Ancient Roman women priests-controversy catacomb on the Internet


Fresco inside the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, said to depict woman priest. Photo credit: AP/Gregorio Borgia

From TheBlaze.com:

Do These Ancient Paintings Prove There Were Female Priests in the Early Church?

Nov. 20, 2013 11:46am, Billy Hallowell

New questions are emerging about the role of women in the early Christian church after the Vatican this week unveiled recently restored frescoes in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome.

Some say the paintings depict women serving as priests during Christianity’s beginning centuries — a contention the Vatican is calling the stuff of “fairy tales.”

Two scenes inside the catacombs, in particular, are capturing attention.

In one, a group of women are seen celebrating what is believed to be the Eucharist. Another shows a woman in a garment that resembles a robe with her hands lifted up in a position that is generally used by priests during public worship, The Associated Press reported.

The paintings are being used as evidence by some individuals and groups that women once served as priests and that they should once again be allowed to do so within the confines of the Catholic Church.

While the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a group that ordains and argues for female priests, believes this is the case, others aren’t so certain. …

Reuters reported that the Catacombs of Priscilla – underground burial chambers that stretch eight miles – were built as burial grounds between the second and fifth centuries.

The catacombs have been reopened to the public after a five-year restoration project. For those who cannot make it to Rome to see the site can explore it from home using Google Maps.

Debate over the Catholic Church’s restrictions on female faith leaders continues as the Vatican’s policy of only allowing male priests remains in place.

Lampedusa survivors banned from drowned victims’ funeral


This video is called Lampedusa boat sinking: fishermen ‘prevented’ from rescuing migrants.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Survivors of Lampedusa are furious

Update: Monday 21 Oct 2013, 19:56

More than 100 survivors of the sinking of the migrants’ boat in Lampedusa have protested because they were not allowed to be in Sicily at the memorial service for the victims.

They tried to come to Sicily with a ferry from Lampedusa. When they were refused, they sat down in front of the city hall and blocked the road.

The 366 victims of the disaster in Lampedusa (mainly Eritreans) are commemorated on Sicily. Many of them are buried in cemeteries across the island, even though Prime Minister Letta had promised a state funeral.

Lampedusa war refugees’ horrible deaths


This video from Italy is called Lampedusa boat sinking: fishermen ‘prevented’ from rescuing migrants.

By Robert Stevens:

Middle East wars drive refugee flows, Mediterranean migrant deaths

15 October 2013

Rescuers have ended their search for the bodies of the migrants who died in the October 3 Lampedusa boat sinking. Only 155 of the 545 people, including Eritrean, Somalis, and Syrians aboard the vessel which sank in the Mediterranean survived the tragedy. Just 359 bodies have been recovered.

These deaths were followed by another boat sinking in Maltese waters, south of the island of Lampedusa, on October 11. Of the more than 200 Syrians and Palestinian men, women and children on board, at least 34 died. The boat was apparently fired upon by a military vessel carrying a Libyan flag.

Speaking to “Channel 4 News”, a survivor said, “They followed us for an hour. Then they asked the captain to stop and then started to shoot in the air. They were trying to turn the boat upside down. Then they started to shoot at the boat. They shot at the engine. They managed to hit four people as well.”

The United Nations refugee agency’s Maurizio Molina said, “Because of the hole caused by the shooting… the water started entering into the boat, causing a lot of tension among the Syrians that were on board. At a certain point the ones that were (below), around 100 people, were obliged to go upstairs, creating this unbalancing and then at the end finally causing the capsize.”

At least 500 more migrants had to be rescued Saturday in separate incidents near the Italian island of Sicily. In another incident, on Friday, 12 migrants drowned in a shipwreck off Alexandria’s coast. Egyptian state media reported that 116 survived the sinking.

The toll of deaths in the Mediterranean since October 3 will be added to the staggering figure of 25,000 who have died trying to enter “Fortress Europe” in the last two decades.

By the beginning of October, some 30,000 people had attempted to cross over the Mediterranean into Italy this year alone. Many are attempting to flee war and persecution in countries like Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria.

The vast majority of refugees, upwards of 95 percent, never get anywhere in Europe. Officially 1.6 million Syrians are now refugees, far beyond the one million predicted by the United Nations by the middle of 2013.

The UN’s Syria Regional Response Plan of December 2012 calculated that 515,061 Syrian refugees had arrived in surrounding Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Egypt. The refugee crisis has escalated this year, with the UN confirming in June that an additional one million refugees had arrived in these countries.

In January 5,000 per day were fleeing Syria, and by March this had reached an average of 10,000. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees stated, “Based on arrival trends since the beginning of the year, it is estimated that the number of Syrian refugees in need of assistance across the region may reach 3.45 million by the end of 2013, hosted in camps and, for the most part, in local communities.”

According to the latest figures, a further five million people have been displaced inside Syria. All told, more than seven million Syrians have been displaced from their homes—around a third of the country’s 22 million people. That figure is expected to reach 50 percent in short order.

António Guterres, the UN’s high commissioner responsible for refugees, stated, “Syria has become the great tragedy of this century—a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”

What Guterres will not and cannot acknowledge is that the tragedy befalling millions of Syrians is the result of a civil war engineered by the United States, Britain, and France with the assistance and funding of Turkey and the Gulf monarchies.

Even prior to the outbreak of the imperialist proxy war in Syria, sanctions against the country had wrought a devastating impact. In 1979 the US designated Syria a “state sponsor of terror” and began imposing numerous economic sanctions. In August 2011, the Obama administration imposed additional sanctions on Syria’s energy sector and froze all Syrian government assets in the US.

Last month Britain’s Independent noted that sanctions had hit Syria’s “once excellent under-fives vaccination program and brought to a standstill the MDG [UN Millennium Development Goals] targets on maternal and infant mortality, which Syria was well on the road to meeting by 2015. They have collapsed the production of essential medicines for which the country was near to self-sufficiency. Medicines for the treatment of cancer, diabetes and heart disease not produced locally are not available except at huge cost in neighbouring countries. The cost of essential food, cooking, and heating oil has increased several-fold, putting it out of reach for the majority whilst gangster-led smuggling and profiteering thrives. All this alongside the raging horrors of a war.”

Masses of Syrians are now being held in refugee camps, denied basic freedoms and citizenship. Some 520,000 Syrians are now in Jordan, increasing its population by eight percent in two years. One camp, Zaatari, houses 130,000 people in appalling, overcrowded conditions. When it was established in July 2012, it contained just 100 families. It is now growing at a rate of 2,000 residents each day. Another camp, Azraq, is under construction and will also have the capacity to host up to 130,000 people.

Turkey only allows Syrian refugees to enter when there are spaces in refugee camps.

The Lebanese government allows Syrians entry, but only on the basis of recognising them as “visitors” not refugees. Around 1.3 million Syrians are now in Lebanon, with 780,000 registered as refugees by the UN.

Further tens of thousands remain in perilous conditions camped on the Syrian-Jordan border, waiting to cross over.

Many of the ships containing refugees seeking to enter Europe via Lampedusa are forced to begin a hazardous journey via Libyan ports. After the 2011 overthrow of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, in another imperialist-inspired “humanitarian” civil war, Libya was hailed as a model for regime change and the “democracy” that Syrians could expect. What has emerged is a criminal regime, fractured by rival armed militias, under which thousands remain imprisoned without charges and subjected to systematic torture.

In order to clampdown on this means of entry, the European Union is working with the Libyan regime via a €30 million-a-year deal operation named Eubam Libya. Central will be the creation of a “border management strategy” to “improve the legal and institutional framework of border management.”

Last year Amnesty International reported that Italy signed an April 2012 secret agreement with the then Libyan National Transitional Council to “curtail the flow of migrants”. Commenting on the agreement, Amnesty’s Nicolas Beger said, “For the EU, reinforcing Europe’s borders clearly trumps saving lives.”

The 34 refugees killed on October 11 as a result of being fired on by a Libyan ship will not be the last to die as a result of EU collusion.

Even before all the bodies had been removed from the wreck of the boat that sank off the coast of Lampedusa, killing more than 300, the European Union (EU) announced a tightening of measures against immigrants on Europe’s external borders: here.

The horrific images of hundreds of drowned refugees off the coast of the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa reveal the real face of the European Union. Twenty-one years after the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht, the project of European unification under capitalism has turned into a nightmare in every respect: here.

Lampedusa, European governmental xenophobia kills refugees


This video is called (Again) More than 50 Migrant deaths Near Lampedusa 11/10/2013.

By Alex Lantier:

Fifty dead as another migrant ship sinks off Italy

12 October 2013

Dozens of migrants died yesterday when their boat capsized in heavy seas 100 kilometers south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, only one week after a similar disaster claimed the lives of at least 339 migrants within sight of the island.

Italian news agency Ansa said approximately 50 bodies, including women and 10 children, had been pulled from the water.

The navies of Italy and the nearby island nation of Malta worked to rescue survivors of the sinking. A Maltese ship reported having picked up approximately 150 people, while the Italian navy said it had rescued around 50 survivors and was sending more rescue boats to the scene.

“The operation is in progress. The navigational conditions are difficult, with a strong wind,” a Maltese navy spokesman told Agence France-Presse last night.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told a news conference in Valletta that Maltese officials could confirm the death of at least 27 people, and “the number is expected to rise, possibly drastically.”

An Italian helicopter flew 10 rescued children to Lampedusa—where the survivors of last week’s sinking are being held under guard, threatened with deportation and fines of up to €5,000.

Initial reports indicated that the migrant ship ran into difficulty from the heavy seas and decided to signal for help. The boat allegedly capsized when those aboard gathered at one end of the vessel to catch the attention of a military aircraft flying nearby.

This shocking tragedy again underscores the terrible toll in lives from the European Union’s (EU) reactionary Frontex anti-immigrant legislation. Designed to keep immigrants from reaching Europe, it forces them to take unsafe routes into Europe and trust their lives to unseaworthy vessels, with tragic results.

Over the past 20 years, an estimated 25,000 people have died trying to enter Europe, many of them in the Mediterranean.

Public anger over the legislation has risen since last week’s Lampedusa sinking, with protests in Africa and in Italy, including a candlelight vigil on Lampedusa itself. When Manuel Barroso, the head of the EU Commission, arrived in Lampedusa on Wednesday, he was met with cries of “shame.”

The nationalities of the victims of yesterday’s sinking are not yet known. UN officials told the Associated Press that migrants today are generally fleeing persecution and wars in countries like Syria or Egypt.

Escalating fighting triggered by NATO-led proxy wars in Syria and Africa is forcing ever larger numbers of people to flee for their lives. The ship that sank on October 3 was carrying migrants from the East African countries of Eritrea and Somalia. Somalia has been the target of US drone strikes, invasions by regional military powers, and escalating tribal fighting.

Some 30,100 migrants arrived in Italy and Malta in the first nine months of 2013, compared with 15,000 in all of 2012. The 2013 figure included 7,500 refugees from Syria and 3,000 from Somalia.

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Fortress Europe’s rising death toll.

New Leonardo da Vinci discovery?


The painting appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

Leonardo da Vinci painting lost for centuries found in Swiss bank vault

It was lost for so long that it had assumed mythical status for art historians. Some doubted whether it even existed.

By Nick Squires, Rome

3:32PM BST 04 Oct 2013

But a 500-year-old mystery was apparently solved today after a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci was discovered in a Swiss bank vault.

The painting, which depicts Isabella d’Este, a Renaissance noblewoman, was found in a private collection of 400 works kept in a Swiss bank by an Italian family who asked not to be identified.

It appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499.

The sketch, the apparent inspiration for the newly found work, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

For centuries it had been debated whether Leonardo had actually had the time or inclination to develop the sketch into a painted portrait.

After seeing the drawing he produced, the marquesa wrote to the artist, imploring him to produce a full-blown painting.

But shortly afterwards he embarked on one of his largest works, The Battle of Anghiari on the walls of Florence’s town hall, and then, in 1503, started working on the Mona Lisa.

Art historians had long believed he simply ran out of time — or lost interest — in completing the commission for Isabella d’Este.

Now it appears that he did in fact manage to finish the project — perhaps when he encountered the aristocrat, one of the most influential female figures of her day, in Rome in 1514.

Scientific tests suggest that the oil portrait is indeed the work of da Vinci, according to Carlo Pedretti, a professor emeritus of art history and an expert in Leonardo studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo,” Prof Pedretti, a recognised expert in authenticating disputed works by Da Vinci, told Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“I can immediately recognise Da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.”

Tests have shown that the type of pigment in the portrait was the same as that used by Leonardo and that the primer used to treat the canvas on which it was painted corresponds to that employed by the Renaissance genius.

Carbon dating, conducted by a mass spectrometry laboratory at the University of Arizona, has shown that there is a 95 per cent probability that the portrait was painted between 1460 and 1650.

But there needs to be further analysis to determine whether certain elements of the portrait — notably a golden tiara on the noblewoman’s head and a palm leaf held in her hand like a sceptre — were the work of Leonardo or one of his pupils, Prof Pedretti said.

A likely contender would be Gian Giacomo Caprotti, nicknamed Salai, who began working with Leonardo as a child and is believed to have become his lover.

He is believed to have entered Leonardo’s household around 1490, when he was about 10 years old.

Working as the artist’s apprentice for the next 20 years, he acquired the nickname Salai, or Little Devil. He was the subject of several erotic drawings produced by the Renaissance master.

The newly discovered portrait, which measures 24in by 18in, does bear a striking similarity to the Leonardo sketch held by the Louvre — the woman’s posture, her hairstyle and her dress are almost identical, while her enigmatic smile recalls that of the Mona Lisa.

Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at Trinity College, Oxford, and one of the world’s foremost experts on da Vinci, said if the find was authenticated it would be worth “tens of millions of pounds” because there are only 15 to 20 genuine da Vinci works in the world.

But he raised doubts about whether the painting was really the work of Leonardo.

The portrait found in Switzerland is painted on canvas, whereas Leonardo favoured wooden boards.

“Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line,” Prof Kemp told The Daily Telegraph. “Although with Leonardo, the one thing I have learnt is never to be surprised.”

There are further doubts – Leonardo gave away his original sketch to the marquesa, so he would not have been able to refer to it later in order to paint a full oil version.

“You can’t rule out the possibility but it seems unlikely,” Prof Kemp said.

It was more likely to have been produced by one of the many artists operating in northern Italy who copied Leonardo’s works.

Lizards, flowers, butterflies of Italy, bye bye!


Flowers near irrigation canal, Italy, 19 September 2013

After 18 September 2013 in Liguria, Italy, 19 September. Our last day. For the last time, uphill to the irrigation canal and the flowers around it.

A lizard on a railing runs away fast. It is a lot bigger and greener than the wall lizards we have seen so far. A female western green lizard?

Butterfly, Italy, 19 September 2013

Bye bye also to the butterflies of Italy.

Swallowtail butterfly, moth and grasshopper in Italy


Old world swallowtail, Italy, 18 September 2013

After the botanical garden of 16 September 2013 in Liguria, Italy, and after 17 September, today 18 September. Along the irrigation canal, an old world swallowtail butterfly.

Old world swallowtail spreading wings, Italy, 18 September 2013

Then, climbing, to Olivetta village.

Olivetta San Michele, 18 September 2013

Then, a steep mountain path, towards the French border.

Six-spot burnet, Italy, 18 September 2013

Near a hilltop, a six-spot burnet moth.

Mountains, Italy, 18 September 2013

And a beautiful view of surrounding hills and mountains.

Irrigation canal, Italy, 18 September 2013

Later, blue butterflies along the irrigation canal again.

Grasshopper, Italy, 18 September 2013

And a grasshopper.

Butterflies, damselflies, abandoned church in Italy


Dragonfly couple, Italy, 17 September 2013

17 September 2013. Still in Liguria, Italy, shortly before arrival in the abandoned village Bussare. Two damselflies of the Lestidae family making a heart-shaped figure for mating.

Bussare, Italy, path, 17 September 2013

We arrive at Bussare. The streets still have names. In the middle is a small square, with a sign Piazza Cavour, honouring a nineteenth century politician. However, now, in the twenty-first century, I don’t see any human living here.

Silver-washed fritillary, Bussare, Italy, 17 September 2013

However, I do see butterflies. Like a male silver-washed fritillary butterfly.

Bussare, Italy, church, 17 September 2013

The Roman Catholic church building’s name, “Immaculate Conception“, is still there. Now, however, accompanied by another sign: “For sale”.

Bussare, Italy, church name, 17 September 2013

We walk back, past Bussare. On a blackberry bush, another beautiful butterfly, one of the biggest species in Europe: a two-tailed pasha.

Two-tailed pasha, Italy, 17 September 2013

We go back to the bridge. Now, a hummingbird hawk-moth feeding at the butterfly-bush.

Will there be lizards, or snakes, near the old tyre? Not this time.

Bevera river, 17 September 2013

Further, in the river: trout and pondskaters.

On the footpath: a male pheasant.