Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Dog Day of Summer

We recall a very dear saint today, known to many as the great big rescue dog who frequents ski resorts and carries a little keg of something good to drink fastened around his neck. Of course this is Saint Bernard (no, not St. Dominic... there's that Latin pun again!)

St. Bernard is important to some of us because of the curious ancient book of his letters, printed in 1494, that Weaver's books was selling for 10 grand or so. (Oops, sorry, I meant Loome Books.) It will appear again in a story you may wish to read. Stay tuned.

St. Bernard (ca. 1090-1153) is called the "Mellifluous Doctor" (the teacher flowing with honey) and "Thaumaturgus of the West" (a miracle-worker) and also "the last of the Fathers".... Catholics recall him as the author of the tender "Memorare":
Remember, o most compassionate Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy assistance,
or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto thee,
O virgin of virgins, our mother!
To thee to we cry, before thee we kneel, sinful and sorrowful.
O mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions,
but in thy clemency, hear and answer them. Amen.
A rich and complex prayer, a powerful source of inspiring ideas - and yet simple and childlike! After all, ever since that wedding at Cana, she's been busy assisting and interceding...

I was going to see whether GKC talked about him, and ran into the famous problem... remember that GKC usually called his friend GBS "Bernard Shaw" - so I hit a terrible number of Shaw references. (I imagine GBS laughing wholeheartedly at this confusion of him with Dr. B.) But with a bit of automata theory to help me, I found that GKC did mention Dr. B. - for example:
Early mediaeval history, and even early English history, offers us
more than one man of the militant type of the Conqueror. There were Henry of Anjou and the Plantagenets, for instance, who came out of the very heart of France and displayed a good deal of energy. Indeed, they displayed so much energy that St. Bernard (I regret to say) addressed to them the gratuitous information: "From the Devil you came and to the Devil you will go." But even when St. Bernard said they came from the Devil, he never went so far as to say they came from the Nordic Race.
[GKC ILN July 16 1927 CW34:344-5]
Or this curious insightful aside:
Dante, for instance, most certainly had a profound sense of a
human character, in the deeper sense of a human soul. I think it probable that it was this sense of individuality in Dante that so profoundly attracted Chaucer; and made Chaucer, with an insight remarkable at the time, prefer the bitter exile of Ravenna to the resplendent Loureate of Rome. But even the case of Dante does not meet the particular point I mean. The reason is not merely that Dante could not, by the very nature of his work and plan, develop the delicate and light comedy in consideration here. Nobody would expect to find the joke about the Franklin and the Squire cheerfully introduced into the Circle of Ice or mentioned in passing by St. Bernard when discoursing on the Beatific Vision.
[GKC Chaucer CW18:283]
There is another curious excerpt, but I think I shall save that for tomorrow's ACS article.

This mention of Mary, and assistance, and dogs, reminds me that I have just posted the next chapter of my story, in which Joe gets to meet dear little Jody Reamur, five-year-old daughter of Roberson Reamur, owner of Reamur Automotive:

(I am sorry to say that I am not very happy with this illustration. The artist was told she's supposed to look like Shirley Temple, but with darker hair - he's been very difficult to work with. Ahem.)

No, Jody does not sell Joe that car. (If you want to know what's going on, you will have to read the chapter!) For such a young child, she's been in the hospital almost as much time as she's been out - a very sad and difficult case. We shall see her again...


At 21 August, 2008 19:07, Blogger Maureen said...

Since the abbey at St. Bernard Pass is older than St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the dogs aren't named after my favorite French rabblerouser. (I've forgiven him for his book about Ireland. He meant well.)

St. Bernards are apparently named after St. Bernard of Menthon, who ran away to become a monk, the day before his (arranged) marriage, and ended up evangelizing folks up in the wayback hollers of the Alps.


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