It's arrived!! the splendid Zuhlsdorf mug with its portrait (and armorial bearings) of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XIV, otherwise known as Prospero Lambertini. If you haven't already got one, I advise you to remedy the oversight. This Zed production is a real winner. WDTPRS tells you how to order it.
An opportunity not to be missed by all right-thinking Catholics.
Long-time readers will be aware that, for some years, I have taken refuge with Papa Lambertini in the Ashmolean Museum ... one of the World's great museums, where you go up the main staircase, turn left at the top, and keep walking until you reach the Westernmost room. There you will find a set of papal busts by a little known but very competent sculptor; the first one on your right just inside the door is the great canonist, theologian, and legislator, Benedict XIV.
(You too could interview His Holiness without even visiting Oxford, using the painting of him reproduced upon the superb-value Zuhlsdorf mug.)
He sensed, when I visited him the other morning, that I was a littled frayed at my edges. Well, it was a hot day, and at this time of the year the pavements in Oxford are almost exclusively occupied by Visitors who are invariably walking in the opposite direction to mine. They are Doing the dreaming spires before their coaches take them on to some town in the Cotwolds to Do the Swan of Avon (or to Bicester Village for the Shopping). I imagine that Cambridge is similarly inundated with tourists stocking up on instant Culture before spending the important part of their day among the bookies at Newmarket. I suppose we must reconcile ourselves to being Post-Imperial.
Quid molestum? he courteously enquired. Sancte Pater, I replied, quale et quantum rogas! Ipsa Sancta Mater Ecclesia molestam se monstrat, Sponsa quae vocatur Redemptoris nostri, in qua presbyteri episcopi cardinales necnon et ipse domnus apostolicus ... He raised his mighty eyebrows to stop me in my tracks. Pusille, tace! Sponsa Christi immaculata est ... tu id bene nosti ... etiamsi peccatores ita denegent gratiam Omnipotentis ut facies eius foedetur. Sis memor ...
Rudely, disgracefully, impetuously, I interrupted the Sovereign Pontiff. Successor, Domne, vester, eiusdem nominis XVI, multa et iratus locutus est de 'spurcitia', sed nunc nemo non videt archiepiscopos et cardinales spurcitiam istam celasse et, quod deterius est, papam Franciscum se adiutorem et fautorem praebuisse talium virorum. Haeresis quoque ingravescit; parasiti nonulli ... Rosicas dico et alios ... docent (tacente pontifice) Ecclesiam, Scripturis semotis Traditione repudiata, nonnisi a tyranno regi et ab uno. Tot inter falsos pastores ...
I could not ignore the growing frown upon his brow. I fell silent. Gently, chidingly, he asked me Tu nunquam culinam intrasti?
Puzzled, I replied Et saepe, Domne.
Ibine cortinam vidisti?
Et vidi, Domne.
Et oculis id quoque tuis sensisti, in cortina dum in igne calescit spumam ab ima cortina ita in summam se tollere et evehere, ut in superficie spurcitia omnis plane et aperte oculis omnium videatur?
Et sensi, Domne.