Tag: Rome

Has the nimbus been tarnished?

Thursday, 28 February, 2013 1 Comment

There is a nimbus about the Papacy, bound up with the history of the office that makes it unlike anything else on Earth. That being the case, one could view the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign as very damaging to the ancient aura he inherited. By doing something as normal as what’s being termed “retiring” he is making the mysterious very mortal. And therein lies a danger. The other-worldliness of the Papacy, its claim to divine selection, has enabled the Catholic Church to act as a bulwark against secularization in all its forms, be it the evil of communism or the sterility of consumerism. And when some new cultish belief system like warmism emerges, the historical example of the Vatican helps puts it in perspective and in its place. If the Papacy is to be “humanized”, will the forces and the fanaticisms that it has traditionally neutralized feel emboldened to stake their claim for legitimacy, now that they feel a mere man stands in their way?


Zen and the art of being Italian

Friday, 22 February, 2013 0 Comments

We round out our week of all things Italian here with a recommendation: Zen. No, not the school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the 6th century and which became famous in the 1970s when it was briefly associated with motorcycle maintenance. Rather, our Zen is Aurelio Zen, a fictional Italian detective created by the late, lamented crime writer Michael Dibdin.

Although your blogger has been a long-time admirer of Italy and has visited the country many times, it was only through reading of Dibdin’s murder mysteries that the true nature of contemporary Italian society became clear. The books are filled with vice, la dolce vita, politics, passion, omerta, commerce, history, humanity, food, wine and love of place. Zen teaches the reader that Italy is not a modern nation-state, but a set of city-states living in constant familial rivalry with each other. But despite the fragmentation, the sum of the parts is still a force to be reckoned with. Reuters headline this morning: “Global shares, euro tumble on economic concerns, Italy vote.”

BBC Scotland and Left Bank Pictures produced three dramas based on the Dibdin books. Shot in Rome, they starred English actor Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen, and Italian actress Caterina Murino is Tania Moretti, his colleague. Eccellente!


Dan Brown aids ailing Italy

Thursday, 21 February, 2013 0 Comments

“Bestselling-author Dan Brown sat down to a simple Tuscan meal of tomato stew followed by steak in a family-run trattoria.” Back in November 2004, Geoffrey Pullum revealed to readers of Language Log that when Dan Brown constructs his formulaic opening sentence “an occupational term is used with no determiner as a bare role NP premodifier […]

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Conclave watch: Italian job or Asian pivot

Tuesday, 19 February, 2013 1 Comment

After seeing the last two pontificates going to a Pole and a German, the Italians are said to be eager to see one of their own wearing the Ring of the Fisherman. The Ring of the Fisherman In all discussions, three names dominate: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, and Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan. Of the three, Cardinal Scola, 71, is said to have the most impressive CV. If, however, someone younger is needed, Francesco Moraglia, the Patriarch of Venice, is waiting in the wings, He’ll be 60 in May, but the problem is that he’s not a cardinal. Of course, nothing prohibits the election of someone who is not part of the Sacred College, but tradition is central to the rites of the Catholic Church.

If youth is an issue, and Benedict XVI has certainly put the matter of age into play by way of his renunciation of the Papacy, conclave historians will note that Karol Wojtyla was a mere 58 when he became John Paul II. That being the case, it may well be worth keeping an eye in the coming weeks on a young cardinal who has enhanced his theological credibility by helping to author the huge history of Vatican Council II. As well, his doctrinally correct pastoral work is said to be pleasing to Benedict XVI and his simple lifestyle and outreach to the poor have impressed the faithful. Step forward, archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

Backgrounder: He’s 56 and he’s got 118,000 likes on Facebook. More importantly, he’s from the Philippines, which is the only Asian nation with a Catholic majority. Rome would like to see that state of affairs change in our life time and just as the USA is said to be pivoting towards Asia, the Vatican is aware that the Pacific and not the Atlantic will be the decisive ocean in the 21st century. Cardinal Tagle might just be the person to lead the new wave of evangelization, about which we’ll have more here on Friday.


Germany is glad to see the back of Benedict

Tuesday, 12 February, 2013 0 Comments

Pope Benedict resigns

A sigh of relief swept across much of Germany when the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation became public yesterday. His papacy was marked by a drumbeat of criticism that displayed contempt for his office and willful ignorance of the pontifical role. It was clear from the outset that Benedict was going to dedicate himself to correcting the theological aberrations that had developed since the Second Vatican Council, while reminding the 1.2 billion faithful that the heritage of the Catholic Church extends far further into the past than 1962, the year the Second Vatican Council was convened. Both of these goals enraged the elites that manufacture popular consent in Germany because they wanted a green, feminist, socialist, post-religious Pope who would conform to their warped interpretation of the world. They didn’t get what they wished for in April 2005, and they most certainly will not like what’s coming in March 2013.


The European NIGHTVISION of Luke Shepard

Tuesday, 22 January, 2013 0 Comments

Click on the arrow or thumbnail of the NIGHTVISION navigation to experience some memorable photos of Europe’s cities. It’s all the work of Luke Shepard, a student at the American University of Paris. His after-dark video exploration of Paris, Le Flâneur, was so well received two years ago that he decided to crowd-source funds on Kickstarter to bring the NIGHTVISION concept to to Valencia, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Athens, Barcelona and Brussels. The modest estimate for the job was $17,000, and the project closed at the end of September last year with a total of $19,446 pledged.

[iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/17894033″ width=”100%” height=”480″]

To make Le Flâneur, Luke Shepard used a Nikon SLR D90 camera and a tripod. Unlike typical time-lapse video, however, he shot 2,000 images a short distance apart and put them together using Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro.


Lance Armstrong: corrupt optima pessima

Friday, 18 January, 2013 0 Comments

Latin “In English you say ‘the corruption of the best one is horrible’; in Latin, three words suffice: ‘corrupt optima pessima‘. It is a language which helps to think with precision and sobriety. And it has produced an exceptional heritage of science, knowledge and faith.” So spoke Roberto Spataro, secretary of the Pontifical Academy for Latin Studies, which Pope Benedict XVI founded last year.

Latin is back in the news because of @pontifex_ln, which now has 3,000 followers. In the four weeks since he began tweeting in seven other languages the Pope has gathered more than 2.5 million followers and counting. But isn’t Latin, with all its lentitudo, just a tad sluggish for our hyper times? Not at all says Manlio Simonetti, professor in Christian history. He told L’Osservatore Romano, the “semi-official” newspaper of the Holy See: “Latin… is very well suited to the brevity necessary on new social networks, even more so than English.”

Speaking of L’Osservatore Romano, it began the year with an article titled, “How a tweet from the Pope originates“. Tweet-like snippet: “The appointed departments of the Secretariat of State prepare a text which the Pope then must approve.”

@lancearmstrong, meanwhile, has 3,895,000 followers.


@Pontifex tweets

Wednesday, 12 December, 2012 0 Comments


Anticipating @Pope

Monday, 3 December, 2012 0 Comments

Pope Benedict XVI will launch his personal Twitter account later this morning at the Vatican. Among those present for the big moment will be Revered Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office and Claire Díaz-Ortiz, who heads social innovation at Twitter. And the papal Twitter handle? In June last year, the Pope launched the new site www.news.va by sending a tweet from @news_va_en. He wrote, “Dear friends, I just launched News.va. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.” That signature has led some to believe that @BenedictusPPXVI will be the name for the 85-year-old Pontiff’s account, although @Pope would be very fitting.

UPDATE: #HabemusPapam…. @Pontifex


Keats forever

Friday, 7 September, 2012

“When John Keats read George Chapman’s translation of Homer he felt, in his elevated, poetical way, like ‘some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into his ken’.” So begins The new world of DNA in the current issue of The Economist. It’s always reassuring when journalists dealing with the most complicated of subjects […]

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Ospedale delle bambole

Sunday, 19 August, 2012

Near the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, at via di Ripetta 29, the venerable Squatriti family operates its Restaurici Artistici Squatriti, a kind of A&E (Accident and Emergency) of the Italian doll world, where the old and infirm are repaired and restored or reused for parts. In many ways, it combines some ancient and some […]

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