Historic Tomb of Michelangelo and altarpiece in dire need of repairs

By Matthew Fowler

ROME (CNS) — The historic tomb of Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family altarpiece in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence are in dire need of cleaning and restoration due to sustained damage over the past 50 years.

“In the Name of Michelangelo” is an international fundraising campaign being launched by the Opera di Santa Croce foundation to raise €100.000 ($118,105) by Oct. 30 to fund these repairs.

 

 

Tomb and altar together

The altarpiece (left) combines with the tomb (right) to honor Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family, while attracting the eyes of tourists. Photo credit: Opera di Santa Croce.

Michelangelo, who is well known for his work in the Sistine Chapel, became very ill and died in 1564. Although Pope Pius IV ordered for his body to be buried in Rome in St. Peter’s, Michelangelo’s body was ‘stolen’ and returned to Florence where he was then buried in Santa Croce.

VATICAN LETTER FRANCIS ART

Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel frescoes is well known around the world. Photo credit: Catholic News Service.

Both the Buonarroti family altarpiece and tomb of Michelangelo were built in the late 16th century following the design of Giorgio Vasari. The monumental tomb is composed of a wall painting and three marble muses, reflecting the three artistic genres Michelangelo was famous for: sculpting, painting and architecture.

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Church of Santa Croce in Florence with Michelangelo’s tomb on the right, showing two muses mourning his death. Photo credit: Opera di Santa Croce.

The often overlooked altarpiece is hiding a portrait of Michelangelo underneath the dust and grime accumulated through the years. He depicted himself looking over his own tomb, uniting the two in commemoration of the Buonarroti family.

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Cracked altarpiece showing the damaged sustained from the 1966 flood on the lower left side of the painting. Photo credit: Opera di Santa Croce.

Repairs are scheduled to begin Nov. 1 and conclude by March 2018, just in time for the anniversary of Michelangelo’s birth. The repairs include cleaning and investigating the tomb, while also restoring the altarpiece damaged by the devastating flood in 1966, which caused cracking and bubbles in the art work.

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Marble bust of Michelangelo overlooking the tomb and Church of Santa Croce. Photo credit: Opera di Santa Croce.

The Opera di Santa Croce has been responsible for the upkeep of the church and all the artwork inside since the 14th century. Since it does not receive any government funding, it relies entirely on private donations for all restoration work.

To donate, visit http://www.santacroceopera.it/Michelangelo/.

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A look back at the Legion of Decency

By Mark Pattison and Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) — It’s summertime and the movies are plentiful.

As everyone knows the summer movie season is a big one for Hollywood, and when it comes to a close, it is followed closely by a few select September and October film festivals where moviemakers usually debut their fall releases – and their hopes the movies will be Oscar contenders. Catholic News Service reviewers keep up with the best of them.

(Photo by Lori Bucci, Flickr/via LA Tourism)

All this talk of movies and reviews brings to mind something CNS/USCCB archivist Katherine Nuss recently unearthed from an archival box – the pledge Catholics used to take called the Legion of Decency.

The Legion of Decency assumed the U.S. Catholic Church’s mantle in keeping objectionable material — well, most objectionable material, anyway — out of Hollywood films.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1936 Legion pamphlet:

The Legion of Decency is concerned not so much about the materials selected for a story as about the moral treatment of those materials. … The Legion of Decency, in short, does not object to human problems being dramatized on the screen; it does not deny that sin and crime may at times be necessary ingredients of a plot; but the Legion is deeply concerned with what elicits the sympathy of the audience and influences its judgment. The audience must not be led to accept false principles and to condone wrong-doing. When moral evil is portrayed in a film, it should never be pictured as good, admirable, or justifiable. And, conversely, moral good should never be proposed as evil, foolish or despicable.

It was the Legion of Decency that came up with the classification system — modified in the ensuing decades — still in use by CNS to assess the moral suitability of films. Because it’s been around for 80 years, there are thousands upon thousands of movies that use Roman numerals in the classification — I, II, III — rather than the far more commonplace 1, 2, 3.

It was a big, big deal in 1939 for Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) to say onscreen to Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind,” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” That remark might very well have earned the film a “B” rating from the Legion. For the uninitiated, “B” meant “morally objectionable in part for all.” It was later switched to A-IV (those Roman numerals again!) and then to the current “L” classification.

Henry Herx, who was director of the U.S. bishops’ old Office for Film & Broadcasting to the end of the 20th century, worked for the Legion of Decency in its last years, when “Banned in Boston!” helped engender the “forbidden fruit” effect of audiences wanting to see movies that others, like the Legion, plainly did not want them to see.

Here’s the Pledge all were asked to sign:

– – –

Pattison is media editor and Asher is national editor at Catholic News Service.

 

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Jamboree called ‘life-changing event’ for youths, adults

Here’s a dispatch from Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia sent earlier this week by Msgr. John B. Brady from the national Scout jamboree, which closed today. A retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, he became a Scout in 1942 and has served in the Scouting movement as a youth and an adult for over 75 years.

He experienced the first U.S. national jamboree in 1937, when he was 8 years old and visited the encampment on the National Mall in Washington. He joined the Boy Scouts in seventh grade and went on to become an Eagle Scout.

Papal nuncio, Trump give Scouting high praise at Jamboree

By Msgr. John B. Brady
Catholic Chaplain for Subcamp Delta 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Msgr. John B. Brady. (Photo/ The Summit)

July 24, 2017 — I am sitting in the pavilion of Base Camp Delta, one of the six camps of the 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va.

In the distance I can see about 27,000 Scouts sitting on the green grass slope of the arena plus about 6,000 staff, volunteer troop leaders, and visitors. They are filled with excitement, awaiting the arrival of President Donald Trump.

I am an 88-year-old-Scout, unable to walk the mile to the arena, go through security, and sit in the sun for hours to hear the president. This is the 19th jamboree held by the Boy Scouts of America — a national event scheduled every four years. I attended most of them beginning with the first jamboree in Washington in 1937, and this will most likely be my last.

A jamboree is a life-changing event for both youth and adults. The second jamboree — in 1950 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania — led me to the seminary and 62 years of serving as a parish priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, for which I thank almighty God.

Phil Rowe, a freight transportation consultant for the past 20 years is here, serving as one of the 600 medical staff, to discern transitioning to a new profession such as becoming an Advance EMT, which will be more helpful to mankind and offer him new opportunities to serve others.

Phil’s son earned the Geology merit badge at age 11 and has just graduated from college with a degree in geology and is on the threshold of beginning his geology career.

Tomorrow I meet with a 2017 college graduate to help him discern whether he is called to become the father of a family or enter the seminary. At every jamboree I have attended, I have helped at least one Scout to consider the priesthood or enter the seminary.

From a mile away I hear the roar; the president has arrived. He is one of eight presidents who have visited a jamboree. He stood on the stage at the very spot where just yesterday the altar was placed and the pope’s representative, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, offered Mass for over 6,000 Scouts and leaders.

For over half an hour, President Trump held the Scouts and their leaders spell bound. The Scouts said that he was really cool. He told them how he works with former Scouts every day and has 10 Scouts on his cabinet, three of which were on the stage with him. Further, Vice President Mike Pence was a Scout.

President Trump told the Scouts, “Great Scouts become great Americans. Through Scouting you learn to take responsibility for your own life. You can be anything you want to be, but first you must find the passion for what you want to do. You must have and maintain momentum. Do something that you love, never give up, and you will be successful. Duty, country and God are beautiful words to which you pledge your lives.

“You have contributed 15 million hours of service to help people in our community, and during this Jamboree you will contribute 100,000 hours of service to local communities in West Virginia. The Boy Scouts never let us down. Be proud of the uniform you wear. Be proud of the country you love. America is proud of you. You are very special people. There is nobody like a Boy Scout.”

Archbishop Pierre during his homily brought greetings and praise for the Scouting movement. He spoke of his own youth as a Scout and sang a Scout prayer in French. Bill Davies presented Pope Francis, Archbishop Pierre and Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va., with the St. George Emblem following Communion.

The Scouting movement has faced many challenges in the past few years due to changes in membership policy, but it still receives the highest praise and endorsement at the top level of authority in both church and state. Scouting remains one of the largest and most effective movements of youth ministry to instill the Judeo-Christian ethic into the next generation of citizens and leaders.

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Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 23, 2017

"For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all." -- Wisdom 12:16

“For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.” — Wisdom 12:16

July 23, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle A. Readings:

     1) Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

     Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

     2) Romans 8:26-27

     Gospel: Matthew 13:24-33

 

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

I had a conversation with a group of colleagues who also happened to be parents of young children, and we were sharing stories of various parenting techniques that we observed. A couple of techniques and characteristics stood out as both exemplary and very effective. “The Look” was high on our list.

Having just observed “the Look” used by a young mother of four during Mass, I could describe it well: Whenever one of her brood became disruptive, she simply fixed her eyes on him or her with an expression that could have meant anything from “You know that there will be severe consequences for your behavior when we get home” to “I’ve taught you how to behave appropriately in church, and I’m really disappointed in you right now” to “I know you’re hungry/tired/need to go to the potty, but I’m sure you’re capable of lasting a while longer!”

Sometimes “the Look” was accompanied by a raised eyebrow, a gentle touch on the shoulder or a whispered word, but there was never any question about who was in charge.

Whatever unspoken family “code” had been established, there was an obvious, underlying assumption of parental authority that was calmly communicated, justly applied and gently enforced. It also indicated that Mom was fully aware of each child’s unique limitations and capabilities and was prepared to respond accordingly to each one’s age-appropriate need.

Although she must have had her moments of fatigue and frustration (she was human, after all), there was no drama, no flare of temper, no demonstrated resentment. From my vantage point in the pew behind them, I was duly impressed.

Today’s readings convey these same unmistakable messages of God’s just, yet gentle, treatment of all his children, regardless of our individual capabilities and deficiencies. God’s lenience is also God’s strength. God compensates for our inadequacies in prayer. When the seeds of goodness in our lives are contaminated by sin or evil influences, God doesn’t petulantly overreact or intervene prematurely, but he patiently entrusts us with the time and encouragement that we need to learn from our mistakes — albeit with the assurance of our eventual accountability.

It’s the constant, unwavering “Look” of love that gives us, God’s children, “good ground for hope.”

QUESTIONS:

In what specific way(s) has God dealt leniently with you? How has God’s example of kindness and justice taught you to treat others, especially those who are entrusted to your care?

Posted in Word to Life

John C. Quinn tended to the ‘least of these’ in U.S. newsrooms

WASHINGTON (CNS) – I’m convinced that around the country, and perhaps the world, there are many letters similar to the one I received in the mail some 18 years ago. It was written by hand and it ended with a heart and an arrow through it.

I was stunned by the sender: John C. Quinn. I was a cub reporter at a small newspaper then, tending to nighttime fires, crimes and local community meetings that no veteran reporters wanted to cover. I couldn’t believe I was getting letters from someone who was a legend in my field.

A couple of years before, I’d been the recipient of a scholarship Mr. Quinn and his wife, Loie, had established in memory of their oldest son John “Chips” Quinn Jr., who took after his father, one of the founding editors of USA Today, and, less importantly, the sender of my letters. Chips worked as a newspaper editor in Poughkeepsie, New York. He died in 1990 and in the wake of his death following an automobile accident, the family established, not just a scholarship, but a program called the Chips Quinn Scholars to help minority journalists like me work and stay in newsrooms so we could tell an accurate story of disadvantaged communities throughout the U.S. that often was left out.

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Organizers told us at orientation that it marked the beginning, not just of a career in journalism, but the induction into a family. It should have been no surprise then that through the years, John Quinn, and those who ran the program, regularly kept tabs on us because they knew the road for minority journalists wasn’t — and still isn’t — an easy one.

They listened to our tales of isolation in newsrooms, lack of opportunities, struggles with editors, management, with other reporters, with family, but also of breakthroughs, breakups, promotions and personal celebrations. They didn’t just provide a friendly ear but also gave solutions, helping us with mentors, training, and continuing education so there wouldn’t be an excuse not to hire or promote us.

Mr. Quinn’s role was largely as a cheerleader. He celebrated our achievements as if they were his own or his children’s. To the Chips Quinn Scholars, he rarely mentioned his legendary role in journalism, which included president of Gannett News Service, vice president of news at Gannett, the largest newspaper chain the country, and the deputy chairman of the Freedom Forum, which later established Washington’s Newseum.

Instead, he listened and smiled, and he constantly reminded us that even on a bad day, “journalism is the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” or told us in his best Latin not to “let the bastards get you down.” There were — and still are — many days, when those words help inside a newsroom. But now many of us will have to look for comfort elsewhere. That’s because John Quinn died July 11 after being ill for some time.

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I hope he’s not angry because I buried the lede, as we say in journalism when someone puts the most important part of the story late in the game. But, for me, the most important part of his story, is about the example he set as a Catholic.

One summer, he invited a group of us to his family homestead in a small village in Rhode Island called Carolina, on the grounds of what had been a derelict textile mill near where his Irish ancestors once had lived. After purchasing the property, the Quinn family gave it a makeover, keeping its historical integrity intact.

During the visit, some of us went to visit the grave of his late wife, Loie, a former nurse, who died in 2005, and then to the church where they worshipped. That’s when I found out we shared the same faith. Much of what he did and spoke to us about was rooted in the Gospel — except he used different words since those in the program came from a variety of religious traditions and some had none.

He spoke of helping those who needed it the most, not just in the communities we covered for our news organizations, but also in making sure that as we took a step forward professionally, we extend a hand to others. He told us to “care, care, care,” about our work and about others, quoting his son Chips, and not just talk about it but to show it. It was no surprise then that in what was then a cutthroat world of newspapers, Mr. Quinn often was referred to as the “conscience.”

I often think of him and his family during Mass, or when I have to write about a tough topic involving people that certain members of society try to cast out, or when I hear certain Scriptures about helping others. During a visit to Assisi, Italy, some years ago, I remembered Mr. Quinn during a lecture about St. Francis and the poor, and requested a Mass for his beloved Loie at the basilica where the saint is buried. I sent him a copy of the request by mail and later received yet another letter, this one written on an old typewriter, and I knew that he’d probably carefully place the Mass request in a type of shrine he made of the gifts received from his beloved “Chipsters,” as the scholars are known.

There are many struggling with his death at the moment. I’ve read many messages of sadness the last few days. But I also know that he left an example for me and others as a fellow Catholic. He was a Catholic by his actions, not his words, inclusive, and faithful to God in the way he loved and served, the way he sought justice and truth, the way he worked, and in his heroic efforts to level an unfair playing field for others.

Though he’s gone, many of us still have his letters where we still can find his wisdom, his example, his sense of humor and kindness, a mission that still is far from over, but most importantly his love. I’ve heard people say: “He cared about me when others didn’t.” Yes, he towered in journalism and corporate titles and honors, but he never let it go to his head. No matter how small and insignificant you felt, he made you feel as if you belonged with the best.

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Love was his biggest gift and accomplishment. I can still hear his voice supporting us during rough moments, gently  reminding us, “the least of these” in many newsrooms, of something his wife often said: “A hug is the perfect gift; one size fits all and no one minds if you exchange it.”

Posted in CNS

Some cheese with your ‘whine’: Pope ‘establishes’ complaint-free zone

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A sign posted outside the door of Pope Francis’ office in the Domus Sanctae Marthae that reads “No whining” (Photo courtesy Vatican Insider/La Stampa)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis left a not-so-subtle message outside his office in the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence: anyone who is thinking of making a fuss, leave your whining at the door.

Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli published a photo on Vatican Insider of a sign posted on the pope’s door with the words, “No whining.”

The sign warns potential complainers that “offenders are subject to a victim mentality” that decreases one’s sense of humor and ability to solve problems.

“The penalty is doubled if the violation takes place in the presence of children. To get the best out of yourself, concentrate on your potential and not on your limitations. Stop complaining and take steps to improve your life,” the sign reads.

While it may seem like a serious request, the pope found the sign hilarious when it was given to him by Italian life coach and motivational speaker, Dr. Salvo Noe.

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Pope Francis laughs after receiving a sign that reads “No whining” from Dr. Salvo Noe after a June 14 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (Photo courtesy of http://www.noecom.it)

On his official website, Noe posted pictures of his brief encounter with the pope after a June 14 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. One picture shows Pope Francis cracking up when presented with the sign.

 

“The expression (Pope Francis) made when presented with the ‘No whining’ sign was beautiful,” Noe wrote on his website.

The sign and a bracelet that reads “Stop complaining,” are part of promotional campaign for his new book of the same name.

According to Tornielli, the pope said he told Noe he “would put it outside my office door where I receive people.” True to his word, the pope reportedly showed an elderly priest who was visiting the sign’s humorous warning to bellyachers. The priest asked and received permission form the pope to share the picture.

The pope has on several occasions warned about the more serious repercussions of complaining which can blind people’s view of Jesus’ presence in tough situations.

Celebrating morning Mass April 3 with staff members from the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, a nearby residence and guesthouse for clergy, the pope said that “many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”

Complaining and griping — about others and about things in one’s own life — are harmful, he said, “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.”

However, the pope has also said that “complaining to God” in moments of doubt and fear — like Abraham did– can be a form of prayer that requires the courage to hope beyond all hope.

“I won’t say that Abraham loses patience, but he complains to the Lord. This is what we learn from our father Abraham: complaining to the Lord is a form of prayer,” the pope said Dec. 28 during his weekly general audience.

“Sometimes I hear confessions where people say, ‘I complained to the Lord.’ But no. (Continue) to complain; he is a father and this is a form of prayer. Complain to the Lord, this is good.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 16, 2017

"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us." -- Romans 8:18

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” — Romans 8:18

 

July 16, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle A. Readings:

      1) Isaiah 55:10-11

      Psalm 65:10-14

      2) Romans 8:18-23

      Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23

 

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

It seems as though every time I turn on the news another horrible event has occurred. One day it is war in Afghanistan or elsewhere, another day it is one more EF5 tornado tearing through one or more states, another day it is mighty rivers cresting from an overabundance of rain or wild fires because of too little.

These are the big stories that make the national news. But daily, in much less-noticed corners of the world, there is bullying and peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, hunger and neglect, and drug and human trafficking.

Just when I am about to be overwhelmed, I read St. Paul’s message for us this week: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” I find it hard to take comfort in these words because I am afraid they somehow lessen the circumstances of all those suffering in today’s world. Yet, I know Paul is speaking from a firsthand knowledge of suffering while still holding out hope in faith.

Paul himself had been shipwrecked and imprisoned, and he lived in a time of extreme persecution of the church by the Romans, yet even in the face of such hardship and fear he found a reason to hope.

He was living the message Jesus gives us in the Gospel: “The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” He knew that the seed of faith had been planted in his willing heart and thus the fruit it was bearing and would continue to bear would outweigh his current sufferings.

The mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus tells us that whatever suffering comes our way is not the end of the journey; it is but a pathway to the glory of God. This does not diminish the suffering experienced, and it does not take the pain away, but it does give us a reason to hope, for while we groan here on earth, we await our redemption in eternity.

QUESTIONS:

As people of faith, how do we face times of extreme suffering and unexplainable tragedy? How have you navigated the hard times in your own life?

Posted in Word to Life