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Présentation de Jésus au temple, Andrea Mantegna, 1465
Présentation de Jésus au temple, Andrea Mantegna, 1465
Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431 – 13 September 1506) Italian Renaissance
Photo credit: Wikipedia

More on Candlemas

Today is February 3rd, but there are more Candlemas stories to tell.  For instance, Candlemas is also “pancake feast,” la fête des crêpes, a tradition that goes back to ancient Greece.  In ancient Greece, Lupercus was the god Pan.  In ancient Roman, the feast was called Lupercalia (lupus, loup) but it was usually celebrated in mid-February, on the 13th.  It had to do with keeping the wolf away from innocent sheep.  Lupercus was the god of shepherds.  I will tell more stories next February 2nd.

We now have three posts on Candlemas and know about

  • the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple,
  • the Nunc dimittis, a canticle, Simeon’s song of praise,
  • the Purification of the Virgin,
  • the beginning of a new Marian season,
  • the antiphon of the season “Ave Regina Cælorum,”[i]
  • and Groundhog Day.

I realize that fewer people go to a service on Sunday or attend Mass, but music and the fine arts have kept alive religious, mythological and mythical “reality.”  Aert de Gelder (or Arent, 26 October 1645 – 27 August 1727), a student of Rembrandt, painted Simeon holding the child Jesus and, as noted above, Simeon sang the Nunc dimittis when he saw Jesus, as he had been told by none other than the Holy Ghost.  (See Nunc Dimittis, Wikipedia).  Religious feasts are usually associated with the seasons, mythologies give us a past, myths provide metaphors, and feed the imagination.  Yet myths are the fruit of imagination.

William Byrd (English Renaissance) composed a very fine “Nunc Dimittis.”  It is featured in a post entitled: Nunc Dimittis, Simeon’s Song of Praise (2 February 2012).  A second “Nunc Dimittis,” composed by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (3 February 1525 or 2 February 1526 – 2 February 1594), is featured in Candlemas: the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple & a Festival of Lights (2 February 2012).

Palestrina is known for composing “transparent” polyphonic (many voices) music.  Although the voices blend, one can still hear the text.  This was important because the Reformed Churches favoured simple songs.  I have found precious gems in the Church of England’s anthems.  They engaged the faithful who were invited to sing.  The English wrote lovely, melodious anthems.  Martin Luther wrote hymns, the most famous of which is Ein’ feste Burg is unser Gott  (A Mighty Fortress is our God).

In the News

Canadian Conrad Black, no choirboy himself, has stated that “[t]he election of Kathleen Wynne and Pauline Marois’ Scotland visit might incite fear that much of Canada is being led by nasty women.”  (See The National Post.)

He could be right; women can be as nasty as men.  I know, from personal experience, that women can in fact surpass men in cruelty, jealousy, hypocrisy, etc.  They can be extremely manipulative, devious and vindictive.  Think of my little blue house.  (See From House to House.)  My “case manager” was a woman employed by a fine insurance company.  She did not lose her position.

One day, a “good” woman posted the results of an examination on the door of her office, listing her students’ marks, not next to a number, but next to a name.  I talked with her gently, but she did not know what I was talking about…   However, a little later, such behaviour became an official violation.  This may seem a detail, but good educators respect their students.  That’s rule number one.

Not that men are better.  I am thinking of that student in India, raped and probably impaled to death.  The poor young woman and her poor parents!  And there is violence in the Middle East.  Why?  Also in the news is suicide.  Young people are committing suicide!

The News

The Globe and Mail
The Montreal Gazette
The National Post
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Le Monde diplomatique EN 
CBC News
CTV News
CNN News
Le Devoir
La Presse
Le Monde
Le Monde diplomatique
Die Welt

[i] or Cœlorum.  The two are used.

Andrea Mantegna was capable of crying.

madonna_with_childb5f2© Micheline Walker
February 3, 2013