05 June 2007

A Maltese Saint

Pope Benedict canonized four new saints this Sunday.

Among them, the first-ever Maltese saint, Father Giorgio Preca, who died in 1962.

My vague understanding of my childhood religion classes tells me that the Church thereby recognizes Preca as someone who didn't have to spend any time in Purgatory before his admission to Heaven -- one of those who got to take the express train.

It seems a bit surprising that the Church, which has a rather long roll of saints by now, should only now be recognizing one from Malta. Its an island rich in religious and specifically Catholic history and connotation. According to the Book of Acts, chapters 27-28, the first evangelist there was ... Paul.

The Knights Hospitalers (as they were originally known) adopted Malta as their fixed home in the early sixteenth century, and ran the place -- becoming known as the Knights of Malta -- until Bonaparte expelled them at the end of the eighteenth, on his Egyptian expedition.

Now the knights are gone, but two centuries later Malta has a saint. I wish there were some resounding lesson there.

I can't write this much about Malta without thinking of a Humphrey Bogart movie with the adjectival form of the name in its title. A Bogart movie had to have a maguffine, after all. But the Falcon turned out not to be what everyone thought it was. But it worked fine as a maguffin.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.