WHAT'S NEW?

Liturgical Season 5/13/04 World News
New Resources  Marian Events  Mary in the Secular Press
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Marian Library
 Prayer Corner News Archives

Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of April with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of May.

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New Resources

To help users locate The Mary Page, we have created an alternate web address, marypage.udayton.edu.

A section on Marian Spiritualities has been added to our Resources index.  The latest addition was a paper by Brother John Samaha on Mary in Byzantine Spirituality.  Expect more articles to follow.

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has also been added to our Resources index.  The latest added was Meditating the Passion of Our Lord with Stamps.  Expect more countries to follow.

A section on Mary and Women is now under construction in our Resources index.  The latest addition was John Paul II on Women.  Expect more articles to follow.

We have posted the lyrics and sheet music for Mother Dear, O Pray For Me in our Marian Music Archive and also updated our list of Marian apparitions reported during the 20th century and their status.

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  News from the Marian Library

Personal thoughts and reflections about Mary 
from our readers

We have received a number of emails from readers commending our Mary Page web site.  Thank you all for your encouragement and support.  The following is a typical example:

Hello.  I think this is a great site.  Thanks for your efforts!

Todd

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Alumni Update

Bro. Luke Asayama, a Marianist from the Region of Japan, joined the Alumni Hall Community in 2001.  He has been residing there at times while studying Mariology at the University of Dayton.  He recently published an article about the feastdays of Mary throughout the year in a Japanese language magazine which is distributed nation-wide.  A copy of the article is available at The Marian Library.

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Current Exhibit

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth, an exhibition of paintings by Brother Jerome Pryor, S.J. which celebrate the union of the Divine and the Human, will be on display in the Marian Library Gallery from April 26 to May 28, 2004.  The Gallery will be open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm weekdays.  For more information, call (937) 229-4214.  A virtual exhibit may be seen on our Gallery section under Current Exhibit.

New Crèches will also be on display in our museum through November 2004.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Summer 2004 semester will begin on June 14.  The schedule is now available!

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Marian Events

The Mariological Society of America 55th Annual Progam

May 19-22, 2004
The Cenacle Retreat House
420 Kirkwood
Houston, Texas 77079

The topic will be The Immaculate Conception: Calling and Destiny.

Click here for the complete program for this year's MSA meeting.

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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Prayer Corner Requests

You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look!  This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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News from Around the World

Beauraing Pro-Maria Committee in the USA

After forty years of hard work and devotion to spreading the message of Our Lady of Beauraing which has touched many people all over the world, Doris Poisson has retired.  Irene Tremblay has replaced her as the new secretary of the committee.  Irene graciously sent The Marian Library the latest edition of the story of Our Lady of Beauraing, and asked us to pray for her and the committee that they may "continue to help spread Our Lady's message to 'Pray, Pray, Pray very much,' to many more of God's people."

POPE GREETS FIRST COMMUNICANTS, PRAYS FOR PEACE

VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2004 (VIS)

At the end of today’s general audience and the weekly catechesis in Italian, French, English. Spanish, German and Portuguese, the Pope greeted the 15,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square in those languages as well as Dutch, Croatian, Slovak and Polish.

In closing remarks to young people, the sick and the newlyweds, he noted that tomorrow is the liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima. "I exhort you all to incessantly turn to Our Lady with faith, entrusting to her your every need."

IMITATE PIUS V IN HIS MARIAN FILIAL DEVOTION

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2004 (VIS)

Made public today was a Message from the Pope to Bishop Fernando Charrier of Alessandria, Italy upon the conclusion tomorrow, May 5 of the celebrations for the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Pius V.

In the Message, dated May 1, the Holy Father prays "that the intercession of St. Pius V and the example of his virtues stimulate us to make our faith more solid, maintaining it uncontaminated and in permanent contact with the sources of Revelation, and spreading it in society in order to make humanity more open to Christ and disposed toward building a civilization of love."

John Paul II recalls that his predecessor was born in 1504 in Bosco, Alessandria. At age fourteen, he entered the Order of the Preachers, was ordained a priest in 1528, a bishop in 1556 and was created a cardinal in 1557. At age sixty-two in 1566, he was elected supreme pontiff. During his pontificate he named St. Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church.

"St. Pius V," continues the Message, "was concerned with faithfully applying the decisions made during the Council of Trent: in liturgy with the publication of the new Roman Missal and the new Breviary; in the catechetic field, entrusting especially to parish priests the ‘Catechism of the Council of Trent’; in theological material, introducing in the universities the ‘Summa’ of St. Thomas. He reminded bishops of the duty to reside in the diocese for attentive pastoral care of the faithful and he stressed the opportunity for cloistered life to religious and the importance of celibacy and sanctity of life to priests."

At the end of the Message, John Paul II prays that the "apostolic zeal, constant attention to holiness and love for Our Lady which characterized the life of St. Pius V may be for all a stimulus to live with greater commitment one’s own Christian vocation. I want to invite everyone in a special way to imitate him in his Marian filial devotion, rediscovering simple and deep prayer of the Rosary which, as I recalled in the Apostolic Letter ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’, helps us to contemplate the mystery of Christ."

From Zenit

Heart's Home: "Maternal" Help to Abandoned Children (Part 1)

Interview With Its Founder, Father Thierry de Roucy

ROME, MAY 11, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Among the institutions that have responded to John Paul II's call to assist abused children is the Catholic association Heart's Home, which opened in 1990. This private association of faithful offers young people the possibility to live for 14 months or more in some of the poorest neighborhoods of the world, in order to offer consolation to abandoned children. To have a better understanding of Heart's Home, ZENIT interviewed its founder, Father Thierry de Roucy. Excerpts follow:

Q: Why did you found Heart's Home?

Father de Roucy: In January 1990, when I was superior general of my congregation, the Servants of Jesus and Mary, while praying the rosary with my brothers, I suddenly received the call to found a work of compassion and consolation, a work that is rather more contemplative in its way of looking at reality and aid, a work that is different from many of the NGOs that exist today.

In brief, I realized that our volunteers would take Mary's place at the foot of all those who are crucified today, and look at, love and encourage them in their trials, and give meaning to their lives. A mission that might not seem very effective in the eyes of the world but that, in a word, would be Mary's mission by the side of Jesus.

Q: Do they have special times of prayer?

Father de Roucy: Yes. In the morning, the "friends of the children" pray lauds, and at the end of the afternoon, vespers, and at night, compline, during which they mutually ask one another for forgiveness for the faults committed during the day. They take part in the Mass of their parish church. They take turns every morning, spending one hour of prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament. Often, people of the neighborhood come to pray with them. In the early afternoon they pray the rosary. It is the prayer in which most people of the neighborhood participate. Sometimes, the "friends of the children" take advantage of it to impart a little catechesis to our neighbors on the mysteries of the rosary.

Q: When you arrive in a new neighborhood, how do you introduce yourselves to the population?

Father de Roucy: … I remember, for example, what happened in Lebanon. Our parish priest organized a procession from the church to our house, with a large icon of the Virgin. Behind were the young people of Heart's Home, and then all the population that accompanied us to our house.

Mary as Mother Is Close to Us, Says John Paul II

Sees Her Spiritual Maternity as a Help to Foster Fraternity

VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2004 (Zenit.org)

John Paul II presented the Blessed Virgin Mary as a mother who helps human beings to reject hatred and violence and to respect the dignity of every person.

On a day celebrated in many countries as Mother's Day, the Pope evoked the role of the Mother of Jesus in the lives of believers.

"On the cross, Jesus wished to offer, in a manner accessible to all, the spiritual maternity of Mary, giving her to his beloved disciple as son," the Holy Father said before praying the midday Regina Caeli with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"Since then, generations upon generations of believers have invoked her and taken recourse to her with love and hope," he said.

"And the Virgin expresses her maternity 'in its exceptional closeness to man and all that happens to him,'" he explained, quoting from his first encyclical, "Redemptor Hominis."

"If human beings were aware of this extraordinary gift!" the Pope exclaimed, "They would feel themselves brothers much more easily, rejecting hatred and violence, to open their hearts to forgiveness of offenses received and to respect, without reservations, the dignity of every person."

"May Jesus' Mother protect and support all the mothers of the world," the Holy Father said. "During the month of May, the People of God feel the need to intensify their devotion toward Mary, whose maternal presence is a support to Christians and to the whole world."

John Paul II also reminded his listeners that May 13, the day the Church recalls the Marian apparitions at Fatima, is a date that calls "to conversion."

It was on that date in 1981 that Mehmet Ali Agca shot the Pope in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father attributes his survival to the intercession of Mary.

ZE04050904

On the Spiritual Maternity of Mary

"This Heart Has Always Followed the Work of Her Son"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. The address was in Italian.

1. During the month of May, the People of God feel the need to intensify their devotion toward Mary, whose maternal presence is a support to Christians and to the whole world.

From the moment the young girl of Nazareth pronounced her fiat, "under the special influence of the Holy Spirit, this heart, the heart of both a virgin and a mother, has always followed the work of her Son and has gone out to all those whom Christ has embraced and continues to embrace with inexhaustible love" (encyclical "Redemptor Hominis," No. 22). And, if God's mercy is inextinguishable, the immaculate heart of his mother is also "maternally inextinguishable" (see ibid.).

2. On the cross, Jesus wished to offer, in a manner accessible to all, the spiritual maternity of Mary, giving her to his beloved disciple as son (see John 19:26). Since then, generations upon generations of believers have invoked her and taken recourse to her with love and hope. And the Virgin expresses her maternity "in its exceptional closeness to man and all that happens to him" ("Redemptor Hominis," 22).

If human beings were aware of this extraordinary gift, they would feel themselves brothers much more easily, rejecting hatred and violence to open their hearts to forgiveness of offenses received and to respect, without reservations, the dignity of every person.

3. In a few days, on May 13, we shall recall the apparition of the Virgin in Fatima and her call to conversion. Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters, so that human beings of our time will also accept her urgent invitation, who with love watches over the Church and the World.

[Translation by ZENIT]

ZE04050901

Remembering Pius V's Marian Devotion

John Paul II Recalls 16th-Century Predecessor

VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Among St. Pius V's innumerable merits were his fervent Marian devotion and the institution of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, says John Paul II.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Bishop Fernando Charrier of Alessandria, Italy, to mark the celebration of fifth centenary of Pope St. Pius V's birth, the Holy Father pointed to his predecessor in the Chair of Peter as an example to follow.

"May the apostolic zeal, the constant pursuit of holiness, and the love of the Virgin, which characterized the life of St. Pius V, stimulate all to greater commitment to their own Christian vocation," John Paul II stated.

"In a special way, I would like to invite the faithful to imitate him in his filial Marian devotion, rediscovering the simple and profound prayer of the rosary, of which I wished to remind all in the apostolic letter 'Rosarium Virginis Mariae,'" the Pope continued.

"Thanks to the fervent recitation of the rosary, extraordinary graces can be obtained through the intercession of the Lord's heavenly Mother," he wrote.

St. Pius V was well persuaded of this, after the victory of Lepanto on Oct. 7, 1571, and wished to institute a proper feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was to be celebrated on that day, beginning that very same year.

"At the beginning of this third millennium, to Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, I have entrusted with the recitation of the rosary, the precious good of peace and the reinforcement of the institution of the family," John Paul II added.

The Pope concluded by renewing "this confident trust through the intercession of the great devotee of Mary that St. Pius V was."

Antonio Ghislieri, elected Pope in 1566 with the name Pius V, was born in Bosco Marengo, in the province of Alessandria, in 1504.

He entered the Dominican Order at age 15. After his priestly ordination, he was first a professor and then prior of the monastery; provincial superior; Inquisitor at Corno and Bergamo; bishop of Sutri and Nepi; cardinal; Grand Inquisitor; bishop of Mondovi; and Pope.

Although the title of Inquisitor weighs on his memory, in fact Pius V was a great reformer, committed to eradicating simony and nepotism from the Roman Curia.

To numerous relatives who rushed to Rome with the hope of some privilege, Pius V is known to have said that a relative of the Pope can consider himself sufficiently rich if he is not indigent.

Among the pastoral reforms promoted by him in the wake of the Council of Trent are the obligation of residence for bishops, the cloister of religious, celibacy and holiness of life of priests, bishops' pastoral visits, the increase of missions, the correction of liturgical books.

The rigid ascetic discipline that the Holy Pontiff imposed on the Church was the constant norm of his own life.

Pius V died on May 1, 1572. He was canonized in 1712.

ZE04050621

Eucharistic Dimension of Mary in "The Passion"

Interview With a Carmelite Theologian

ROME, MAY 5, 2004 (Zenit.org)

The relation between the passion of Christ and the Eucharist also contains a reference to the Eucharistic dimension of Mary, says a theologian and Vatican consultor.

To understand better the more important aspects of the film "The Passion of the Christ," ZENIT interviewed Discalced Carmelite Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, the president of the Theological Faculty Teresianum, who is a specialist in Marian studies and consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As of Monday, the movie had taken in $579 million in receipts worldwide.

Q: "The Passion of the Christ" represents the Eucharist, one of the central mysteries of Christianity. It does so at the culminating moment of Jesus' sacrifice with a flashback to the ceremony of the bread and wine. What is your assessment of this cinematographic representation of the Eucharist?

Father Castellano Cervera: I consider this contribution very opportune. The synoptic Gospels and Paul tell us about the supper before the Passion, as we know, and in it the institution of the Eucharist, while John, who does not give an account of the Eucharistic institution, gives the whole supper a Eucharistic meaning, from the washing of the feet, to the priestly prayer.

The supper forms part of the passion of Christ. In the giving of his body, which must be crucified, and his blood, which must be poured out for the remission of sins, Jesus instituted the memorial of his passion and redeeming death, and carried out a prophetic action, showing awareness of what was about to occur in the last part of his life.

In the film, this flashback unites the passion with what Jesus accomplished in the supper. On one hand it shows that, all that Christ had anticipated is realized in the passion. The supper looks toward the cross.

And at the same time it reminds us that from that historical event, which happened once and for all on the cross, the Eucharistic celebration--"Do this in memory of me"--is a "representation," in the striking sense of a "sacramental presence."

But the call to the supper and to the institution of the Eucharist at the moment of the death on the cross confers great realism both to Jesus' words in the Last Supper--when he anticipates already sacramentally his sacrifice and his offering--as well as the realism of the Eucharistic sacrifice as total gift, painful and at the same time full of love, obedient to the Father and a sacrificial donation to us.

There is no doubt: The realism of the Passion highlights the "price" of the gift of the Eucharistic sacrifice, also saying with the Council of Trent that in the Eucharist are present "the victory and the triumph of his death."

Q: A priest acknowledged that Gibson's film has enabled him to understand more profoundly the sacrament of the Eucharist, in regard to the meaning of the sacrifice and of the blood poured out to wash away the sins of men. What is your opinion?

Father Castellano Cervera: I think that's right. There is always the danger of trivializing the Eucharist when it is not regarded with the love with which Christ instituted it for us, when it is not related to the sacrifice of his death, and when it is not celebrated as a memorial of the love of Christ for his Church and for the whole of humanity.

The priest who acts in the person of Christ cannot live the celebration without seeking to identify himself with Christ's feelings, as the words of the Missal also indicate.

A correct way to celebrate Mass, to bless the Father, to pray to the Spirit, to offer the sacrifice of Christ and to offer oneself and the Church, together with the holy and immaculate Victim, is to be able to create also in the assembly a sense of the mystery, and to enfold it in the living offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in communion with Christ who offered himself and continues to offer himself for us.

Q: Controversies aside, the critics share the view that no other film has ever represented in such a precise way the figure of Mary. The Mother of Jesus lives the tragedy and pain of the passion, even though she knows that the plan of salvation is being accomplished. What would you like to say in regard to this interpretation?

Father Castellano Cervera: The observation is correct. The historical presence of Mary at the foot of the cross, according to John's Gospel, is the key to understand that hers was a constant, intense and shared closeness to the Son in his hour, in the hour of the Son and her hour, from the supper to the cross.

Mary was not there by chance, but because she had followed her Son's steps, as faithful disciple and Mother. The film is absolutely correct in showing her in different moments of the itinerary of the Passion.

She was not a Mother who drew back before her Son's condemnation. She was totally on the side of Jesus. But her human presence, letting herself be seen by Jesus, as the film shows, has a message.

Mary wanted her Son to know of her participation, of her awareness of living in profound communion with him, of what he probably revealed so many times to the Mother, more or less explicitly: his passion, death and resurrection.

It is a participatory presence of communion, of compassion, of maternal association, in the realism of being near, of being seen, of presenting herself without fear as the Mother of that condemned Son.

According to John, all that happened at the foot of the cross was the real expression of what happened on the way of the cross. Mary accompanied her Son in his agony. And she waited for his resurrection until the third day.

Q: One of the most striking scenes of the film is the moment when, at the foot of the cross, Mary says to Jesus: "Body of my body, blood of my blood." And in these words is hidden the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God. What would you like to say in this respect?

Father Castellano Cervera: Not only is it a reference to the mystery of the Incarnation of which Mary is a witness from the beginning to the end, from the Conception to the Ascension.

In the tragedy of the Passion, Mary indicates that that flesh that suffers and that blood that is poured out in the flagellation, and all through Calvary and on the cross, is flesh of her flesh and blood of her blood.

Deep down it affirms that there is a "compassion" of the Mother, that she feels in her flesh and in her blood all that her Son suffers, as if each pain was lived and suffered by her, with exquisite maternal sensitivity. She knew it, she had heard it from Simeon as a prophecy. But now she was living it with a realism that is perhaps unimaginable.

Also in the relation flesh/blood of the Passion and of the Eucharist, in the film itself, there is a reference to the Eucharistic dimension of Mary, "Eucharistic woman." The phrase is Augustine's--"Caro Christi, Caro Mariae" [the flesh of Christ is the flesh of Mary]--referring in the first instance to the Incarnation and, as a consequence, to the Eucharist.

Q: There are those who have described the film as anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, or too violent. How do you assess Gibson's film?

Father Castellano Cervera: It cannot be accused of anti-Semitism. Those who play a disgraceful role in the film are the Romans, especially the soldiers, terrible and merciless executioners.

On the whole, I liked the film. I think the version of the scourging was excessive and, consequently, of the suffering implied in such carnage on the way to Calvary, and some extremes of the crucifixion. There is the risk of not making such atrocious suffering credible.

I think, all together, the Gospels are more sober in regard to the physical pains. For Luke, the suffering and anguish in Gethsemane is more intense, a spiritual pain, which also affects the body that sweats blood.

So much physical pain runs the risk of clouding the "sentiments" of Jesus Christ, those of his heart, which are of obedience full of love of the Father and of love for humanity to the giving of his life. In the Letter to the Philippians, Paul talks about these "sentiments," which give meaning to Christ's external suffering.

In "The Passion," I miss an emphasis on the priestly prayer of Jesus, a real Eucharistic offering by Christ of his passion and death for the unity of all. I don't find the translation adequate, in appropriate language, of the great existential suffering expressed in the "piercing" words, as described by H. Urs von Balthasar: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

There should be more on the Resurrection. It is the Father's answer to Jesus and to us of the enigma of the passion. The salvific force of the Resurrection makes us understand the meaning of the effusion of blood and of the giving of life. Blood and water gushed forth from the heart of Christ -- blood of the redemption, but also Holy Spirit of salvation, and of the life of the Risen One communicated to us.

As the Gospel testifies, we need a Christ who returns from death with his glorious wounds to say: "Peace be with you." And to hear that he breathed on the Apostles, as John says, to communicate his vivifying Spirit. This is how "the triumph of his death" is accomplished.

ZE04050501

Pope Confirms Plan to Visit Loreto in September

Will Beatify Albert Marvelli of Catholic Action

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2004 (Zenit.org)

John Paul II confirmed that he plans to visit the Marian shrine of Loreto on Sept. 5 for the closing of the national pilgrimage of Italian Catholic Action.

The Pope made the announcement in a message to the participants in the recent congress of the diocesan presidencies of Catholic Action, held in Rome.

His message was read last Friday in St. Peter's Basilica during the solemn prayer vigil with which the congress participants, from all over Italy, prepared for May 1, feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

The vigil was in "preparation for the great pilgrimage to Loreto next September 5, in which with the help of the Lord I have the intention of participating," John Paul II said in the message.

He added: "For you and with you I pray also to Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla, who in a few days will be the first canonized saint of ICA [Italian Catholic Action], and to the Venerable Albert Marvelli," whom, "God willing, I will have the joy of beatifying at the end of our pilgrimage to Loreto."

Gianna Beretta Molla, who will be canonized May 16, was a doctor, wife and mother, and belonged to Catholic Action. In her fourth pregnancy, she accepted the risk of death from cancer rather than abort the baby girl she was expecting. She died in 1962 at age 39.

"I expect you in Loreto," John Paul II concluded in his message. "I am sure that there will be many of you, what is more, spiritually, you will all be there."

During a private audience in March granted to Paola Bignardi, president of Italian Catholic Action, the Pope expressed his desire to travel to the Shrine of Loreto on Sept. 5 to beatify Albert Marvelli, an Italian engineer and politician, who died in 1946 at age 28.

Marvelli was formed by the Salesians and Catholic Action. A man of profound spirituality, he carried out works of assistance to the poor during World War II.

Committed to the reconstruction of postwar Italy, he was a member of the Executive of the Christian Democratic Party. He died after being hit by a truck.

Up to 200,000 people are expected to attend the Pope's Mass in Loreto.

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Mary in the Secular Press

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.

Opening a Byzantine Door to the Divine [Source: The Washington Post, 4/10/2004]

Many people know little of Eastern Orthodox Christian teachings yet recognize the colorful human figures that adorn the walls, floors and ceilings of Orthodox churches and peer hauntingly from painted blocks of wood in museums and magazines.

Those images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles and saints are meant to show the religious figures as they looked, or might have looked, when they walked the Earth, and to bring the viewer into communion with them. The hoped-for result is transcendence of time and place to an encounter with spiritual truths.

"Icons in their purest form are a way to contemplate the divine," said Helen C. Evans, curator of a monumental show on Orthodox iconography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

"Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)" presents more than 350 works from the last years of Byzantine culture, including frescoes, coins, jewelry, metalwork, manuscripts, textiles and mosaics. Many of them never have been shown outside the churches and monasteries where they have been housed for centuries as part of the communities' liturgical and contemplative life.

The exhibition's opening two weeks ago was timely, given this year's coincidence of Easter celebrations on Eastern Orthodox and Western calendars. Most Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter tomorrow, as do Roman Catholics and Protestants. But Orthodox churches--more than a dozen exist worldwide, including Greek, Russian, Armenian and Coptic--calculate their liturgical calendar differently, often celebrating Easter a week to a month later than Western Christians.

Among the exhibition's vast offerings, a few images stand out as instructive introductions to Orthodox liturgy and theology, especially as they relate to Jesus' Passion and Resurrection.

Western depictions of the Resurrection typically show Jesus rising from the tomb, appearing before His disciples or ascending to heaven. Orthodox paintings and mosaics most often show Jesus descending to the netherworld to stomp on the gates of hell and liberate Adam and Eve. Sometimes, for good measure, he bashes Satan in the head with his cross.

Such images are based on the "harrowing of hell," a non-biblical but widely held Christian belief (East and West) that Jesus journeyed to hell after his crucifixion but before his ascent to heaven. By rescuing humanity's parents, who have fallen in original sin, Jesus demonstrates his victory over death and the salvation of mankind.

One of the show's largest and most significant works is a 13th-century wood-and-gold icon with the crucifixion on one side and the descent into hell--what Orthodox Christians call the anastasis--on the other, Evans said in a telephone interview. The 21/4-by-4-foot icon never has been shown outside its home, the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt.

The 6th-century Greek Orthodox monastery is at the base of the mountain that many believe to be Mount Sinai, where Moses saw the burning bush and later received the Ten Commandments. It is the world's oldest continuously active monastery and one of the oldest Christian pilgrimage sites. The monastery owns thousands of manuscripts and icons, most donated over the centuries by various pilgrims, including Crusaders, kings and popes.

The icon includes Latin as well as Greek inscriptions--a rarity on Eastern Orthodox icons.

The Latin suggests that the icon might have been created by someone from Rome, a Crusader perhaps, or fashioned at St. Catherine's, Evans said. Whatever the icon's origin, the two languages suggest an ecumenical accord at Sinai 200 years after the patriarchs in Rome and Constantinople excommunicated each other and their realms began waging wars over land and theology.

The icon is one of the earliest examples of use of the mandorla, a motif in which spiky rays emanate from Jesus' head, Evans said. It's the artist's effort to depict the bright spiritual form that Jesus took during the Transfiguration, an event described in the Gospels in which Jesus meets with Moses and Elijah on a mountaintop. Orthodox iconographers combine the Transfiguration with the descent into hell to demonstrate the blinding light of salvation, Evans said. And this particular icon could be tied to a mystical movement that some think originated at the Sinai monastery.

The Hesychast movement, as it was called, held that a believer, through controlled breathing and repetitive prayer--much like saying a mantra during Buddhist meditation--could perceive the divine light that shone on Jesus during the Transfiguration.

The practice was debated widely in the East and rejected by the West, Evans said. The East, in turn, refused to accept a belief that later became doctrine among Roman Catholics: that Mary was physically taken into heaven after her death.

Orthodox theology doesn't allow for what Catholics call the Assumption. Instead, it states that Mary never died but rather fell into a deep sleep and that Jesus took her soul to heaven. In a typically Eastern representation of this event, the Dormition, another icon from St. Catherine's, shows Jesus standing behind Mary's bier, holding her soul in the form of a baby.

The Metropolitan has several examples, on loan from other churches or monasteries, of what Evans calls "the great images of Easter." These large textiles, called epitaphia (epitaphios in the singular form), are large, embroidered images of the dead Christ that are carried in processionals on Holy Friday and placed on a carved representation of the tomb. Most of them depict the incumbent body of Jesus on a stone slab, but a 14th-century epitaphios in the exhibition shows Jesus lying in a sea of stars surrounded by seraphim and other celestial beings.

Also included in the exhibition is an example of the Mandylion, an image of Jesus believed to have been miraculously impressed on a cloth placed over the face of the crucified Jesus, created, like the Shroud of Turin, "without aid of human hands," the tradition goes.

That image appears as a wood icon, but it is said to replicate the original cloth image sent by Jesus to the Armenian king of Edessa. In keeping with Byzantine tradition, even copies of copies, if carefully created, carry the same spiritual power as the original.

"Few will visit it here expecting to see the very form of the face of God," Annemarie Weyl Carr, professor of art history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, writes in the exhibition catalogue. "But many will search it earnestly to see what was seen as the face of God."

"Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)" continues through July 4 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For an overview, including a virtual tour of the Monastery of St. Catherine, go to www.metmuseum.org or call 212-535-7710.

CORRECTION-DATE: April 14, 2004

CORRECTION: An April 10 Religion article contained an incorrect reference to the museum presenting an exhibit on Eastern Orthodox Christian iconography called "Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)." The exhibit is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, not the Museum of Modern Art.

AN ITALIAN PASSION [Source: The Independent (London), 4/9/2004]

Some critics, despairing of Mel Gibson's bloody hand, have cast their minds back to the last noteworthy film on the subject of Jesus Christ. Pasolini's Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St Matthew) was made in 1964. The maverick director cast a Spanish economics student named Enrique Irazoqui as his Jesus, a truck-driver as Judas and (being a good Italian boy) his own mother as the Virgin Mary. Despite spending weeks searching for locations in Palestine, he eventually shot the movie in the godforsaken Mediterranean landscapes just above the heel of Italy.

Mel Gibson used exactly the same Matera landscapes as Pasolini, and obsessively watched The Gospel According to St Matthew during the actual filming of The Passion. But what would Pasolini--a gay, Marxist atheist--make of Mel Gibson and the worldwide phenomenon of his film?

Since his violent murder in 1975, the estate and legacy of Pasolini has been stewarded by the formidable Laura Betti, the actress whom he directed on five occasions. She guards him as jealously as any literary widow (Pasolini, with some prescience, described her as his "non-carnal wife").

Betti's in-your-face style, both on and off screen, is legendary. Who can forget her performance as the terrifying wife of fascisti Donald Sutherland in Bertolucci's 1900, with that insane cackle, sharp enough to break every window in a house? She was a scabrous Wife of Bath in Pasolini's Canterbury Tales, and has been a hard-working actress since one of her earliest roles in Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

Her flat is above a large Roman square busy with traffic. Eighty this year, and recovering from a heart attack, she positions herself behind a table, and repeatedly answers the phone with an expletive.

Betti has written a book about Pasolini called Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Reason of a Dream. She was always Mary Magdalene to his Jesus: one of their earliest collaborations just happened to be centered around a crucifixion scene. Betti gets, quite correctly, given the "diva" role. Part of the portmanteau film Ro.Go.Pa.G. from 1963, Pasolini's segment was called La Ricotta, and satirised the efforts of Orson Welles to make a lavish story of the crucifixion that completely ignored the impoverished locals, who were desperate for food. La Ricotta enraged the Vatican, and Pasolini was arrested and prosecuted for blasphemy.

It was only a year later when he made The Gospel According to St Matthew. "As soon as I finished the first reading of the gospel," he wrote later, "I immediately felt the need to do something, a terrible, almost physical energy. What could I do for St Matthew? And yet I had to do something. It was impossible to remain inert, inefficient, after such an emotion, so aesthetically profound, which I had previously experienced only a few times in my life."

The resulting film, influenced by Pasolini's left-wing beliefs, portrays Jesus as a political radical and a firebrand. It was also dedicated to the memory of Pope John XXIII, the pontiff whose liberal views vis-a-vis the Jews many critics feel have been rejected by Mel Gibson.

The diva is intrigued by all the tales she's heard about Gibson's film. "I have a friend, Maurizio Millenotti, who is a costume designer," she observes. "He made the costumes for Mel Gibson's film and he tells me Gibson was asking all the time about Pier Paolo. They got on very well."

The phone and the doorbell ring constantly, and Betti is soon explaining that she needs to rest. She makes me promise, though, to ring her when I've seen the Gibson film. Before I leave she shows me the flat and we end up in her bedroom. Hanging in the room is a simple portrait of Pasolini--drawn by Kiarostami--dated 1974.

Some days later, I call her up. "The film is opening in Rome tomorrow," she declares. "I hear it is a photocopy of Quentin Tarantino," she rasps. "I saw some photographs," she says. "Very disgusting, so boring," Will she be going to see it? "No - maybe yes." Mel Gibson? "Pier Paolo was much more handsome and with such a good body. I never met anyone with his adoration of life. He had a kind of tranquility and a purity. He was special, he had qualities no one else had."

By complete coincidence, The Gospel According to St Matthew had its completed restoration announced in Italy last week. It cost pounds 66,000 to create the sparkling new prints, and was completed at the specialist Studio Cine and Cinecitta Digital Laboratories in Rome. It had always been scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the original release of the movie on 30th March, 1964. One of the most noteworthy things about it, I suddenly remember, is that none of the cast wore make-up. It's a model of simplicity and clarity. It's so beautiful entirely because it is unadorned. If Mel Gibson wins some Oscars, his make-up people will be among the nominees. Draw your own conclusions.

TWO VANDALIZED FIGURES RETURN [Source: San Antonio Express-News, 4/9/2004]

Guarded by sanctuary angels and workmen in white hard hats, the Virgin Mary reclaimed her place beside the main altar of San Fernando Cathedral in time for Christianity's holiest day.

Worshippers applauded when the Immaculate Heart of Mary again rested securely on a pedestal, one of two statues returned to the Catholic cathedral Thursday after they were damaged earlier in the year by an agitated man.

The cathedral's rector paced as workmen hoisted the statue depicting the Virgin Mary accompanied by cherubim. Art conservator Anne Zanikos hid her eyes during the precarious process.

"I kind of don't want to watch," she said.

By noon, the virgin and St. Anthony of Padua again stood on either side of the altar.

"I think it goes such a long way for the healing from the tragedy to have these back," said Zanikos, who finished repairing the statues in time for Easter at church leaders' request.

Police say Rogelio Rodriguez, 38, entered the cathedral Jan. 13 and toppled seven statues.

Rodriguez, who was charged with felony criminal mischief, was attempting to end idolatry, police said he told them.

Last month, a judge found Rodriguez, who proclaimed himself the "Prince of Peace," incompetent to stand trial. He has spent the past three weeks at San Antonio State Hospital.

Four statues cannot be repaired; three of them will be replaced, and one will be braced and put on display in the cathedral's museum.

The seventh statue, which portrays the Nino Jesus, is to return to the cathedral later.

Father David Garcia, the cathedral's rector, estimated the cost of repairs at $100,000. Insurance will cover up to half, with the rest coming from donations.

The cathedral also has added security guards and motion sensors.

"So many people have contributed so much to making this cathedral beautiful," Garcia said. "We cannot risk that someone will come in here and wreak havoc within minutes."

Worshippers said the statues' return makes a noticeable difference.

"It looked real bare," parishioner Sally Davila said, "like when you see it, you know there's something missing there."

J-Lo's mum wins $3m [Source: The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), 4/8/2004]

NEW YORK: Jennifer Lopez's mother Guadalupe has scooped a $A3.12 million jackpot playing poker machines.

The 58-year-old was gambling a dollar a time when her numbers came up at a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

She immediately gave thanks to the Virgin Mary. "It was divine intervention. I have a great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico and the Americas," she said.

Ironically, casinos were one of the reasons Jennifer broke off her engagement to actor Ben Affleck in January--she was worried his love of high-stakes card games was getting out of control.

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