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Secret orders and supposed traitors — TV’s ‘Dig’ and religious history

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The pieces of the religious puzzle that make up the USA Network’s biblical conspiracy action series “Dig” are beginning to fall into place, and the picture they are revealing is one of history — highlighted by a colorful streak of fiction.

Here be spoilers! Read on only if you are up-to-date with the 10-part series, or want to ruin it for yourself and others.

“Order of Moriah”

This secret religious order, supposedly dating from the Crusades, seems to be a product of the “Dig” writers’ imaginations. But, like many of the show’s fictional aspects, it is based on historical fact.

The Crusades, which mainly took place from 1095 to 1291, were an attempt by the Rome-based Catholic Church to retake the Holy Land — Jerusalem and its environs — away from its Muslim rulers.

During that time, the church founded several monastic religious orders whose members traveled to Jerusalem. Some fought with the armies; some cared for the wounded and sick. The most famous of these orders were the Knights Hospitallers, the Knights Teutonic and the Knights Templar.

It is perhaps the Templars that the Order of Moriah is based on. Officially named “The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon,” the Knights Templar were anything but poor. They owned land from Rome to Jerusalem and were involved in finance throughout the Christian world. They loaned money to King Philip IV of France and the church.

That’s where they got into trouble. When the king didn’t want to pay them back, he pressuredPope Clement V to disband the knights. The resistant knights were charged with heresy and many members were arrested, tortured and burned at the stake. Legend holds that some members went into hiding — and took a lot of loot with them.

Writers have been making fictional hay with the Knights Templar and other so-called “secret” religious orders since Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” in 1820. The most famous example is Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” in which a Templar-like order called the “Priory of Sion” keeps a really, really big secret about the nature of the “Holy Grail.”

Enter “Dig,” whose evil archaeologist, Ian Margove (Richard E. Grant), is after the “treasure” the Order of Moriah is supposed to have buried somewhere in Jerusalem.

Flavius Josephus

Archaeologist Margrove says that “according to Flavius Josephus,” the breastplate will pinpoint the location of the treasure.

Flavius Josephus was a first-century Jewish historian. Contemporary Jews are most familiar with him for his firsthand account of the revolt of the Maccabees, a Jewish sect that rose against Roman rule, while Christians know him for his description of Jesus’ early followers.

But Josephus’ own biography is as fascinating as his historical works. He was born to well-to-do and noble Jews in 37 C.E. in Jerusalem. At 16, he went to live with a desert hermit — perhaps an Essene — but returned to Jerusalem at age 19 and joined the Pharisees, a Jewish priestly sect. During the First Jewish-Roman War, he was in charge of a section of Jerusalem’s forces.

At one point, Josephus and 40 of his followers were trapped in a cave. Rather than surrender, Josephus persuaded them to commit group suicide, with each man drawing lots and killing a companion, so no one would have to kill himself. For whatever reason — an act of luck or the hand of God — by the time the lots got around to Josephus, he and another soldier were the last ones standing. And they surrendered to the Romans. Josephus went on to become a friend of the Emperor Vespasian and the recipient of a Roman pension.

For this reason, many have considered him a traitor — he’s been called the “Jewish Benedict Arnold” by some scholars. But in the past few decades, some scholars are rehabilitating his image, claiming he joined the Romans out of a sense of deference or even unwillingly.

Whatever the truth, the characters of “Dig” are right to turn to Josephus for information about early Jewish rituals and practices. His book “Antiquities of the Jews” describes first-century Jewish religious garments and ritual items, including a priest’s breastplate that is critical to the “Dig” plotline.

But using such a breastplate as a treasure map is fictional — not historical — at all.

YS/MG END WINSTON

Programa RTP 2 – Visita Guiada – Convento de Cristo

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O claustro principal do convento de Cristo está referenciado na história da arte universal como um dos mais belos exemplares da arquitectura renascentista europeia. Mas este claustro é mais do que um tesouro da arte do renascimento, é a construção que enterra de vez a Idade Média em Portugal e o alinha com o novo humanismo europeu.

Convidado: João Paulo Martins, arquitecto
Visita Guiada é um programa de televisão e de rádio sobre os tesouros do património cultural português. Tesouros com reconhecido valor universal, peças que qualquer país ocidental se orgulharia de integrar no seu património, e pouco conhecidos dos portugueses.

De um cálice de prata com decoração moçárabe e mil anos de idade a um claustro que está referenciado como obra-prima do renascentismo europeu, passando por uma colecção de arte africana classificada como uma das melhores do mundo, a natureza dos objetos, o seu contexto geográfico e o seu tempo histórico variam de episódio para episódio.
Conhecer o Património Cultural português

New Programs Explore Theories Put Forth in The Da Vinci Code

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The questions and theories put forth in The Da Vinci Code contradict old, accepted beliefs and have electrified debate around the world. Could Mary Magdalene have been the wife of Jesus, and did they have a child together? Was Mary’s reputation as a prostitute in fact a libel created by the early Church? What were the real circumstances of Jesus’ death? Were the Knights Templar founded to guard the secret of Jesus’ bloodline?

Secrets of the Cross, airing on the National Geographic Channel, is an exciting new four-part series, uncovering the tantalizing mysteries at the heart of the Christian tradition. Stories that have shaped Western culture are scrutinized in the light of compelling new evidence, as the series strips back the layers of history to reveal surprising and provocative truths.

At the heart of each program is new archaeological and historical evidence that explodes the myths embedded in the traditional tales. With the help of expert witnesses, they discover the conspiracies and cover-ups that have obscured the truth, and finally uncover the historical reality at each story’s heart.

Secrets of the Cross avoids the familiar reverential treatment of biblical history; it’s a fast-paced present-day quest. The subject may be the ancient past, but the investigation is in the here and now, amidst the tourists and traffic, the hustle and bustle of modern Jerusalem and Rome.

The Mary Magdalene Conspiracy
The gospels say almost nothing about Mary Magdalene. The early Christian church branded her a prostitute and western art and literature have constantly reinvented her down the centuries. She remains one of the most mysterious women in history.

This program draws together a picture of the real Mary Magdalene. Was she the bad girl of the gospels or the wife of Jesus, perhaps even the mother of his child? Or do all the conspiracy theories hide an even greater truth of Mary Magdalene as the leader of the early church?

Trail of the Knights Templars
The rise of the Knights Templar had been rapid, and their fall was equally as swift. In the blink of an eye, the considerable wealth the Templars had amassed was also to disappear, giving rise to myths that have shrouded the order ever since. And it begged the biggest question: what was the real purpose of the Knights Templars?

Away from the celebrity glare of The Da Vinci Code, new light is now shed on the Knights Templars, based on fresh evidence. The truth starts to emerge about an idiosyncratic conglomerate of warrior-monks, ultimately leading to an extraordinary conclusion: corporate greed and until recently, the Vatican’s best-kept secret; The Chinon Parchment, revealing Templar confessions of taboo rituals.

Who Killed Jesus?
This program examines the conspiracy of silence that protected Pontius Pilate and the Roman Empire for two thousand years. Why was Rome’s real role in Jesus’ death covered up? What was the secret agenda of the early Christian writers who detailed the trial and execution of Jesus in the gospels? This show exposes their motives for pinning all the blame on the Jews and shows how this skewed accusation has resounded through the ages. The gospel version of Christ’s death is revealed to be fatally flawed, and finally Pontius Pilate stands alone in the spotlight as the man who killed Christ.

The Jesus Tomb
In 1980 an ancient tomb was unearthed on a building site in the Jerusalem suburb of Talpiot by archaeologists. Inside were a number of bone boxes dating from the 1st century CE. The inscriptions on the sides of these boxes were an archaeological bombshell–they included; Jesus son of Joseph, Mary, Mariamne, Jose, Matthew and Judah son of Jesus–all names potentially associated with the New Testament family of Jesus of Nazareth. This finding strikes at the heart of traditional Christianity which is based on the belief that Jesus was physically resurrected from an empty tomb near the Holy Sepulchre Church–the traditional site of crucifixion. Yet the archaeologist argues that it would have been easy for the disciples to simply remove Jesus’ body from the tomb at Golgotha and place him in a tomb at Talpiot.

David Carradine’s Last Movie is “The Night of the Templar”

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David Carradine’s legacy pinnacles in the soon to be released Paul Sampson film, Night of the Templar. Starring alongside an eclectic ensemble of Hollywood A-lister’s, Carradine offers his sword wielding brilliance in what may mark the final scenes of this Hollywood stars brilliant career.

With principle photography complete, Night of the Templar is set for a late autumn release. Carradine supports the film with his role as the cryptic Shopkeeper. Playing as a sword wielding and powerful character that appears mysteriously as the protagonist’s right hand, Carradine’s character returns with a wrath of vengeance from nearly seven hundred years of silence to fulfill his destiny in this chilling feature.

Sampson said in a press statement, “Since the picture wrapped, David and I became closer friends. We spoke often about the progress of the film. On days when I see his face in the editing room it’s bizarre, I’d like to call him with updates and I realize I can’t. It’s sad but I feel he’s here in spirit. David had a strong spirit.”

Sorvino gets physical

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Mira Sorvino plays the lead role in The Last Templar, a four-hour mini-series filmed in Montreal.

A rather mean-looking fellow comes striding out of the Lucky Luc Stables in St. Henri just north of the Lachine Canal, bumps into Mira Sorvino and roughly throws the Oscar-winning actress to the ground. The tough guy is Montreal actor Danny Blanco Hall and it’s all part of the action on the final day of filming in town on the $20 million mini-series The Last Templar.

Luckily for Sorvino, there’s a mat on the ground in the stable to help cushion her fall, but on one of the many takes, it looks like she was actually shaken up and director Paolo Barzman runs over to make sure his star is doing OK.

“It rattled my cage a little but I was fine,” Sorvino said in a chat a few minutes later. “I’ve done a lot of my stunts in this movie and it’s been fun. I’m kind of a daredevil. Throw me on a horse or have me do a fight scene and I want to do all of it myself. They have to pull me back because insurance doesn’t let you do the horseback riding. I can only get on the horse and ride in and out of shots very slowly, even though I used to have a horse when I was a kid. I said, ‘Wait, I can do all of this. I can gallop.’ But you can’t do it.”

In the scene, Tess Chaykin, the Manhattan archeologist played by Sorvino, arrives at a New York-area stable to meet one of four masked horsemen who had earlier stormed into the Metropolitan Museum and stolen one of the items at an exhibit of Vatican treasures. But the horseman is killed just before Chaykin arrives and the murderer, Plunkett, portrayed by Blanco, is the guy who man-handles her at the entrance to the stables.

The four-hour mini-series from local producer Muse Entertainment will air on Global and NBC sometime in early 2009. The local leg of shooting wrapped this past Tuesday with the scenes at Lucky Luc stables, but the cast and crew will be shooting in Morocco later this month.

Wednesday was a day-off for the Last Templar team, a brief pit-stop before scouting locations in Morocco, and a tired Barzman took a half-hour out of his down-day to talk about the production. He admitted he was a little worried for Sorvino during that scene at the stables Tuesday.

“Strangely enough, it’s sometimes these simple little things where you get hurt,” said the Cannes-born, Paris-raised, now-Montreal-based filmmaker. “It’s the simple things where you’re maybe not that cautious. But Mira is very physical. She goes for it.”

He talked of one of the bigger set pieces in the film, in which the masked horsemen, who are dressed as Templar Knights, flee the museum and gallop down the stairs outside the Met – a scene filmed on the steps of Mary Queen of the World on René Lévesque Blvd. Sorvino’s character steals a police horse and chases down the steps after the thieves, but the insurance company forbade Sorvino from getting on the horse for that sequence.

“That was a major choreography,” said Barzman, whose previous film, the Holocaust-themed, Quebec-set drama Emotional Arithmetic, recently played local cinemas.

The Last Templar is set in present-day Manhattan, Turkey and the Greek islands, but it also flashes back to 13th-century Europe to follow a young Templar Knight who disappears with a chest carrying a secret that – in a Da Vinci Code-like twist – is still wreaking havoc several centuries later.

The other lead actor in the mini-series is Scott Foley, best-known for the TV series Felicity and The Unit. He plays FBI agent Sean Reilly, who, like Sorvino’s Chaykin, is in hot pursuit of these horsemen.

Foley cautions against taking The Last Templar too seriously.

“Growing up, I really enjoyed Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile, with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and that’s what resonates here, with the chemistry between the two of us,” said Foley. “This has its heavy moments with regards to religion and the belief in God, but for the most part it’s kind of a light romp. It’s fun – we’re going to solve a mystery, to find the hidden treasure.”

For Sorvino, this is her fourth project shot in Montreal, following the 1998 Marlon Brando oddity Free Money, the 2000 TV version of The Great Gatsby, and the harrowing 2005 mini-series Human Trafficking (another Muse production).

“I like shooting in Montreal,” said Sorvino. “I prefer Montreal to Toronto. Maybe it’s because of the French element.”

Sorvino is fluent in the language of Molière, having studied it throughout high school and also spent some time in France when she was dating French actor Olivier Martinez several years back.

Turns out she also prefers Montreal to Paris because she finds the francos here “nicer and more courteous than the French.”

It looks like the only local not making nice with Sorvino is the thug who keeps pushing her to the ground at the stables.

bkelly@thegazette.canwest.com

HOLLYWOOD, UFOS AND THE OCCULT: THE IMPENDING SOMETHING

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Out-there researchers discuss the impending … something

The broadcast-quality lilt of Coast to Coast AM radio host George Noory wafted over a packed conference room at Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn last Saturday night as he a moderated a panel of out-there researchers engaged in a radical examination of Hollywood’s covert use of occult symbolism and alien agendas — the same week that the Vatican’s chief astronomer told an interviewer that belief in alien life does not contradict belief in God. As Noory told the audience, “There’s definitely a sense of an impending … something.”

Noory is the successor to radio’s legendary Art Bell, who stoked a particular millennial Zeitgeist with his fireside chats on UFOs, the paranormal and all manner of conspiracy theories with his syndicated radio program, before passing the mike to Noory in 2002. Coast to Coast AM remains a cultural touchstone, and Noory — personable and mustachioed — continues to bring so-called fringe ideas front and center.

We’re at “an extraordinary crossroads, with the way life is unfolding,” commented panelist Whitley Strieber, whose most recent novel is based on the doomsday/consciousness-shifting 2012 mythos, and who believes he was “implanted” with a device by his “visitors.” He recalled a bit of the aliens’ verbiage: “We will come from within you.”

According to panelist/abduction therapist Yvonne Smith, 17 functional-growth characteristics in humans born between 1947 and 1987 have been accelerated by 60 to 80 percent. “It’s not environment, it’s not evolution,” she asserted.

A “mutation of society” is under way, and “the skeptic community is getting quieter and quieter,” remarked Dr. Roger Leir, a Valley-based podiatrist, who removes alleged alien implants.

Jordan Maxwell, an expert in occult symbolism and secret societies, likened Americans to Alec Guinness’ blindly megalomaniacal lieutenant colonel in The Bridge on the River Kwai once he realizes he’s been working for the enemy: “What have I done? There is no way out.”

“Jordan’s been looking down the barrel of the New World Order for nearly 50 years,” Noory said.

Maxwell, expounding upon the secret fraternal orders to which our government and religious leaders are bound, remarked, “The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure are teasers. The powers behind Hollywood are Knights Templars, showing you what they can do.”

“What does Hollywood know that we don’t?” asked panelist Jay Weidner, producer of the documentary 2012: The Odyssey. Was Eyes Wide Shut a representation of a sex cult for rich perverts, or a portrait of the Illuminati? Subversive director Stanley Kubrick died two hours after bringing a rough cut of the film to Warner Bros. “Like the Zapruder film, you can see what he was trying to say by what’s missing,” said Weidner, who believes Kubrick fled for England in the ’60s after experiencing events depicted in the film. (Scientologists Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, he said, were simply cast as part of “an inside joke.”)

In Rosemary’s Baby, John Cassavetes’ character eagerly permits the devil to impregnate his wife to ensure his Broadway stardom. “He’s the spitting image of Jack Parsons [black magician and co-founder of Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory],” claimed Mike Bara, co-author with Richard C. Hoagland of the recent best-seller Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA. “It’s the magical ritual known as the Babylon Working. Rosemary becomes the mother of the antichrist.”

A question came from the audience: “There’s so much to dissect from entertainment now — Iron Man, Battlestar Galactica, The Mist, Marvel’s Sons of the Serpent. There’s even a conspiracy theorist in Justice League of America.” The bearded young man echoed the sentiments of many assembled: “Why now?”

“They release little bits of truth, so that in the future they can say, ‘We said that years ago,'” Maxwell answered. “You’ve got to read between the lines.” Entertainment is used to indoctrinate or spread disinformation. Case in point: Universal’s recent optioning of the “period” action script The Knights Templar. “Each time you get a bigger sense of how the game is being played, you are less manipulated by it.” Maxwell asked the audience to verify his contentions — Rome is still in control, a powerful occult system has dominated consensus reality for thousands of years — by forcing us to pay attention to “their” symbols: words, flags, coats of arms. “Once you see [it] organized, it’s frightening.”

“The Gnostic belief is that we must have an apocalypse to bring about the golden age,” Weidner commented. “But is that apocalypse the death of all of us, or the death of consciousness as we know it?”

The Mayan calendar, which runs out at midnight on December 12, 2012, is expected to take us out, whether by mass extinction, interplanetary invasion or a total paradigm shift — a metaphysical bang or a cosmic whimper. With four years and counting, Maxwell advised, “always trust those who are looking for the truth.”

But what the bleep is it?

BY SKYLAIRE ALFVEGREN

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Note: the OSMTHU does not endorse said “conspiracy theories”, but our editors tought that the article was interesting and provocative enough to be brought to the attention of our readers.

Candelora – Festivitá Templaria

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Questo é il video preparato por il Priorato de Italia in occasione della Festività della Candelora lo scorso 2 febbraio 2008.

Il termine Candelora (o Candelaia) deriva dal tardo latino “candelorum” o “candelaram” cioè benedizione delle candele ed indica una festività collocata, nel tempo astronomico, a mezzo inverno e coincidente, nel ciclo agreste/vegetativo, con la fine dell’inverno e l’inizio della primavera; il più famoso detto popolare a riguardo infatti recita: “Quando vien la Candelora, de l’inverno semo fora; ma se piove o tira il vento, de l’inverno semo dentro” suggerendo che se nel giorno della Candelora non si avrà bel tempo, si dovranno aspettare ancora diverse settimane prima della fine dell’inverno e dell’arrivo della primavera. Si tratta di un momento di passaggio, tra l’inverno/ buio/ fine e la primavera/ luce/ nascita: passaggio che viene celebrato attraverso la purificazione e la preparazione alla nuova stagione.

Per la Chiesa Cattolica, la Candelora è la festa della purificazione di Maria, celebrata dalla Chiesa e dai fedeli il 2 di febbraio in simultanea con la presentazione di Gesù al Tempio che non poteva avvenire prima dei 40 giorni,cioè del tempo previsto dalla legge ebrea per la purificazione di una puerpera dopo il parto di un maschio.

La prima testimonianza della festività in Terra Santa é raccontata da Eteria che la descrive come una grande festività pubblica. Successivamente, da Gerusalemme, la festività si diffuse in tutto l’Oriente e in particolare a Bisanzio. Con l’imperatore Giustiniano I divenne giorno festivo e assunse il nome di Ypapanté (= incontro del Signore). Le origini della Candelora, però, hanno radici lontane nel tempo.

In Italia, a Roma, risaliamo ai Lupercalia che si celebravano alle Idi di febbraio, ultimo mese dell’anno per i romani, che servivano a purificarsi prima dell’avvento dell’anno nuovo e a propiziarne la fertilità. In questa celebrazione, dedicata a Fauno Lupercus, due ragazzi di famiglia patrizia venivano condotti in una grotta sul Palatino, consacrata al Dio, al cui interno i sacerdoti, dopo aver sacrificato delle capre, segnavano loro la fronte con il coltello tinto del sangue degli animali. Il sangue veniva poi asciugato con della lana bianca bagnata nel latte, e subito i due giovani dovevano sorridere. A quel punto i due ragazzi dovevano indossare le pelli degli animali sacrificati; con la medesima pelle venivano quindi realizzate delle striscie (dette februa o anche amiculum Iunonis) da usare a mo’ di fruste. Così acconciati e con le strisce in mano, i due giovani dovevano correre attorno alla base del Palatino percuotendo chiunque incontrassero, in particolare le donne che si offrivano volontariamente ad essere sferzate per purificarsi e ottenere la fecondità. Altro momento particolare della festa era la ‘februatio’, la purificazione della città, in cui le donne giravano per le strade con ceri e fiaccole accese, simbolo di luce.

L’uso di fiaccole e candele accese durante la processione sacra aveva due funzioni: la prima, di natura spirituale, indicava la vittoria della luce sulle tenebre, la presentazione sociale del Divino in terra; l’altra di natura pratica, derivava dalla necessità di avere visibilità nell’attraversamento notturno delle città in cui avvenivano i festeggiamenti. La benedizione dei ceri, allora come oggi, è un momento significativo e la grande processione chiamata Cerorum luminibus coruscans (ovvero “risplendente mediante ceri e lumi”), è un grado di generare nei cuori dei partecipanti un forte senso di congiunzione con la madre di Gesù. Ancora oggi, l’offerta dei ceri al Papa viene fatta in forma solenne ed in molte altre città italiane, come a Trapani, si celebrano rappresentazioni popolari che rievocano la purificazione di Maria, o si mettono ceri, torce e fiaccole alle finestre, come si faceva anticamente anche a Napoli. I ceri benedetti sono poi conservati in casa dai fedeli e vengono accesi, per placare l’ira divina, durante violenti temporali, aspettando una persona che non torna o si ritiene in grave pericolo, assistendo un moribondo, e in qualunque momento si senta il bisogno d’invocare l’aiuto divino.

Il carattere mariano della festa fu introdotto da papa Sergio. Ma sarà la mistica orientale a cantare più profusamente nella sua liturgia il gesto della Vergine soprattutto nell’antifona “Adorna, o Sion, la stanza nuziale, accogli Cristo tuo Signore…” che si canta nel responsorio alla prima lettura nell’ufficio delle letture. Questa intuizione mistica è possibile seguendo questo passaggio: a Natale ecco affacciarsi lo “sposo” (antifona al Magnificat dei primi Vespri e seconda antifona all’ufficio delle letture) come sole che si leva all’orizzonte; all’Epifania è la Chiesa che si presenta come una sposa adorna delle sue gioie: è la festa delle nozze della Chiesa con Cristo. La festa della Presentazione del Signore al Tempio, anche se celebrata nel tempo “durante l’anno”, è il punto conclusivo del tempo di Natale. La stessa antifona, che abbiamo ricordato sopra, colloca Maria nella posizione giusta cantando: “… (o Sion) accogli Maria, porta del cielo, perché ella tiene fra le sue braccia il re della gloria, la luce nuova. La Vergine si ferma, presentando il Figlio, generato prima della stella del mattino. Simeone lo tiene fra le braccia, e annunzia alle genti che egli è il Signore della vita e della morte, il Salvatore del mondo”. Verso il secolo undicesimo nasce l’antifona Lumen ad revelationem gentium che caratterizza la fede e la preghiera della Chiesa in questa circostanza, e viene intercalata al cantico di Simeone Nunc dimittis.

Per questo il Vaticano II invita a cogliere l’intima natura della festività: “L’unione della Madre col Figlio nell’opera della redenzione si manifesta dal momento della concezione verginale di Cristo fino alla morte di lui. E quando lo presentò al tempio con l’offerta del dono proprio dei poveri, udì Simeone mentre preannunciava che il Figlio sarebbe divenuto segno di contraddizione e che una spada avrebbe trafitto l’anima della madre, perché fossero svelati i pensieri di molti cuori” (LG 57).

SPIGOLATURE SULLA CANDELORA
La Candelora in alcuni luoghi viene chiamata “Giorno dell’orso”. In questo particolare giorno, l’orso si sveglierebbe dal letargo e uscirebbe fuori dalla sua tana per vedere come è il tempo e valutare se sia o meno il caso di mettere il naso fuori. Un proverbio piemontese in questo senso recita: “se l’ouers fai secha soun ni, per caranto giouern a sort papì”. Ovvero, se l’orso fa asciugare il suo giaciglio (cosa che starebbe a indicare tempo bello per quel giorno) per quaranta giorni non esce più. Un altro proverbio simile al primo, ma meridionale in questo caso, sostiene che se il 2 Febbraio il tempo non è buono, l’orso ha la possibilità di farsi il pagliaio e quindi l’inverno continua.

L’orso era anche protagonista di alcuni riti rurali del mese di febbraio, collocati nel ciclo agreste/vegetativo: al termine di una caccia simulata, l’orso viene catturato e portato all’interno del paese dove viene fatto oggetto di dileggi e di scherzi. L’epilogo può variare dall’uccisione dell’orso alla sua liberazione/fuga e ritorno alla natura. La figura dell’orso è rivestita da qualcuno del luogo che non deve essere riconosciuto fino alla fine della rappresentazione rituale.

A Urbiano si celebra la “festa dell’orso”: qualche giorno prima della ricorrenza, i cacciatori con il volto annerito, andavano alla ricerca dell’orso, che (rappresentato da un uomo travestito) veniva immancabilmente trovato la sera della vigilia. Cacciatori, “orso”, e domatore visitavano le stalle e le osterie con il pretesto di spaventare la gente (e le ragazze) si lasciavano andare a trasgressive bevute. Il giorno dopo, l’orso compariva in paese e, dopo aver fatto il giro della borgata, ballava con la ragazza più bella prima di scomparire per ritrasformarsi in uomo.

Questa festa ricorre non solo in Piemonte e nelle zone dell’arco alpino, ma anche in altre regioni (e nazioni); in tempi più remoti l’orso della festa era vero, portato in giro da un montanaro/domatore che andava da un paese all’altro facendo ballare l’orso nelle piazze. In seguito questo uso scomparve e in alcuni paesi, per mantenere la tradizione, l’orso fu sostituito da una persona appositamente mascherata che ripeteva la stessa pantomima.
A Putignano, in Puglia, chi impersonificava l’orso girava per le vie del paese, fermandosi nelle piazze: lì, al suono di tamburi, si metteva a ballare la tarantella, tra i presenti disposti in cerchio che battevano le mani a tempo e lo punzecchiavano e colpivano con qualche sberla. A volte, a seconda del tempo, l’orso imitava o no l’atto del costruire il suo rifugio (u pagghiar’).

Questi riti riproponevano comunque una tradizione antica che celebrava la festa del ritorno della luce e della bella stagione, con la sconfitta delle forze del buio e del freddo. Nello svolgimento di questi riti traspare la simbologia dell’orso (che con l’inverno va in letargo e si risveglia a primavera), interprete della forza primitiva della natura. L’orso può anche essere accostato alla figura dell'”uomo selvaggio”. In entrambe le raffigurazioni rappresenterebbe comunque il binomio natura – uomo.

IL NUMERO “QUARANTA” NELLA BIBBIA
Il giorno della Candelora fa riflettere sul numero 40, un numero che ovviamente rappresenta la purificazione così come ricorda il libro della Genesi quando racconta che il diluvio è durato quaranta giorni e quaranta notti. (7,12), oppure, come dice Matteo al capitolo 4,2, quando racconta del digiuno di Gesù nel deserto per altrettanti giorni ed altrettante notti. Che dire poi dei ricordi di san Paolo, quando, scrivendo ai cristiani di Corinto, racconta loro di avere ricevuto 40 frustate dai giudei. (2Cor. 11,26)

Nella Bibbia il numero 40, ovviamente col suo preciso significato religioso, ricorre molte volte: Abramo implora Dio di salvare Sodoma se vi avesse trovato almeno 40 giusti (ma dovette scendere a meno di dieci che non furono trovati); e per salvarsi da Esaù dovette offrirgli 40 vacche. In Egitto, Giuseppe impiegò 40 giorni per imbalsamare il corpo del padre; e usciti dall’Egitto, Mosè rimase sul Sinai per 40 giorni e 40 notti; e quando fu costruito il tabernacolo occorsero 40 basi d’argento. Peggio se la videro gli esploratori della terra di Canaan all’arrivo verso la terra promessa: impiegarono 40 giorni, durante i quali se la spassarono, ma ebbero in cambio 40 anni di punizioni. Il giudice Abdon ebbe 40 figli, e il filisteo perseverò nell’insistenza per 40 giorni, come ricorda Samuele (1 Sam. 17,14).

Anche il grande profeta Elia rimase sul monte Oreb per 40 giorni e 40 notti e Giona predicò la penitenza agli abitanti di Ninive per 40 giorni e fu ascoltato. Quaresima dunque davvero 40 giorni (e 40 notti) di vera interiore penitenza, un digiuno non semplicemente corporale ma soprattutto spirituale.

Fr. Vincenzo TUCCILLO KCT, Priorato de Italia