Monday, 3 November 2008


The coronation of Blessed Pope John XXIII took place fifty years ago today, on November 4th 1958, the feast of St Charles Borromeo. It seems a good opportunity to post, together with comments, in one place the videos which were placed on on You Tube about 18 months ago. These had originally appeared on my main blog, Valle Adurni, but various vicissitudes had led to their removal. Today seems a good day to put them back again, though this time I am starting a new blog to do it, which seems more sensible, since I'm sure nobody wants to wade through pages of my nonsense to find this more interesting stuff.
These videos were painstakingly gathered from a VHS video obtained by a friend from some obscure Italian noble who had advertised them. Clearly they are a recording of the RAI (Italian television network) production and so, in the standard of that day, the production is not terribly good.
Before anyone asks me—and plenty have—I'm afraid I am not prepared to go into production and post copies of this all over the world. It is mostly a question of time: though I have rendered the Video onto two DVDs, I can only copy one at a time, and I am far too busy to be able to sit over this. I am likewise not prepared to let my own copy out of my hands! My original copy of the video was lent to somebody. Not returned. Three video copies of that, likewise. And this YouTube version is made from my last remaining video, a truncated copy of my copy of my friend's copy of the Italian nob's copy of the Rai original. Which accounts for the fact that the quality is even less good than it might have been.

That all being said, what remains is an extraordinary treasure. This ceremony has now been entirely abandoned, and who knows if it will ever be revived. If there is to be a revival, it is highly unlikely that it will take place in the renaissance splendour shown on that day in 1958. Although Bd Pope John's successor, Paul VI, was crowned, this took place in a changed way which shows that from the word go, there was a lot of liturgical tinkering to be expected in that pontificate. Bd John's coronation, then, was the last to take place in its unchanged form—the commentator at one point observes that the rite was essentially unchanged for a millennium.

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