Friday, June 22, 2007

The Search for Lost Causes

Last night I watched a PBS special on the search for Atlantis, that ultimate ancient place older than Egypt that was supposedly highly advanced, often used to illustrate the possibilities and ultimate failure of an aggressive utopia. Of course, the special was not all bad, because you get to see amazing past societies in the Mediterranean and S. America, what technologies we know they had, and speculation about why they could not sustain themselves (natural disasters, disease, etc.).

I thought that was the end of the search for lost causes, until I started reading the blogs today. Paleojudaica has posted that someone thinks they know where the Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus as the Last Supper, is. According to, Alfredo Barbagallo, an Italian archaeologist, claims that it is buried under the sixth-century Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, one of the seven major churches pilgrims used to visit when coming to Rome. Let's not all hold our breath, though, because the Vatican Commission of Sacred Theology still has to determine whether they will open the catacombs where the holy cup is supposedly buried. (Of course, even if they find a cup down there, it still will take a LOT of ingenuity to convince the world it is, indeed, the Holy Grail.) Maybe they ought to pray to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes and things despaired of.

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