Monday 25 December 2006

Cardinal Conned

Botticelli - Nativity (detail)The big news for Christmas Day is that Jesus wasn't born in a stable, but in a grotto! A fairy grotto? one wonders. This gobsmacking revelation comes from none other than Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who does his thing in Westminster Cathedral. Fresh back from the strife-torn Unholy Land, the Cardinal said, "I was enter the Basilica of the Nativity and go down those steps that have been there for a thousand years and kneel and pray in the grotto where Christ was born." Er...Cormac, old son, I hate to tell you this, but Jesus was born 2,000 years ago! If the steps to his birth place have been there for only a millennium, how did Mary and Joseph and the three wise men get down there? And where did they park their camels? Sounds to me as though you've been caught by a mediaeval scam to con tourists. Anyway, I much prefer the stable fable. I saw it in William Wyler's Ben-Hur at a West End cinema when it first came out, complete with an ass braying in stereo, and I'm far more inclined to believe Hollywood than I am Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor.


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