The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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The deification of Benedict

Canisius | 22 March, 2006 16:18

The first hymn for the feast of St. Benedict (V,436-7) makes an interesting play on Greco-Roman mythology that is lost in the translation. The first stanza says that "On this day Benedict ascended to the highest heaven." At least, that's what the English translation says. The Latin says, "On this day Benedict climbed the top of the summit of Olympus." You recall Olympus, of course--the celestial abode of the gods.

The hymn goes on to describe how Benedict destroyed a statue of Apollo (here called by his title Clarus) and a grove sacred to Venus, and built Christian churches over the sites.

Then again the hymn repeats, "Now he dwells in the happy land above...." Or wait, that's the English translation again. The Latin says, "And now he is a resident of happy Olympus...."

The play between Benedict's destruction of the Greco-Roman religion and his ascent to the paradise supposedly possessed by the Greco-Roman gods is obvious and rich. It probably shouldn't be smoothed over by the translator, although I sympathize with the desire to avoid misunderstanding.


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