"Buona Pasqua!" Welcome to the only newsletter that would have convinced Mark Antony that Cleopatra was a real pig, "Only In Italy!"
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Rome - March 3, 2008 - The remains of Padre Pio, a hugely popular Italian saint whose body is due to go on public display later this year, have been exhumed, officials said Monday.
Bishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, a Vatican-appointed envoy who oversaw the unearthing Sunday night, said the body had been well preserved.
Padre Pio, a mystic Capuchin monk who had an enormous following in Italy and abroad, died in 1968 after living for decades with inexplicable, bleeding wounds on his hands and feet, like the wounds Jesus suffered at crucifixion. Pope John Paul II made him a saint in 2002.
Church officials wanted to exhume the body so the faithful can pray before it this year, the 40th anniversary of his death. They also wanted to take measures to ensure it was well preserved.
D'Ambrosio said there was no sign of the so-called stigmata on his limbs after an initial examination Sunday and Monday. But otherwise, the body had been "conserved well," he said.
"Padre Pio's fingernails are as if he had just had a manicure," D'Ambrosio said.
Padre Pio had a huge public following in life as in death, and his beatification and canonization ceremonies drew hundreds of thousands of people to the Vatican.
For decades, though, many in the Vatican were made uneasy by his popularity and had scorned him, doubting that his inexplicable wounds were real and that his mystical virtues were authentic. He was banned for years from saying Mass in public even as his following grew immensely.
Padre Pio's body will go on display starting in mid-April in San Giovanni Rotondo, a town near the Adriatic in southern Puglia, where he lived."Perchè, perchè, perchè?" One hopes the real reason behind the exhumation was NOT for exploitation by the Vatican.
Monsignor Domenico D'Ambrosio, Archbishop of Manfredonia, said the Capuchin friar's body had been exhumed "to check on its state and to carry out all the necessary work to guarantee the best conditions for its conservation."
The exhumation was approved by that Vatican however, there was opposition from some of the saint's most faithful followers. Even Padre Pio's relatives had threatened to take Archbishop Domenico to court if the corpse was exhumed, and a group of devotees had also threatened legal action.
Padre Pio acquired deserved fame as a miracle worker (credited with over a thousand miraculous cures) and was purported to have the gift of reading souls. He is alleged to have been able to bilocate (be physically present in two places at once).
Of course, his fame had the negative side effect that accusations against him made their way to the Holy Office in Rome. His accusers included high-ranking archbishops with bloated egos, bored bishops, incredibly interesting theologians and physicians with too much free time.
They brought several accusations against him including: insanity, immoral attitude towards women (claims that he had intercourse with women in the confessional); misuse of funds, and deception (claims that the stigmata were induced with acid in order to gain fame, and that the reported odor of sanctity around him being the result of self-administered eau-de-cologne).
And by shocking surprise Padre Pio was even accused as being a political agitator that supported local fascist groups in early 1920s. Mob expeditions of a so-called "Arditi di Cristo", Christ's Daring Men, acted against peasants and citizens of San Giovanni Rotondo, after a voting victory of Socialist Italian Party. It's reported that 20 people were killed and hundreds wounded.
The stupendously stupid founder of Rome's Catholic university hospital concluded Padre Pio was "an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people's credulity."
Padre Pio was subject to numerous investigations. In the period from 1924 to 1931 the Vatican made several statements denying that the occurrences in the life of Padre Pio were due to any divine cause. At one point, he was prevented from performing all his priestly duties (such as hearing confessions), except for saying Mass, and even that was to be done in private.
In 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, to be named the "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza" or "Home to Relieve Suffering". Padre Pio's detractors used this project as another weapon to attack him, charging him with misappropriation of funds. When it seemed to the public that Padre Pio would be forever in public disgrace, it was Pope Paul VI who, in the mid 1960s, firmly dismissed all accusations against Padre Pio.
Pope John Paul II declared Padre Pio a saint in 2002.
Rome - March 3, 2008 - From the "No Garbage" party, to the "Don't row against the tide" party, to "Dr. Cirillo's party of existentialist impotents", there will be something for everyone in Italy's general election in April.
177 symbols of political parties, movements, lists, sub-lists, sub-parties and a myriad of other groupings were presented to the Interior Ministry by Sunday's deadline.
Amid the usual forest of symbols with shields and crosses, flags, hammers and sickles, doves, suns, trees and seas, there are some symbols that raise eyebrows more than normal.
The symbol of the "No Monnezza" list takes its name from the Neapolitan slang for "no garbage," and is a sub list of an "animal rights" party of the southern Campania region. The region has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. Its governor will stand trial in May in connection with the garbage crisis around the city of Naples, where tens of thousands of tonnes of rubbish have piled up in the streets.
There is the "Holy Roman Empire" list, which describes itself as "Liberal-Catholic". The symbol sports the picture of its founder, Mirella Cece, who started the group 21 years ago.
The symbol for "Dr. Cirillo's party of existentialist impotents" (black lettering on a plain white background) gives no hint of whether the good doctor is referring to political or sexual impotence. It is symbol number 132. Dr. Cirillo appears to be a budding political mover and shaker in constant evolution. In past elections, he led the "Good Manners Party" and the "Free Condoms Party".
The hammer and sickle may be disappearing in Russia but no fewer than eight symbols sport it. The one with the longest name is "The Italian Communist Marxist Leninist Party".
Nearly 25 parties made it into the outgoing parliament, where small splinter groupings can often have a disproportionate influence on Italy's coalition politics.
Three parties descended from the now defunct Christian Democrats have symbols with a shield and cross, five far-right parties have a tri-colored flame that was once the symbol of neo-fascists.
There is a florist's shop of roses, carnations, and ivy decorating various symbols.
Those who feel that Italy is in dire economic straits and mired in social stagnation may be drawn to the "S.O.S. Italy Party," which has aligned itself with the center right headed by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The name of Beppe Grillo, a popular comic crusader who has urged Italians to say "F... off" to traditional politics, appears on six symbols, including one saying he should be prime minister and not front runners Berlusconi and Walter Veltroni.
Amid all the noise and haste of large parties, tiny parties, Sicilian and Sardinian separatists, rightists, leftists, and middle-of-the-roaders, perhaps one party will sound seductive to many.
Its symbol merely says: "I don't vote".
Naples - February 29, 2008 - Coffins and hearses ringed Naples town hall on Friday in a protest against problems at the southern city's cemeteries. Center-right opposition politicians, who led the protest, claimed that the city's graveyards had all but ground to a halt.
"Soon there won't be any graves left to put the bodies," said Andrea Santoro of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party.
Santoro said long delays meant that people were being put into "improvised" graves.
"Before long it will be completely impossible to bury the 60 or so bodies which are the city's daily average," he claimed.
Naples council is meeting to address the cemeteries problem, which comes on top of a severe trash crisis in the city and the surrounding Campania region. The PDL has proposed opening a commission of inquiry into the graveyard woes and setting up a 'guarantor of rights for the deceased'.
"Porca di quella vacca! Non finisce mai..." It never ends...
Poor Naples. It's not even a part of Italy anymore.
How angry would you be if you were from Naples?
And what the hell is an "improvised" grave?