Oldest Known Painting of Apostles Discovered

June 22, 2010 by  
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AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito

A cameraman films a painting discovered with the earliest known icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul in a catacomb located under a modern office building in a residential neighborhood of Rome, Tuesday, June, 22, 2010. Restorers said Tuesday they had unearthed the 4th-century images using a new laser technique that allowed them to burn off centuries of white calcium deposits without damaging the dark colors of the original paintings underneath. The paintings adorn what is believed to be the tomb of a Roman noblewoman and represent some of the earliest evidence of devotion to the apostles in early Christianity.

ROME — The earliest known icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul have been discovered in a catacomb under an eight-story modern office building in a working-class neighborhood of Rome, Vatican officials said Tuesday.

The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were discovered on the ceiling of a tomb that also includes the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew. They were uncovered using a new laser technique that allowed restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the dark colors of the original paintings underneath.

The paintings adorn what is believed to be the tomb of a Roman noblewoman in the Santa Tecla catacomb and represent some of the earliest evidence of devotion to the apostles in early Christianity, Vatican officials said in opening up the tomb to the media for the first time.

Last June, the Vatican announced the discovery of the icon of Paul — timed to coincide with the end of the Vatican’s Pauline year. At the time, Pope Benedict XVI also announced that tests on bone fragments long attributed to Paul “seemed to confirm” that they did indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint. . . . (continue reading)

A Primer on the Persistent Myth of "Pope Joan"

June 22, 2010 by  
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Dude (looks like a lady).

Have you heard that the Catholic Church is covering up the existence of a female pope? Don’t worry, if you haven’t yet, you will be hearing a lot about that in the coming months. I did a lot of research on this subject, including spending time in Rome tracking down various claims contained in this legend, and I can assure you that there never was a Pope Joan.

It’s worth your time, though, to become familiar with the basic claims of this legend because, as I say, you will be hearing your friends and family and the world at large chattering about it — much like you heard all the crazed (and wildly inaccurate) chattering about the Catholic Church in The Da Vinci Code, through the book and the movie by that name. So here is the basic outline of the myth. Please share this info with your family and friends. Inoculate them.

The legend of Pope Joan can be summarized this way:

In the middle ages, there was a “Pope Joan,” a woman who hid her gender and rose through the ranks of the Church, became a cardinal and was elected pope. No one knew she was a woman until, during a papal procession through the streets of Rome, she went into labor and gave birth to a child. She and the baby were killed on the spot by the mob, enraged at her imposture.

A lot of things are said about the alleged “Pope Joan.” Depending on who is telling the story, she was a courageous feminist, a clever opportunist, a brilliant scholar who couldn’t make it as a woman in a man’s world. She is said to have been a wise ruler and an astute theologian, though, oddly, no decree or theological teaching purporting to have come from her has made its way down to our day.

In any case, the fact is, there was no Pope Joan. She exists only as pure legend, but one that makes for a sexy story. And when it comes to sexy stories, you know Hollywood will try its hand at making a blockbuster out of this piece of pope fiction.
New Line Cinema (that’s right, the same good folks who produced The Last Temptation of Christ) has reportedly bought the movie rights to Pope Joan, the best-selling 1996 novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross. Her book is couched as an historical “novel” — embellishing on a grand scale the rather sparse details that have clung to the legend of a brilliant, plain girl who rises to the highest levels in Church service, culminating in her being elected pope by an unsuspecting college of cardinals.
The way the book is written and the way it’s being promoted support my concern that it will be seen by most of its historically ignorant re
aders, not as a novel, a fiction, but as a real biography of the one woman who “made it to the top.” When the movie comes out, this problem will certainly grow in proportions.
It’s important to remember that even if there had been a female impostor pope, this would just mean that an invalid election had taken place, nothing more. Other invalidly elected claimants to the papal office have come and gone over the centuries, and the fact that a woman made that list would simply mean that a woman made that list, She would not have been pope – no one invalidly elected would be. And nothing in the Church’s teachings about the papacy would be injured or disproved.
But in reality, the Pope Joan story is all sizzle and no steak. The basic outline of the main legend (actually, there have been several competing legends over the centuries) has it that in the ninth or tenth century, a plain but extraordinarily brilliant young woman contrived to enter the university disguised as a man. Her intellect outstripped her male classmates and she shot to the top rank of students. Talk of her prowess in law, science, rhetoric, philosophy and languages was widespread.
In another legend, popularized by several 13th century works such as the Chronicle of Martin Polonus, theUniversal Chronicle of Metz and Wonders of the City of Rome, she traveled first to Greece with her boyfriend (why he wanted a girlfriend who disguised herself as a man is unknown), made a name for herself in the university there, then traveled to Rome.
Here all the legends converge into the main one that has come down to our day. Once in Rome, Joan managed to enter religious life (although no legend is able to say which order she entered), was ordained a priest and earned a high reputation as a notary in the papal court.
Eventually, she was noticed by the pope and made a cardinal. You can guess what happens next. She is eventually elected pope, takes the name John, and sets about skillfully ruling the Church, It’s at this point that the most dramatic scenes of the story unfold.
The legends vary as to how Joan’s gender and identity were discovered. One holds that she was granted a vision by God in which she was shown two options for her fate, being discovered and disgraced by the world or roasting in hell for her crime. She chose the former. Another version says she got pregnant by one of her curial advisors and somehow was able to maintain the charade until she gave birth to the baby.
At that point her secret was discovered and she was deposed as pope and sent to a convent to do penance for the rest of her life. According to this legend, the child she bore went on to became the bishop of Ostia, about 30 miles southwest of Rome, and when she died, he had her body buried there. Of course, no evidence exists to support this.
The main detail these legends have in common is that Joan was discovered because her hanky panky with a cardinal or secretary resulted in pregnancy, and the childbirth exposed her fraud. The main legend is the most gory on this point. In it, Pope Joan goes into labor while riding in her sede gestiatoria – the portable throne in which popes were carried – as her procession passed the Coliseum on its way from St, Peter’s Basilica to St. John Lateran Cathedral.
The procession halted, the baby was born, and the confused and angry onlookers killed Pope Joan and her baby on the spot. Most accounts say she was killed by stoning, another says she died in childbirth as the mob watching the spectacle shouted and insulted her. Still another says she was dragged to death behind a horse as punishment. Either way, the legends agree that the Romans didn’t appreciate the unpleasant discovery.
Several odd historical details gave weight to the legend, including the fact that among the carved busts of the popes in the cathedral of Sienna was one of an unnamed woman, No one knows who created it or how it was put there, but when Pope Clement VIII (reigned 1592 – 1605) discovered it, he ordered it reworked enough to represent Pope Zacharias, whose image had not previously been included in the collection.
This is not surprising, though, given the wid
espread belief in Europe in the Pope Joan legend during the 13th through 18th centuries. Versions abounded, and many credulous folk, Catholics included, were sincerely convinced that there had indeed been a female pope.
But the facts of history show otherwise. The primary proofs that this is all just a fable are these: First, the earliest point that we can trace the legend to is the mid-13th century, but the legend didn’t really gain wide currency until the late 14th century.
No evidence of any kind exists from the ninth century (when Pope Joan was alleged to have reigned), nor do we see any in the 10th through 12th centuries. None of the annals or acts of the popes that were written between the ninth and 13th centuries (and none after that, either) mention her.
Church historian J. P. Kirsch wrote that “Not one contemporaneous historical source among the papal histories knows anything about her, also, no mention is made of her until the middle of the 13th century. Now it is incredible that the appearance of a ‘popess,’ if it was a historical fact, would be noticed by none of the numerous historians from the 10th to the 13th century.
In the history of the popes, there is no place where this legendary figure will fit in. Between Leo IV and Benedict III, where Martinus Polonus places her, she cannot be inserted . . .”(Article on Pope Joan, Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913).
So where did the legend come from? There are two likely possibilities, The first is that the Roman population became disgusted with the corrupt influence wielded over Pope Sergius (reigned 904-911) by the powerful and wealthy Theodora Theophylact, and more specifically by her young daughter Morozia, a cunning and exceptionally attractive woman. It appears that Morozia was Sergius‘ mistress and bore him at least one son (the future Pope John XI).
The fabulously wealthy and prestigious Theophylact family wielded immense power in Rome during the 10th century, even, sadly, over several popes. This is a sorry episode in the history of the Church, one which displayed a decadence and immorality that even popes, at times, could fall prey to – a reminder to us all that men, even the holiest of men, are not invulnerable to temptation and personal weakness. Despite their sins, Christ’s promise that the Church would be protected from error was not, nor has it ever been, broken.
From the details of Sergius III’s pontificate, it seems clear that he was a vain, violent and sensuous man. It’s quite possible that the disgusted faithful took to mocking him or one of his immediate successors because he was perceived to have been under the influence of the Theophylact women.
Some historians trace the legend of a female pope to Morozia, saying the people called her “Pope Joan” to mock the weak popes she controlled, in the same way some American first ladies have been called “president” to mock their perceived weak husbands.

Another possible explanation for the Pope Joan legend lies in the conduct of the much maligned Pope John VIII (reigned 872-882). He appears to have had a very weak personality, even perhaps somewhat effeminate.

Cardinal Casesare Baronius, in his history Church Annals, suggests that John ="SPELLING_ERROR_39">VIII’s reputation as effeminate gave rise to the legend. Indeed, it would seem that over time, the common folk added ever more lurid embellishments until the vulgar jokes about the hapless (and certainly male) pope ballooned and metamorphosed into a female “popessa.”

— Patrick Madrid, adapted from my book Pope Fiction.

Pro-choice? Pro-life? Undecided? Here's something to consider

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


A young woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy seeks an abortion. As the abortion takes place, she hears her unborn daughter describing what it’s doing to her.

Don't be like this, mkay?

June 14, 2010 by  
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Gay Daze at Disneyland

June 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

This article and the video below explain how the GD@DL phenomenon got started.
Draw your own conclusions.


Italian Police Eavesdrop on the Pope's Phone Calls

June 11, 2010 by  
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Pope Benedict XVI has become the first Pope to be recorded during a corruption investigation by Italian police, it emerged yesterday.

The leader of the world’s two billion Roman Catholics was unwittingly recorded by officers who were listening in on a suspect’s mobile phone conversations.

The Pontiff made four telephone calls to Italy’s civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso following last year’s devastating earthquake in the centre of the country which left 300 people dead.

Bertolaso is at the centre of a corruption probe involving sexual favours and back handers for reconstruction projects in the L’Aquila region which was hit by the earthquake 14 months ago.

Pope Benedict is not suspected of any wrong doing – although Vatican officials are said to be furious that he was secretly taped – while it has also emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also recorded speaking to Bertolaso.

Both had called Bertolaso to offer support and thanks for the efforts of his civil protection team who were providing rapid reaction relief in the devastated area.

Officers monitoring Bertolaso’s mobile telephone were stunned when they heard the Pope’s private secretary Georg Ganswein call and say: ‘Hello. I have His Holiness the Pope on the line for you.’

The details of Pope Benedict’s intercepted calls emerged in several Italian newspapers today/yesterday but the content was not reported although it is believed to have been fairly mundane and complimentary. . . . (continue reading)

Report: Bishop Padovese canceled Cyprus trip to avoid assassination of Pope

June 9, 2010 by  
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This is a new development in the story out of Turkey about the grisly stabbing-decapitation murder of Catholic Bishop Luigi Padovese by his Muslim chauffeur. Different theories for what happened have emerged in recent days (e.g., insanity, jihad, retaliation for abuse, etc.), and obviously it’s not clear yet what exactly happened. But if what this Catholic News Agency report says is true about the chauffeur, then the Jihad theory may be the more likely scenario.

An Italian Vatican expert is saying that Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia and President of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference, canceled his trip to Cyprus because he feared that his driver –who later confessed to killing the bishop- might attempt an attack on Pope Benedict XVI during his stay on the island.

Analyst Fr. Fillippo di Giacomo, who writes for publications such as L’Unitá and La Stampa, revealed that “hours before Padovese was killed, the Turkish Government called him to say that his driver, who they themselves had put in his service four years before, had gotten out of hand. That is to say, he had embraced the fundamentalist cause.”

Speaking to the Spanish daily El Pais, Fr. di Giacomo added that “knowing this, Padovese canceled the tickets he had reserved to Cyprus for himself and Altun (his driver). He preferred to stay home rather than to make the trip because he feared that his driver would take advantage of his proximity to the Pope and make an attempt on his life. . . ” (continue reading)

Here's one flight attendant who'll never forget this particular flight

June 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I just received the following note from Tom Peterson, president of CatholicsComeHome and Virtue Media. It’s a great reminder of how important it is for each of us (this means you) to live out the message of 1 Peter 3:15-16, all day, every day: “Always be reading to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

I want to share a personal story with you that happened a few weeks ago while on a flight. It inspired our entire Catholics Come Home team, and I hope it inspires you, too!


I boarded an early morning flight to return home, following a Catholics Come Home presentation in Wichita the night before.

After take-off and the beverage service, I took a second to thank the two hard-working flight attendants for their exceptional hospitality. A little later, one of the flight attendants stopped to tell me how much she appreciated and needed that kind word of affirmation at this time in her life.

Prior to landing, I felt led to take out one of our CatholicsComeHome.org evangelization cards. On the back of the card, I wrote, “The hope you are seeking can be found only in Jesus and His Church.” I signed my name and held the card in my hand, waiting for an opportunity to hand it to her, if it was meant to be.

As we began our descent into the Atlanta airport, that flight attendant stopped one last time to thank me as she headed to the back of the plane for landing. I took a leap of faith and handed her the CCH evangelization card and note, asking her to read it when she got home.

Thanks to God’s abundant grace, last week our office received a wonderful letter from that flight attendant! In it, she explained that she had suffered loneliness since her divorce a year ago, and she was looking for answers. She went on to say that she desperately needed that Catholics Come Home card and hopeful note on the back, and that she hadn’t stopped crying since she received the little card. Amazingly, she confided that she had been away from the Catholic Church and from God for many years. After receiving the Catholics Come Home card and note, she returned to Mass last week, and had finally found exactly what she had been looking for—God!

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I wanted to share this story with you as a reminder that each of us is called to share the Good News of Jesus and His Church to a world in need of hope. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to work passionately to bring souls home to Jesus and His holy Catholic Church. And, it’s always incredible to witness the fruit that comes from being obedient to the will of God.

Likely, someone out there is waiting for you to invite them home too, whether on a plane, at the store, or at your child’s swim meet. So when the opportunity arises, take the time to answer the Holy Spirit’s call, and help change someone’s life forever!


Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Tom Peterson

Is it just me, or doesn't this kind of defeat the purpose of "purity laws"?

June 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Saudi Clerics Advocate Adult Breast-Feeding

Women in Saudi Arabia should give their breast milk to male colleagues and acquaintances in order to avoid breaking strict Islamic law forbidding mixing between the sexes, two powerful Saudi clerics have said. They are at odds, however, over precisely how the milk should be conveyed.

A fatwa issued recently about adult breast-feeding to establish “maternal relations” and preclude the possibility of sexual contact has resulted in a week’s worth of newspaper headlines in Saudi Arabia. Some have found the debate so bizarre that they’re calling for stricter regulations about how and when fatwas should be issued.

Sheikh Al Obeikan, an adviser to the royal court and consultant to the Ministry of Justice, set off a firestorm of controversy recently when he said on TV that women who come into regular contact with men who aren’t related to them ought to give them their breast milk so they will be considered relatives.

“The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman,” Al Obeikan said, according to Gulf News. “He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam’s rules about mixing.”

Obeikan said the fatwa applied to men who live in the same house or come into contact with women on a regular basis, except for drivers.

Al Obeikan, who made the statement after being asked on TV about a 2007 fatwa issued by an Egyptian scholar about adult breast-feeding, said that the breast milk ought to be pumped out and given to men in a glass.

But his remarks were followed by an announcement by another high-profile sheik, Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini, who said that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman’s breast. . . .

The fatwa stems from the tenets of the strict Wahhabi version of Islam that governs modern Saudi Arabia and forbids women from mixing with men who are not relatives. They are also not allowed to vote, drive or even leave the country without the consent of a male “guardian.”

Under Islamic law, women are encouraged to breast-feed their children until the age of 2. It is not uncommon for sisters, for example, to breast-feed their nephews so they and their daughters will not have to cover their faces in front of them later in life. The custom is called being a “breast milk sibling.” . . . (continue reading)

If I ran Microsoft, Windows would act more like this . . .

June 8, 2010 by  
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