lunedì 2 maggio 2011
Vials of Blood
Yesterday was May Day, a day with roots in ancient Rome. Some of us also celebrated the birth of spring (in the non-tropical countries of the northern hemisphere), International Workers’ Day (in most countries outside North America depending upon where you are and your political persuasion), and the beatification of Pope John Paul II (depending upon your religious persuasion).
JPII (as some of us refer to him) canonized and beatified 484 (saints) and 1,337 (beatified). He holds the record for papal saint-making.
That’s a whole hell of a lot of holy people.
In order to become a saint, you first have to be beatified. Why didn’t Fra Angelico make the last cut? He probably only had one miracle to his name (i.e., all those marvelous paintings). How invigorating it would be to have a sainted Renaissance painter. One could stand in front of any of his works and say, “SAINT So-and-so painted this when not raising folks from the dead and curing innumerable people from Parkinson’s disease.” (Imagine, if you will, St. Masolino – John’s raising of Drusiana would give the painting an entirely different dimension, like: (St.) Masolino really knew what he was painting about here.)
Pope John Paul II and the House of Windsor have unwittingly formed a close association when it comes to grand occasions. JPII's death in April 2005 caused Charles, Prince of Wales, to put off marrying Camilla Parker Bowles, his long-time love, for one week (it simply wouldn’t do to be rejoicing while a huge chunk of Christendom was waiting in line for sometimes up to 12 hours to pay respects to a dead pope clad humbly in simple shoes though they were, in fact, made by Ferragamo).
Prince William tied the knot with Kate Middleton (whom we are now obliged to refer to as either Princess Catherine, Princess William, or the Duchess of Cambridge) the same weekend that millions, perhaps, thronged to Rome to watch JPII’s commencement on the Road to Sainthood (sounds like a cheeze-y title for the History Channel, no?).
Some scary details about this beatification process from www.cnn.com: “A vial of John Paul II's blood was placed before the crowds, which were expected to be the largest in the Vatican since the late pope's funeral in 2005 ... The blood, which was taken from him by doctors during his final illness for possible transfusion, but never used, was displayed in a specially made silver reliquary.”
This is as prescient as Monica Lewinsky’s mother advising her daughter not to have that Gap dress dry cleaned.
Again, from cnn.com: “John Paul II was fast-tracked to beatification when he died in 2005, and becomes "the blessed" John Paul II barely six years after his death -- the fastest beatification in centuries.” Well, he’s in good company: St. Francis of Assisi died in 1226, and was sainted in 1228.
Let it be noted that this beatification is not without its controversies, and then let us close the subject.
(As an aside, www.cnn.com notes: “Having visiting [sic] more countries than any previous pope and becoming the first pontiff from outside of Italy in 450 years, John Paul II also was the third-longest reigning pope in history.”)
On a secular note: yesterday was May Day. As wikipedia.org relates, “In many countries, May Day is synonymous with International Workers' Day, or Labour Day, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations organised by communists, anarchists, socialists, and activist groups. May Day is also a traditional holiday in many cultures.”
Here are its lovely roots (again, from wiki): “The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe.”
Let’s think about Flora, the lovely Roman goddess of flowers, let’s think of her reticent pre-Leonardo-esque smile in Botticelli’s Birth of Spring, as she tosses (or is about to toss) flowers to those assembled in Venus’s garden. Let's not think about the beautiful irises, trashed by the Puppers a few weeks ago as they happily romped in a No Dog Zone. Let's applaud their resourcefulness, and give up -- for at least this year -- the very idea of having anything beautiful and blooming.
Perhaps the canonization of Pope John Paul II will happily coincide with either the birth of the heir or the spare.
Recipes and dogs will appear next time. The Scallion proposed a recipe of blood sausage to celebrate JPII’s beatification and the death of Osama Bin Laden, but I wasn’t up to it, nor am I ever up for eating blood sausage, try it many times as I might. However, Lulu and Rosie, working in tandem late this afternoon, managed to cut into at least two pieces a simple garter snake. Explaining to them that we like garter snakes would probably have made no difference. The snake is dead, Lulu’s white coat streaked with blood, and we forgot to save a vial in the event that the snake would be beatified.
For the numbers of holy folk made holier by Pope John Paul II, see www.cbc.ca.
Parkinson’s disease was NOT selected at random, but chosen simply because JPII’s miracle, which led him on the path to becoming St. JPII, was curing a nun of Parkinson’s disease. But substitute anything else, really. Even the common cold would do.
For popes with longevity, they are as follows: St. Peter, exact dates unknown, roughly 35 years; Bl. Pius IX (died 1878), 31.6 years: JPII: 26.4.See www.catholic-hierarchy.org.
Lovely photograph of wisteria by the Scallion, May 2011.