The Judas Tree, And Other Legends of the Betrayer

This is cercis siliquastrum, the Judas Tree: It is, according to legend, the type of tree from which Judas hanged himself, and its once-white blossoms blushed with shame to be part of such a terrible history. Or perhaps it’s called the Judas Tree because the clusters of blossoms sometimes hang from the branches, suggesting a hanging [Read More...]

The Earliest Known Depiction of Witches On Brooms, and What It Tells Us About Evil

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This marginal illustration comes from Le champion des dames (A Defense of Women) by Martin Le France, 1451. Martin was secretary to both Antipope Felix V and Pope Nicholas V. His work is a 24,000-verse (!) poem extolling the virtues of women, but also condemning heresy and corruption. The witches are identified Vaudois, or Waldensians, who were accused of practicing witchcraft and [Read More...]

Exorcising A Possessed Statue of The Virgin Mary and Child

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Four scenes from the life of St. Peter of Verona (1206 – April 6, 1252), also known as Peter Martyr, are depicted in frescoes at the Portinari Chapel, at the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, Milan. One of these shows an incident from his life in which he exorcised a possessed statue of the infant Jesus and the Blessed [Read More...]

Why Obama’s Rhetoric About Christian Violence Was a Problem

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Saturday morning I wrote some thoughts about why Obama was wrong to drag Christian sins into his speech condemning Islamic terror. I spent that afternoon debating my points on social media with Sam Rocha, Mark Shea, and others, so I thought I’d expand upon my rationale a bit. I don’t really write about contemporary political [Read More...]

Why Obama Was Wrong About The Crusades

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I wrote something on the Crusades flap for Catholic World Report. Here’s the beginning: It’s not hard for President Obama to stir outrage. Six years into his presidency, all he has to do is speak to make the opposition angry. Sometimes it’s justified, sometimes not. At the National Prayer Breakfast, following his condemnation of ISIS [Read More...]

Medieval Dog Lovers

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From Gaston Phoebus “The Master of Game” (14th century) comes this illumination showing men caring for their dogs. Is that dog on the bottom left getting a … pedicure?!   [Read more...]

Presentation at the Temple (Lorenzetti)

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Blessed Feast of the Presentation! The feast is also called Candlemas, for the tradition of blessing the beeswax candles on this day. Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s gigantic 1342 masterpiece depicting the presentation of the Lord at the temple rewards close study. Here’s the whole thing:   And details: [Read more...]

“Ancients” Flying Around On Little Propeller Chairs UPDATED

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I’ll be honest, I have no idea what’s going on here [NOTE: solved, see below]: Here’s the entire page, which is an illumination from an MS of the Commentary on the Apocalypse by Beatus. The floating heads don’t help matters. Here’s the previous page: And the facing page: It’s a commentary on Revelation 4:3, with the red text [Read More...]


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