Thursday, February 14, 2013
Crise de Foie
In today’s newsfeed I was treated to the photographic image of a young bare-chested bespectacled blond woman with the words “Crise de Foi” painted on her naked flesh. “Crise de Foie” translates from French to mean crisis of the liver; the young woman’s liver would have been under the letter “F”. While looking at the photo I was struck by how I had never before recognized the similarity of Foi (which translates as Faith), and Foie. It is as if the French have an organ assigned to Faith in much the same way that we commonly assign the blood-pumping heart organ to love.
Since today is Valentine’s Day my news feed has also been flooded with the color pink and anatomically incorrect hearts. The valentine heart is more readily recognizable as a heart than the real thing. Not being a surgeon I think it possible to mistake a heart for some other organ given only a quick glance. Imagine the crossed emotional signals that could occur if your sweetheart mistook your message of love for an enlarged appendix, a spleen, or a kidney.
If the young woman had meant liver I think she would have painted the “e” over one of her kidneys.
What kind of stylized liver could be used to readily signify faith in the same way the valentine heart signifies love? I may have to explore this question further.
The young woman who instigated the hepatic faith connection was not alone. There were several others cavorting through France’s Notre Dame cathedral. “Notre Dame” translates to “Our Lady”, but if you mangled the spelling and pronunciation well enough it would sound like “Notorious Dame”, and require no translation.
The Notorious Dames were attempting to draw attention to important feminist issues the new pope might entertain, but I'm not sure what the specific issues were. They certainly got my attention, but I am not likely to be the next pope, and I am probably only going to draw a few cartoon livers in response. If I personally had access to the pope’s agenda I would pencil in something about abandoning all the magic mumbo-jumbo in Catholic theology, and staging a big party to celebrate.
It may be important to influence the next pope as there have historically been problems with the chosen replacement popes after a papal resignation, but I’m not sure how partially-naked adult women are supposed to influence someone who has taken the famous Catholic vow of celibacy.
Most histories of papal resignation only go back a measly 600 years to the resignation that healed the Western Schism in 1415. However, if one goes back another hundred-years-and-change to 1294 one comes upon the last pope who resigned because he was tired of the job. Pietro “Pope/Saint Celestine V” da Morrone resigned after just five months because he wanted to spend some time alone.
Pietro had also gotten himself into some bit of trouble for giving away plenary indulgences. These “get out of purgatory free cards” are apparently of great value in the afterlife, and they are usually not just given away for free. On the other hand selling indulgences is considered Simony, and Simony resulted in all sorts of bother in the Catholic Church; including a major portion of the Martin Luther bother about 200 years after Pietro’s death.
Pietro did not get to enjoy retirement the way he wanted to. He was chased down and imprisoned by agents of his successor Benedetto “Pope Boniface VIII” Gaetani . Pietro was rumored to have been treated so poorly by Benedetto that it hastened his death in 1296.
Shortly after Pietro’s death Benedetto hatched a plan to profit off of the remission of sins. He declared 1300 a jubilee year in Rome, and had the Vatican set up concession stands all around Rome. The jubilee was a big hit, and the Vatican reportedly made a mint off of their cut from the concessions.
Dante however thought this profit making from the posthumous torture racket was simony, and famously wrote Benedetto into his Inferno as a figure on the 8th level of hell stuffed head-first into one of the many baptismal fonts reserved for simonizers (sic) there. For eternity his bare feet were to be exposed to the fires of hell.
Benedetto also got himself into trouble before he died when he declared (Unam Sanctam) that all spiritual powers were under the control of the Pope, and that any king was subordinate to the Pope in this respect. King Phillip “Le Bel” IV of France was particularly miffed by this Papal Bul. He sent Sciarrillo Colonna over to fix the problem with Benedetto, but the negotiations went badly and Benedetto is rumored to have committed suicide by gnawing off his own arm.
Philip then went on to have Peitro sainted in 1313, and a few years later the black death that was sweeping through Europe would reach its peak.