During the meeting, the person of Mary was analyzed from the biblical,
theological, spiritual, liturgical
and ecumenical points of view. Thus, the Lecco forum continued the kind of
ecumenical reflection about Mary promoted by the French Dombes Group of Catholic and Lutheran
Among the speakers in Lecco was professor Renzo Bertalot, pastor of the
Waldensian Church, a dissident group with roots in 12th-century France. Quoting Martin Luther,
the pastor, who is also a consultor of the Marian Academy, spoke of the way
Mary made God's action possible through her listening.
Bertalot spoke with Vatican Radio today about the role Mary plays in the
dialogue among separated Christians.
The "figure of Mary is the last of the five points that the present
Pontiff proposes for ecumenical rethinking," Bertalot said. "On this point, notable
progress has been made, moving from opposition to convergence, that is, examining the points of
difficulty and those that are
The pastor said he agrees with the Dombes Group's suggestion, which he
summarized with a motto: "It is necessary for Protestants to discover Mary in the Bible,
and for Catholics to discover the Bible in Mary." According to the pastor, Mary's example
constitutes a message for people of our time.
"Mary," he said, "on her way to Elizabeth's home, can tell us
not to lose sight of our salvation, not be discouraged by the conditions of our time because,
among other things, Mary also experienced them, [for instance,] the flight to Egypt."
"Mary always gives us the message not to allow ourselves to be
overwhelmed by all this and to put the promise to Abraham as a point of departure, which in any
case is being realized," Bertalot added. "More than that, for us it is fulfilled.
So we are able to experience the joy expressed in the Magnificat, which
shows us the horizon of the Kingdom of God that is coming, and not the kingdom of confusion in
which we find ourselves today. It is an answer to the despair of our time."
The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research
Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature.
Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing
the secular press.
Mary in the secular news from November 9 through November 19, 2002
The most intriguing structure in Segovia may be the Roman aqueduct, which
begins 15km southwest of the city and soars up to 29m by the time it reaches
the city, the New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) said on November
19. A legend that has sprung up over the origins of the aqueduct tells of a
young girl, tired of her water-bearing duties, who agreed to give her soul to
the Devil if he built her the aqueduct to ease her toil. But she set one
condition: the Devil would have to build his gift in just one night. Fear and a
troubled conscience later prompted the girl to regret her rashness, and to pray
to the Virgin Mary for help. Mary caused the sun to
rise one hour earlier than usual that morning, leaving the Devil just one stone
short of completing his task - and cheated of the soul that was promised to
A name not only decides the identity and fate of an innocent baby but
demonstrates the creativity, originality and sophistication of its parents,
writes Filipina Patricia Gajo, a freelancer for the Montreal Gazette on
November 18. Among the variations is the blended name, an advanced form of
compounding. As 99.999 per cent of Filipinos are Catholic, the Maria-blend
(after the Virgin Mary) is ubiquitous: Marites is Maria
plus Teresa, Marivi is Maria plus Victoria and Marilu is Maria plus Lucia.
Magnificat Awards in recognition of "outstanding service to God and
neighbor" were presented to 100 persons at a service in Springfield, Ill.,
October 17 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said on November 18. The cast-bronze
Magnificat Award features an image of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of
Springfield, holding the infant Jesus on her lap. The service included a
ceremony during which 15 priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
were accorded the title of monsignor, a recognition that had not been bestowed
on anyone in the diocese since 1974.
"Cantiones Sacrae, 1589; Propers for the Purification of the
Blessed Virgin Mary; The Cardinall's Musick," works by Byrd, are conducted
by Andrew Carwood on a new CD released by Gaudeamus, the Sunday Times (London)
said on November 17. For much of Elizabeth I's reign, Byrd lived a double life,
writing officially sanctioned works for the Anglican liturgy while producing
Roman Catholic music for private use and, presumably, his own spiritual needs.
In his second collection of Sacred Songs (1589), he set a sequence of Biblical
texts with subversive messages.
"There's something pathetic about the intensity of the excitement in some
scholarly and religious circles over the ancient ossuary which went on display
at the Royal Ontario Museum the previous Friday," the Toronto Star said on
November 17. The small (51-by-28 centimetre) limestone container for bones,
bearing the words in Aramaic, "James, son of Joseph, brother of
Jesus," is claimed by some experts to date from the first century CE and
to be the first non-biblical evidence of the "historical Jesus". The
writer remembers being in Florida once when flocks of people
were lining up to view a reflection in a large window that looked oddly like a
caped and hooded woman once it became dampened by mist or rain. They were
certain it was "Our Lady," the Blessed Virgin Mary. The writer
concludes: "As in the case of the ossuary, there is a sadness about all
this. It is truly tragic, surely, to be so unaware that the real thing, the
actual presence of God, is not to be found in any external objects or in
curious manifestations, but within oneself."
A review of Agnolo Bronzino's "Lucrezia," (The Uffizi Gallery,
Florence) in The Guardian (London), November 16, contains the following
paragraph: Distinguishing features: She has her hand on a book of daily
offices, turned to prayers to the Virgin Mary, and the words on her outer gold
necklace say Amour Dure Sans Fin (love lasts eternally). But for all her
protestations of piety and fidelity, it is hard to disagree with Lord Mark in
Henry James's novel, The Wings of the Dove, when he says of the woman in this
portrait: "Splendid as she is, one doubts if she was good."
"Patrick White skewered Australian society in his novels, particularly Voss," Thomas Keneally wrote in The Guardian (London) November 16.
The title's Voss is a German explorer based on the real German explorer Ludwig
Leichhardt, who disappeared in the Australian wilderness in 1848. Voss is
determined to cross the Australian immensity coast to coast for the first time.
"A pity that you huddle (in the ports)," he, as antipodean Christ,
tells the Virgin Mary of this fabulous tale, an English girl named Laura
Runners dedicated to the rights of immigrants and the Virgin of Guadalupe
took to the streets Oct. 29 at the Basilica of the Virgin in Mexico City, the
Houston Chronicle said on November 16. The Carrera Antorcha Guadalupana, an
international torch run, will finish at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York
City on Dec. 12, the virgin's feast day. Thursday and Friday, they ran through
Houston. The relay-style run was organized by a core of three New Yorkers
who were joined by runners from Catholic dioceses along the roughly 3,000-mile
route. The New York Archdiocese took a cue from a Mexican tradition: On the
feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Catholics had a procession in which they
took a torch from the basilica named for Mary to their local parishes in Mexico
City. For the past four years, Mexican-Americans in New York have adopted the
tradition of Antorcha Guadalupana, processing with a torch from St. Patrick's
Cathedral to local parishes.
Last year, Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York, called on the Mexican-American
community to take the tradition on the road from Mexico City to New York City.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is entwined with Mexican Catholic identity. She is a
vision of the Virgin Mary said to have appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531,
inspiring conversion to Catholicism and centuries of devotion.
Torn between laughter and tears, unshaven Monsignor Jorge Enrique Jimenez,
one of two priests rescued from suspected Marxist rebel kidnappers by the
Colombian army, thanked God and the Virgin Mary as well as the army and
President Alvaro Uribe, and said he had felt the prayers of the nation were
with him throughout his ordeal, the Toronto Star wrote on November 16. The two
priests had been held in the Andean mountains outside the capital, Bogota. The
army suggested the 17,000-strong FARC - Latin America's oldest and largest
guerrilla army - wanted to add Jimenez to a list of politicians and other
public figures it hopes to exchange for jailed rebels.
The National Gallery plans to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for 29m pounds
to keep a 16th-century painting by Raphael in Britain, The Independent (London)
said on November 15. Madonna of the Pinks, owned by the Duke of
Northumberland, has been displayed at the gallery in London for the past 10
years but is about to be sold to the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles. The
painting depicts the Virgin Mary playing with her infant son and holding a
sprig of pinks, and dates from about 1507, before Raphael began working at the
Papal court in Rome. Ralph Percy, the 12th and current Duke of Northumberland,
whose ancestral home is Alnwick Castle, said he had to sell the painting to
help pay the cost of running his estate. Critics have called it one of the
greatest Old Master paintings still in private hands while the National Gallery
believes that for the painting to be moved abroad would be "a matter of
the deepest regret."
After 40 days and 40 nights of rain, and following his disheartening experience
with the raven that did not return, the undaunted Noah sent a dove from the Ark
to reconnoitre. It returned later the same day, "carrying a bough of an
olive tree with green leaves, and Noah therefore understood that the waters
were ceased upon the earth". Ever since, this bird has been looked on as a
friend to sailors everywhere, and a dove perching on the mast or rigging of a
sailing ship in olden times was an omen of a peaceful, favourable voyage, with
no gales and just the right amount of wind. Swallows, however, had just the
opposite effect. If a passing swallow alighted on the rigging it was sure sign
of tempests on the way. There were other birds, too, whose presence near a ship
was seen as, not mischievous in itself, but just a friendly warning to proceed
with caution. The stormy petrel, for example, was credited with such benign
intentions. These birds were sent, it was said, by the Virgin Mary, always
regarded as protectress of the mariner, and were called in French les
oiseaux de Notre Dame. The English had similar ideas but preferred to
derive their pet-name for the stormy petrel from the Latin Mater cara,
"beloved Mother", so the birds became known, with a touch of whimsy,
as "Mother Carey's chickens". From The Irish Times, November 15.
Meeting in Nicaea (in what is now Turkey) in A.D. 787, the Seventh Ecumenical
Council of the Roman Catholic Church encouraged artists to portray Jesus, the
Virgin Mary and the saints to stimulate reverence for the central figures of
the Christian faith. This propagation of sacred images was further viewed as a
practical way of distinguishing Christianity from Judaism and Islam and of
carrying the written message of the Gospels to the illiterate masses, The New
York Times wrote on November 13. "Corpus Christi: Photographic
Representations of Christ 1855-2002," an exhibition at the Hotel de Sully
in Paris through Jan. 5, offers a fascinating overview of how photographers
have addressed Jesus' place in Western civilization. The Israel Museum in
Jerusalem, which conceived the exhibition and is to present it next year, says
the show is the first of its kind. Later it may also travel to the United
States. To the obvious question of why the Israel Museum should have put
together this exhibition, the show's organizer, Nissan N. Perez, the museum's
curator of photography, said that Jerusalem was the Holy City of Christianity
as well as Judaism and that it was probably easier for a non-Christian to pick
works for their artistic quality rather than for their religious content.
The Boston Camerata presented "Cantigas de Santa Maria," songs from
medieval Spain, November 10 at Sanders Theatre, the Boston Herald said on
November 12. These cantigas were compiled by Alfonso the Wise, king of Castille
in the 13th century. All praise the Virgin Mary, making for a cross-cultural
blend - Christian texts, Arabic music - that provided snappy and exhilarating
results. Also reported November 10.
Under a lighted 56-foot cross, and past the beheaded camel, beer cans and weeds
desecrate the forgotten Bethlehem Village. Around a bend, the gray plaster
Temple of Jerusalem, affectionately called "unhistorical and funky"
by one local religious scholar, now more closely resembles a prop from a
Japanese monster movie, the New York Times wrote on November 12. Holy Land
U.S.A., a 18-acre park of Catholic-oriented religious kitsch was once one of
Connecticut's largest tourist attractions, a spiritual lodestone to more than
200,000 visitors a year from all over the East Coast. But after 44 years, Holy
Land, closed since 1984 and now administered by nuns who live on the hilltop
property, desperately needs a rescuer -- preferably someone with a lot of
money. After years of false starts and canceled fund-raisers, the solution
probably lies somewhere between restoring the park, still one of the best-known
religious parks in the Northeast, and razing it, local church officials say.
Some favor turning the park into a modest shrine that would include some
original Holy Land icons as well as a new shrine to the Virgin of the
Revelation. The Rev. Jaime Lara, a Catholic priest and professor who is
chairman of the program in religion and the arts at Yale University Divinity
School, said that despite an appearance that seems to have been inspired by
"miniature golf settings and pious lawn sculpture," Holy Land follows
in the line of the northern Italian sacri monti -- sacred mountains --
begun in the early 16th century as an alternative to the dangerous pilgrimages
to the real Holy Land. The Italian versions include miniature cities, chapels,
indoor dioramas, and mannequins portraying the important episodes in the life
of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and saints. Holy Land is more of a Catholic Coney
Island, Father Lara said.
Professor Emeritus Edward Ullendorff, FBA, writes in The Times (London)
November 12: "Sir, Your report ‘Emperor's looted charm is given back to
Ethiopians’ (November 4) contains many factual errors....The amulet is
printed upside down and is not easily legible in this reproduction and,
perhaps, also in the original. I can find nothing specific connecting it with
Emperor Theodore, and I am unable to detect his baptismal name. Even if that
existed it would be Walda Dengel, i.e., 'Son of the Virgin (Mary)'
and not 'Born of a Virgin.'
The latest exhibit at Dunaway's Olde Towne Market Restaurant and Art Gallery in
Slidell Olde Towne features the work of Slidellian Mary Stephens Powe and is
titled "A Gumbo of Ya-Ya Art." Included are "Golden
Madonna," done in the form of a relief sculpture with the blue-robed
figure of the Virgin Mary painted in acrylic on the inside of an old drawer
from a New Orleans house, and "Gospel Singers With Cuban Madonna,"
pictured on a glass window originally in a New Orleans house. Reported by the
Times-Picayune (New Orleans) November 10.
As part of an international "Marian Hour of Prayer" program,
Knights of Columbus Council 2409 will sponsor a public prayer service November
13 at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Hahnville, the Times-Picayune (New
Orleans) wrote on November 10. The prayer service will honor the Blessed Virgin
Mary under the title of "Our Lady of the Rosary." As the symbol of
the Marian Hour program, a copy of the icon will be present at each of the
thousands of services being conducted this year by the Knights of Columbus
councils in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican
Republic, the Philippines and Guam. The tribute to God, in company with Mary, is
the 10th year-long program sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
Pope John Paul II is encouraging more Catholics to reclaim the ancient
ritual of the prayer beads, by declaring the months through October 2003 the
Year of the Rosary. And for his anniversary a few weeks ago, the pontiff gave
himself and the church a gift: an extended rosary prayer. On the 24th
anniversary of his election, the pontiff added a new series of
"mysteries," or events in the life of Christ, to the 15 --- three
sets of five --- that have made up the rosary cycle for more than 400 years.
Atlanta Archbishop John Donoghue said he is especially pleased that the new
list includes Jesus' last supper with his disciples, the beginning of the
Eucharist. For the archbishop, the rosary represents not only the security of
his faith in Jesus Christ and his love of the Virgin Mary, but also the warmth
of home and family. From the Atlanta Journal and Constitution November 9.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 9: Five years ago (Sunday, Nov. 9,
1997): Archaeologists announced the discovery of the rock believed by early
Christians to be the place where the pregnant Virgin Mary rested on her journey
to Bethlehem. Construction workers laying pipe for the controversial Har Homa
Jewish settlement had accidentally damaged the foundation of a fifth-century
Byzantine church, revealing the rock.
A pilgrim in search of the mystical, a Toronto Star writer looking for a room
is told: "There’s a Goddess Conference on. No rooms available." She
writes: "Nowhere else but Glastonbury would I be competing with over 300
goddesses for a room. This mystical Isle of Avalon is a point of pilgrimage for
Christians and Pagans alike. It's the site of the first Christian church in
England, the hiding place of the Holy Grail and the burial place of Arthur and
Guinevere....In the Chalice Well Garden, I dip my feet into the healing
Pilgrims' Bath.... I stroll to the back of the garden....Surrounded by the
fragrance of roses is the well head, the source of the spring. Joseph of
Arimathea, the Virgin Mary's uncle, hid the Holy Grail here. Either that or in
the hills behind. We don't know for sure as it's never been found."
November 9 edition.
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November 18, 2002
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