Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mr. Lava Reports - The History of the Vatican at Eurovision

I spent my morning listening to the Bach Cantatas for Easter Sunday (BWV 4 and BWV 31, under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner), which put me in a reflective mood.

I considered the history of the Vatican at Eurovision. The Vatican is located in Rome, a city which, due to its location; its considerable commercial power; and its glorious, multi-millennia history, is known by many as "The Crossroads of Europe."

Vatican City proper is either a sovereign country or not, depending upon mood and necessity. For example, when asked to pick sides in a military conflict, the Vatican refuses because it is not a country. When asked to extradite bishops to testify in pedophile priest trials, the Vatican refuses because they are a sovereign country.

We all remember that Pope John Paul II was the last pontiff to send a delegation to Eurovison (1988, Dublin). In what was interpreted as a troubling sign of growing irreligiousness in Europe, the song, "Adoramus Te, Christe, et benedicimus Tibi, Quia per sanctam crucem Tuam redemisti mundum," placed last. More humiliation followed when it was revealed that, although the song's house music melodies were original (courtesy of one Frankie Knuckles), the lyrics were not, having been written a thousand years earlier. A red-faced Vatican had its appearance annulled. With that bold stroke the Vatican's Eurovision record was stricken from all official histories of the contest.

A campaign was launched in late 2008 to encourage a Vatican return to Eurovision (see illustration above), but this failed to gain traction. However, if Italy is back in the 2011 contest after a 13-year absence, could the Vatican be far behind? Popular opinion says, "Probably."

[An Easter aside: Italians have expressed outrage this week over Lady Gaga's latest single, "Judas," and they have shown their displeasure by allowing the song to ascend only to number 5 on their pop music charts. Pope Benedict XVI's complaint: "The song as a whole sounds like a desperate knock-off of last year's 'Bad Romance.' " Amen, Popey, amen!]

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