Sunday, 18 March 2012

Now just imagine how it feels

Coeval Tim left an interesting comment the other day about a miracle, one performed by St Egidio of Taranto, a bizarre story about re-assembling a butchered calf. This calf, affectionately called Catarinella by the locals, used to wander freely about the streets of Naples until a rascally butcher captured her, slaughtered her...and after St Egidio's intervention the pieced-together Catarinella miraculously continued her wanderings. Wondering if St Egidio could be any help with our lemon tree, which we seem to have lost in the recent frosts, I found a website about him and discovered more of his miracles, including the bringing back to life of a tub or wheelbarrow full of dead eels. H'm.

Then I discovered this diary extract from Norman Lewis, an undeservedly little-known mid-20th century writer. He was an army Intelligence Officer in March, 1944, when Allied troops were gradually pushing the German armies back up the Italian peninsula, via Naples, which suffered badly during the hostilities: and all that at a time when Tim and I were but little tiny boys...but never mind that.

Fear is expressed that the blood of San Gennaro may refuse to liquefy this year...Everywhere there is a craving for miracles and cures. The war has pushed the Neapolitans back into the Middle Ages. Churches are suddenly full of images that talk, bleed, sweat, nod their heads and exude health-giving liquors to be mopped up by handkerchiefs, or even collected in bottles, anxious, ecstatic crowds gather waiting for these marvels to happen. Every day the newspapers report new miracles. In the church of Santo Agnello, a speaking crucifix carries on a regular conversation with the image of Santa Maria d'Intercessione - a fact confirmed by reporters on the spot. The image of Santa Maria del Carmine, first recorded as having bowed its head to avoid a cannon-shot during the siege of Naples by Alfonso of Aragon, now does this as a matter of daily routine. This church used to be visited annually by the King and his court to watch the royal barber shave the hair that had miraculously grown on an ivory Christ during the preceding twelve months. The custom is likely to be renewed. And even if San Gennaro's blood doesn't liquefy they have a phial of the blood of St John in San Giovanni a Carbonara, which - say the papers - bubbles away every time the gospel is read to it.

I'm afraid I've no miracles to report from our village, unless you count getting up before 8am this morning a miracle. As for the T-shirt below, I'm afraid I really don't care for eels at all. And when it comes to miracles I'm quite happy for people to believe what they want to believe. They always do, anyway.


Mike and Ann said...

"Now just imagine how it feels..."
Got that ref. Hilaire Belloc - Jim.

And always keep a-hold of nurse

for fear if finding something worse.

Z said...

If I'd been in Naples in 1944, I think that the miracle I'd have prayed for would not have been for ancient blood to liquefy.

Christopher said...

Brilliant, Mike. (And/or Ann.) Spot on.

Nor I, Z. In fact, had I been in the Officers' Mess, I would rather have endorsed the miracle referred to in the following Grace:

O Jesus Christ, our lord divine,
Who turned the water into wine,
Look kindly on these naughty men
About to turn it back again.

Martin said...

I once saw Eels at the Southampton Guildhall, on their 'Daisies of the Galaxy' tour. The things I've done for my daughter...

Tim said...

I got the reassembled cow story from a book called 'Old Calabria', by Norman Lewis.

Christopher said...

Above and beyond, Martin, above and way beyond. Your lucky day in hell, maybe?

Tim: It's good to have these things verified. Many would think we were just making this stuff up. Thanks for the idea.

mig bardsley said...

I'm always fascinated by the huge variety of completely useless miracles supposedly performed by saints.
Indeed, in the case of the eels,worse than useless for anyone who happened to like eel pie.

Christopher said...

Especially if they were eating one at the time, Mig.

Rog said...

I once saw Smokey Robinson and his backing group.
There's no "f" in "eels" in your title.

Christopher said...

I saw what you did there, Rog.