Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In Those Twelve Days Let Us Be Glad!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me,  fiiiive GOOOOOLDEEEN  rings!

Today is the fifth day of Christmas, and I take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry, blessed, wonderful Christmas season. I shall offer two explanations as to why I am so late into the season with these sentiments of good will. The first is that I have been making rather merry myself. We have had an exceedingly splendid Christmas so far. We have enjoyed good food, good company and particularly good times. I have not felt like pulling myself away in order to poke about on the computer. The second - and probably the greater reason - is that a persistent chest cold has decided that it is tired of being a chest cold, and is flirting with the idea of turning into a sinus infection. It is remarkably difficult to think of writing about anything when one is afflicted with nasty pestilences, So I have not written, I have solaced myself by making merry instead. 

Still, it seems ill to allow the blessed season pass unmarked on a blog that has previously made so big a deal of it. So, I shall share with you some Christmas trivia, taken mostly from the very excellent book, A Christmas Chronicle.

1.) The Fullness of Time

      St. Paul wrote to the Galatians: "But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." In His own wonderful way, God prepared the world for the coming of the "Expected of Nation" As the fullness of time  approached, there was a common belief that a new age was dawning over the world. In the Autumn of the year 40 BC, the poet Virgil wrote his Eclogue in honour of his friend and patron, Asinius Pollio. In this poem we find the line: "Now the babe descends on his mission from on high." During the Middle Ages, this was generally accepted as a prophecy concerning the coming of Christ.

2.) Augustus ad the Tiburtine Sibyl

      About the year 7 BC, Augustus, who was childless, began to worry about the future of his great empire. At least an ancient legend would have it so. He therefore took himself to the Capitoline Hill to consult the Tiburtine Sibyl. "Who after me shall rule the world?" he asked. The Sibyl meditated for several days; then, recalling Augustus into her presence, she prophesied, "A Jewish babe, descending for the heaven of the blessed by the will of God Himself will soon come in to the world. He will be born of a virgin, and he will be one who is now an absolute stranger to our altars." The legend even relates that the Emperor beheld in a vision a beautiful virgin holding the infant in her arms.

3.)  An Altar to the Son of God.

      After this divination, Augustus erected an altar on the highest part of the Capitoline Hill, and thereon inscribed the words, Haec Ara Filii Dei Est -  this is the Altar of the Son of God. Over this spot was later erected the church which to our day is called Santa Maria in Araceoli. What is supposed to be the original altar is preserved in this church and it bears and inscription wish translated tells us, "Octavian built this altar when the Offspring of heaven appeared to him".

4.)  Ancient Legends and Traditions of Christmas
   Records of Christmas events in the first few centuries are few and far between. It was only later that day took on the universally festive aspect we now know. But there is an ancient tradition of a happening in Rome that takes us back to the very day of the Nativity. According to "The History of Rome" written by the celebrated Greek historian, Dion Cassisu, who went to Rome about the year 180 AD, a fountain of oil broke forth on the site of the Taberna Meritoria, a home for old soldiers in Rome, at the very time of our Saviour's birth. The stream of oil flowed away to the river Tiber in one day. A little oratory was constructed there by early Christians, and to it was given the name Fons Olei (Fountain of Oil). On this site was later built the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. An inscription on the marble slab before the main altar of the church mentions this happening.

     The ancient "Calendar of Saints" from Cologne offers, for the year 54 AD, the following interesting account of the Magi who visited the Infant Jesus in Bethlehem: "After they had undergone many trials and fatigues for the Gospel, the Three Wisemen met as Sewa in the year of Our Lord 54, whereupon, they celebrated the Feast of Christmas in common, whereupon, after the celebration of the Mass, they died".

I have other things in mind to post during this Long Christmas time, but for now, I bid ye a good evening and a blessed Christmastime.

PS. You will notice that the Advent playlist has been replaced by a Christmas one. Please check back on it, as I am updating it daily :-)


Katrina DeLallo said...

Oh, I love that book. It has such cool facts in it! I've read it twice this month. :-)

Mahri said...

I love it too. It is one of the best things I've read in a while. I like that it has *more* than just the ordinary stories - it has oddities in it too. I will probably read it again too.