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Brazil 0, Glasgow 1.



     The unending scenes of Brazilian girls jumping up and down on Brazilian beaches while young men banged on drums were an extraordinary display of mass hysteria. In Bahia, at the mother of all carnivals, an odd scene took place. For the first time Ash Wednesday was mentioned, indicating the religious origin of carnival. Someone must have been sad that it had been forgotten and proposed that a religious song be introduced into the musical repertoire. The boss of the carnival rejected the proposal, saying that religion had no place in carnival. Two black priests were interviewed in their cloister. One was saddened by the refusal, while the other still held out hopes that it would be reversed. It was not clear if the proposal came from evangelical sects, which are sharp critics of the paganization of religion.
     Meanwhile another major item of TV news from Brazil was the desperate plight of hospitals. Some are in danger of being closed, and all are miserably underequipped and understaffed. Their plight has been aggravated by the economic crisis. The mass of beach jumpers have their priorities all wrong.
     Carnival was taking hold in Spain's impoverished Andalucia. A man was stabbed to death in Loja, presumably part of the fun. Of course, this is small change in comparison with number of similar events in Brazil's carnival.
     Meanwhile in Glasgow, Scotland an extraordinary scene was taking place. A Catholic Church there produced the alleged bones of St. Valentine. They were placed in a shrine, and couples attended a service in his honor.
     It was reported that in the nineteenth century a French family had donated them to the church to save them from anticlerical mobs. This gives rise to the old question of the authenticity of relics. Those of St. James in Santiago de Campostela have a legendary origin, but the Church prefers to let sleeping relics lie. That there were two St. Valentines is part of the puzzle. In his great work The Epic Legends, Joseph Bedier maintains that the relics in the churches along the Road to Santiago were promotional inventions of the clergy. Is it a coincidence that the relics of St. Valentine in Glasgow were given this new honor at a time when American-style Valentine's Day is being introduced in Europe? The shrine should attract loving contributions. Presumably the men will not want to appear niggardly in front of their beloved, especially of they are contemplating holy matrimony.

Ronald Hilton - 02/15/99


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