Friday, March 20, 2020

WHOA! Is St. Corona Taking Revenge Upon the Italians...

Holy Hathor!  My partner in Goddesschess since about forever - Georgia a/k/a Isis a/k/a my honorary Sis, sent me this article on - you guess it - SAINT CORONA.  She's got her own portrait in the pantheon of Catholic saints (Corona, not Isis):

Source: Article from Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, March 18, 2020
Some very interesting references below.  For instance, Corona's name in Latin means "crown," and of course we know that the corona virus was named for it's "crownlike" shape.  One of the footnotes below indicates that the Greeks call her Stefania or Stephana, for "crown," as well.  Is there more to this story than meets the eye?

Issued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Michigan on March 18, 2020 at their website (who KNEW!):


It’s incredible but it’s seemingly true – there is a Saint Corona and she is one of the patrons of pandemics. Saint Corona, pray for us!

Saint Corona is thought to have lived in 2nd century Syria under Roman occupation. She was only 15-years-old when she professed her Christian Faith during the persecution of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.

According to legend, Saint Corona was arrested and tied by her feet to the tops of two palm trees which were bent to the ground. When the palms were let loose she was torn apart.

It is reported that Saint Corona is especially venerated in Austria and Bavaria as the patron saint against epidemics. Her mortal remains are now housed in the city of Anzu in northern Italy, the epicenter of the recent outbreak of Coronavirus in Europe. Her feast day is May 14.

Source: Gloria.TV More at:

Okay, so after thinking about this for about 2 seconds, I headed to Google to find out more about this mysterious goddess, er, saint, I'd never heard of.  Interesting, very interesting, mostly for what the article DIDN'T say, as opposed to what it DID say:

First of all, darlings, there were TWO saints - you guessed it - the female AND a male.  And not just any male, mind you, this male happened to be a friend of Corona's husband.  Or maybe they were actually married.  Or - who knows? 

From the Wikipedia article on Saints Victor and Corona (why does HE get top billing?  SEXIST!)

Saints Victor and Corona are two Christian martyrs. Most sources state that they were killed in Roman Syria during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (170s AD). However, various hagiographical texts disagree about the site of their martyrdom, with some stating that it was Damascus, while Coptic sources state that it was Antioch. Some Western sources state that Alexandria or Sicily was their place of martyrdom. They also disagree about the date of their martyrdom. They may have been martyred during the reign of AntoninusDiocletian, while the Roman Martyrology states that it was in the third century when they met their death.[1] Saint Corona was popular in folk treasure magic, being called upon by a treasure hunter to bring treasure, and then sent away through a similarly elaborate ritual.[2]

Their legend states that Victor was a 
Roman soldier of Italian ancestry, serving in the city of Damascus in Roman Syria during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. He was tortured - including having his eyes gouged out.

While he was suffering from these tortures, the sixteen-year-old spouse of one of his brothers-in-arms, named Corona,[3] comforted and encouraged him. For this, she was arrested and interrogated. According to the passio of Corona, which is considered largely fictional, Corona was bound to two bent palm trees and torn apart as the trunks were released.
Victor was beheaded in Damascus in 160 AD.
Other sources state that they were husband and wife.[4]

Victor and Corona's memorial day is 24 November (11 November in the Orthodox church calendar). Their feast day is 14 May. Outside the town of Feltre on the slopes of Mount Miesna is the church of SS. Vittore e Corona, erected by the Crusaders from Feltre after the First Crusade.
Corona is especially venerated in Austria and eastern Bavaria. She is invoked in connection with superstitions involving money, such as gambling or treasure hunting.[5]
Otto III, around AD 1000, brought Corona's relics to Aachen.


  1. ^ Santi Vittore e Corona
  2. ^ Dillinger, Johannes (2011). Magical Treasure Hunting in Europe and North America. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0230000045.
  3. ^ Also known as Stefania, Stephana, a Greek translation of her Latin name, meaning "crown"
  4. ^ Saint Patrick's Church: Saints of May 14
  5. ^ St. Victor and CoronaCatholic Online, 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.

What instantly jumped out was that NOWHERE in the Wikipedia information presented on either saint is there anything having to do with pandemics or miraculous healings of the sick and turning away of disease.  Instead, Corona is connected to TREASURE HUNTING and "superstitions involving money, such as gambling."  SAY WHAT?  So, the Roman Catholic Church condones people praying to a Saint for help in treasure hunting and gambling.  Hmmm....

Darlings - I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!  And not a word about poor eyeless Saint Victor.  What does he do - hit Corona up for money when he's broke?

Another article stated that Corona's remains were located in in a basilica in the city of Anzu, Italy, since the 9th century (agrees with the Diocese of Lansing article above).  Note that Anzu is located in northern Italy, the same area where COVID-19 first spread like a wildfire in the country.  Anzu's location is noted by the star logo within the white circle in the map, below.  You can see it's location vis a vis Verona, Padua, and Venice.  

Basilica Santuario dei Ss. Vittore e Corona, Anzu, Italy
Source:  Trip Advisor

An article at Aleteia alluded to Corona's connection to pandemics: "Several readers have asked us about St. Corona being a patron saint to invoke against epidemics. This can be verified in various German-language sources, as this particular aspect of devotion to her is most common in Austria and Bavaria."

Here's another interesting article on Corona, in which a Catholic priest says that Corona was the sister-in-law of Victor.  

After I read the Diocese of Lansing article and found this reference to Corona's connection to epidemics, I couldn't help but wonder if, in the mysterious ways of the universe, in all its irony, there was somehow a connection between the events now unfolding in Italy and the events that unfolded over a thousand years ago at the hands of the Roman Empire in a distant foreign land.  It is no secret that outside of China Italy has been the hardest hit country by COVID-19.  

That being said, I'm going to keep my eye on May 14th this year, the "Feast Day" for Corona and Victor.  Who knows, maybe something miraculous will happen.  We sure could use it.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Chess Collectors International Biennial Congress in St. Louis Postponed to September 2020

Here is the communique in full, received this evening:

Dear CCI Members, and other Chess Friends,

It has been a difficult decision, but with Coronavirus-related closures and travel restrictions worsening by the day, I'm afraid we must bow to the inevitable, and postpone CCI's 19th Biennial Congress (currently scheduled for May 27-31) until September 2-6, 2020.

This new date is provisional, of course.  If the pandemic is not over by that time, obviously we might have to postpone it further, or even cancel it altogether.  We should know more as events continue to unfold over the spring and summer.  But this new date has several advantages.  It is Labor Day weekend here in the States (Labor Day itself is actually on the 7th), a holiday that should help boost our USA attendance, to say the least.  The heat of summer will have broken, but for parents of small children, school will not yet have started.  We have just received word from the Chase Park Plaza that the room rate will remain the same, making our luxury hotel a real bargain over the holiday weekend.

Later in September does not work for us, as we have other collecting conferences to attend (assuming things have returned to a state of normalcy by that time).  Luann and I can’t very well organize a meeting that we ourselves would be unable to attend.

Some have suggested holding the meeting in November or even next year, but again, we start running into conflicts with other societies, and we are having a hard time imagining that the pandemic will still be raging in September.  If it is, we will all have much bigger problems than attending a CCI meeting.

One further significant advantage of Labor Day weekend is that the WCHOF museum exhibition, “Dare to Know:  Chess in the Age of Reason” will still be running.  It is not possible to delay the meeting until next year and still expect to see this exhibition.  Remember, we will have an Enlightenment theme for this meeting.  So many of our planned activities and lectures revolve around this theme that if the meeting must be postponed until next year, we might as well not have it at all.  This particular exhibition has always been central to our planning of this particular meeting.  They are joined at the hip.

At this point, the WCHOF is moving forward with work on "Dare to Know" with help from Luann and me, who are loaning a large part of our personal collection to be put on display.  However, the planned opening date of April 8th is currently in limbo, since the WCHOF has just closed its galleries to the public until further notice.  I don’t believe they are planning to open a show in a closed gallery, with no one there to view it, but we will just have to wait and see how this all plays out.  For now, just keep in mind that the meeting Luann and I have been planning has always, and will always, revolve around “Dare to Know” (which will cover the years from roughly 1700 through 1830).  Without this exhibition, we really don’t have a meeting to offer you.

This is not just any ordinary museum exhibition.  In addition to sets, boards, books and other artifacts from our own collection, other contributors to "Dare to Know" are scheduled to include the following:

Collection of Dr. George and Vivian Dean
Collection of Dr. Thomas Thomsen
Collection of Jon Crumiller
Collection of Phil Brykman
Collection of António Horta-Osório
Collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia

If all goes according to plan, there will be antique chess sets of truly global importance in this exhibition, particularly those from the Dean collection, many of which have never been exhibited before, anywhere.  The Library Company of Philadelphia is sending us the last known remnants of Wolfgang von Kempelen's Turk, the legendary chess automaton which debuted at the court of Empress Maria Theresa in 1770, and was destroyed in a museum fire in 1854.  The world-shaking Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert will be there (a set of the true first editions, 35 vols. published 1751-1780), along with a genuine Encyclopédie chess set to go with it.  And much, much more.

Assuming this Coronavirus pandemic does not result in the end of the world as we know it, we are bound and determined to present this historic exhibition to you at our earliest opportunity, which right now looks like it should be in early September.

Therefore, we hope you can keep your travel plans flexible and join us in St. Louis over Labor Day weekend.  For obvious reasons, our registration deadline (currently March 31) is hereby extended to the end of July.  If you have already registered for the May meeting and paid your fees, and you absolutely cannot attend the Labor Day postponement, just let us know, and we will have our Treasurer Bill Fordney issue you a full refund.  (If the meeting becomes impossible to hold at all due to global events, everyone who registered and paid fees will receive a full refund.)

As we are using a BCC format to comply with European privacy rules, may I please ask the following:
WEBMASTERS:  Please post this to CCI and all other related websites (GSM, Goddesschess, CH&LS, etc.).
NEWSLETTERS:  Jim and Duncan, please publish this in the next issues of The Chess Collector and CCI-USA.
MICHAEL WILTSHIRE:  Please forward this on to the European membership.  (You have my previous list of who these have already gone to.)

Please stay tuned for further updates as they occur.  And thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.  Stay safe and stay healthy!

Best Wishes,

Tom Gallegos &
Luann Woneis,


Monday, March 16, 2020

We Have a Coronavirus of Cheating in Chess. Geez Louise!

From The New York Times.

Think Cheating in Baseball is Bad?  Try Chess

Smartphones, buzzers, even yogurt - chess has nearly seen it all in both live and online tournaments.  And just as in baseball, technology only makes it harder to root out.

By David Waldstein
March 15, 2019

Until the sports world ground to a halt last week over the coronavirus outbreak, perhaps the biggest issue looming over professional sports in the United States was the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal. The revelations of their scheme led Major League Baseball’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, to deliver a stern warning to all 30 club owners that there was a “culture of cheating” in the game.

But baseball’s malfeasance — sign-stealing or otherwise — has nothing on chess. At prestigious live tournaments and among thousands of others playing daily online, cheating is a scourge.

Whether it’s a secret buzzer planted in a shoe, a smartphone smuggled into the bathroom, a particular flavor of yogurt delivered at a key moment — or just online players using computerized chess programs — chess has perhaps more cheating than any other game in the world.

"Of course it is a problem,” said Leinier Domínguez, the Cuban-born player currently ranked No. 1 in the United States. “Because with all the advances in technology, it’s always a possibility. People have more chances and opportunities to do this sort of thing."

In both chess and baseball, both real and rumored instances of cheating have been around for decades, but an explosion in technology and data over the past 10 to 15 years has made the problem much harder to curb for both.

The Astros’ scheme, which helped propel them to the 2017 World Series title, involved illegally deciphering the signs of opposing catchers via a live video feed and then banging on a trash can to signal the next pitch to the batter. M.L.B. is now grappling with how to prevent similar electronic-based schemes in the future.

In chess, players at live tournaments are now required to leave their phones behind and pass through metal detectors before entering the playing area. Some have even been asked to remove clothing and been searched. And some tournaments now put players behind one-way mirrors to limit visual communication.

But, like the Astros, many chess players still try.

Just last year, a grandmaster named Igors Rausis was caught examining a smartphone in a bathroom stall at a tournament in France. In 2015, Gaioz Nigalidze of Georgia was barred for three years by FIDE, chess’s global governing body, and had his grandmaster status revoked for the same offense.

FIDE’s anti-cheating commission has recently stepped up its efforts to combat the problem. The group met last month and resolved to give financial support to national federations that need it to help them root out cheating, and will share detection techniques with online chess platforms. They are currently investigating 20 cases.

"The cheaters have been winning for a long time,” Arkady Dvorkovich, the president of FIDE, said in a telephone interview from Moscow. “But in the last few months we showed our determination to fight it and I think people realize it is serious.’"

In 2013, Borislav Ivanov, a young player from Bulgaria, was essentially forced into retirement after he refused to take off his shoes to be searched for an electronic device that might be used to transmit signals to him. A device was never found — Ivanov reportedly refused to remove his shoes because, he claimed, his socks were too smelly — but he retired shortly after the tournament.

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