President Obama Will Be Miffed… Really, Really Miffed, He Seems to Hint to the Mexican President
WASHINGTON – As the Mexican invasion of the US Southwest advanced Sunday and hundreds of armed men surrounded a US Army base near El Paso, Texas, Secretary of State John Kerry all but ruled out any US military response. In fact, no one in West Texas seems to have noticed the increase of armed men in their midst, although there are unconfirmed reports of the NRA recruiting Mexican soldiers into its organization.
Kerry scolded, even chided, Mexican President Vladimiro Putano for sending troops into the Southwest and threatened “very serious repercussions and other really nasty, nasty stuff,” such as economic and trade sanctions by international organizations, which over the last few decades have had no effect on North Korea or Iran.
“It is a very serious moment but it is not serious in the context of Mexico-US. It is sort of serious in terms of the modern manner with which modern nations are trying to resolve serious problems,” Kerry said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Kerry’s diplomacy bellied events on the ground.
Unidentified troops pulled up to a US Army Base in south Texas in a convoy that included at least thirteen Volkswagen Beetles and four pickup trucks with elevated chassis and really hot sound systems.
The VWs, which had Obama-Biden bumper stickers and fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirrors, carried ten to twenty Mexican Marines each, most crammed in the backseat and trunk.
A dozen Mexican soldiers, some wearing hairnets, parked a high rider at the base’s gate, leaving them and the two MP’s stationed at the gate in a confused, but somewhat tense standoff.
In Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown blasted the Bush administration for causing the invasion and warned that “we are like on the brink of… you know… something.”
When questioned about the invasion during a special White House press briefing, Presidential Press Secretary, Jay Karnival, re-iterated that President Obama’s policies have shown great promise in the furtherance of key issues effecting the security of the country, like gay marriage and the minimum wage. Further, another 72 people signed up for the Affordable Health Care Act. If only those pesky NFL Washington R(word) would change their team mascot.
Karnival then pointed out the similarity in the Roman-Catholic Mexican position on abortion and that of Congressional Republicans seeming to indicate that the Tea Party may in fact be complicit in Mexico’s alleged aggression in the US Southwest.
Meanwhile, Kerry fanned out across TV talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and MTV, but not Fox News, to encourage more people under 40, who actually have jobs, to sign up for the AHCA, before the IRS levies a crippling hundred dollar fine on them, and to urge Putano to withdraw the Mexican troops that invaded the Southwest a day earlier, calling it the “most brazen act of aggression since the US invasion of South Vietnam.” Kerry actually blushed when he said “Vietnam.”
“You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped up pretext,” he said, “Even though, in the early 19th Century, the US did exactly that to Mexico… and now we’re stuck with Texas.”
An unidentified source within the Mexican government reports that no Mexican troops have crossed over into Arizona. “That bitch (Jan) Brewer’s (Governor of Arizona) too fuckin’ scary, man! We don wan nothin’ to do with that shit!”
Kerry repeatedly reminded Americans that the Mexican invasion of the Southwest was not a challenge only to the United States but also to the entire world, if not, the entire known universe!
The Southwest has been in the throes of political upheaval since it legalized proscription marijuana, religious peyote and magic vortex crystals few years back.
Since then, pro-Mexican demonstrators have rallied in Los Angeles and San Diego to return marijuana sales to the cartels, not Walgreens, and engaged in bloody confrontations with themselves.
At least 10,000 people bearing Mexican flags marched freely through Los Angeles, while dozens of people demonstrating on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills against both the high retail prices and the invasion of the Southwest were quickly detained by the retail riot police.
There are unconfirmed reports from both Southern California and West Texas, however, that thousands of Mexican troops have surrendered to anyone they can find and voluntarily returned their weapons to the ATF.
Kerry said that President Obama, who spent 90 minutes on 60 Minutes, after swapping a few jokes on the air with Letterman and singing a duet with Garrison Keillor, would phone Putano in a few days or so, if he could re-shuffle his schedule and get Michelle’s permission. In the meanwhile, Kerry kept “all options on the table… I meant to say… en la mesa” for a US response.
But Kerry stressed that Obama preferred working with international institutions, such as the United Nations, Doctors Without Borders and Meals on Wheels, to slap economic sanctions on Mexico if it doesn’t pull back.
“We think it is very important for the international entities, the GSA (Girl Scouts of America), NPR and the MLA (Modern Language Association), which will meet tomorrow, all need to weigh in and I believe they will weigh in heavily,” said Kerry on ABC’s This Week. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll unleash the EPA on their asses!”
He said that Obama intends to tell Putano, when he gets around to it, that the US recognizes that Mexico has “legitimate concerns” about its interests in the LA-San Diego metroplex where half its citizens have already relocated over the last few years.
“Nobody has threatened Mexican interests,” said Kerry. “We still draft their players into MLB, especially pitchers and middle infielders, and spend tens of millions in places like Chi Chi’s and Taco Bell. But, we are prepared to stand up against any hooligans, any thuggery… and allow the people of the Southwest to make their choices for the future,” he said, “As long as we in Washington agree with their choices.”
Kerry acknowledged that Putano had not yet heeded Obama’s warnings, saying that it was still early in the diplomatic process.
“They just swapped a couple of texts yesterday,” he said diplomatically. “We are going to continue to engage diplomatically. This is a time for diplomacy. And we will engage diplomatically as much as we can in order to diplomatically steer this away from an increase in the diplomatic tension in the level of the diplomatic crisis.”
“The most important thing to remember here is this is not or should not be North-South, Mexico-United States, Burritos versus Hot Dogs thing. This is about the people of the Southwest,” said Kerry.
Jungle Fatigues. Grunt line units wore OD (Olive Drab) “jungle fatigues.” These were jackets and trousers made of a light “rip resistant” material.
“Rip resistant” meant that some low-cost government contractor tested these garments be letting a bunch of toothless toddlers play with them for a couple of weeks. If the babies couldn’t tear them, they were classified “rip resistant” as specified in the government bid. When they got to where they were designed to be used, in the boonies, they surrendered to every “wait-a-minute” bush in the AO.
When a grunt shipped to Nam, he was issued three sets of jungle fatigues in the Repl Deple. When he got to his unit he turned two sets into supply, because extra sets of fatigues were something he didn’t want to hump.
The principle for changes of clothes in the field was based on a bad joke:
This grunt unit had been humping the bush for a month up in the highlands during the rainy season. One night, when they pulled into a night logger, the platoon sergeant called them together, and said,
“Men! I got good news for you! We got a change of underwear tonight!”
“Yea!” said the grunts.
“Johnson! You change with Jones! Peters! You change with Gleason…”
The story is obviously apocryphal because, as I’ve already told you, grunts didn’t wear underwear. But, periodically, the Army would ship big red mailbags full of “clean” fatigues out to the grunts in the field. Now “clean” was an interesting concept in Nam. When applied to jungle fatigues, it usually meant that months of accumulated dirt, filth and sweat, through some secret and mysterious process, had been sublimated into the fabric. “Clean” didn’t mean that your Aunt Tilly would let you sit on her parlor sofa wearing this stuff. On that special day when the “clean” stuff arrived, the grunts would strip off their dirty fatigues and replace them with clean ones. Then the dirty fatigues would be shipped back in the mailbags to Mamasahn’s laundry services somewhere in the rear.
Unlike REMF’s, lifers and other denizens of the rear areas, grunts never wore any identifying patches in the boonies; no unit patches, name tags, CIB’s and especially no indication of rank… nothing that would help some NVA sniper or rifleman to select a target… if a grunt didn’t know who the good guys and the bosses were in the field, something was seriously wrong.
One of the eternal debates among grunts was whether it was better to have button-fly or zipper-fly trousers. Pro button grunts claimed buttons didn’t rot in the rain so you could always close your fly. The counter argument said who cared if your fly was open. Pro Zipper: it closed and didn’t let any crucial bits dangle or let any undesirable critters in. Pro Button: they couldn’t rust shut, so you never had to pee in your pants. Personally, I didn’t care until one night I had some unwanted guests whose arrival was unrestricted by my button fly. I was out on an LP with my squad leader and two other guys in the mountains west of Pleiku. We were in concealment along a stream (“blue line” in grunt-speak) and I was asleep on a nice comfortable flat rock when two carnivorous Vietnamese red tree ants infiltrated past my button fly and began to make a meal out of a body part that I was carefully guarding between my legs for future use when I got back to the world. Without fully waking, I jumped up and was just about to scream when I remembered where I was. In the dark, I dropped trou, plucked the offending insects from my anatomy, re-trou’d and went back to sleep. The grunt on guard said it was one of the most amazing acts he had ever witnessed in a combat tour fraught with amazement.
Let me clear the air on this underwear thing. Grunts didn’t wear it… T-Shirts, yes, but nothing else. Why? No matter what a grunt wore—shorts, briefs, loin cloth or thong—these things got into a knot and bunched up in uncomfortable places when a grunt was humping and, because a grunt was hauling a fifty-pound ruck on his back, he couldn’t reach around to his ass to make the needed adjustment. So, no underwear.
Probably more than you wanted to know.
N. F. L. Prospect Don K. DaBills proudly says what teammates knew: He’s Hetero-Sexual.
Coaches at the perennial football powerhouse, State University, divided players into small groups at a preseason football practice last year for a team-building exercise. The small groups had to be kept under ten because that’s how many fingers the players had and the coaches didn’t want then taking off their shoes to try to count all the way up to eleven. One by one, players were asked to talk about themselves—when they hope to grow up, where they plan to learn how to read, why they chose State and what others might not know about them.
As Don K. DaBills, a senior, fourth-string quarterback, began to speak, he dropped a football, a noted habit during his four year career, and said suddenly, “I’m straight!”
At least three of her teammates were heard to mutter, “Who gives a …” but were immediately shushed by members of the university cultural apparatchiks because they were about to say a word banned by the university political correctness manual.
With that, Mr. Bills set himself on a controversial path to become the first publicly straight player in the National Football League.
“I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads—like, finally, he came out,” Mr. Bills said Sunday in an interview with The New York Slimes, “All the Cultural Innuendo That’s Flits We Print,” the first time he had spoken publicly about his sexual orientation.
Mr. Sam, a senior, who is listed at 5 feet 8 inches and 170 pounds, had a stellar season as a bench jockey, headset holder and water boy as State finished 15 – 0 and won the Cereal Bowl… or a Cereal Bowl. Although he was nowhere near a first-team all-American and was not even in consideration for the Dissociated Press offensive player of the year, his teammates voted him Mr. Congeniality and Best Midnight Pizza-Gopher of the Year.
Now Mr. Bills enters an uncharted area of the sports landscape. He is making a public declaration before he is drafted, to the potential detriment to his professional career. And, he is doing so as he prepares to enter a league with an overtly over-macho culture, which many psychologists suggest is an over-correction for latent homosexuality, and a culture of heterophobia.
As consciousness of hetero rights in this country is virtually non-extant, the sports industry has had to change relatively little for men, with no publicly hetero athletes in the N.F.L., the N.B.A., the N.H.L. or Major League Baseball. Against this backdrop, Mr. Bills could become a symbol for the country’s hetero rights movement or a flash point in a football culture war—or both.
Mr. Bills, 24, is not projected to be chosen, even in the very late… scraping the bottom of the talent barrel… rounds of the N.F.L. draft in May, ordinarily a path to a three-year pro-career, and an early death from repeated concussions and from abuse of alcohol, drugs and pain medication.
Bills said he decision to come out publicly now was not because becoming a media sensation would enhance his chances of being drafted and not because the N. F. L. could be accused in the press as being hetero-phobic, if any team failed to draft him, but he sensed that rumors were circulating about his sexuality, probably started by his pregnant girlfriend and her parents in a recently filed paternity suit.
“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” said Bills. “I just want to own my truth.”
But, the N.F.L. presents the potential for unusual challenges. In the past year or so, it has been embroiled in controversies ranging from anti-hetero innuendo and unsubstantiated accusations from players to reports that scouts asked at least one prospective player whether he liked girls. To which the prospect responded, “Fried or broiled?”
Recently, Barry McDikkin, also a quarterback, said that he was subject to hetero-phobic language from coaches, who called him a “little breeder bitch,” and pushed out of a job with the Minnesota Likkings because he vocally opposed the team trainers distributing doses of speed and pain pills before games.
And last week, Dick Slocumb, a New Orleans Crates linebacker, said in an interview with NFL Pravda, while totally blitzed on painkillers and booze, that he did not want a straight teammate… or did not date a straight teammate… or did not straight a date teammate… something like that… his voice was quite slurred.
“Ishinksheasheptedwouldnotashmuchashasheptedwethinkcouldbethey,” said Mr. Slocumb, a 10-year league veteran, a victim of multiple concussions and a trustee at the Betty Ford Clinic.
In a statement Sunday night, the league said: “We admire Mr… uhhh… Oh, yeah… Mr. Don DaBills’ honesty and courage. We hear rumors that Mr. DaBills is a… uhhh… college football player, or at least suits up for most home games. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the N.F.L. as long as he’s over six feet tall, weighs over two hundred pounds and can run the fifty in less than four point five seconds. We would look forward to welcoming and supporting Mr… uhhh… Don K. DaBills in 2014, if he had any football talent at all, and is over six feet tall, weighs over two hundred pounds and can run the fifty in less than four point five seconds, which according to rumor pretty much eliminates him totally from consideration.”
When asked by reporters whether the DaBills controversy was the league’s attempt to distract the media from the other controversies surrounding the N. F. L. over the last six months, the league spokesman said with a blank stare, “I have no information concerning that.”
When reporters reminded the spokesman that the league is facing a possible Congressional investigation into its non-profit status that has potential Anti-Trust implications; and that a number of current and former players have accused the league of ignoring complaints about multiple concussions suffered by players during league competition, which have turned them into turnips before their fortieth birthday and lawn fertilizer before their fiftieth birthday; and that N. F. L. appointed a special investigator over accusations of players “bullying” each other in the locker room, but has done virtually nothing over franchises having racially-insulting mascots, such as the Washington Redskins; and that a prominent N. F. L. player is doing time for conspiracy to commit murder; and that, while in prison, O. J. Simpson continues to collect a six-figure league pension despite having murdered his wife and gotten away with it and not having attempted to kidnap a sports memorabilia dealer from a hotel room in Las Vegas and not having gotten away with it; and that rarely does a week go by without reports of some current N. F. L. player being arrested for drug possession, carrying an illegal firearm, assault, rape, DUI, or some combination thereof.
Could this hetero-sexual controversy just be a distraction away from serious issues surrounding professional football?
In response, the league spokesman went on a rant about the N. F. L.’s long-standing support of the hetero-sexual community and its support of its minority players, especially Caucasian running backs and left-handed, blue-eyed, Pacific Islanders.
With that said, most league pundits agree that the drafting of Mr. DaBills is a near certainty and that he will then be “Tebowed”… in other words, kept on the roster of some unfortunate N. F. L. franchise until the whole damned hetero thing blows over then dropped like a sack full of week-old cat turd.
Google the word, “Grail,” and you’ll get a bunch of hits displaying the “Holy Grail” of this and the “Holy Grail” of that. For example, someone called Dr. Oz is pimping the Holy Grail of weight loss. There’s even a Holy Grail song by a singer who calls himself Jay Z… JZ?
But, did you ever stop to think about the word “grail” itself? What does it mean? Where did it come from?
If you look in the encyclopediae, you’ll discover that “grail” is the name of a legendary sacred vessel, identified with Christ’s cup at the last supper and the chalice of the Eucharist. It is also the theme of a famous medieval cycle of tales beginning in the late 12th Century with Chrétien de Troyes’ unfinished conte d’aventure, Perceval, Le Conte du Graal, and Robert de Boron’s vita, Josephe d’Arimathie, finally culminating in Thomas Malory’s late 15th-Century, Quest for the Holy Grail.
But, where does the word itself, “grail,” come from. It isn’t Aramaic or Koine Greek. Jesus, at the Passover Seder table, didn’t say, “Hey Peter! Would you mind passing me the grail!”
The word is actually from the Old French, graal, the language, in which its earliest chroniclers, Chrétien and Robert, wrote. The word seems to have indicated neither a drinking cup nor chalice, but a serving platter for delicacies… something no well-equipped castle or medieval feasting hall would have been without! In fact, I think we have a few grails kicking around the dining hall of the school where I teach!
This origin seems to have been explained by the Cistercian chronicler Helinandus (d. circa CE 1230), who, under the date of about CE 717, mentions of a vision, shown to a hermit concerning the dish used by Christ at the Last Supper, and about which the hermit then wrote a Latin book called Gradale.
Now in French, gradalis or gradale means a dish (scutella), wide and somewhat deep, in which costly viands are wont to be served to the rich in degrees (gradatim), one morsel after another in different rows. In popular speech it is also called greal because it is pleasant (grata) and acceptable to him eating therein…
Chretien’s description of the vessel he characterizes as a graal, does not contradict Helinandus’ claim,
The graal, which had proceeded ahead, was of pure refined gold. And, the graal was set with many kinds of precious stones, the richest and most costly in the sea and on the earth. These stones in the graal certainly surpassed all others (Le graal, qui aloit devant, / de fin or esmeré estoit; / pierres precieuses avoit / el graal de maintes menieres, / des plus riches et des plus chieres / qui an mer ne an terre soient; / totes autres pierres valoient / celes del graal sanz dotance (Perceval, vv 3232-39).
Chretien’s description does not specifically identify the vessel as a serving dish, but doesn’t deny it either. So, there no evidence in this late 12th-century text to reject the Halinandus’ claim that the old French word, graal, meant a dish or a serving platter. He was actually around when graals were used? He couldn’t have gotten it too wrong?
So, how does the word come to be identified with Christ’s drinking cup at the Last Supper?
Certainly, some have attempted to derive the word, graal, from garalis or from cratalis, a crater, a mixing bowl, used in the ancient world for mixing wine with water. But, these derivations, although an ingenious attempt to bridge some imagined semiotic gap between serving platter and chalice, are generally dismissed.
There’s an interesting clue in Robert de Boron’s, Josephe. In this text, the vessel called, “graal,” is the vessel used by Christ to consecrate the Eucharistic wine at the last supper and later, to collect the blood from his dead body. So, we understand a vessel deep enough to drink from, a cup, or a chalice.
In the beginning of the narrative, Robert describes this object simply as a vessel, veissiaus. It is only after the vessel manifests its miraculous properties does it become the graal.
The Grail is used to separate the elect from the sinners in Joseph’s people. There seems to be some sympathetic connection, some empathy, between the elect and the Grail which indicates their salvation and their worthiness to remain among Joseph’s people. Those, who are to be damned, feel nothing from the Grail.
Petrus, one of Joseph’s disciples, explains,
Petrus answered: “I have no desire to conceal that. Those who desire to call it right, will rightly call it the Graal. For I believe whoever sees the Graal will find it agreeable. It charms all those of this land. They find it pleasant and agreeable. Those who are able to remain with it and can bear its presence, when they see it, they feel delight. They are as happy as a fish when a man holds it in his hand, and it can escape from his hand and return to swimming unconfined in the water.” When the others heard this, they agreed heartily. They would agree to no other name, but that it should be called the Grail. And it is right that people should agree in this way. Both those who departed and those who remained called the vessel the Grail, for the reason I have told you (Petrus respont: «N’ou quier celer, / Qui à droit le vourra nommer, / Par droit Graal l’apelera; / Car nus le Graal ne verra, / Ce croi-je, qu’il ne li agrée: / A touz ceus pleist de la contrée, / A touz agrée et abelist; / En li vooir hunt cil delist / Qui avec lui pueent durer / Et de sa compeignie user, / Autant unt d’eise cum poisson / Quant en sa mein le tient uns hon / Et de sa mein puet eschaper / Et en grant iaue aler noer.» / Quant cil l’oient, se l’greent bien; / Autre non ne greent-il rien / Fors tant que Gaal ( sic ) eit à non: / Par droit agréer s’i doit-on. / Tout ainsi cil qui s’en alerent / Et cil ausi qui demeurerent / Le veissel unt Graal nummé / Pour la reison que j’ei conté (Josephe, vv vv. 2680-701).
The vessel is called graal because it gives pleasure, agrée, to those who are worthy of it. This miraculous force, manifested through the graal, is in Christian belief evidence of the out-flowing of God’s sanctifying grace to the elect, gratia. So naturally, “When the others heard this, they agreed heartily. They would agree to no other name, but that it should be called the Grail.”
So, the term graal does not describe physically the literal object, the type of vessel.
Graal is an allegory indicating the vessel’s function, a source of grace, gratia, through the sacrament of the Eucharist, the transubstantiation of wine into the blood of Christ during the consecration of the Christian mass, which gives spiritual pleasure, agréer, to those who are not already damned by their sinful nature.
And, I bet you thought being a medievalist was boring!
Ton père est un hamster et ta mère sent des baies de sureau!
Now For Something Completely Different: A Western-European Reference to the Shroud of Turin in the Year 1200?
This may come a shock to many of you, my faithful readers, any one of the three of you, but I spend a great deal of my time as an “exciting as watching paint dry” medievalist and teacher at Northwestern University when I’m not masquerading here as an “exciting as watching paint dry” blogger… and this is the highpoint of my medievalist existence for this week.
In the text of Robert de Boron’s romance about the grail and Joseph of Arimathea, circa CE 1200, the old French word, suaire, is used to describe the Veil of Veronica, which according to legend is a cloth containing the image of Christ’s face on the Via Dolorosa.
Now, for those of you who did not grow up with a French grandfather, le suaire in modern French means “shroud.”
And, that is how the translator of the only recent edition of this text in modern English translates the term.
The concept of a “shroud” bearing the image of Christ evokes the famous Shroud of Turin for which there are no dependable references prior to the mid-14th Century!
Could this be a 12th Century reference to the Shroud?
Now wait a second!
An artifact called the Image of Edessa, which was reputed to bear an image of the face of Jesus, has been reported since the sixth century. No legend connected with that image suggests that it was the burial cloth of Christ or that it contained the image of a crucified, beaten and bloody Jesus.
According to legend and belief, the image is attributed to Jesus in Gethsemane and was claimed to be an image miraculously transferred by Jesus to the cloth in life depicting only his face, not his entire body.
However, proponents of the shroud being the actual burial cloth of Christ, led by Ian Wilson, theorize that the Image of Edessa was always folded in such a way as to show only the face, but was in fact the cloth now known as the Shroud of Turin.
On the occasion of the transfer of the Cloth of Edessa to Constantinople in CE 944, Gregory, the Archdeacon and Referendarius of Hagia Sophia, preached a sermon about the artifact, in which he states that the cloth contained not only the face, but a full-length image, which was believed to be that of Jesus. The sermon also mentions bloodstains from a wound in the side of Christ, an attribute of the Shroud.
Furthermore, in 1204, around the time that Robert’s grail text was written, a knight named Robert de Clari, who participated in the Fourth Crusade that captured Constantinople, claims the Cloth of Edessa was among the countless relics in the city,
Where there was the Shroud (my emphasis and translation) in which our Lord had been wrapped, which every Friday raised itself upright so one could see the figure of our Lord on it.
The Edessa cloth disappears from Constantinople in the 12th Century. Some historians suggest that the shroud was captured by the Crusaders, when they captured and looted the city, and subsequently taken to France.
So, could the Shroud of Turin have been known in 12th Century France?
Another possible explanation for this usage in Robert’s text is that we do not fully understand the meaning of the Old French word, suaire.
In the text, Veronica’s description of the cloth indicates that the cloth was not a shroud, but a cloth with which she wiped the sweat and blood from the face of Jesus as he was carrying his cross on the way to Calvary.
Further, the image comes from the face of the living Christ, not a tomb wrapping.
The Old (and modern) French word, suaire, is etymologically related to the Latin, sudare, “to sweat,” and hence, the Latin noun, sudarium, a cloth used to wipe sweat from the face. In fact, this is the word that commonly describes the scarf that Roman legionaries tied around their necks.
Such an understanding of the Old French word would better describe Veronica’s narrative in Robert’s text than would the translation, “shroud,”
<<Un sydoine feit feire avoie
Et entre mes braz le portoie,
Et je le prophete encontrei
En ma voie par où ralei;
Les meins avoit derrier lièes,
A une couroie atachiées.
Pour le grant Dieu mout me prierent
Li Juif, quant il m’encontrerent,
Que men sydoine leur prestasse,
Au prophete son vis torchasse
Erramment le sydoine pris
Et li torchei mout / bien sen vis,
Car il si durement suoit
Que touz ses cors en degoutoit>>
(I had had a length of cloth woven for me, and I was carrying it home in my arms when my path crossed that of the prophet. His hands were tied behind him, fastened with a thong. The Jews, whom I encountered, entreated me, in the name of God Almighty, to lend them my cloth, to wipe the prophet’s face for him. At once, I took the cloth and gently wiped his face for him, for he was sweating so heavily that his whole body was dripping with it. (vv 1592-1605).
This passage, which emphasizes on Christ’s sweat, “il si durement suoit”, seems to indicate an understanding of the Old French, suaire, not as a shroud, but as a sweat cloth.
In fact, a relic in Rome, purported to be the Veil of Veronica, was called sudarium.
In 1199, around the time that Robert was composing his narrative about the Grail and Joseph of Arimathea, Gerald de Barri (the famous, Giraldus Cambrensis) and Gervase of Tilbury wrote accounts making direct reference to the existence of this relic.
Further, in 1207, the “Veronica” became renowned when it was publicly paraded and displayed by Pope Innocent III, who granted indulgences to anyone praying before it.
Perhaps, the usage of the term suaire in this text to describe this relic, is a reflection of the Latin term sudarium, which the Veronica was then called.
So, is this usage of the Old French term, suaire, describing a cloth that bears the image of Christ during his passion, evidence that the Shroud of Turin was known in Western Europe as early as CE 1200, or, is it just a semiotic burp?
That is what’s exiting about being a medievalist… the rest of you can entertain yourselves watching paint dry… or continuing to read my blogs.