Saturday 30 November 2013

All Animals Are Equal, But...

I've said it before. That Same-Sex Marriage thing was nothing to do with equality.

The case of Mr. & Mrs. Bull, the B&B owners who refused to allow a homosexual couple to share a double bed back in 2008 have lost their appeal in the Supreme Court.

For my transatlantic readers, a B&B isn't quite the same as a hotel or motel. It is usually a private house (often quite small) where some of the bedrooms are rented out. The owners live in the house.

Despite the fact that it was proved that Mr. & Mrs. Bull applied their policy to all unmarried couples equally, the court ruled that the policy constituted illegal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

I don't quite get it - maybe I'm missing something here. A heterosexual unmarried couple could be refused a double bed, but refusing one to a homosexual unmarried couple is discriminatory...

So, one rule for heterosexuals and a completely different one for homosexuals.

And that is meant to be equality?

I suppose that, if the powers-that-be can redefine "marriage" then they can redefine "equality" too...

Mea Culpa...

IMG_20120605_110331Having posted a brief reminiscence on my visit to the tomb of St. Peter last year (prompted by the recent exposition of some relics of St. Peter) I decided to have a look back at my posts from my visit to the Eternal City.

I was rather disconcerted to find that I'd only written two posts - one on my first visit to St. Peter's itself and one on my visit to the Venerable English College. I then remembered that I had intended to finish captioning all my photos before actually posting any more, and somewhere along the way I'd forgotten to finish the job. Also some of my photos were locked.

I still have to finish the captions for days four and five of my visit, but I shall try to get that done as soon as possible. Part of the delay is partly because, after a while, the churches started to meld into one another, and I've had to spend a lot of time checking where exactly I went, and what I saw... I meant to check some of it with His Hermeneuticalness, but he's been busy...

I must just recount one of the funniest episodes of the trip.


In Santa Maria sopra Minerva there is the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena. I wanted to go and pray before the tomb (as well as get a good photo) so I walked closer. Now I have problems with both my knees and one of my ankles, but steps up (if not too steep) are actually less of a problem than going down. I didn't actually notice how high the altar was until I finished praying and turned to come back down...

There wasn't a handrail.

Fortunately, I noticed a sort of plinth to the side of the altar - there was a large statue on it and the bottom formed a convenient ledge to lean on as I made my way gingerly down the steps. The statue was a little unstable and rocked slightly, but I wasn't leaning heavily on it.

His Hermeneuticalness was waiting patiently at the bottom, looking slightly amused.

When I reached ground level, he asked in a casual tone, "Mac, you do realise, don't you, that the statue you were just leaning on was carved by Michaelangelo...?"


Once my heart started beating again, I just had to take another photo. It is rather blurred because I couldn't stop giggling...

Tuesday 26 November 2013

The Relics Of St. Peter...

The end of the Year of Faith was marked by a Mass where relics of St. Peter were brought out for veneration for the first time since they were unearthed in the 1940s.

The BBC, with typical lack of sensitivity towards the beliefs of billions of Catholics around the world, put up a headline which read "Pope puts 'St Peter's bones' on public display." The quote marks around St. Peter's bones indicate clearly that the author of the piece doesn't agree in their authenticity.

I haven't seen the relics themselves, obviously - they've only just been brought out. I have been down to the tomb - or rather, the chapel where the tomb is. Looking at the maps of the Vatican Grottoes, I see that this is the entrance to the Confessio, and I think that the remains of St. Peter are (or were) behind the grill by the mosaic of Christ. If I'm right (and I'm very bad at following maps, and have a lousy sense of direction), the grill actually backs onto another chapel - the Clementine Chapel - which we didn't go in to because there was a Mass being celebrated at the time. It was a spine-tingling moment being even that close, and I was almost in tears. Fortunately I pulled myself together and got some photos, which you can find on my Flickr set.


Throughout the history of the Church, the location of St. Peter's remains has been said to be under St. Peter's Basilica... underneath the High Altar, to be precise.

When excavations under St. Peter's were carried out, they discovered a tomb below the High Altar with "Peter is here" (or words to that effect).

The Church hasn't been around that long - 2000 years, give or take. 266 Popes - and we know the names of all of them. Something as important as the burial place of the first Pope is likely to have been passed on with great care. So finding remains labelled "Peter" under the High Altar of St. Peter's Basilica shouldn't come as any great surprise.

Of course, no one is obliged to believe that the bones belong to St. Peter...
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