Wednesday, November 29, 2017

“I am the bread of life...."


The dubious sculpture
You have to wonder what the sculptor of the statue pictured above was thinking.  Was it really just a case of not thinking things through, a tremendous case of oversight -- or was it a jab at the Catholic Church's pedophilia cover-ups?  Or merely a childish joke?

 

Covered up, eh?  As for reality being the metaphor, you can't get much better.  When the statue was installed, students at the school immediately  saw the humor in it, taking pics and posting them on Instagram.  The school wrote a note of apology explaining the situation (above) and then covered it up until a solution can be found.  I'm sure the Blackfriars Priory School is loving all the attention.
The cover up.
It's kind of a shame, really, because the Saint depicted, St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639), seems like a pretty decent fellow, known for a genuine commitment to the poor, having established both an orphanage and a children's hospital.

Born in Lima, Peru, he was the illegitimate child of a nobleman and a freed slave.  Though an unusually devout child, his mixed race prevented him from fully joining a religious order.  But when the Prior ignored the law due to Martin's unflagging dedication to healing the sick and caring for the poor, he was allowed to take vows as a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic.  Unfortunately, not all the monks were as open-minded as the prior, and he suffered insults and harassment from his new "brothers".

There are several anecdotes that attest to his humanity: bringing an old man covered with ulcers to his own bed, saying that "Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness" when he was criticized by a dubious brother.  Another time he was reprimanded by the Prior for bringing a dying Indian to his room and he responded "Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity."  Zing!  St. Martin had certainly learned the true meaning behind Jesus rebuking the Pharisees when they criticized him for healing on the Sabbath.  He was thereafter given liberty to do as as wanted when it came to merciful acts.

There are reports he cured the sick merely by giving someone a glass of water, and that during an epidemic he worked tirelessly, even walking through locked doors into quarantined areas.  His alms could feed up to 160 people a day.  Other miracles have him levitating in ecstasy, light filling rooms as he prayed, a remarkable rapport with animals (he was a vegetarian), miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and my favorite, bilocation.

Because of the miracles that occurred when he was invoked in prayer, his body was exhumed 25 years after his death.  His body was said to be incorrupt and to have given off a sweet fragrance.  Numerous pleas were sent to Rome for his beatification, and though his works were eventually recognized as heroic, he wasn't beatified until 1837.  He was made a saint in 1962.  He's often shown carrying a broom to symbolize his belief that all work was holy and he is also sometimes pictured with a dog, cat and mouse drinking from the same bowl, symbolizing peace.

He is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and those seeking racial harmony.  His feast Day is November 3.  In Santeria he is venerated as Papa Candelo.

The Adelaide Blackfriars probably wanted to unveil something nice for Saint Martin's saint day, but unfortunately they, erm, blew it.

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