Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Beautiful Christmas Hymn - Sent by Carmen


 Added December 22, 2012 -- additional information from Carmen:
Andrea Mantegna (Carturo Island 1431 - Mantua 1506) it's named Epiphany
and  at present it's  at the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles
While I cannot speak to the appearance of the Magi or their number (three is traditional), the biblical accounts agree that Joseph was much older than the "Virgin" Mary, the mother of the Christ child, whom legend says was about 14 years of age around the time she was miraculously impregnated.
In this depiction, the artist has shown that age differential by depicting Joseph as a grey-haired man with wrinkles (far left), while Mary is young and beautiful. The biblical account of the event did not mention the particular number of Magi who traveled a long distance after following a suddenly appearing very bright "star" in the eastern sky that had been foretold in one or more ancient prophetic accounts as signifying a great event.  What we can deduce is that whoever followed this "star" would have been travelling from the east toward the west, following the path of the travelling "star."

It was, evidently, one or more Chaldean scholars who, after beholding the appearance of the untoward super star in the sky [a supernova?], began to research ancient accounts and uncovered the prophecies about the birth of a great Savior who would be born under that particular "sign".  By piecing together numerous prophecies, some of which are recorded in the Christian Bible, that were foretold by many different seers over hundreds of years, the seers of the day arrived at a conclusion.  Some of them headed toward the light in the sky that marked the general vicinity of the birth of the King of Kings.

The putative King of Israel King Herod's seers had also seen this sign in the sky, and according to one biblical account, after much study it was reported to Herod that a King of Kings would be born in a certain area during a certain window of time.  Herod subsequently ordered the execution of all male infants under a certain age (we are not certain what the age limit was, and perhaps the soldiers who were carrying out the orders were not exactly demanding proof of date of birth, either) in this particular area.  As far as I am aware, there is no independent verification from third-party sources that this "Slaughter of the Innocents" ever took place. 

In any event, the biblical account says that Joseph had been warned in a vivid dream to flee the area some time after the Christ child was born -- we do not know how old the child was at the time.  That is why Joseph took Mary and the infant into Egypt and stayed there for some time, perhaps many years.  If the visit of the Magi did, indeed, take place, it quite likely happened somewhere in Egypt (Gaza?), not Bethelem.  The next time the Christ child is mentioned in biblical accounts is when he is about age 12 and he in the Great Temple in Jerusalem! 

We do not know the number of the seers who undertook the journey to where the unusual traveling star seemed to lead them.  We do not know how long they were on the road.  It is obvious from biblical accounts that these seers did not arrive at or shortly after the birth of the Christ.  It seems the child may have been more than a year old by the time the seers found him.

We know that when the seers finally arrived and found the child, the biblical account says three gifts were presented: gold, frankensense, and myhrr.  It is from the "three" gifts that the western account arose that there were "three Wise Men" who visited from the east.

I received this last night from Carmen Romero. She is the "Librarian." Carmen was the right-hand person who assisted chess historian Dr. Ricardo Calvo (an IM and championship level chess player in Spain) in his research and writing for many years before his untimely death in September, 2002.  After Ricardo's passing, Carmen has written many papers on the history of chess during the Medieval and early Renaissance periods that were presented at seminars and symposim around the globe.  Over many years Carmen also helped me with research to provide answers to inquiries on obscure chess subjects that came to Goddesschess. 

It is, perhaps, significant, that once we were informed of the illness that so quickly took the "Chief" (Ricardo) from us, Don and I planned a trip to Spain in the hopes of visiting with him and Carmen.  Alas, he passed away on September 26, 2002.  Earlier in the year Ricardo had told me to "come in October." And so that's how I planned out trip, never dreaming Ricardo would already be gone away from us by then. With hindsight, I now think that Ricardo had a very good idea of when he would die, because he was a medical doctor and he would have known the particulars of his illness.  I think he picked a date for our visit when he knew he would already be gone and we would not see him in extremis.

I do not now remember the exact dates that Don and I traveled to Madrid -- it started during the first two weeks in October and ran into mid-month, perhaps October 10 - 16, 2002.  It was a wonderful, magnificent and yet poignant journey for both of us. 

We reconstituted that trip in early January this year -- short some months from a 10-year anniversary.  We had another wonderful, magnificent and yet poignant journey. I blogged about our trip here extensively, journaling memories here enough to last several lifetimes.

I didn't know it then, but both Mr. Don and I would suffer through serious illnesses in the spring and long, hot summer of 2012.  I thought we had both made it through the worst once autumn of 2012 arrived.  I was wrong.

Don passed away unexpectedly on October 12, 2012.  I could not help but note the close proximity of his death to the death of one we considered our mentor and the date we had taken that first journey to Spain some 10 years before. 

It seemed to me at the time Don first met Ricardo in Hamburg in early November, 1999 that somehow, although separated by much distance and not having known each other for very long, Ricardo and Don forged a sort of golden-cord, unshakeable, unbreakable connection between them.  I do not know the particulars, but I am aware that between the two of them, much intense communications took place, and Don undertook and completed a re-work of an English translation of at least one of Ricado's works that had been translated into English years before.

It is a fair statement to say that Don was never the same after Ricardo died.

And so, tonight I am sad.  I cannot begin to describe how much I miss, miss, miss...  But I am also happy, because I have so many incredible memories of these men who were so important in my life, in such very different ways. 

I had not heard from Carmen in a long while.  Perhaps she had trials and tribulations to go through, as we did, but I was thinking - the worst had happened.  That Carmen had gone from us too.  And so it was wonderful to hear from her so unexpectedly, and with such a beautiful content:

Jesus refulsit omnium
("Jesús lo ilumina todo"):
Jesus refulsit omnium
Pius redemptor gentium
Totum genus fidelium
Laudes genus dramatum

Quem stella natum fulgida
Monstrat micans per authera
Magosque duxit praevia
Ipsius ad cunabula

Illi cadentes parvulum
Pannis adorant obsitum
Verum fatentur ut Deum
Munus freundo mysticum.
Musical composition of the IV century (year 368) written by San Hilario of Poitiers, and considered as the first Christmas carol and one of the first Christmas songs. Their topic is Christ's birth.
This rendition of this ancient hymn by the Veritas Concert Choir  is worth listening to (sung during a championship contest). 

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