Monday, November 11, 2013


The Pope has done something quite remarkable, a gesture I should think none of his predecessors would have made. During a walkabout he stopped to intimately embrace a man so hideously deformed that in the photographs one cannot delineate his features. I have to admit even just looking at those photographs it is a bit gut-churning. I doubt very much, no I know, that I would not have been able to do it. This simple gesture must have endeared him to millions, even folk like me who have no truck with religion and who look upon he pope simply as CEO of a very large, mega rich universal corporation probably, taking everything into account, one of the richest corporations there is. Just think of the real estate for starters.
What does one know about the city of Naples, except Elmer Rice wrote a play titled “See Naples And Die” and that it is a hotbed of Mafia type Activity, known as the Camorra, evidently the most ruthless and bloody-minded criminal organisation in the world? Oh yes, there are the naughty murals of Pompeii and there’s Vesuvius of course and but did you know Naples’ patron saint is Gennarius who happens also to be the patron saint of volcanoes? Sounds pretty reasonable.
The Vatican is showing off the sumptuous 'San Gennaro' collection of gems said to be worth more than England's crown jewels; treasure formed of objects donated in tribute to the saint, 70 pieces of sumptuous jewellery transported under heavily armed guard to a museum in Rome. The exhibit features an empty reliquary purportedly holding San Gennaro’s Blood. Blood legend says that 'miraculously' liquefies during religious ceremonies.
Hidden away for centuries, the Treasure of San Gennaro is formed of precious objects donated in tribute. It has rarely left the city and spent centuries locked in a vault, largely forgotten by the wider world.
Known in English as Januarius, the bishop of Naples was martyred in the 3rd century under the Emperor Diocletian. First of all he was supposed to be attacked by wild animals but apparently the animals were loath to do their bit so he was beheaded.
Thousands gather three times a year to see whether a vial of his coagulated blood will turn to liquid, which they believe to be a miracle bringing good fortune to the city.
In the 1520s when Naples was struggling with plague, war and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, surviving citizens pledged to build a chapel for the saint in return for his protection.
The hoard includes what is thought to be one of the most precious pieces of jewellery in the world - the necklace of San Gennaro, begun in 1679 to adorn a gold and silver bust containing the skull of the saint.
Separate ornate pieces of jewellery were forged together over centuries to make a necklace. These include a cross of diamonds and emeralds donated by French Emperor Napoleon and many gifts from monarchs dating from years when the Kingdom of Naples was a major power. This necklace tells the history of Europe, and includes a relatively humble pair of earrings, the only possession of a commoner spared in a disease epidemic in 1844 who donated the family heirloom to the saint.
But most breathtaking of all, another centrepiece is an enormous golden mitre, the ceremonial headdress of bishops, commissioned to crown the saint's bust in its annual procession and made of 3,300 diamonds and hundreds of rubies and emeralds, given in many separate donations.
So much for the vow of poverty and just add that mitre if nothing else to Rome’s riches.
So where in the scheme of things does money come in as far as god is concerned?
Bill Maher (love the man) on television recently said that southern fundies have given up on Christ’s basic teaching in favour of a ‘f*** you, drop dead’ philosophy applied to anyone who isn’t of their particular persuasion. He tells two stories about tipping in restaurants. In one a group of Christian diners refused to give their young waiter a tip because of his homosexual lifestyle, although they admitted the service was excellent. If they seriously believed by denying him a tip it would change his lifestyle shows you just how stupid, ignorant and bigoted these people can be. The second story involves a receipt across which is scrawled, “I give 10% to God, why should I tip you?”
This is arrant nonsense, what possible need or use has god got for her ten percent? The money isn’t going to line the pockets of his robes but the pockets of her charlatan pastor whose mega-church makes him millions and which he informs his congregation is a gift from god. No, it is not. It is a gift from the gullible, nothing more, nothing less.

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