The Telegraph features an interesting article about the opening of the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome: “‘Sistine Chapel of the Early Middle Ages’ buried for a millennium by an earthquake reopens.” The piece has several photographs of the reopened basilica. An excellent reason to return to Rome!
For those who follow the new calendar, I would like to wish you a pleasant Midsummer’s Eve and a lovely feast of Saint John tomorrow. Of course, you’ll celebrate the saint on the wrong day, but at least your heart is in the right place.
As I was working in the garden this morning, I noticed my first Saint John’s Wort in bloom this year (on the frondosum). I have four species of Hypericum in my yard—frondosum, prolificum, punctatum, and pyramidatum. These plants without fail bloom around Western Saint John’s Day. I laughed to myself as I thought of an ecclesial council’s anathematizing the offending species for adhering to the schismatics’ calendar (which happens to agree with the seasons). Horticultural heresy!
I read Bruce Charlton’s site today (as I often do), and followed a link in a comment to his post, “If a leader emerged who might be a saviour of the West - what kind of person might he be?” (worthwhile to read, as are most of Charlton’s offerings). The linked article concerned the birth of twin sons to the légitimiste claimant of the French throne, Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou (Louis XX), but the story is not news—the births occurred in A.D. 2010. Still, it is a good sign. By the way, Wikipedia notes that Louis Alphonse of Bourbon is also Franco’s great-grandson through his mother—promising genes there. France and Spain may yet contribute to the salvation of the West . . . it is quite unlikely that anything good will emerge from the Anglosphere.
How do I get to pigeonniers—you may reasonably ask. When I sought information on the French pretender, I found Messynessy Chic’s “Meet the Would-be King of France (he’s Kind of a Babe).” Indeed, he is, which is what a people should want for their ideal sovereign—which reminds me of poor Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, in line as claimant to the Russian imperial throne. He looks like a mafioso’s son who eats too much pizza on Jersey boardwalks—which is quite a decline from the last reigning imperial Russian family. Those wicked Bolsheviks—their misdeeds are ever with us—may they burn, burn, burn!
Anyway, I looked around on Messynessy Chic and found several blithe blogposts, including (and especially) “The French Castles fit for a Pigeon (Literally).” “MessyNessy” writes about the stately pigeon coops found around the French countryside. They are merveilleux—and for pigeons! I always used to say that I would have handsome honeybee hives and charming chicken coops were I to come into great wealth, but now I must add another manorial luxury—a palatial pigeonnier.
Finally, as a lifelong amateur vexillologist—and because I am a contrarian who despises unprincipled opportunists, busybodying schoolmarms, mindless sheeple, and, above all, the vermicular Left, I offer a brief memorial to one of the finest Americans in history:
For those who do not know, the “Battle Flag” was originally Robert E. Lee’s battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia (courtesy of his predecessor, P. G. T. Beauregard). I did know until today that Lee had another banner for his headquarters flag. Robert E. Lee, may his memory be eternal!
My brother sent me a link to beautiful aerial photographs of Russia, Spain, India, and elsewhere that a man took using a drone. They are lovely: “I’ve spent the past two years shooting drone aerials around the world. Here are 38 images which would be totally illegal today.”
A Luddite at heart, I find current technological “advances” troubling, but there are moments when I reflect, “This is what such a device is really meant to do.” Our global traveller with the drone camera has put those machines to worthy use.
Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη αὐτῶν
My sister recently told me about the British memorial for Armistice Day on the centennial of the Great War: “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red,” which you may explore further at The Tower of London Remembers. Artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper have created a memorial at the Tower of London consisting of 888,246 ceramic poppies placed around the tower moat. Each flower represents a British or Commonwealth soldier who died during the war. The installation is sobering but beautiful:
The Daily Mail has an article that features some remarkable photographs of the memorial: “A kingdom united in Remembrance.”
It surprises me to think that the catastrophe of the First World War only began a century ago. What horrors did it unleash upon our civilization—what lives it destroyed—what a loss! Such a loss . . .
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine
A few years ago, my father sent me a link to a fascinating photographic essay in The Atlantic about the Hindenburg: “75 Years Since the Hindenburg Disaster.” The pictures are quite interesting—especially the Nazis in New York imagery that strikes us as bizarre. Yet, it should not—the world was still at peace (of a sort) in the mid-30’s. Yet, war was coming. I found the picture of the crew’s survivors sad as I wondered how many of the men would survive the following decade.
The photos also show a little of what it was like to travel by Zeppelin. It is too bad that the industry fell apart after the disaster—bad press, indeed. It is rather surprising, though, that most of the crew and passengers survived the crash. Read the Wikipedia page for more information. Evidently, the young cabin boy survivor Werner Franz is still alive.
Last week, I discovered a blog written by an American expat in Paris, Nichole Robertson, called Little Brown Pen. Her site features photographs that she has taken for the Paris Color Project; Robertson captures scenes and organizes them by hue and tint. She has a wonderful eye for seeing beauty everywhere, especially in the details of the Parisian cityscape that endear it to so many. You will certainly enjoy her aesthetic appreciation of my old town. Vive la ville-lumière! How I miss it.
As I type, thousands of committed prolife Americans are travelling to Washington to participate in the March for Life. In just a few hours, they will arrive in the capital, cramped and tired, and step into the stinging cold air that nonetheless must provide a nice change from the stagnant atmosphere of a charter bus. I somewhat miss the hassle and strain that I had to go through to get to D.C. for the march. The trip seemed like a pilgrimage, and the pain in travel added to the value of the mission.
Now, when I simply walk down Constitution Avenue after having gotten up, showered, and eaten breakfast, it seems a bit like cheating. I also miss the camaraderie of the trips. In undergrad., our Students for Life group would organize stays in the lounges of local colleges, and we would remain in D.C. for several days to see the sights as well as to participate in the march and in other prolife activities. Staying up all night in a Georgetown study lounge, discussing scholastic ethics or arguing whether Homer or Vergil gave his society the better epic are moments that I remember fondly.
Moreover, the city appeared more enchanting when I did not know it well. Of course, getting lost in the ‘hood back then because I did not know about the quadrant system (how many intersections at Fourth and H Streets are there?) make me appreciate my current acquaintance with Washington. Still, there is something marvellous about a new, mysterious town where the various places that you visit do not fit together to make an overall map but rather suggest an infinity of potential experiences.
I suppose that it is yet another example of how life is about trade offs. The new and alluring ceases to be mysterious once you live somewhere for long, but then you develop a relationship with a town, as it becomes an old friend. When I visited Paris as a sixteen year old, it was magical. When I returned to live and to study there, the magic wore off, but a new love developed. It became my town—no longer unknown, perhaps a bit less enchanting, but more loved and appreciated. Only by spending much time in a place can you begin to know all of its hidden charms that outsiders miss. My first impression of the Seine could not have been more romantic, and yet only when I lived in the City of Lights did I have the opportunity to enjoy the Parc des Buttes Chaumont on a windy day in the summer, the cozy hospitality of certain small Mediterranean cafés near Saint-Germain-des-Prés, or strolling through the Parc Monceau among April blooms on a Sunday afternoon after the liturgy. Contrast the emotional riches of the adolescent crush with the faithful marriage of many years. Each has its own delights, but the latter rests superior.
Anyway, I wish all of the marchers a safe trip and a fruitful time in Washington. I hope that the legions of teenagers and college students find the city wonderful for the hours or days that they experience it.
It is my brother Adam’s birthday, and I wish him the best.
To commemorate his day, I present The Open Road by Claude Friese-Greene. Greene filmed The Open Road as a travelogue of a road trip in A.D. 1924 from Land’s End in Cornwall to John o’ Groats in Caithness and then finally to London. Adam and I made our very own road trip to see these British extremities, though I suspect that we took a slightly different course.
The movie is charming—another testament to what Britain has lost since the war. What commercial liberal man has exchanged for mammon!
Anyway, happy birthday, Adam! I remember well those little towns, Welsh castles, and Scottish Highlands.
Yesterday, I presented David Sedaris’ humorous take on the Dutch celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. Here are some videos of the celebration that I found online.
Of course, the multiculturalists want to ban Zwarte Piet and his Moorishly dressed pals as tokens of Holland’s racist past. It does not look like Sinterklaas’ browner helpers are going anywhere anytime soon, though. Except periodically back to Spain . . .