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The Not-So-Hidden Secret of the Wedding at Cana

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Giotto and the secret of the Marriage at Cana. By Massimo Introvigne In these times, in which we are talking again about Dan Brown, it is worth remembering that, besides the nonsense of the American novelist, Christian art and literature are filled with symbols, secrets and mysteries. Sometimes, in a symbolic way, works of art provide an explanation of the truth of faith according to codes that we have now lost but were understandable to the people who lived at the time of the artists; and sometimes they reveal legends, which are not the truth of the faith — and often they’re not even true — but, compared to Dan Brown, they have at least the merit of a long tradition. An interesting example is the panel of the Wedding at Cana, from the series of frescoes by the Italian painter Giotto (ca.1267-1337) in the Scrovegni's Chapel in Padua, Italy. It is a series of frescoes that we all presumed to know, but which turned out to be an inexhaustible mine of hidde

The St. Petersburg Ecumenical Council.

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When Salvador Dalí painted Vatican II.   By Massimo Introvigne. (Translated from Italian by L. Pavese). I was in St. Petersburg, Florida (U.S.A.) for a convention, and I had the opportunity to visit the new futuristic venue of the Dalí Museum , designed by Yann Weymouth. Actually, the fantastic shape of the building probably functions to protect the museum from the frequent hurricanes, since it is built dangerously close to the ocean. Other than the artist’s collection in his house-turned-museum in Figueres, Catalonia, St. Petersburg’s is the largest collection of works by Salvador Dalí in the world - 96 oil paintings, sculptures and various other objects. The collection, which belonged to plastics magnate and Dalí’s friend, Albert Reynolds Morse (1914-2000), arrived in Florida in 1982 when the billionaire, hounded by tax collectors, was forced to dispose of it. The new museum was inaugurated in 2011. The great merit of the St. Petersburg’s museum consists in presen

When Buddhists engaged

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      Although the recent  opening of the first pontifical university in Vietnam is certainly a reason for hope, the Indochinese people's republic remains a country where Catholics are not free to practice their religion, and are subject to many restrictions imposed by the state. A new  religious practices act, that hopefully won't be even more oppressive, is due in 2016; but since the reunification of the country under Communist rule in 1975, the law has required  religious groups to obtain a government permission to gather, and forced Catholic priests to undergo state reeducation programs. Of course, that hasn't always been the case. From the end of the 19th century to 1940, when the Japanese occupied the region, French Indochina, even though it was ruled by the enfants of the Revolution,  had actually been  a Catholic bastion  in the continent; and after the war the short lived Republic of South Vietnam was home to a great number of devout Catholics. Many, and t