Mary in the secular news from July 31 through
News of Pope John Paul II’s trip to Mexico City and his
canonization of Juan Diego, the first indigenous saint of the Americas,
inspired numerous stories on July 31 and August 1. The Virgin Mary appeared to
Juan Diego as a dark-skinned Indian at Guadalupe in 1531. A sampling of
headlines from the media follows.
In Mexico, a less dogmatic Catholicism; Families more
loyal to Virgin than to church - The Atlanta Journal and Constitution;
Pope flies into dispute over Mexican saint – The Daily
Virgin of Guadalupe inspires devotee; Community grotto
completed with gift of Juan Diego statue – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel;
Pope visits his stronghold under siege – The London
Pope to canonise shepherd who saw vision of Virgin –
The Irish Times;
A matter of faith – The Austin American Statesman;
Utahans Rejoice: Fact or Not, Indian Saint Is Inspiring
– The Salt Lake Tribune;
Pope calls on Mexicans to help the region’s poor –
European look of new Indian saint rankles Mexicans: Papal
visit meant to strengthen Catholic bond, but depictions of Juan Diego muddle
mission – Vancouver Sun (source: The Daily Telegraph);
VOA News: World – Global News Wire;
Pope canonizes Indian saint – The Atlanta
John Paul II in Mexico: Pope Issues Call for Rights in
Mexico - The Boston Globe;
Juan Diego – The Denver Post;
Pope Gives Mexico Its Own Aztec Saint – The Scotsman;
Pope canonizes Indian folk hero; His 3-country trip ends
in Mexico – The Seattle Times;
Mexico: Pope Beautifies Indian “Informants” – Inter
Cathedral shrine – City News Service (Los Angeles).
Pope John Paul II, used to welcoming millions of admirers
each year, will carry out a pilgrimage of his own when he visits his native
Poland in what many believe may be the ailing pontiff’s last trip home,
Agence France Press said on August 12. The pope is due to arrive in Krakow on
August 16 and will visit his parents’ graves to mark the anniversary of the
death of his father, who took the young Karol Wojtyla on one of his first holy
pilgrimages to the shrine of Kalwaria Zebrzydowskia, southwest of Krakow, to
pray to the Virgin Mary.
The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Smolensk Virgin
Mary Icon Day this Saturday, ITAR-TASS News Agency wrote on August 10.
According to a legend, evangelist Luke painted the icon and Greek tsarevna Anna
was blessed with the icon on the way to the Russian throne when she left
Constantinople for Russia in 1046. People believe the icon helped Russian
troops during the 1812 war and the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War.
Major renovations are currently under way at the Church of
the Madonna della Difesa in Little Italy, but one fresco will remain as is,
despite the controversy it continues to draw, the Montreal Gazette said on
August 10. The late 1920s fresco, situated directly above the main altar,
depicts the Virgin Mary framed in a celestial light and surrounded by angels.
Also depicted in the fresco are Pope Pius XI, surrounded by cardinals and
bishops, the artist Guidio Nincheri, and former Italian dictator Benito
Mussolini on horseback, surrounded by generals. It is this sight that has drawn
criticism over the years, not to mention a few raised eyebrows. Mussolini’s
image was covered by a sheet from 1940 to 1945, but there has never been any
real question of altering the representation of the now infamous dictator.
“Why should we have to remove it?” asks Loris Palma, charged with
overseeing the renovations of the church. “It reminds us of what happened. If
you take it away, people will ask who was Mussolini. He belongs to the history
of Italy.” He explained, “We have Mussolini there because he made a pact
with the Vatican” and if it wasn’t for this pact, the pope would have
continued to be a virtual prisoner and today we would not have a pope who
readily travels across the world to spread his teachings, as Pope John Paul II
recently did in Toronto. Palma is founder of the Societe de Diffusion du
Patrimoine Artistique et Culturel des Italo-Canadiens, an organization that
promotes the works of Italian-Canadian artists such as Nincheri.
Candles flicker and incense wafts over a mantel piece
arranged with a small army of objects that include clay skulls the size of
quarters, a gargoyle, a cherub angel and images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and
the Virgin Mary. This shrine is one of several Monica Royalty has erected to
honor things that represent important aspects of her life, The Riverside, CA.,
Press-Enterprise said on August 8. The article included tips for making a
Experienced artisans in Sanford, Fla., work with cutting
torches, electric grinders and chemicals to finish one of the most cherished
art pieces of all time, the bust of the Madonna from Michelangelo’s
“Pieta,” the New York Times wrote on August 7. The American Bronze Fine Art
Foundry will eventually produce 3,000 bronze busts of the Virgin Mary, to be
sold for $15,000 each. Another 1,000 made of silver are priced at $30,000 each
and 25 will be cast in gold and later offered at $1 million each. The
transaction to reproduce the bust from the marble statue was accomplished by
New Renaissance Art, which negotiated an exclusive licensing agreement with the
Vatican’s administrative unit, Treasures of St. Peter’s. This is the first
time that a reproduction of “The Pieta” has been allowed. The Madonna busts
will be sold to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the statue’s
presentation to the church, and each buyer is being offered a private tour of
the Vatican Treasury and the Vatican Museum. A part of the profit is to go to
the Vatican for upkeep and restoration of its art.
St. Augustine’s will mark the Assumption of the Blessed
Virgin Mary with a procession and solemn mass next Thursday, the Grimsby
Evening Telegraph said on August 10. It will be followed by sausage sizzle and
The Cathedral of the Madeleine Choir will assist in the
Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August
15, the Salt Lake City Dessert News said on August 10.
Residents of Lithuania will work this Saturday, Aug. 10,
but will have as may as four free days next week, after the government passed a
resolution shifting the civil servants’ free day from Aug. 10 to Aug. 16, due
to the national holiday on Aug. 15, the Assumption Day, which commemorates the
Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven, thus extending the weekend to four
days, Baltic News Service said on August 7.
For more than a century people have traveled to the French
town of Lourdes in search of miracles. It is one of the places where the Virgin
Mary is said to have appeared and is revered by Catholics all over the world.
But instead of a miracle, the trip ended in tragedy when 12-year old
Christopher Brown was crushed to death April 18 last year beneath the wheels of
a bus belonging to the Catholic organization that was supposed to be looking
after him, the Observer wrote on August 4. His mother is suing the Handicapped
Children’s Pilgrimage Trust, claiming they broke promises about the level of
care her son would receive on the pilgrimage.
Roman Catholic cathedral of the Immaculate Heart now has a
new father superior, who arrived in Irkutsk on a bike. The Polish priest
Krzystof Kowal left the town of Koszalin in Poland two months ago, traveling
7,000 km to arrive at his destination. He said the trip made it easier for him
to get to know the country and its people.
Shooting is about to start on the latest blockbuster movie
to be made in Liverpool, the Liverpool Echo said on August 1. The Virgin of
Liverpool tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who tries to find a new home
for a statue of the Virgin Mary earmarked for demolition.
For 250 years the Razzouk family in Jerusalem’s Old City
has offered Christian pilgrims a Holy Land souvenir they can take to their
graves – a tattoo. Simple designs of Christ on the cross, his resurrection,
the Virgin Mary, or elaborative decorative crosses in black ink have adorned
the forearms of the likes of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and King George V
of England. Anton Rassouk, 58, and his sister Georgette, 60, are the last of
generations of Razzouks to carry on the family tradition. With the fighting
scaring pilgrims away, their tradition may die out, the Associated Press said
on August 7. Razzouk said, “We print designs which are a certificate of
pilgrimage. I do believe, like those pilgrims who tattoo themselves, that a
Christian design on the arm is a pathway and a ticket to heaven.” A small
collection of the family’s olive-wood stamps, used to trace the tattoo on the
arm of a pilgrim, are featured in an exhibition at the Tower of David Museum in
the Old City. The exhibition focuses on styles of body decorations common to
the Middle East such as henna, kohl and the pilgrim’s tattoo. A researcher
for the exhibition, Mordechai Levy, attests to the long history of tattoos –
a continuous tradition of 400 years – in the Holy Land.
Two girls, aged 14 and 15 at the time, are the alleged
victims of sexual assault by outcast Catholic cult leader William Kamm aka
Little Pebble who claims he will be the pope who leads mankind into the
Apocalypse, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote on August 10. A sister of one of
the girls, then aged 13, is the alleged victim of Kamm’s chief disciple,
James Duffy. The offences are said to have occurred in 1993 and 1994. Kamm, 52, who says he began talking to God and the Virgin
Mary when he was 18, faces nine charges after 40 police, led by the Child
Protection Enforcement Agency, raided his closed community on August 8.
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August 9, 2002
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