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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

"Cardinal Banana" - inadvertent damnatio memoriae?

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The above arch can be found in the Roman Forum. It celebrates the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta - at least it did at one time. Caracalla arranged for the name of Geta to be struck from all monuments and for his statues to be destroyed. This was known in ancient Rome as the damnatio memoriae. So the inscription the tourist sees appears as below:

Arch Sept inscription

The Rome Reborn website has a full transcription of the inscription and a translation which saves me from posting it all here. The fourth line probably read P(ublio) SEPTIMIO L(ucii) F(ilio) GETAE NOB(ilissimo) CAES(ari). This was scratched out and the words OPTIMIS FORTISSIMISQUE PRINCIPIBUS were substituted.

I well remember a sunny afternoon in Rome with Fr Reginald Foster gesturing to the arch and declaiming all this in ciceronian Latin. The reason I mention it now is because of an amusing mistake that the ever vigilant patrician of the Vaticanisti, Sandro Magister has spotted in the proceedings of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. The Most Rev Thomas Meram, the Chaldean Archbishop of Urmia, Bishop of Salmas Shahpour of the Chaldeans referred to a book written in 1979 by the "The late Papal Nuncio in Iran, Bugnini" Unfortunately, "Bugnini" has been rendered in various languages (including English and Italian) on the official Vatican website as "Banana".

Sandro Magister comments:
È come se Bugnini si sia procurato una tale “damnatio memoriae” da rendere impronunciabile persino il suo nome.

It is as if Bugnini has procured such a "damnatio memoriae" as to render even his name unpronounceable.
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