Because Catholic traditionalism isn’t traditional enough

2 10 2008

Forty days before the Monday after Pentecost, a pure white plough ox was released from all work and trained for the festa. The training consisted in training the ox to “genuflect” in response to the pressure on his neck and accustoming him to bear the weight of a young child. On Pentecost Sunday, the ox – accompanied by the crowd- was brought into the church of San Pietro… and was made to genuflect before San Zopito’s statue.

At some point, of course, the ox would defectate. This usually happened during the procession but would sometimes occur while the ox was still in the church. It was commonly believed that the abundance of the next harvest would depend on the amount of manure evacuated.

-Michael P. Carroll, Madonnas that Maim: Popular Catholicism in Italy Since the Fifteenth Century

Because nothing says tradition more than your livestock crapping on the floor of a church…

All I have to say is Clown Mass, eat your heart out!



3 responses

16 11 2009
On the margins of theology – IV « Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity

[…] outsider. But even if he was a dog, with a religion with talking asses and miraculous white oxen, one could say without any hint of jest: stranger things have […]

4 10 2008

A genuflecting ox isn’t that bad; if ever living thing is to bow down at the name of Jesus Christ, why can’t an ox do so too? Although, the ox in question probably wasn’t too thrilled at being trained to do so…

The Church in America has always been associated with urban culture, so a festival like this wouldn’t have been feasible even 100-150 years ago. Do you know if any folk Catholic customs arose in the US (outside of Louisiana) in an organic fashion or where they all borrowed from Europe?

3 10 2008

Heh. I like it!

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