The Catholic Church held what is being termed as the first online pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. Earlier this spring, for the first time in its 162-year existence the shrine was closed as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
This online pilgrimage included many elements of the actual journey such as traditional prayers and communion, but recreated for a virtual experience. Prayers and services were offered in both English and Spanish. Participants were shown scenes of the healing waters, taken on a virtual tour of the cave and heard music that is part of the normal, in-person experience.
As a scholar of the Bible, Judaism and Christianity, I know the importance of pilgrimages. But rituals have often been adapted in the face of difficult circumstances.
The pilgrimage of Lourdes
In 1858, 14-year old Bernadette Soubirous, the oldest of nine children born to a local miller and laundrywoman in southwestern France, claimed to have had a series of visitations of an apparition of a woman in a cave in Lourdes.
Four years later, in 1862, local Catholic authorities confirmed that the visions were of the Virgin Mary. The confirmation process was based on both interviews with Soubirous as well as through the investigation of events at the grotto that were deemed miraculous.
Ever since, the site has been a pivotal place for pilgrimage rites, particularly on July 16, commemorating the last visitation of Mary to Soubirous.
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Some of these rites involve immersion in, or drinking from, waters in Lourdes, which are believed to hold healing powers. In 1879, a woman from the United States named Mary Hayes, who suffered from severe headaches, wrote a letter to Father Alexis Granger about the healing powers of the water.
Granger was originally from France but at that time was the pastor of the Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame. He had given Hayes some of the water from Lourdes to help with her ailments. Hayes reported that the healing waters of Lourdes had a restorative effect, stating that “I have more faith in” the waters “than in all the doctors of the world.”
As rumors of healing miracles at the pools of the grotto in Lourdes became more numerous in the 19th century, the pilgrimages every July to commemorate the appearance of Mary to Soubirous became much more important in Catholic religious practice.
Importance of pilgrimage
During a pilgrimage, people visit a place, often where a significant religious event occurred. According to the Bible, locations where God appeared to humans could become special sites where regular pilgrimages could happen.
For example, the book of Deuteronomy, part of the Bible called the Torah and traditionally believed to have been written by Moses, commands ancient Israelites to come three times in a year to the place where God “causes his name to dwell,” thought to be Jerusalem.
The significance of this pilgrimage clearly played an important role in ancient Israelite religion. Archaeological excavations have revealed ancient routes attesting to journeys of pilgrims to Jerusalem. Parts of the book of the Psalms in the Bible may also have been ancient songs, called “psalms of ascent,” that pilgrims sung on their routes.
While most translations of the book of Deuteronomy indicate that pilgrims “appear before the Lord,” evidence exists that the original text suggests that pilgrims would actually see God.
Deuteronomy makes it clear that such visitations to the holy site will bring tangible benefits in agricultural produce.
Pilgrimage in Christianity
Despite the mandate in the Bible for pilgrimage, such journeys had limited value in the earliest centuries of Christianity. For many Christians during this time, physical places like Jerusalem were more valuable as spiritual concepts than actual destinations for pilgrims.
Karen Armstrong, author of many books on religion and history, observes that Origen, a third century A.D. Christian scholar, visited Jerusalem and its environs in order to understand where certain events in the Bible occurred.
Such a visit, however, was not a pilgrimage, and, according to Armstrong, Origen “certainly did not expect to get a spiritual experience by visiting a mere geographical location, however august its associations.”
His mother Helena visited Jerusalem and Israel, following the footsteps of the life, trial and death of Jesus.
It was a general belief in the ancient world that anywhere God or a divine emissary made themselves visible to humans could become a holy space. Materials from such divine visitation could become holy relics around which stories of miracles and shrines, objects of pilgrimage destinations, could be constructed.
Martin of Tours, a prominent figure in Christian monasticism in the sixth century A.D., saw a destitute man and, remembering Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew that caring for the poor is like caring for God, Martin gave the poor man his cloak.
The destitute man revealed himself to be Jesus himself, and portions of that “little cloak,” or capella in Latin, were housed in small churches. The origins of the word “chapel” was derived from capella – spaces that, at least in some cases, would become destinations for pilgrimages.
Pilgrimage during time of pandemic
While pilgrimage has a long history, such practice can adapt to changing circumstances.
The Bible, in the Old Testament book of Leviticus chapters 13 and 14, requires that individuals showing evidence of exposure to a highly infectious skin disease are required to be separated from the larger community.
This passage provides the platform for the belief that quarantine is necessary during the outbreak of an infectious disease. As such, for many priests and pastors these chapters allow a biblical warrant for innovation.
Indeed, for many years, the healing waters of Lourdes have been packaged and distributed worldwide for those who can’t go on the pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage undoubtedly remains an important journey for many Christians, even when taken online. It attests to transformations of the ritual in the face of difficult circumstances. In fact, social media estimated that participation was five times greater than normal viewership in a pilgrimage.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions to many religious activities. But the adaptations to the pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2020 show that adaptation and innovation can play a key role in observing rituals.
Samuel L. Boyd ne travaille pas, ne conseille pas, ne possède pas de parts, ne reçoit pas de fonds d'une organisation qui pourrait tirer profit de cet article, et n'a déclaré aucune autre affiliation que son poste universitaire.
GBP/USD extends losses on mixed UK data
UK retail sales improve, PMIs remain in contraction The British pound is in negative territory after two days of losses. In the European session, GBP/USD…
- UK retail sales improve, PMIs remain in contraction
The British pound is in negative territory after two days of losses. In the European session, GBP/USD is trading at 1.2245, down 0.40%. The struggling pound is down 1.1% this week and is trading at its lowest levels since late March.
UK retail sales improve, PMIs mixed
It is a busy day on the data calendar for UK releases. Retail sales rose in August by 0.4% m/m, following a 1.1% decline in July and was just shy of the market consensus of 0.5%. The sharp decline in July was largely due to unusually wet weather. On an annual basis, retail sales fell by 1.4%, compared to -3.1% in July. Consumer spending has been in a nasty rut, as annualized retail sales have now declined for 17 straight months. The silver lining was that the -1.4% drop marked the slowest pace of contraction in the current streak.
The September PMIs were a mixed bag. The Services PMI slowed to 47.2 in September, down from 49.5 in August and missing the consensus estimate of 49.2. This marked a second straight deceleration and the sharpest contraction since January 2021. The Manufacturing PMI increased to 44.2 in September, up from 43.0 in August and above the consensus estimate of 43.0.
The decline in activity in both services and manufacturing points to a UK economy that continues to cool. The Bank of England, which held interest rates on Thursday, will be hoping that the slowdown translates into lower inflation and that it can continue to hold interest rates.
UK consumer confidence remains low, but there was a bit of an improvement in September. The GfK consumer confidence index rose to -21, up from -25 in August and beating the consensus estimate of -27. This was the highest reading since January 2022, but the economy has a long way to go before consumers show optimism about the economic outlook.
- GBP/USD is testing support at 1.2267. The next support level is 1.2156
- There is resistance at 1.2325 and 1.2436
“Go To Hell”: Brave EU Politician Delivers Damning Message To Global Tyrants
"Go To Hell": Brave EU Politician Delivers Damning Message To Global Tyrants
Via The Vigilant Fox,
Member of the European Parliament Christine…
Member of the European Parliament Christine Anderson has been an unyielding opponent to Klaus Schwab’s ‘Great Reset’ Agenda. Known best for her famous smackdown on Justin Trudeau, MEP Anderson has established herself as one of the few politicians left who represent the interests of the European people.
September 13 was no different as MEP Anderson took no prisoners in her latest warning to the globalitarian elite. Before the European Parliament, in a session specifically focused on the COVID-19 response and the World Health Organization, MEP Anderson ended the meeting with a powerful statement.
Here’s what she said, word for word:
‘Go to Hell’: MEP Christine Anderson Delivers Damning Message to the Global Tyrants— The Vigilant Fox ???? (@VigilantFox) September 21, 2023
“If you do not unequivocally stand with the people ... you have no place in any parliament or in any government. You belong behind bars. You may even rot in hell for all I care at this point… pic.twitter.com/4sOVrr9CgC
“We just need to find a way to wake the people up. Because the point is simply this: it comes down to a choice. It’s either freedom, democracy, and the rule of law — or enslavement.
“There is no such thing in between. There is no such thing as a little freedom, a little democracy, a little rule of law, just as there is no such thing as a little enslavement. So that’s the choice. It comes down to – it’s either the globalitarian misanthropists or the people. It comes down to – it’s either us or them. And that’s, I think, what this really is all about.
“Now, when my colleagues and I were elected to this parliament, there was no question about it. We were on the side of the people because the people actually pay us to act in their best interests. That’s our job. And once again, I will say to every single elected representative around the world, to every single member in every elected government around the world, if you do not unequivocally stand with the people and serve in their best interests, act in their best interests, you have no place in any parliament or in any government. You belong behind bars. You may even rot in hell for all I care at this point because that’s exactly what you deserve if you sell out the people.”
MEP Anderson continued. “Now, I would like to make a promise to the people, and I’m pretty sure I can speak or speak on behalf of my colleagues. We will continue to stand with you, the people. We will continue to fight for freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. We will not shut up, and we will not stop going after those despicable globalitarian misanthropists.
“But we would also like to have you make a promise to us. You may have heard it’s all coming back. The first country is already starting [to talk about] mask mandates in Israel. They’re already imposing it. I’ve heard of a few universities in the United States. They’re already bringing it all back. And I would really like for you, the people, to not go along. Simply say no! They want you to wear a mask; say no. They want you to put in another mRNA shot; say no. They want to impose a curfew on you; say no. That’s really all you have to do.
“And it might not be or might sound a little hard, but it’s actually not that hard. Because once you have made it clear to them that you will no longer go along, once you’ve let them know, they cannot scare you anymore. Because as long as you are afraid of what they might do if you don’t comply, they have power over you. Take the power away from them! Simply say no. Once you do that, they don’t have power over you anymore. You will feel so free. Simply say no.
“And considering what we’ve heard today, and considering what we’ve seen in the last three years. Considering what we know they want to implement, heck, you might even be well within your right to tell them to screw themselves and go to hell! That’s where they belong. What will you get out of that? I can tell you. Once you’ve done that, once you’ve told them to just go to hell, they no longer have power over you. You will have an incredible feeling — kind of like a sensation of freedom will swap through your body. I promise you will feel so relieved.
“And this is the state of mind that I would ask all of you to get to. Simply don’t let them grind you down anymore. You are worth it. You are deserving of just standing up for yourselves. And tell them all to go to hell. Thank you very much.”
* * *
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Yen Drops After BOJ Does Nothing and Says Little
Overview: The BOJ’s failure to do anything or
further ideas that an exit of the negative target rate, despite the firm CPI
report helped the dollar…
Overview: The BOJ's failure to do anything or further ideas that an exit of the negative target rate, despite the firm CPI report helped the dollar recover the ground lost yesterday against the yen. The focus has returned to "intervention watch" and the market continues to press for the official pain threshold. Sterling is the weakest of the G10 currencies, off another 0.5% today following the BOE's decision not to hike yesterday. The dollar-bloc currencies enjoy a firmer tone. Emerging market currencies are mostly firmer, including the Chinese yuan.
Reports that Beijing is considering reducing some capital controls helped lift Chinese and Hong Kong equities today. Taiwan and Australian equities also advanced, while the other large bourses headed south. Europe's Stoxx 600 is extending yesterday's 1.3% drop, while US index futures are slightly higher. Yesterday's 1.6% drop in the S&P was the largest drop in six months and it was unable to recover from the gap lower opening. That gap (~4375-4401) has technical significance. European bond yields are narrowly mixed, but UK Gilts continue to rally. The US 10-year Treasury yield is slightly softer near 4.48%. Gold has come back firmer after falling more than 0.5% yesterday (its largest loss in around three weeks) and is near the 200-day moving average ($1925). November WTI has steadied and looks to snap a three-day decline. It is back above $90 a barrel and looks poised to settled higher for the fourth consecutive week.
The Bank of Japan did not change its stance, and Governor Ueda gave little hint that a change in rates is possible before the end of the year, as he did earlier this month. Indeed, he suggested those remarks were intended simply to keep the BOJ options open. The dollar, which had fallen to around JPY147.30 yesterday recovered to back toward the recent highs near JPY148.40. Japanese officials underscored they are prepared to counter excessive fx moves.
Before the BOJ's meeting concluded, Japan reported August CPI figures, which were largely anticipated by the Tokyo CPI previously reported came in a little firmer. The headline rate slipped to 3.2% from 3.3%. The core rates were unchanged. Excluding fresh food, Japan's CPI remained at 3.1% and the measure excluding both fresh food and energy stayed at the cyclical high of 4.3%. Separately, the flash PMI came in softer. The manufacturing PMI eased to 48.6 from 49.6 and the services PMI stands at 53.3, down from 54.3. This saw the composite fall to 51.8 from 52.6. Lastly after buying the most foreign bonds since 2020 in the week ending September 8 (~JPY3.6 trillion or ~$24.5 bln), Japanese investors bought another JPY885.5 bln. Meanwhile, while foreign investors bought JPY438 bln of Japanese bonds, they dumped JPY1.58 trillion of Japanese stocks, most in four years.
Australia's flash PMI showed the service sector grew (50.5 vs. 47.8), while the manufacturing sector slump deepened (48.2 vs. 49.6). Manufacturing new orders were the weakest since May 2020. The composite rose above 50 (to 50.2 from 48.0) for the first time in three months. The central bank meets on October 3 and the market sees practically no chance of a change in rates.
Yesterday, the dollar traded on both sides of Wednesday's range but the close was within the range, which removed much of the technical significance of the outside day. The broad range may be best explained by short covering of the yen ahead of the BOJ meeting. The dollar is trading back above JPY148.00 as the market continues to test the official resolve. The dollar settled near JPY147.85 last week and has only falling in one week since the end of July. The Australian dollar peaked before the FOMC meeting outcome near $0.6510 and found some bids near $0.6385 yesterday. It settled at $0.6415. It is trading with a firmer bias today and is knocking around $0.6440. To help stabilize the technical tone, the Aussie needs to get back above the $0.6465 area. However, the intraday momentum indicators are stretched in the European morning, suggesting some back and filling in early North American activity. Reports suggesting China is considering lifting some capital controls helped the yuan steady today. The greenback has been in about a 35-pip range on either side of CNY7.30. The dollar's reference rate was set at CNY7.1729. The average in Bloomberg's survey was CNY7.3028 and the gap with the fix was the widest yet. Offshore liquidity is being squeezed.
Following the flurry of European central bank meetings yesterday, the preliminary September PMI lost some of its luster. Norway, where we thought there was scope for surprise, turned out to be the least surprising. Sweden hiked but was more cagey about another hike, lifting its policy path by 10 bp. Milquetoast. It announced it would liquidate a quarter of its currency reserves, which was unexpected. The Swiss National Bank stood pat, surprising economists. But the swaps market did not think a hike was the most likely scenario, but the franc sold off hard anyway. The market went into the BOE meeting with an almost 50/50 outlook after the soft August CPI. In a 5-4 vote, where Governor Bailey cast the deciding vote, the BOE stood pat. It cut Q3 GDP forecast to 0.1% from 0.4%. However, it increased the pace of the balance sheet unwind to GBP100 bln in the fiscal year beginning next month from GBP80 bln this fiscal year.
The eurozone flash September PMI was mixed. The manufacturing PMI slipped to 43.4 from 43.5 and the services PMI edged up to 48.4 from 47.9. The composite stands at 47.1, up from 46.7. New orders softened to 44.5 from 44.6, which is the lowest since November 2020. Germany's preliminary readings were poor but better than August. The manufacturing PMI is at 39.8 (from 39.1). The services PMI is at 49.8 (47.3). The composite rose to 46.2 from 44.6, the first uptick since April. France moved in the opposite direction. Its PMI fell. The manufacturing tumbled to 43.6 from 46.0. The services PMI is at 43.6, down from 46.0. The composite now stands at 43.5 compared with 46.0 in August, a new low since late 2020.
The UK reported August retail sales. After falling a revised 1.1% in July (initially -1.2%), UK retail sales rose 0.4% in August, slightly less than the median projection in Bloomberg's survey. The flash PMI was disappointing. While the contraction in manufacturing eased (44.2 from 43.0), the contraction in services deepened (47.2 from 49.5). The composite PMI fell to 46.8 from 48.6, a new three-year low.
After posting an outside down day on Wednesday, the euro extended its decline to almost $1.0615 yesterday, a six-month low, and retested it today. Since the low was recorded, the euro's high has been about $1.0650. The price action, however, is uninspiring and an important low does not seem in place. Sterling was punished for the BOE's failure to deliver a hike, which was roughly 50% discounted. Yesterday's six-month low was near $1.2240 has been taken out today, and a marginal new low closer to $1.2230 has been recorded. Like the euro and yen, sterling recovered into the close of the European session to trade a little above $1.2300. It spent the North American afternoon in about a 10-tick range and settled a couple of hundredths of a cent below $1.23, and today, was sold when it briefly poked above it. Nearby support is seen near $1.22, but the next important target is the $1.2000-$1.2075 area.
US data was mixed yesterday. The Q2 current account deficit was slightly smaller than expected but it was inconsequential. Weekly jobless claims were lower than expected and the four-week average (217k) is the lowest since February. Continuing claims fell to their lowest since January. The September Philadelphia Fed survey was showed a sharp deterioration (to -13.5 from 12.0) and existing home sales fell for the third consecutive month, defying expectations for a small gain, after falling nearly 5.5% in the previous two months. The August index of Leading Economic Indicators continued it uninterrupted decline that goes back to Q1 22. Attention today turns to the preliminary September PMI, where economists expect slightly firmer readings. Still, the market is trying to adjust to the signal by the FOMC sees an economy growing faster than its non-inflationary speed limit, requiring policy to be restrictive for longer. The Fed funds futures strip does not have the first fully discounted in late Q3 24. By comparison, the swaps market has the first ECB cut fully discounted by early Q3.
Canada reports July retail sales today. Somewhat better numbers than June are expected when retail sales rose 0.1%, driven by autos. With them, retail sales fell by 0.8%. The swaps market has almost an 80% chance of another Bank of Canada rate hike by the end of the year. No cut its priced through Q3 24. Inflation for the first half of September will be reported by Mexico today. The bi-weekly reading may accelerate slightly, but the downtrend in the year-over-year rate should continue. The central bank meets next week, but policy is expected to be steady well into next year. The swaps market seems to be pushing the first cut into Q2 24.
The US dollar popped up to almost CAD1.3525 yesterday. The week and month's low were set on Tuesday near CAD1.3380. The greenback's momentum stalled, and it settled slightly below CAD1.3485. It is trading with a heavier bias but is holding above yesterday's low near CAD1.3450. Support now is seen around CAD1.3440, but the US dollar looks set to trade higher in North America today. After briefly dipping below MXN17.00 before the outcome of the FOMC meeting, the dollar reached MXN17.25 yesterday. That is a little shy of the (38.2%) retracement of the leg down from the nearly four-month high set on September 7 around MXN17.7080. The next retracement (50%) is slightly above MXN17.35. It is consolidating in the European morning mostly MXN17.16.
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