Monday, November 26, 2012

* Endurance

We forget that it is a miracle because  it is ubiquitous, but through the miracle of satellite transmission of television, I was able to be in Rome and watch Pope Benedict install six new cardinals  on Sunday. Not that I’m a Roman Catholic.  I’m a Black Protestant as my grandmother used to say.  But I love the Baldacchino and am amazed that any single individual could have access to it as the canopy for his personal throne.

Well, it is the Throne of St. Peter after all, and it is St. Peter’s Basilica, the chapel of  the pope.

In addition to the astonishing beauty of the setting, and the costumes of the clergy there was  a narration unpacking their significance: The biretta (three cornered hat) of the cardinal is bright red to signify the sacrifice of blood which the Crucifixion symbolizes  and which a cardinal might also be called upon to make---think Cardinal Romera, shot at the altar, or Pope John Paul II himself who was shot in a motorcade. That was big news. Lesser news was that the pope went to visit his would-be-assassin in jail and forgave him.  Symbolism isn’t news to the media, I guess.

The other remarkable thing about the ceremony is that it existed at all. The church was constructed from 1506-1623 and Bernini and Michaelangelo were two of its four primary designers. Not a bad architectural firm if you can get it.

I watched this ceremony in the 400 year old structure the same day an article appeared in the New York Times entitled           Is This the End?  predicting that in 20, 50 or 100 years, sooner or later, Manhattan will be under water.

It’s a good thing that Rome isn’t a port city I guess. But Italy is a pretty consistent site of earthquakes.

Nature doesn’t exempt art or architecture from her wrathful palette. She knows no "Renaissance masters" ---nor any other masters for that matter,  despite what man in his hubris, might think.

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