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June 6th, 2016

More About That Tiara

In our last post we carried some very telling pictures of Pope Francis looking ungraciously at a splendid tiara made by the nuns of the Orthodox monastery of St George in Rajcica, Macedonia. Papal tiaras are not exactly the present Holy Father’s thing, but I think one might have expected his face to register at least some gratitude for the beautiful gift  painstakingly made especially for him by these good sisters who are not even part of his Catholic Church.  But no, one would have thought the Holy Father was looking at something rather unpleasant on the bottom of one of his plain black shoes.

Fr Hunwicke, as ever, puts it nicely:

Pity he was not big and generous,  human and humble enough to pop it on his head for a tiny moment just for the official photographer. (Think of the simple but immense pleasure such an impulsive gesture would have given to the women who laboured upon it.)

I wanted to know more about this monastery, so I googled around a bit till I came across this video. For some reason I wasn’t able to pick out just the best bits, so here it is in its entirety (about six minutes). Sorry the text is in Macedonian, which I assume to be a variant of Serbo-Croat, but there isn’t any translation. I don’t think it matters too much, as the tiaras speak for themselves. I understand that Orthodox bishops wear them instead of the two-horned mitres to which Catholics are accustomed.

Rajcica has a major relic of St George, which I think must be the hand briefly displayed in the course of this video. He was a soldier martyred under the emperor Diocletian and is patron saint of England, among other countries, though the English haven’t made much  fuss about him since the late Middle Ages. However, I remember as a boy that on the Sunday nearest to St George’s Day, April 23rd, a rousing hymn to the saint was always sung at Benediction in the Catholic Church of Bovey Tracey in Devon. I have never heard it since. The first line was Leader Now on Earth  No Longer, and the refrain was as follows:

Great Saint George, our patron help us, In the conflict be thou nigh; Help us in that daily battle, Where each one must win or die.

The local squire Colonel Walmesley, member of an old Catholic recusant family, used to come to Benediction each year on that day and bawl the refrain in a loud voice. From what I can recall, he must have been tone deaf.

I don’t understand the icon of St George shown near the beginning of the video. Why does St George have a bleeding—and apparently broken—nose? Can anyone tell me?




One comment

  1. Help us when temptation presses,
    We have still our crown to win,
    Help us when our soul is weary
    Fighting with the powers of sin.

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