FaithWorld

Devil found in the details of a Giotto fresco in Italy’s Assisi

(Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, showing a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis. Picture released on November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Basilica of St Francis in Assisi/Handout)

Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday.

The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.

The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis.

The figure is difficult to see from the floor of the basilica but emerges clearly in close-up photography.

Vatican is stunned by Irish decision to shut its embassy to Holy See

(Dark rainclouds gather over the Vatican's Saint Peter's Basilica, in Rome December 12, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Helgren)

Catholic Ireland’s stunning decision to close its embassy to the Vatican is a huge blow to the Holy See’s prestige and may be followed by other countries which feel the missions are too expensive, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

The closure brought relations between Ireland and the Vatican, once ironclad allies, to an all-time low following the row earlier this year over the Irish Church’s handling of sex abuse cases and accusations that the Vatican had encouraged secrecy.

Pope Benedict expresses shame for Christian violence in history

(Pope Benedict XVI (C), Wande Abimbola (R) of Nigeria, Rabbi David Rosen (2nd R), Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (L) and Ecumenical Patriarch of Orthodox Church Bartolomeo I attend the "Prayer for Peace," a inter-religious meeting in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi October 27, 2011. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)

Pope Benedict, leading a global inter-religious meeting, has acknowledged “with great shame” that Christianity had used force in its long history but said violence in God’s name had no place in the world today. Benedict spoke as he hosted some 300 religious leaders from around the world – including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Shintoists and Buddhists – in an inter-faith prayer gathering for peace in the city of St Francis.

“As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith,” he said in his address to the delegations in an Assisi basilica on Thursday.  “We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature,” he said.

Vatican calls for global authority on economy, raps “idolatry of the market”

(Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican October 23, 2011/Giampiero Sposito)

The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises. The document from the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department should please the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn.

“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions. “The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence,” it said.

It condemned what it called “the idolatry of the market” as well as a “neo-liberal thinking” that it said looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems. “In fact, the crisis has revealed behaviours like selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” it said, adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.

Catholics campaigning for women priests detained at Vatican

(Father Roy Bougeois from Georgia (2nd R) poses with a group of Roman Catholic activist in front of the Vatican October 17, 2011S/Max Rossi)

A group of Roman Catholic activists who think women should be ordained priests tried to deliver a petition to the Vatican on Monday but were blocked from entering St Peter’s Square and some were detailed by police. Witnesses said plainclothes Italian police stopped the group of about 15 demonstrators, including several women dressed in priest’s robes, and confiscated a banner reading “God is calling women to be priests.”

The group, headed by an American Roman Catholic priest from Georgia, Father Roy Bourgeois, wanted to leave a petition signed by some 15,000 people at a Vatican entrance. “The scandal of demanding silence on the issue of women’s ordination reflects the absolute arrogance of the (Roman Catholic Church) hierarchy and their tragic failure to accept women as equals in dignity and discipleship in the eyes of God,” said Erin Hanna, executive director of the U.S-based Women’s Ordination Conference.

Pope Benedict uses John Paul’s mobile platform in St Peter’s instead of walking

(Pope Benedict XVI stands on a mobile platform as he leaves after leading a mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican October 16, 2011/Giampiero Sposito)

Pope Benedict was wheeled up the main aisle of St Peter’s Basilica on a mobile platform at the start of a ceremony on Sunday to spare him the unnecessary fatigue of walking. The 84-year-old pontiff stood on the platform as aides pushed it up the central aisle, which is about 100 metres (yards) long. Wearing green vestments, he blessed the faithful as he was made his way up then celebrated Mass from the main altar. He appeared to be in good health.

“This is just not to tire him,” chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. “Nothing else should be read into the general state of his health, which is good.”

Pope Benedict condemns ‘Ndrangheta organised crime in south Italy visit

(Friends and relatives attend the funeral of Francesco Fortugno, vice president of Calabria's regional government, in the southern Italian town of Locri October 19, 2005. Italy's interior minister said on Monday the 'Ndrangheta mafia group was responsible for the assassination/Stringer)

Pope Benedict on Sunday condemned “ferocious” organised crime groups in the southern Calabria region, where lawlessness, corruption and underdevelopment have resulted in one of Italy’s highest unemployment rates. The pope, in a homily for tens of thousands of people from all over the region that forms the “toe” of Italy, said the area seemed to be in a constant state of emergency and that he wanted to encourage the people’s efforts to improve their condition.

“This is an area …. where problems exist in acute and destabilising forms, where crime groups that are often ferocious tear at the social fabric, a land that seems to be in a constant state of emergency,” he said.

Italian government shell-shocked by Catholic bishop’s sex scandal attack

(Italian Bishops Conference head Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco (L) at the Vatican April 1, 2009 and Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome May 5, 2009/Max Rossi)

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right government appeared to be in a state of denial and shell-shock on Tuesday after Italy’s top Roman Catholic bishop issued a blistering attack against the country’s rulers. Political sources said Berlusconi was left “stunned and saddened” by a speech on Monday by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who said Italy needed to “purify the air” contaminated by licentious behaviour, scandal and corruption.

Bagnasco, who stopped just short of asking Berlusconi to resign, painted a damning picture of a ruling class that was more concerned with its survival than the good of the people. “Everyone knew the blow was coming but no-one expected it to be so brutally clear,” said Alberto Bobbio, a writer for Italy’s influential Catholic weekly, Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family).

Italian Catholic bishops attack Berlusconi government over sex scandals

(Saint Peter's Basilica seen from a hill in the north of Rome July 26, 2011/Alessandro Bianchi)

Italy’s powerful Catholic Church issued a blistering attack on the ruling political class on Monday, saying the country needed to “purify the air” contaminated by licentious behaviour that had sullied its name around the world. A speech by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco to fellow bishops did not specifically name Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi but he left little doubt he was referring to the sex and corruption scandals that dog Berlusconi and his centre-right government.

“It is mortifying to witness behaviour that not only goes counter to public decorum but is intrinsically sad and hollow,” said the head of the Italian Bishops Conference.

Pope urges German Catholics to close ranks, some frustrated by lack of change

(Pope Benedict XVI makes an address during a meeting with Catholics involved in the Church and society, at the concert hall in Freiburg September 25, 2011/Miro Kuzmanovic)

Pope Benedict urged Catholics in his native Germany on Sunday to close ranks behind him rather than demand reforms or leave the Church, a staunchly conservative message that some who came to hear him found frustrating. Delivering his last major address of a four-day trip at a mass for about 100,000 people at a small airport near the southwestern city of Freiburg, he said the sometimes fractious Church needed to unite around him and the German bishops.

“The Church in Germany will continue to be a blessing for the entire Catholic world if she remains faithfully united with the successor of St Peter,” he said, referring to himself.