Jesus to start healing the sick and suffering right away.

The answer is found in Mark’s parallel account of this event (Mark 1:21, 29-32):

And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught . . . And immediately he [Jesus] left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.

Notice how verse 21 tells us the day on which Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law: the Sabbath. This is why people waited until sundown, the end of the Sabbath (during which it was forbidden to do work), to bring their sick and possessed loved ones to Jesus.

They waited until evening lest the Pharisees view their attempt to bring the sick and possessed to Jesus for healing as a breach of the Sabbath rest. This is a reasonable assumption given the fact that the Pharisees viewed even the performance of a miracle as breaking the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6; John 5:16).

By themselves, undesigned coincidences might not be fully convincing for a skeptic. But they are not meant to stand alone. They form a cumulative argument: it’s strongest when the coincidences are taken as a whole. As one author put it, “it’s death by a thousand mosquito bites.” (Being from Louisiana, I know what that’s all about!) They’re even stronger when presented alongside other evidence to make a comprehensive and convincing case for the trustworthiness of the Gospels.

by Karlo Broussard, in catholic.com