OT: Impoverished Zeitgeist (Couronne de la Vierge de Fourvière)
  • Back in 2017, someone stole an incredible crown from the Vierge de Fourvière in France. It was beautifully wrought in gold, with enamel inlays and studded with diamonds and other jewels. (You can see the original here: https://www.20minutes.fr/lyon/2067591-20170514-lyon-vole-couronne-vierge). According to that article, it had over 1,800 precious stones, and was worth over one million euros.

    The only reason this popped up on my radar, is that a recent video was published where the curators at Fourvière discussed the arrival of a new crown for Our Lady. I was stupefied by the remarks by the curator in this video. For those of you who speak French, you can view the video where they discuss the arrival of the new crown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u68rHo0-eow

    What absolutely stopped me dead in my tracks was the following frank assessment of the new crown:

    "[the artist] chose to make a crown drastically [plain/bare/uncluttered] because we are in the 21st century. We no longer have that mentality of the 19th century where nothing is beautiful enough for God; therefore it was necessary to add more and more things, of increasing preciousness and value... gold, precious stones, etc... That's no longer the mentality of the 21st century.

    Therefore we have a crown that is much simpler, designed in a medieval style, made of silver, which has no recourse to the one that preceded it."

    This just breaks my heart to hear: a perfectly frank acknowledgement that we no longer believe that we must offer the very best to God [and that's not a problem, apparently]. I think, too, of the very real missed opportunity offered to the current parishioners and pilgrims of that place, to make an offering of similar spiritual (read: sacrificial) value to that of their great grandparents. As Our Lord redeems all things, there was clearly an opportunity for acts of piety which have not existed for such a long time, owing to the preexistence of this treasured crown. But once again, the opportunity was squandered, just as it has been countless other times, such as whenever there is an opportunity to restore an old church, or build a new one, or even write new liturgical music.

    This got me thinking about the larger zeitgeist of modern catholicism, specifically piety and the sensus fidelium. I am rendered nauseous, half way around the world, by this woman's comments (made with a smile, I might add). I can only imagine how the faithful of that place must feel. (And I don't mean people who attend mass there... I mean the faithful.) This isn't a reflection on external æsthetics of the new crown, but rather the internal æsthetics apparently at the heart of modern catholicism.

    I suppose the moral of the story is that I've observed the same lukewarm attitude when it comes to liturgical music, that just about anything is perfectly acceptable, rather than those things which are tried and true, and are of greater artistic value, and which require greater resources and talent. I don't know how to fix this lukewarmness writ large, save to pray.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,478
    æsthetics apparently at the heart of modern catholicism


    æsthetics apparently at the heart of modernIST catholicism

    I am attaching another example of this modernist mindset that is much the same but assaults the spiritual riches and the oblique lack of concern for them thereof... this is the story of the Saint Christ. Most of you if not all of you will have ever heard of it.

    Thanked by 1Andris Amolins
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,278
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
    And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,690
    Are we similarly lukewarm about discarding Gounod in favor of the 'noble simplicity' of Tavener or revived plainchant? I'm unconvinced that copying the 1899 crown or exclusively using PD music is what God requires.
    Thanked by 1MarkS
  • francis
    Posts: 10,478
    Richard... it's not in the particulars, but in the essence of wayward balance that we speak about... to say the king no longer deserves the best of the best is the error that has corrupted. When you deprive the king of dignity, then the subjects are even moreso subject to any and all abuse, and the condition of showing respect to all is then withdrawn from the human race entirely. That is the wish and curse of demons.

    Gounod to Tavener is not the comparison... it is comparing the works of Gounod/Tavener to the works of Haugen/Haas that shows the degradation of noble man. Gounod and Tavener are like to precious and semi-precious in the (musical) crown... Haugen and Haas are just scoops of ice cream that melt and fade away in a single day in the noon time sun.

    I think the whole point of this modern thinking is an undercurrent that intends to level all. "No one and no thing is more significant than the other one or other thing. Everything is equal." Check out the latest thinking of Kanye about Hitler.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Richard, as I said above:
    This isn't a reflection on external æsthetics of the new crown, but rather the internal æsthetics apparently at the heart of modern catholicism.
    it’s not Gounod vs. Tavener… the “noble simplicity” of chant is also not what was striven at. (Especially considering that the Church herself explicitly teaches us that Chant is one of her greatest treasures… so returning to such simplicity is a good, not an impoverishment.) Had the crown, medieval style and all, been wrought in gold (or even simply gilded) and had the stones even been semi precious gems, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It was the fact that she explicitly stated that 21st century Catholics no longer hold to certain ideals held by our ancestors, and that has a direct, fruit-bearing effect on how the faith is lived. Lex credendi, lex labora, as it were.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,690
    You'll pardon me Serviam, but it does seem we're discussing aesthetics, and I tend to find the devil in the details. If we're just picking on the curator, I heard (with emphasis of my own):
    The Georgian artist Guji decided to create a modern crown, choosing to make a pared-down one, because we're in the 21c. We no longer have the mindset of the 19c where, since nothing is good enough for God, it is thought necessary to add more and more precious items, gold, gems, &c. This no longer the case in the 21c, hence a pared-down crown of mediaeval form in silver with no resemblance to the old one. The commission was not for a copy of an antique, but a crown for today's believers.

    [Goudji, l’artiste géorgien, a décidé créer une couronne moderne.
    Il a choisi de la faire beaucoup plus dépouillée parce qu’on est au XXIe siècle. On n’a plus cette mentalité du XIXe siècle où rien n’état assez beau pour Dieu; donc il falait rajouter des choses de plus en plus précieuses, de l’or, des pierres, etcetera… Ce n’est plus la mentalité du XXIe siècle: donc on a une couronne qui est plus dépouillée, qui et d’une structure médiévale et qui est en argent, rien à voir avec l’ancienne. L’enjeu n’était pas de faire une copie, vouloir reproduire un truc ancien; l’enjeu était de faire une couronne pour le croyants d’aujourd’hui.]

    Maybe I'm in a charitable mood, but this seems pretty tame next to Adolf Loos' 1910 take on superfluous Schnörkel. It seems to me they in fact ended up with two crowns since a copy of the 1899 crown was also displayed: do we know for a fact the faithful would have come up with a million to make yet another of real gold?

    For this Thursday I'd planned KV 273, then heard our violinist fell and sprained both wrists. Plan B is to sing Hassler's Dixit Maria, and I remind myself that no one will be spiritually deprived in the least. I guess what got my fingers twitching was your seeming insistence on that "which require greater resources and talent": I imagine we're agreed Verdi's Requiem isn't necessarily any better than Mozart's.
  • On n’a plus cette mentalité du XIXe siècle rien n’état assez beau pour Dieu;
    While I heard what your transcription accurately describes, I suppose we disagree on the translation of 'où'. In my book that means "where" not "since" and that changes the tenor of that phrase pretty substantially.

    She is describing a mentalité that existed in the past (ie-that previous generations believed that nothing could be considered too good for God) not making her own empirical judgement in the present tense that "since nothing is good enough for God...[therefore this is perfectly acceptable]".

    You'll also note that the copy of the original was essentially just for scale purposes, and was not actually wrought of precious metals, did not have the enamels or jewels replaced either. It was clearly a stop-gap crown until the new one made of silver arrived, hence all the attention. There would have been no need for the new crown of silver had a replica already been made to parity with the original.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,690
    Of course 'où' by itself is 'where' but 'où … donc' is indeed a different tenor.
  • Where[by]… therefore. And Donc is used twice, the second time, divorced from où.

    Well, we don’t need to turn this into a French grammar lesson. Suffice to say, we disagree here. While I’ll concede that my French isn’t what it used to be, I did live in France for a while, and I do not believe my ears are failing me, alas.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 529
    Not sure where it is written that the Virgin is displeased with any object not fashioned according to 19th-century neo-Gothic standards? The new crown is very imposing, and for me, at least, far more interesting (what does it mean for me, for the world, that Mary reigns as Queen right now, in 2022?) than if it had been a 21c imitation of a 19c imitation of a 10c crown.
    Thanked by 2GerardH a_f_hawkins
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,278
    The 19th century crown was not gracing the statue of the Virgin, it was in a museum case! Although I cannot see it stated I imagine the older crown in the video was a non-precious replica placed on the statue. If the new crown goes on the statue that will be a visual improvement, none of the detail on the 19th century crown would have been visible from ground level.
  • Boy this conversation took a turn. We’re missing the forest for the trees. I have specifically stated, twice, that my concern was not with the aesthetics of the crown itself, but rather the comments about how/why the new crown came to be.

    And AF, the detail wasn’t for us! It was for Our Lady!
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • I think Serviam is perfectly justified in being concerned about the general idea of "we don't do that anymore" which seems to be so common these days. It's certainly been a destructive force as far as the Church and culture are concerned.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,478
    And now you could transfer the same thinking to the realm of music and guess what you get?
  • Precisely.

    Put it together and what have you got? Bippity-boppity-POO.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,278
    Yes I agree - nothing is beautiful enough for God - remains true, but the 19th century crown was no longer in use as a crown honouring the Blessed Mother of God, it was displayed in a museum case. The crown in use was, judging from the video, about the cheapest visual representation that would look convincing at a distance.
    As to offering only The best to God or to His Blessed Mother, I don't think we can judge the best. I should offer my best as an artist, craftsman or musician. For music we are fortunate in having guidelines from the Church, the other arts lack such criteria. The question of who pays for the skill and time is a complex one involving filthy lucre.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,690
    Who exactly said "we don't do that any more"? The only disagreement I see is whether "That's no longer the mentality of the 21st century" has as antecedent 'nothing is beautiful enough for God' or 'it is necessary to add more and more precious things'.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,478
    hmmm..... more of the same abominable whitewashing of the Christ and his Kingdom?

  • Yes.