Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent Calendar: Roman Door 10

Open door below the Torre della Scimmia (Tower of the Monkey) on the corner of Via della Scrofa and Via dei Portoghese. There is a medieval story that a pet monkey of the Frangipani family escaped out of the window one day with the family’s newborn baby under its arms. The father prayed to the Virgin Mary, promising that he would place a lamp at the top of the tower that would forever burn in her honor if the baby was returned to the family unharmed. The monkey brought back the baby and for centuries an oil lamp burned on top of the tower. Today the lamp is an electric light bulb. (In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1860 novel The Marble Faun, the heroin stays on the top floor of the tower and is responsible for maintaining the light.)

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
From Handel's Messiah: Part I

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