Saturday, December 24, 2011

Away in A Manger

Happy Christmas to all! 
The ox and ass peer at the newborn Jesus. New York, Morgan Library, M751, C13 France.

The ox and ass look rather mischevious, while Mary looks skeptical about the entire endeavor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Extra! Extra! Hildegard of Bingen to Become A Doctor of The Church!

Hildegard receiving her divine visions. From an early C13 manuscript of the Liber divinorum operum

Great news! The Vatican Insider reports that Pope Ben16 plans to canonize Hildegard of Bingen next October and declare her a Doctor of the Church. There are 33 Doctors of the Church (an honor granted to important theologians, including St. Thomas Aquinas) and only 3 of them are women. So this is kind of progressive! Even though Hildegard lived and died over 800 years ago. And the Pope claimed that Hildegard is an example to women theologians, who can testify to divine mysteries thanks to their feminine intelligence and sensitivity.

Hildegard was a nun and abbess, a confidante of popes and correspondent of theologians (like St. Bernard of Clairvaux), a visionary composer, philosopher, and theologian. Her musical compositions are still performed throughout the world. Her reports of her ecstatic visions gave her the nickname "The Sybil of the Rhine," and, like a medieval Nostradamus, her prophecies continue to be queried and interpreted.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Watch Enthusiast

H/t to JB, Medieval Robots' London correspondent, for passing this along. The geniuses at Hublot, the Swiss horological firm, have built a replica of the Antikythera Mechanism as a wristwatch.

The story of the Antikythera Mechanism involves a shipwreck, lost treasure, Archimedes, an emperor's ransom, and cosmological know-how. The device itself, recovered by chance on a sponge-diving trip near Crete, is over two thousand years old and is the oldest analogue computer. You could program in a date and it would predict (accurately) the position of the sun, moon, and five known planets. Read more about it here.