Sunday, March 30, 2008

St. Anthony's Chapel

Peeking out from beneath a thin veil of mouldering linen is the skull of St. Theodore, entombed, as it were, at St. Anthony's Chapel in the Troy Hill section of Pittsburgh.
Miss Kitty and I ventured to St. Anthony's after a wonderful lunch at Atria's (after a typically disappointing visit to the Warhol Museum...I already have a rant written about that place, I need only to find which notebook it's hidden in). Troy Hill is a neighborhood in steady decline, perched on a ridiculously steep incline above the Allegheny River on the North Side of the City. The streets are peppered equally with bars and churches on alternating corners, as is typical of former steelworker/blue collar enclaves. Along with the row houses, watering holes, and houses of the holy there are the people who cling to this hillside with its intemperance and piety and blue collar roots as deep as the river valley below. How can you not admire that? The North Catholic HS proudly displays a weathered and faded banner proclaiming their girl's basketball team state champs...1988.
We took in the surroundings as we wended our way down the narrow streets to St. Anthony's, which we spotted the spire to a block or more before we had to make our final turn. If the lore of Catholic relics is to be believed, St. Anthony's has a collection of nearly 5,000 first rate relics, a figured surpassed only by the Vatican. By first rate I mean they are original splinters from the cross (or the actual bones of a saint, or thorn from crown of thorns). A second-rate relic has merely been touched to the first rate relic, and a third touched to a second rate relic, etc. I have to admit that I wildly speculated on this rating system, before I actually researched it and discovered that my nonsense was actually correct. The lesson to be learned here is to never hesitate to posit a crank theory because you just never know.
Some fellow gawkers were there to do actual church stuff like pray, so maybe they weren't gawkers but, you know, religious. Either way, Miss Kitty and I had to stop ourselves from giggling because...How fucking much mojo do these people need to believe in whatever it is that they believe in? We counted five skulls on display. Five. I don't know about you, and whether or not you'd be considered saintly enough for someone to cut off your head, deflesh it, and sell it to someone seeking relics for their church, but if my corpse or skeleton was going to be pieced apart, I'd rather a medical school did it. Well, truth be told, I want a Viking funeral, a raft set on fire in the Monongahela River, but surprisingly I'm having a hard time getting anyone to agree to that. The only thing that I can contribute to the spectacle is my body on fire, so I need volunteers to carry out the ceremony, and risk imprisonment for abuse of a corpse. Is that too much to ask?
After our self-guided tour of the chapel, Miss Kitty and visited the gift shop across the street. Naturally I had to buy something. I mean, mojo is mojo regardless of what you think. Miss Kitty bought a St. Francis medal for Bela's collar, even though we haven't picked the puppy up yet. Soon, very soon. She's pikced out, just not picked up. As soon as she can leave momma dog...it'll be nothing but puddles and piles until we get her trained.

1 comment:

gypsywee said...

I'm looking for a new guerilla art project. It sounds like your viking funeral might be just the thing! Count me in...not too soon though, I hope.