Mr. van Ooijen wins

Somewhat unexpectedly, two days ago the municipality of Giessenlanden gave in and allowed Mr. Joop van Ooijen to continue displaying the text ‘Jezus redt’ (Jesus saves) on the roof of his farm. In typical politicianese the letters must be smaller than they are now and can’t be made from roof tiles, but those are minor details and not that important.

The legal battle cost Mr. van Ooijen (or, as the media styled him, the ‘roof evangelist’) a lot, if not in money than certainly in stress, I don’t doubt. But here’s to a man who stuck to his beliefs in the face of silliness.


Weekend trip to Spain

This weekend, Pope Benedict XVI takes another stab at emulating his predecessor, the travelling pope. The Holy Father will be visiting Spain for the second time in his pontificate (his third visit will be next year, during the World Youth Days in Madrid). He will be visiting two cities in specific. Tomorrow morning he will fly to Santiago de Compostela, where he will meet with representatives of the Spanish bishops and offer Mass at the cathedral where, tradition says, the remains of Saint James the Apostle are buried. The main reason for the visit to this city is the Jubilee Year which is declared in every year that the feast day of St. James (25 July) falls on a Sunday.

The other city that Pope Benedict will visit is Barcelona, where he’ll arrive on Saturday evening. He’ll be meeting with the king and queen of Spain, but the main focus of the Sunday, and likely the entire visit, is the dedication of the still-unfinished church of the Sagrada Família. The construction of this massive church, designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudí, started in 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2025. Nonetheless, as major parts of the interior are ready for use, the church as a whole will be consecrated during a Mass at 10 in the morning, local time. It promises to be quite a spectacle.

The Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, the Sagrada Família, still under construction