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Thursday, August 13, 2009

At last! The falling stars of San Lorenzo honoured properly in our household!

Everything I know about the meaning of San Lorenzo:

Lawrence of Rome (c. 225 – 258) was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome who were martyred during the persecution of Valerian. Lawrence is said to have been martyred on a grill. During his torture, Lawrence cried out "This side’s done, turn me over and have a bite." - Wikipedia.

There is a famous poem about the martyred San Lorenzo by Giovanni Pascoli that everyone quotes:

San Lorenzo, io lo so perché tanto
di stelle per l'aria tranquilla
arde e cade, perché si gran pianto
nel concavo cielo sfavilla...

my translation:

Saint Lawrence, I know why so many
stars burn and fall through the tranquil air:
it is because your tears
are sparkling in the concave sky...

How many years have we been in Italy on August 10, the day of San Lorenzo, known for its association with falling stars? Hundreds? Well, at least 10. As usual, the nights of August the 10th and 11th were overcast. Never yet caught the effect of the falling tears.

Meanwhile, astronomically speaking, the annual passage of the earth through the "Perseid meteor shower" continues, although the actual peak night is now really August the 12th. Thank goodness someone gave me a heads-up to check the sky again last night.

The night was so clear, I wished I had a star map to learn some additional constellations. Luckily I can recognize Cassiopeia, and the darkest part of our balcony faces it, because I looked it up this morning and I now know that the Perseids fall from Perseus, which is right below Cassiopeia and beside Andromeda, so we were looking at exactly the right band of the sky, without even knowing it. I had a sensation of a flash/fade from the corner of my eye. Once. Hmm - am I imagining it? Twice? By the sixth time, I realized this was it! (Here is the perfect place to check it out:

It was like magic. And as always, it is the pile-up that makes the feeling so intense:

• thinking of the meteorites as astronomical objects and the shower as a purely astronomical event. How cool is the universe?
• thinking of the story of Perseus and Andromeda and Cassiopeia, and how wonderful it is that they are linked in the constellations (see below).
• thinking of San Lorenzo and his martyrdom.
• thinking of the poem and its metaphorical linkage of the meteor showers with the martyr's tears.

By the way, Andromeda was the daughter of the beautiful queen Cassiopeia, who, in punishment for her mother's bragging, was chained to a rock to be sacrificed to a sea monster. She was rescued by Perseus as part of his adventure. Further connections: He also killed the Medusa and here in the museum in Pesaro is an enormous ceramic Medusa by a local ceramicist, (copied from Caravaggio's self-portrait as the Medusa) which killed the artist by falling on him, a continuation of the Medusa's malevolent spirit...

The marigold is wondering rather nervously:
If you could know everything, would it ALL connect?

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