Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Poem of the Index of Forbidden Books

Did God or a demon speed her pen? The writings of Italian mystic Maria Valtorta continue to rouse furious debate more than 40 years after her death. Her supporters insist that her principal work, the five-volume The Poem of the Man-God (1956-59), is a "flawless" expansion of the gospels that records heaven-sent visions and direct dictation from Jesus Christ. But in 1959, the Poem became the second-to-last publication placed on the Index of Forbidden Books.
In saner times, something being condemned by the Holy Office might result in Catholics understanding that it sucks. In these confused times, it results in a large number of confused people talking about how wonderful it is.
More than a decade ago, the Medjugorje movement has become entangled in the Valtorta controversy because pilgrimages to the Bosnia site were major vectors for disseminating the Poem. Two of the seers--one of whom is writing her own "inspired" Life of Mary-- have been queried on Our Lady's views of the work and reported a positive response. This reflects an ominous contemporary trend among followers of apparitions to treat mystics as the ultimate arbiters of Catholic belief and practice.
Reason enough to condemn Medjugorje, I think. And of course, a racial dimension sneaks in.
But Valtorta's anachronisms are not nearly as objectionable as her distorted characterizations of Jesus and Mary. They are, of course, fair-haired, blue-eyed, and alabaster-skinned quite unlike the swarthy Jews around them. Because a pale complexion signifies holiness, Mary Magdalene and John are also fair while Judas is dark.
It's always a bad day when someone tries to convince you that Jesus and Mary weren't Jewish.

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