Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Saint Jerome in the Desert

Bartolomeo Montagna 1450 – 1523
St Jerome in the Desert
c. 1482
Tempera on panel
112,3 X 50 cm
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan 

Bartolomeo Montagna 1450 – 1523
St Jerome in the Desert
Oil on canvas
39,7 x 29 cm
Collecció Thyssen-Bornemisza on loan to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona

Bartolomeo Montagna 1450 – 1523
St Jerome in the Desert
c 1500
Oil on canvas
51 x 58 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

Bartolomeo Cincani known as Bartolomeo Montagna 1450 – 1523  adopted the pseudonym "Montagna" (cf. Mantegna) from his youth

He was born near Brescia but made his name as the most important religious painter in Vicenza in the High Renaissance

He perhaps trained in Venice, where he was living in 1469. He was associated with Giovanni Bellini

Here we see three versions of St Jerome in the Desert

The Latin "desertum" originally meant an abandoned place

Four words are chiefly used in Hebrew to express the idea of desert: Midbar; 'Arabah; Horbah; Jeshimon

The word meant a place where few if any people dwelled rather than a place of particular aridity

According to James Howlett, Desert (in the Bible). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 24, 2015 from New Advent
"We are told (Exodus 3:1) that Moses fed the flocks of Jethro, and led them to the interior parts of the desert. This desert was in the land of Madian, close to the Red Sea, and in it was Mount Horeb, which St. Jerome says was the same as Sinai.  
The desert to which David fled from Saul (cf. 1 Samuel 23:14) was the desert of Ziph, which lies south of the Dead Sea and Hebron. 
John the Baptist lived and taught in the desert of Judea, west of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, near Jericho. Finally, the scene of Christ's temptation (Matthew 4:1-11), of which St. Mark adds (1:13): "He was with wild beasts", was most likely in the 'arabah to the west of the Jordan. But this is only speculation."
Some hagiographies of Jerome talk of his having spent a lot of his years in the Syrian desert, and multiple artists have titled their works "St Jerome in the Desert" or in the wilderness

On the first Sunday of Lent 2009, Pope Benedict XVI said:
"St Mark introduces us into the atmosphere of this liturgical season: "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan" (Mk 1: 12).  
In the Holy Land the Judean desert, which lies to the west of the River Jordan and the Oasis of Jericho, rises over stony valleys to reach an altitude of about 1,000 metres at Jerusalem.  
After receiving Baptism from John, Jesus entered that lonely place, led by the Holy Spirit himself who had settled upon him, consecrating him and revealing him as the Son of God. In the desert, a place of trial as the experience of the People of Israel shows, the dramatic reality of the kenosis, the self-emptying of Christ who had stripped himself of the form of God (cf. Phil 2: 6-7), appears most vividly. 
He who never sinned and cannot sin submits to being tested and can therefore sympathise with our weaknesses (cf. Heb 4: 15).  
He lets himself be tempted by Satan, the enemy, who has been opposed to God's saving plan for humankind from the outset. 
In the succinct account, angels, luminous and mysterious figures, appear almost fleetingly before this dark, tenebrous figure who dares to tempt the Lord. Angels, the Gospel says, "ministered" to Jesus (Mk 1: 13); they are the antithesis of Satan.  
"Angel" means "messenger". Throughout the Old Testament we find these figures who help and guide human beings on God's behalf"

In the three paintings by Montagna, we see the differing concepts of "desert" or wilderness in which far from the fleshpots of the Rome of his youth, St Jerome chose to reside

In Syria from about 374, for 4 or 5 years he lived as a recluse in the desert of Chalcis

In a letter to St Eustochium St Jerome wrote of his experience:
“In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome... In this exile and prison to which for the fear of Hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them. 
My face was pallid with fasting, yet my will felt the assaults of desire: in my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live.  
Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was. I often joined night to day crying and beating my breast till calm returned.”
In the last two paintings the topographical features of Verona recur in altered form: the river, the ruins, the double staircase cut into the tufa, the church and the convent. 

Bartolomeo's main inspiration seems to have stemmed from a realisation that Jerome and he returned to a state of nature, converting the townscape he knew into a rustic landscape, a new reality

"And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. "

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Magna Carta 800

Magna Carta, 1215
15 June 1215
Cotton MS Augustus ii.106
The British Library, London

This year marks the Eight Hundredth Anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta

The British Library from March will have a large ad significant exhibition and events to celebrate the event: Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

Since 1215, Magna Carta has evolved from a political agreement to an international symbol of freedom 

The 1225 version of Magna Carta, freely issued by Henry III in return for a tax granted to him by the whole kingdom, took this idea further and became the definitive version of the text. 

But only three clauses (out  of 37) of the 1225 Magna Carta remain on the statute book today

The 1215 Charter had contained 63 clauses

Only four copies of the 1215 Charter  still survive: one in Lincoln Cathedral; one in Salisbury Cathedral; and two at the British Library. 

On the website there is a full-text translation of the 1215 edition of Magna Carta 

What is interesting is the importance of the medieval Church in the drawing up of the Charter

The document is addressed to among others the members of the Church:
"JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting."
It was drawn up with the advice of the English Church:
"... at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, "
The First Clause of the Charter dealt with the freedom and independence of the English Church:
" FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity."
The Bishops and clergy were essential witnesses to the King`s act of granting the Charter:
"In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf. 
 IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever. 
Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the abovementioned people and many others. 
Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign"

Who  were the people involved in Magna Carta ? See Magna Carta: people and society

The Tomb of King John at Worcester Cathedral

John died in October 1216, in the middle of a civil war after he tried to revoke the Charter. He is buried in Worcester Cathedral

Bulla Innocentii Papae III. pro rege Johanne, contra barones. (In membr.) 1216. 151.
24 August 1215
Cotton MS Cleopatra E I, ff. 155–156
The British Library, London
See more at British Library  

Giotto di Bondone 1267 - 1337
Legend of St Francis: 6. Dream of Innocent III (detail)
Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi

Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) played a major role in the events surrounding Magna Carta, including its annulment in August 1215. 

He had previously made many attempts to enforce papal authority over secular rulers, and his determination to impose his judicial authority over the whole Latin Church culminated in the reforms of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, the greatest Church Council of the Middle Ages

In return for King John's submission to his authority, Pope Innocent III declared the Magna Carta annulled, though the  English Barons did not accept this action

Pope Innocent had  received messengers from King John in the summer of 1215, asking him to annul Magna Carta. The Pope issued a papal bull, which survives in the British Library, declaring Magna Carta to be ‘null and void of all validity for ever’, on the grounds that it was ‘illegal, unjust, harmful to royal rights and shameful to the English people"

Depiction of Archbishop Stephen Langton
Stained glass
The Chapter House, Canterbury Cathedral

Stephen Langton (archbishop of Canterbury 1207-1228) was a famous scholar and leading figure in the Church, and is also one of the most important figures in the history of Magna Carta. 

In 1225, he pronounced a broad sentence of excommunication in support of Magna Carta. This meant that anyone – king, royal officer, or baron – would automatically be outlawed from the Church if they violated the Charter. 

When Magna Carta was confirmed in later years, the bishops renewed Langton’s sentence. Langton and his successors were instrumental in promoting and upholding the Charter and, thus, in ensuring its survival. 

Richard Poer, Bishop of Chichester was one of several bishops from a scholarly background who played an important role in politics at the end of King John’s reign and during the minority of Henry III. 

Richard and his brother, Herbert (bishop of Salisbury 1194-1217), were the illegitimate sons of Richard of Ilchester (bishop of Winchester 1173-1188). Richard trained at the schools of Paris  under Stephen Langton, and was probably influenced by Langton’s writing on political ethics. 

Giles de Briouze (bishop of Hereford 1200-1215) was the only bishop to join the rebellion against King John. Although many of Giles’ colleagues might have been sympathetic to the grievances of the rebel barons, most worked hard between 1213 and 1216 to broker a peace settlement. 

Johann Heinrich Füssli R.A., called Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)
Pandulph granting King John absolution 
Black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, the outlines incised, the verso rubbed with black chalk
5 5/8 x 3 1/8 in. (145 x 80 mm.)
Private collection

This was a rough drawing for an engraving by Fuseli`s friend William Blake for the second edition of Charles Allen, New and Improved History of England, London, 1798 

Pandulf Masca (died 16 September 1226) was a Roman ecclesiastical politician, papal legate to England and Bishop of Norwich.

He first came to England in 1211, when he was commissioned by Innocent III to negotiate with King John. 

Obtaining no satisfactory concessions, Pandulf is said to have produced the papal sentence of excommunication in the presence of the king. 

In May 1213 he again visited England to receive the king's submission. The ceremony took place at the Templar church at Dover, and on the following day John, of his own motion, formally surrendered England to the representative of Rome to receive it again as a papal fief

For nearly a year he was superseded by the cardinal-legate Nicholas of Tusculum. He returned to England in 1215 and was present at the conference of Runnymede, when the Magna Carta was signed. 

He was again eclipsed by a new Papal legate Guala Bicchieri

Limoges goldsmith
Casket of Guala Bicchieri
c 1225
Muse Civico d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Madama, Turin

In 1823, this casket which contained the mortal remains of the founder of the abbey complex of Sant`Andrea in Vercelli, Cardinal Guala Bicchieri (Vercelli c.1150-Rome 1227), was discovered in the wall of the presbytery of the church of Sant` Andrea 

Made by Limoges goldsmiths it is a particularly notable example of Gothic Art

Guala Bicchieri (ca. 1150-1227) crowned King Henry III in the church of the abbey of Gloucester on October 16, 1216.

Guala’s position as legate in England was especially influential since the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, was absent from the kingdom from September 1215 to May 1218, during which absence Guala Bicchieri, as papal legate, was practically in charge of the English church. 

There were six areas in which Bicchieri made an impact upon England:establishing peace between the monarchy and rebels; overseeing Episcopal elections; supervising monastic houses; punishing and replacing rebel clergy; judicial activity, including the appointment of legatine judges delegate; and implementing the legislation of the Fourth Lateran Council.

He founded with his own money the church and abbey of S. Andrea in Vercelli for the canons regulars of S. Pietro. He helped reform the clergy of his  diocese of Vercelli.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

St Peter Damian, Church Reformer

Andrea Barbiani 1708 -1779
St Peter Damian
Oil on canvas
220 x 147 cm
Biblioteca Classense, Ravenna

In this foreshortened portrait of the Saint, Barbiani depicts Peter Damian sitting in a chair covered in red velvet

He is seated in a well stocked and well furnished library

He holds a book

His face depicts concentration or his seeing a vision or listening to the two cherubs who are in the top left

On the floor is a mitre and a red galero symbols of his rank in life as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia

He is wearing the simple white gown of the monk

He was born in Ravenna in 1007

Andrea Barbiani (1708–1779) was mainly active in Ravenna and Rimini. This work was one of three portraits for the Camaldolese church of St Mary Magdalene in Ravenna. The other two were of Saints Apollinaris and Romuald, founder of the Camaldolese, 

St Romuald was also born in Ravenna

Another 18th century depiction of the saint is in the same library in Ravenna

St Peter Damian
Oil on canvas
134 x 97.5 cm
Biblioteca Classense, Ravenna

The saint is represented seated, facing three-quarters to the left, with his face turned to the right. And 'intent penned with pen on a book on the table covered with a reddish cloth 

The inscription reads:
A more dramatic rendition of the Saint is given in Canto 21 of Dante`s Paradiso where Dante places him in Saturn one of the highest planes of Paradise among the greatest of Saints, among the founders of hermit Orders along with Saint Romuald and the great Church reformers

Amos Nattini (1892-1985)
Divina Commedia, Paradiso canto XXI, San Pier Damiani nel cielo di Saturno

In Canto XXI, Dante has the Saint pronounce an invective against the luxury enjoyed by prelates in the Church of his day and in that of Dante`s

The translation is by Allen Mandelbaum

113 ...      There, within that monastery,
114   in serving God, I gained tenacity:
115   with food that only olive juice had seasoned,
116   I could sustain with ease both heat and frost,
117   content within my contemplative thoughts.

118   That cloister used to offer souls to Heaven,
119   a fertile harvest, but it now is barren
120   as Heaven's punishment will soon make plain.

121   There I was known as Peter Damian
122   and, on the Adriatic shore, was Peter
123   the Sinner when I served Our Lady's House.

124   Not much of mortal life was left to me
125   when I was sought for, dragged to take that hat
126   which always passes down from bad to worse.

127   Once there were Cephas and the Holy Ghost's
128   great vessel: they were barefoot, they were lean,
129   they took their food at any inn they found.

130   But now the modern pastors are so plump
131   that they have need of one to prop them up
132   on this side, one on that, and one in front,

133   and one to hoist them saddleward. Their cloaks
134   cover their steeds, two beasts beneath one skin:
135   o patience, you who must endure so much!"

Benedetto Gennari (1633 –  1715)
St Peter Damian 
Oil on canvas
290 x 200 cm 
Museo Diocesano, Faenza

It was the side of St Peter Damiano as a Church reformer that Pope Benedict emphasised in his catechesis on the life of the Saint in September 2009:

"In Letter 28, which is a brilliant ecclesiological treatise, Peter Damian develops a profound theology of the Church as communion. 
"Christ's Church", he writes, is united by the bond of charity to the point that just as she has many members so is she, mystically, entirely contained in a single member; in such a way that the whole universal Church is rightly called the one Bride of Christ in the singular, and each chosen soul, through the sacramental mystery, is considered fully Church". 
This is important: not only that the whole universal Church should be united, but that the Church should be present in her totality in each one of us.  
Thus the service of the individual becomes "an expression of universality" (Ep 28, 9-23). 
However, the ideal image of "Holy Church" illustrated by Peter Damian does not correspond as he knew well to the reality of his time.  
For this reason he did not fear to denounce the state of corruption that existed in the monasteries and among the clergy, because, above all, of the practice of the conferral by the lay authorities of ecclesiastical offices; various Bishops and Abbots were behaving as the rulers of their subjects rather than as pastors of souls. Their moral life frequently left much to be desired.  
For this reason, in 1057 Peter Damian left his monastery with great reluctance and sorrow and accepted, if unwillingly, his appointment as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia. 
So it was that he entered fully into collaboration with the Popes in the difficult task of Church reform. He saw that to make his own contribution of helping in the work of the Church's renewal contemplation did not suffice. He thus relinquished the beauty of the hermitage and courageously undertook numerous journeys and missions."

Maestro del S.Pier Damiani
San Pier Damiani
c 1430
Tempera on panel
76 x 41,5 cm
Pinacoteca Comunale, Ravenna

This was part of a larger altar piece, the Polittico di Santa Maria Foris Portam which was the Church in Faenza where the sarcophagus of the saint rested until the eighteenth century when it was moved to its present location

The fixed features of the face, almost iconic are based on the figure of the saint on the sarcophagus which was sculpted by Tura da Imola  in 1354

Monday, February 16, 2015

Rome: The Carnival before Lent

Jan Miel (1599 –  1663)
The Carnival in Rome 
Oil on canvas
68 cm x 50 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

The representation of the Carnival of Rome consisted of holding dances, masquerades and gargantuan public parties and amusements. It was a watchword for excess as preparation for Lent

Here we see eight people loaded onto a cart pulled by oxen; some look directly at the viewer to make the viewer a participant. The three characters in the foreground to the left, apparently drunk, are dressed in the typical costume of the Swiss Guard, the personal bodyguard of the Pope.

Mounted on two mules, on the right, are two other characters from the nearby Commedia dell`Arte : the Doctor and Punchinello. 

Filippo Gagliardi (died 1659) and Filippo Lauri (1623 - 1694)
Carnival of 1656, Carousel at Palazzo Barberini in honour of Christina of Sweden
Oil on canvas
Museo di Roma, Rome. 

Rome welcomed ex Queen Christina of Sweden with pomp and circumstance that had rarely been seen before

Masquerades were a common feature of the Carnival, and they could be quite political

Jacob van Lint (1723 - 1790)
The Chinese Masquerade on the Piazza Colonna in Rome during the Giacomo Carnival 1735
Oil on canvas
970 x 1333 mm
The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust),  Waddlesdon, England

A carnival parade in 1735 along the Corso crosses the Piazza Colonna in Rome in this highly detailed painting by Jacob van Lint. 

Just to the right of centre, there is the Chinese float of the art students of the French Academy in Rome. 

A contemporary writer, Valesio, wrote in his diary of the 'beautiful carriage with 16 people dressed in Chinese clothes, with umbrellas and flags used by the Chinese' 

The Director of the Academy at the time was the French  painter Nicolas Vleughels (1668- 1737)

Among the students at the Academy at the time were: Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre; Jean-Charles Frontier; François Ladatte; Claude Francin; Laurent; Philotée François Duflos; and Jean Baptiste Boudard

The painting was commissioned twenty years after the event to commemorate the memorable display which no doubt was extremely controversial to some, agreeable to others

The Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith sided with the Jesuits` policy of accommodation  in 1656, in The Chinese Rites controversy

Clement XI banned the rites in 1704. In 1742, Benedict XIV reaffirmed the ban and forbade debate.

Numerous French Jesuits were active in China during the 17th and 18th centuries

French Jesuits pressured the French king to send them to China with the aims of counterbalancing the influence of Ottoman Empire in Europe. 

In the early 18th century, Rome's ensuing challenge to the Chinese Rites led to the expulsion of Catholic missionaries from China

In 1736, an edict prohibited the teaching of Christian doctrine under penalty of death. On 25 June, 1746, a cruel persecution broke out in Fu-kien, during which the vicar Apostolic, Bishop Sanz, and four other Spanish Dominicans, Serrano, Alcobar, Royo, and Diaz were martyred. The Jesuits Attimis and Henriquez were put to death at Su-chou on 12 Sept., 1748. 

Francesco Muccinelli (active end of 18th and beginning of 19th centuries)
Corteo di maschere a piazza Colonna durante il carnevale
Parade of masks on Piazza Colonna, Rome during the Carnival
Tempera on panel
485 mm  x  660 mm
Museo del Folklore, Trastevere, Rome 

Here we see another feature of the Roman Carnival: horse racing

Horace Vernet (1789–1863)
The Start of the Race of the Riderless Horses
Oil on canvas
46 x 54 cm
The Metropolitan Museum, New York

The races of riderless horses were another  highlight of Rome’s Carnival before Lent. 

Fifteen to twenty riderless horses were i the race and were originally imported from the Barbary Coast of North Africa

The race—la mossa— was held along the Via Flaminia, now the Corso, in Rome and started in the Piazza del Popolo, which Goethe called "one of the finest sights that can be seen anywhere in the world." 

The race lasted only 2 - 3 minutes

Vernet witnessed the horse race during his first trip to Rome

Another spectator was Géricault

Théodore Géricault 1791 - 1824
Riderless Horse Races
Oil on canvas, 
45 x 60 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Géricault was a passionate horseman and when in Rome at the Carnival painted five studies of this theme (of which this is one) for a large painting (The Race of Riderless Horses on the Corso) which was never realised

Other studies for the Race of the Barbarian Horses, 1817  are in the Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lille, France,  The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore

In 1874, a young man was  hit and killed by a horse in this race and the King Vittorio Emanuele II abolished the event for all time

Also in the Via del Corso were other events. One was I moccoletti

Ippolito Caffi 1809 - 1866
I moccoletti al Corso
Tempera on paper
838 x 1218 mm
Museo di Roma in Trastevere, Rome

In Rome on Shrove Tuesday, at sunset, along Via del Corso, between Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Popolo, occurred the last and most extraordinary collective game of Carnival: the moccoletti

Everyone had a candle, (the "moccoletto") 

The important thing was to keep the flame or light on as long as possible, while at the same time trying to extinguish the moccoletto of others. 

Gradually as the number of lit candles became increasingly more numerous the long way became a sea of flashing bright lights 

It started in  1773 and represented not only the highlight of Carnival before Lent but also an event of great symbolism and ritual

In the early 1840s Charles Dickens witnessed it and described it in Pictures from Italy (1846):

"The Corso is a street a mile long; a street of shops, and palaces, and private houses, sometimes opening into a broad piazza. There are verandahs and balconies, of all shapes and sizes, to almost every house - not on one story alone, but often to one room or another on every story - put there in general with so little order or regularity, that if, year after year, and season after season, it had rained balconies, hailed balconies, snowed balconies, blown balconies, they could scarcely have come into existence in a more disorderly manner. 
This is the great fountain-head and focus of the Carnival. 
But all the streets in which the Carnival is held, being vigilantly kept by dragoons, it is necessary for carriages, in the first instance, to pass, in line, down another thoroughfare, and so come into the Corso at the end remote from the Piazza del Popolo; which is one of its terminations. Accordingly, we fell into the string of coaches, and, for some time, jogged on quietly enough; now crawling on a very slow walk; now trotting half-a-dozen yards; now backing fifty; and now stopping altogether: as the pressure in front obliged us. If any impetuous carriage dashed out of the rank and clattered forward, with the wild idea of getting on faster, it was suddenly met, or overtaken, by a trooper on horseback, who, deaf as his own drawn sword to all remonstrances, immediately escorted it back to the very end of the row, and made it a dim speck in the remotest perspective. 
Occasionally we interchanged a volley of confetti with the carriage next in front, or the carriage next behind; but as yet, this capturing of stray and errant coaches by the military, was the chief amusement. ... 
But if the scene be bright, and happy, and crowded, on the last day but one, it attains, on the concluding day, to such a height of glittering colour, swarming life, and frolicsome uproar, that the bare recollection of it makes me giddy at this moment. The same diversions, greatly heightened and intensified in the ardour with which they are pursued, go on until the same hour. The race is repeated; the cannon are fired; the shouting and clapping of hands are renewed; the cannon are fired again; the race is over; and the prizes are won. But the carriages: ankle-deep with sugar-plums within, and so be-flowered and dusty without, as to be hardly recognisable for the same vehicles that they were, three hours ago: instead of scampering off in all directions, throng into the Corso, where they are soon wedged together in a scarcely moving mass. 
For the diversion of the Moccoletti, the last madness of the Carnival, is now at hand; and sellers of little tapers like what are called Christmas candles in England, are shouting lustily on every side, "Moccoli, Moccoli! Ecco Moccoli!" - a new item in the tumult; quite abolishing that other item of "Ecco Fiori! Ecco Fior-r-r!" which has been making itself audible over all the rest, at intervals, the whole day through. 
As the bright hangings and the dresses are all fading into one dull, heavy, uniform colour in the decline of the day, lights begin flashing, here and there: in the windows, on the house-tops, in the balconies, in the carriages, in the hands of foot-passengers: little by little: gradually, gradually: more and more: until the whole long street is one great glare and blaze of fire. 
Then everybody present has but one engrossing object; that is, to extinguish other people's candles, and to keep his own alight; and everybody: man, woman, or child, gentleman or lady, prince or peasant, native or foreigner: yells and screams, and roars incessantly, as a taunt to the subdued, "Senza Moccolo, Senza Moccolo!" (Without a light! Without a light!) until nothing is heard but a gigantic chorus of those two words, mingled with peals of laughter.  
The spectacle, at this time, is one of the most extraordinary that can be imagined. 
Carriages coming slowly by, with everybody standing on the seat or on the box, holding up their lights at arms' length, for greater safety; some in paper shades; some with a bunch of undefended little tapers, kindled altogether; some with blazing torches; some with feeble little candles; men on foot, creeping along, among the wheels, watching their opportunity, to make a spring at some particular light, and dash it out; other people climbing up into carriages, to get hold of them by main force; others, chasing some unlucky wanderer, round and round his own coach, to blow out the light he has begged or stolen somewhere, before he can ascend to his own company, and enable them to light their extinguished tapers; others, with their hats off, at a carriage-door, humbly beseeching some kind-hearted lady to oblige them with a light for a cigar, and when she is in the fullness of doubt whether to comply or no, blowing out the candle she is guarding so tenderly with her little hand; other people at the windows, fishing for candles with lines and hooks, or letting down long willow-wands with handkerchiefs at the end, and flapping them out, dexterously, when the bearer is at the height of his triumph; others, biding their time in corners, with immense extinguishers like halberds, and suddenly coming down upon glorious torches; others, gathered round one coach, and sticking to it; others, raining oranges and nosegeys at an obdurate little lantern, or regularly storming a pyramid of men, holding up one man among them, who carries one feeble little wick above his head, with which he defies them all! Senza Moccolo! Senza Moccolo! 
Beautiful women, standing up in coaches, pointing in derision at extinguished lights, and clapping their hands, as they pass on crying, "Senza Moccolo! Senza Moccolo!" low balconies full of lovely faces and dresses, struggling with assailants in the streets; some repressing them as they climb up, some bending down, some leaning over, some shrinking back - delicate arms and bosoms - graceful figures - glowing lights, fluttering dresses, Senza Moccolo, Senza Moccoli, Senza Moc-co-lo-o-o-o! - when in the wildest enthusiasm of the cry, and fullest ecstasy of the sport, the Ave Maria rings from the church steeples, and the Carnival is over in an instant - put out like a taper, with a breath! 
... the game of the Moccoletti (the word, in the singular, Moccoletto, is a diminutive of Moccolo, and means a little lamp or candle-snuff) is supposed by some to be a ceremony of burlesque mourning for the death of the Carnival: candles being indispensable to Catholic grief. 
But whether it be or so, or be a remnant of the ancient Saturnalia, or an incorporation of both, or have its origin in anything else, I shall always remember it, and the frolic, as a brilliant and most captivating sight: no less remarkable for the unbroken good-humour of all concerned, down to the very lowest (and among those who scaled the carriages were many of the commonest men and boys), than for its innocent vivacity. 
For, odd as it may seem to say so, of a sport so full of thoughtlessness and personal display, it is as free from any taint of immodesty as any general mingling of the two sexes can possibly be; and there seems to prevail, during its progress, a feeling of general, almost childish, simplicity and confidence, which one thinks of with a pang, when the Ave Maria has rung it away, for a whole year."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, By Kensal Green

Tomb of Mary Jane Seacole (23 November 1805 – 14 May 1881), St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, London

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery is located at Kensal Green in London, next to the famous and more celebrated Kensal Green Cemetery 

It has its own Catholic Chapel

It was established in 1858, and is the final resting place for more than 165,000 individuals of the Roman Catholic faith

During the first eight years of its existence some 12,500 burials took place, many of the Irish migrants of the Great Famine years finding their last resting place there

Mary Jane Seacole (23 November 1805 – 14 May 1881), is buried there,

She was a Jamaican-born woman of Scottish and Creole descent who set up a "British Hotel" behind the lines during the Crimean War. She provided succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield. 

She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the greatest black Briton

She converted to Catholicism about 1860

The Wikipedia entry for the cemetery provides a list of  the notables interred there. Others include 

Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte (1813-1881) – Fourth son of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Lucien, philologist and politician

James Burns (1808–1871) Catholic publisher

Father Frederick Charles Copleston, SJ, CBE (10 April 1907 – 3 February 1994) Jesuit priest, philosopher, and historian of philosophy

Fr. Martin Cyril D'Arcy S.J. (1888–1976) Roman Catholic priest, philosopher of love, and a correspondent, friend, and adviser of a range of literary figures including Evelyn Waugh, Dorothy L. Sayers and W. H. Auden

Gilbert Charles Harding (5 June 1907 – 16 November 1960, Marylebone, London), English journalist and radio and television personality

Andrea Carlo Lucchesi, 1860-1925 sculptor

Fr Cyril Charles Martindale S.J. (1879 – 1963) – Jesuit priest, scholar & writer

John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902) English writer on crafts and furniture.

Alexander Mark Rossi (1840 – 9 January 1916) British artist 

Fr. Herbert Henry Charles Thurston, S.J. (15 November 1856 – 3 November 1939) Jesuit writer and historian

Francis Sylvester Walker (1848–1916) Irish painter, illustrator and etcher.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sylvester Landini

Father Sylvester Landinus
Illustrations by Jan Jiří Heinsch. Engravings based thereon by Kilian, Hafner and others
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Regensberg

Sylvester Landino , or Landini (1503 - Bastia , 3 March 1554 ), was an Italian Jesuit, one of the first

He was born in Malgrate near Villafranca in the Lunigiana in the far east of Tuscany on the border with Liguria

Rather specially, he had already been ordained when he met Saint Peter Fabre and Diego Laínez in Parma in 1540. 

There under his influence he made the Spiritual Exercises and underwent a spiritual conversion. He applied to join the Jesuits and was accepted as a novitiate by St Ignatius Loyola

After a difficult novitiate he eventually entered the order

He made as his own missionary work in Northern Italy

From 1547 to 1552, he toiled through the Val di Magra, the vast diocese of Luni and Sarzana, Foligno and Spoleto, the Garfagnana, Florence, Lucca, Este, and the rural areas and towns around Bologna, Lucca and Modena

He was a missionary of the first rank. 

Ludwig Pastor, in his The History of the Popes, from the close of the middle ages. Drawn from the secret archives of the Vatican and other original sources, Volume XII, trans Ralph Francis Kerr of the London Oratory (1912) reported:

"A priest of Casola wrote of him [Father Silvestro Landini] to Ignatius: 
“When he, accompanied by five or six ecclesiastics to whom he had given the Exercises, went through the country, the people in the fields laid down implements of work, left their oxen, and came running up to them, sometimes ten, twenty, thirty at a time, begging them to hear their confessions.” 
The town of Correggio had for more than twenty years been rent by feuds, two parties, a French and an Italian, were opposed ; on one occasion, within a short time five-and-forty men were slain, nothing was spoken of but murder and revenge, and men even came to church carrying weapons.  
Landini by his preaching made an entire change; arms were flung away, and all—women, children, the aged—exclaimed, “Peace, peace.” With sobs and entreaties for forgiveness they fell into one another’s arms; some hundred went at the same time to the Sacraments. 
In the Lunigiana the magistrate Baldassare Turiano wrote to Ignatius on  27th November 1547 begging that “Padre Silvestro” might not be sent elsewhere. 
“ He makes peace between relatives, between neighbours, between communities; he induces run­away monks to return to their convent; he stirs men up to give means of subsistence to convents and to the poor ; he procures rules against profane swearing and for the reverent observance of Sunday ; he preaches in churches and public places, explains the Catechism, exhorts men to enter the religious life; he fasts daily, his food is a coarse bread of millet seed, his drink a little water. Great and small model their lives on his ; even if he were not to preach, his example alone would be a constant sermon.” 
Six months later Raffaello Augustini reported from Fivizzano: 
“Padre Landini has been with us for about three weeks. He imitates the Apostles and other saints of the primitive church, being ever occupied in prayer, preaching, penance, and works of charity. He is making great efforts to banish hence the plague of Lutheranism, which has forced its way from Lucca into the diocese of Luni.” 
After some months’ work in Foligno, the Bishop of the see, the Benedictine, Isidoro Clario [1495ca-1555], gave his testimonial: 
“We thought that an angel from heaven and not a human being was dwelling among us.” "
Like many of the Jesuits at this time, whereever he went he founded Companies of the Blessed Sacrament

In 1552 he was sent to Bastia in Corsica. At that time Corsica was a war zone being fought over by the French, the Genoese, the Turks, the Spanish and others. There were no resident bishops. 

He was sent as Commissioner by the Pope Julius III. He only had two years there before he died. In that time he continued his mission on the island in the same he had conducted his mission on the mainland and was just as successful

In the lands he preached the problem was the religious state of the clergy and the people. 

From the reports to his superiors, the picture emerges of a lower clergy impossible to distinguish, for costumes and ignorance, by the laity:
"I have not met a priest who knows the form [...] of the sacrament of the altar; [. ..] all day go into the forest to dig et gain sustenance for them his children et concubines "). The laity, then, ignored the most basic truths of the Christian faith (they did not know "how many of us were" and "questioned about the sign of the cross, a few did well").
These rural areas and small towns on the mainland and on the islands had all been but forgotten. He set about employing the techniques of the earlier friars and monks. 

He called these areas "Indie di quaggiù" and "le sue Indie" - his Indes and the Indes down there, after the East and West Indes that the Spanish clergy and orders were on mission as their political masters colonised huge tracts of North, Central and South America.

In a letter to St Ignatius, Landini wrote of Corsica:
“Non ho mai provato terra, che sia più bisognosa delle cose dil Signore di questa. Vero è quello che me scrisse il P. Maestro Polanco, che questa isola sarà la mia India, meritoria quanto quella dil preste Giovanni, perché qua c’è grandissima ignoranza di Dio” [MHSI, Epistolae mixtae, exc variis Europae locis ab anno 1537 ad 1556 scriptae…, III (1553)]
Unlike the others who went off to convert what the Europeans saw as the pagans and barbarians in the Americas and Asia, he saw that Europe itself had almost all but lost the faith and could not and should not regard themselves as superior to the natives of faraway and other lands. 

Courageously he set about tackling the problems at home in his own backyard of Lunigiana rather than appearing in places where he was not known and was anonymous

He dedicated himself completely to the visits. He had a direct relationship with the people. He preached his sermons in public places. He converted and administered the sacraments in person, promoted forms of charity and penance, reformed or founded from scratch convents and nunneries. 

He  was permeated by a strong ideal of the early Church. He promoted frequent (daily) reception of the Eucharist and regular Penance in the confessional.  In his preaching he used  the first week of the Spiritual Exercises to the faithful of entire villages and towns

See  John Patrick Donnelly SJ`s Year by Year with the Early Jesuits (1537-1556): Selections from the Chronicon of Juan de Polanco, s.J (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2004) for an account by Polanco describing  the events when Landini brought his mission to the town of Correggio:
(Polanco was secretary of the Society under three successive Fathers General (Ignatius, Lainez, and Borgia))