|Magi bear gifts to an infant Jesus in one of the earliest known depictions. 3rd Century Sarcophagus, Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy|
|Befana in Rome|
Christian legend had it that Befana was approached by the biblical magi, also known as the Three Wise Men (or the three kings) a few days before the birth of the Infant Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy (“caramelle”) or fruit, while the bad children get coal (“carbone”), onions or garlic.
And here in Venice, the holiday has added a watery element that I have written about many times before, starting back in 2009:
In Venice, the holiday has morphed into something truly unique. During the Regata delle Befane, male Venetian rowers dress in drag as female witches, and have a little regata, or race.
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It's strange, isn't it, that for more than two thousand years we still celebrate the birth of the controversial figure named Jesus Christ, a being who gave this planet a message of compassion, love, hope and redemption.
|Noli me tangere - Titian 1514|
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be satisfied. Matthew 5:10
Here is an interesting article by Matt Kettman from the December 20, 2012 Santa Barbara Independent entitled Christ the Activist regarding "Jean-Pierre Isbouts, a professor at Santa Barbara’s Fielding Graduate University whose new tome, In the Footsteps of Jesus: A Chronicle of His Life and the Origins of Christianity, was released last month by National Geographic Books."
|Sermon on the Mount by Henrik Olrik|
Ciao from Venice,
Ciao from Venice,