A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Archive for August, 2008

The Saint’s Room video

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

This video was shot in March, on location in Reggio Calabria, and filmed and produced by Michael Frierson, UNC-Greensboro film professor.

Getting the call

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Father James MartinDriving home from work yesterday, I caught this commentary on NPR by my friend, Father Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest in New York City, the best-selling author of “My Life with the Saints,” and an all-around great guy. The commentary, delivered in his bright and engaging style, celebrates his 20 years as a Jesuit, and most tellingly, addresses the issue of chastity. It’s less than three minutes long and well worth listening to.

Better late than never

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

The Wall Street Journal reports today: “The Roman Catholic Church has for centuries commissioned statues of saints and other pious heroes. It’s now wrestling with a more sensitive tribute — a monument to a man who may be its most illustrious heretic.

“Nearly 400 years after the Roman Inquisition condemned Galileo Galilei for insisting the Earth revolves around the sun, an anonymous donor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences has offered to foot the bill for a statue of the Italian astronomer.”

The whole story.

The Monti in Greensboro

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Tomorrow night, a new and unique Triangle entertainment event comes to Greensboro — The Monti, an evening of storytelling. I was lucky enough to be part last month’s event in Chapel Hill, and will take part again. There’s a wonderful lineup of storytellers, including Greensboro singer songwriter Molly McGinn (fresh off her success in Triad Stage’s “Bloody Blackbeard“), Greensboro fiction writer Quinn Dalton, as well as Jeff Polish, founder of The Monti.

Starts at 7:30 p.m. at The Underground, 1720 Battleground Ave. Tickets are $7. Details here. We’ll be done before Biden’s speech, promise!

UPDATE: News & Record praise for The Monti is here.

Biden: Risks and rewards

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Associated Press: By selecting a Pennsylvania-born Catholic as his No. 2, Obama is betting the potential rewards — including swaying elusive lunch-pail Catholics in the Midwest — outweigh the risks.

The whole story is here.

Bernini: Rome’s baroque genius

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

The spector of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the great 17th-century Italian sculptor and painter, is evident all over Rome — on bridges, buildings, piazzas and in the city’s finest museums. Perhaps nowhere is his artistic genius more evident than in St. Pater’s Square, where he designed the arching collonade, which defines the world’s most glorious public space, and is topped with 144 saints carved in travertine (St. Gaetano Catanoso is not up there, but his sainted Calabrian predecessor, St. Francis of Paola, is!). All this emphasis on gathering huge crowds overlooked by a communion of saints is entirely fitting: that is the primary place where canonizations are held — and where saints are named.

I’ve seen many, many Bernini masterpieces during my visits to Rome, including the incomparable “Ecstacy of St. Teresa” in a tiny church near the Piazza Repubblica (shown above). I really wish I could visit the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where a traveling exhibit of Bernini’s gorgeous marble busts are making their only American appearance. The story is here.

An excerpt: “The cloth ripples. You would swear it does. Call this the ultimate form of illusionism: making marble look as soft as cloth or as delicate as lace. The hair, the skin and the lips on Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s portrait busts are just as logic-defying.”

Pope John Paul I

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

We know so much about Pope John Paul II, one of the most internationally famous and beloved popes in Vatican history. But what about his predecessor, Pope John Paul I, the Italian with the sweet smile and brief papacy? John Thavis, the Vatican bureau chief of the Catholic News Service, writes about JPI here, just prior to the 30th anniversary of the pope’s election to the throne of St. Peter.

An excerpt: “It was one of the briefest pontificates, but it left a lasting impression. Many inside and outside the Vatican felt that a man of extraordinary humility and goodness had passed their way — like a meteor that light up the sky and then disappears quickly, as one cardinal put it.”

Book talk in Burlington, NC

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

The Barnes & Noble at Alamance Crossing Shopping Center on I-40 in Burlington, N.C., about 20 miles east of Greensboro, will host me on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. for a discussion about My Cousin the Saint. Here’s how to get there.

Obstacles to sainthood

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Padre Gaetano Catanoso (1879-1963) experienced a relatively quick route to sainthood — about 25 years from the start of his cause to the canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2005. This blog post regarding Father Nelson H. Baker (1842-1936) of Buffalo, N.Y., is a reminder of how long and difficult the path can be for many who are already deemed saints by their ardent followers.

An excerpt: “One of the most frustrating things about the process of establishing that someone is a saint, that someone is with God and can act as an intermediary between God and those still living, is proving miracles. In Father Baker’s case, over 20 healings have been investigated so far for his cause, and none of them have passed muster in Rome.

The passion of JPII

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

News report: “Benedict XVI says that the pontificate of Pope John Paul II can be divided into two equally important parts: the years when he took the Gospel to the world and the years of his ‘passion.’ ”

An interesting story, here, in which Pope Benedict reflects on the final years of his predecessor’s life.