Saint of the Day – 17 June – St Albert Chmielowski T.O.S.F. (The 19th-century Polish saint who was influenced by St. Francis of Assisi later influenced Pope St. John Paul II.) (20 August 1845 at Igoalomia (Aigolonija), Poland as Adam Hilary Bernard Chmielowski – 25 December 1916 at Krakow, Poland, of natural causes). Canonised on 12 November 1989 by Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Square, Rome. Professed religious of the Third Order of St Francis and the founder of both the Servants of the Poor and Sisters Servants of the Poor. Also known as: Adam Chmielowski, Adam Hilary Bernard Chmielowski, Brat Albert, Brother Albert, Brother of Our Lord, Brother of Our God, Our God’s Brother. Patronages – Painters, Servants of the Poor, Sisters Servants of the Poor, Franciscan tertiaries, Soldiers
Volunteers, Harvests, Travellers, Puławy, Diocese of Sosnowiec. Attributes – priest’s attire or Franciscan robe.
Adam Chmielowski was born into an aristocratic family in Igołomia, a village outside of Krakow, in 1845. Then, Poland formally didn’t exist – the once-mighty Polish state was partitioned between Austria, Prussia and Russia in 1772, 1773 and 1795. Yet the Polish people refused to accept this and many rebelled against the oppressors.
One such upheaval was the January Insurrection of 1863-1864, directed against the Russian Empire, in which the Poles fought bravely yet were brutally suppressed. Not yet 18, Adam took part. During one battle, a Russian grenade killed Adam’s horse and badly damaged his leg, which was amputated. Adam, however, didn’t take pity on himself; he stoically taught himself to function with a wooden limb and offered up the dismemberment to God for the cause of Polish independence.
After the uprising, Adam decided to pursue a career in painting and was accepted at the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he studied with many famous Polish painters. Upon returning to Poland, Adam worked as a painter 1870-1885. In total, he produced 61 paintings. He quickly became one of the most feted Polish artists, living briefly in Warsaw and then in artsy, intellectual Krakow. Adam’s social circle consisted of the best-known Polish artists, actors and writers.
Yet Adam Chmielowski wasn’t happy with this glitzy life of celebrity. At one point, he was even hospitalized for depression. Adam remained a devout Catholic and his paintings — including his masterpiece, the unfinished Ecce Homo, which depicts the mocked Christ — often dealt with religious themes.
He knew that he needed to grow closer to God. Adam briefly thought of becoming a Jesuit but his enthusiasm fizzled after entering the novitiate. He kept asking God what he wanted of him.
Nineteenth-century Krakow was a city of social inequality. In Adam’s day, more than a fifth of its population consisted of the unemployed, who were frequently homeless. The filthy, lice-infested city homeless shelter had terrible sanitary conditions. The Church in Krakow, especially the Vincentians and other orders, aided the poor. However, this was insufficient. At this time, Adam became increasingly attracted to St. Francis of Assisi. This medieval champion of the poor’s ministry resonated with Krakow’s socioeconomic problems. Eventually, Adam welcomed the homeless into his own apartment. In 1887, Adam Chmielowski became a Third Order Franciscan and took vows at the hands of Krakow Archbishop Cardinal Albin Dunajewski, taking the name Albert. He began to call himself “Brother Albert” and wore a gray habit.
The following year, Brother Albert realized that to bring Krakow’s poor lasting change, the city’s homeless shelter would need reform. He negotiated an agreement with the city government, making him the institution’s caretaker. To finance the improvements, Brother Albert auctioned off his paintings. In addition to improving the material conditions, he banned alcohol in the shelter. He asked the poor to work (making exceptions for the elderly and those with disabilities), teaching them practical skills and lectured on the Catechism and the Gospels.
Eventually, Brother Albert founded two religious orders, the Albertine Brothers and Sisters, devoted to the poor. They set up homes for the poor, sick and elderly in 20 Polish cities. Brother Albert worked to help as many poor persons as possible until his death in 1916, amidst World War I. During that bloody conflict, he sent Albertine Brothers and Sisters to the trenches to aid war invalids. After his death, thousands of Kracovians visited his tomb, convinced that he died a saint.
Today, the Albertines run homes for the poor and sick all over the world. Visitors to Krakow can make a pilgrimage to the Albertine-run Ecce Homo Shrine, which features a museum devoted to St. Albert and the famous titular painting.
St. Albert Chmielowski greatly inspired St. John Paul II. In 1938, when Karol Wojtyła started his studies in Polish literature at the Jagiellonian University, he was a young, promising actor, playwright and poet. Yet his calling to serve God and the Church was stronger than his love for the arts. In this, he found inspiration in his fellow artist St. Albert Chmielowski.
In 1949, the young Father Karol Wojtyła wrote a play about him titled Our God’s Brother. A Kracovian urban legend had it that Brother Albert met Vladimir Lenin (who lived in Krakow after being expelled from Russia) and debated him on how to best alleviate poverty. The play features imagined dialogues between the saint and the communist revolutionary (called “the Stranger”), powerfully showing the difference between the Christian and Marxist approach: The former argues that poverty can be overcome by seeing God’s image in the individual, while the latter reduces all to class struggle and argues that the rich must be violently overthrown. After his election as pope, John Paul beatified St. Albert in 1983 and canonised him in 1989.
#MuslimLuminaries: Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 504/1111)
Al-Ghazālī is a towering figure in Islam; his influence is felt to this very day. He was a teacher, a lecturer, and a scholar of the highest order, as well as a prolific writer. He is commonly referred to as Ḥujjat al-Islām, the Proof of Islam, primarily due to his efforts in intellectually combating ideas and philosophies that plagued the Muslim world during that time. He left no stone unturned in his effort to revive Islamic scholarship in the face of sacrilegious threats – giving him another title affirmed by a saying of the Prophet (ﷺ) of Mujaddid, Renewer.
He was born in the city of Ṭūs in present day Iran and from a young age was educated in the basics of Islam and Islamic Law, learning from distinguished teachers like the eminent Shāfi’ī scholar, al-Juwaynī. He had an illustrious career as a teacher at the Nizamīyya School in Baghdad, where his talks would draw huge crowds. It seemed life could not get better; however, al-Ghazālī experienced something of a spiritual crisis. Doubting and questioning his intentions, he renounced his position as a respected teacher and travelled to Damascus, Jerusalem, and the Hejaz (present day Saudi Arabia) – his focus on this journey was to purify his soul. The fruits of this journey in tandem with his scholarship and efforts in the spiritual path form the basis of his most famous work, Iḥyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn, The Revival of the Spiritual Sciences. His impact is not limited to just Islam and the East, influencing the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes and others.
Eventually al-Ghazālī returned to Baghdad, where he resumed teaching once again, later returning to his hometown, Ṭūs, where he died. It is said that on the day he died, he work up early, and after offering dawn prayers, he enquired what day it was, his younger brother Aḥmad Ghazālī replied, “Monday.” He then asked him to bring his white shroud, kissed it, stretched himself full length and said, “Lord, I obey willingly,” breathing his last.
Said al-Ghazālī, “Filled with the love of this world, a person becomes so attached to it, that he fails to make provision for the hereafter.”
Al-Ghazālī said, “The hypocrite looks for faults; the believer looks for excuses.”
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, was a strong and highly ambitious woman. Not blessed with great beauty, she was nontheless armed with winning charm, impeccable social skills and cunning wit. During the reign of her nephew Tsar Nicholas II, she gained much influence and dominated St. Petersburg society due to her untiring efforts to entertain and gather every important person into her own social circle. Straightforward with her ambitions on behalf of her sons, she ultimately went as far as openly criticizing the Imperial couple and propagating their removal from power, until one of her guests had to say he would pretend, for her sake, he had heard nothing of the sort.
The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.
According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.
My skin is so pale it’s almost translucent. I have black curly hair. I’m a 32-b. I am the antithesis of what it means to be a sexy lady in Texas and realized long ago I couldn’t run with those horses. I do still refer to make up as ‘putting on my ladyface,’ though.
Annie Clark in an Interview with Refinery 29 when asked “How did growing up deep in the heart of Texas influence your style?”
Bulgarian St. Stephen Church, also known as the Bulgarian Iron Church, famous for being made of cast iron. An iron frame was preferred to concrete reinforcement due to the weak ground conditions. Designed in a combination of different styles by Hovsep Aznavur, an Armenian of Constantinople origin and it was manufactured in Vienna and then shipped to Constantinople, where it was inaugurated in 1898. In terms of architecture, the church combines Neo-Gothic and Neo-Baroque influences. Now St Stephen is one of the world’s few surviving prefabricated cast iron churches.
TITLE: How the Other Half Lives CHAPTER NUMBER: Chapter 2 AUTHOR: theothercourse WHICH TOM/CHARACTER: Jonathan Pine GENRE: Drama, Mystery, Crime FIC SUMMARY: A year after Jonathan Pine helped Angela Burr capture Richard Roper, he is still working with MI6 to bring down some of the world’s most elusive crime lords. Undercover, Jonathan is running surveillance in New York City on Nigel St Clair, an ex-pat known as ‘The Accountant’ for the Wallace Empire. Ten years ago, while charming NYC clients, Nigel met a young singer/actress, Kristiane Taylor. Enchanted from her first note, he became a mentor for her, enabling her to pursue a career as a Broadway star.
At the age of twenty-nine, Kristiane is about to take the theatre world by storm, stepping into the leading lady role of a highly anticipated new musical, unaware that her world is about to collide with one of NYC’s most prolific crime families and England’s most adept spies. RATING: Mature (for smut, later) AUTHORS NOTES: If you’d like to read the background where this story came from and why I’m writing it, you can click this link. Any likes, reblogs, comments, constructive criticism are all helpful. Thank you for reading! This story is dedicated to one person, and she knows who she is. This wouldn’t have been possible without her.
morning, when Jonathan gulped down the last of his coffee and threw back the
last of his stale bagel, Angela had some new information for him. Nigel St
Clair had been spending his Sunday night with an actress, Kristiane Taylor, the
current star of an off-Broadway show called Bat Boy and the upcoming star of Pretty
Woman the Musical. The new musical was a vehicle for her, produced by Nigel,
the very production Jonathan had started to investigate.
hours of laying eyes on her, Pine knew more about her than he’d ever need to
know, like her schooling (graduate of Tisch), her career (four Broadway shows,
one off-Broadway and two national tours) and her accolades (a Tony nomination
and two Broadway choice awards, whatever those were). She was well-known within
the theatre community, but hadn’t pursued any television or movies to get any
recognition beyond Manhattan.
If you haven’t already heard about St. Vincent, then let me jog your memory a bit. St. Vincent (stage name for Annie Clark) was the artist that took the number one spot on everybody’s top albums of 2014 lists. With her self-titled fourth studio album, St. Vincent took the world by storm with her contorted musical style and her interesting view on everyday life. "Digital Witness“ was the track that received universal acclaim for it’s "razor-sharp wit” and described our need for a “million digital eyes, validating our experience.” It’s ideas like this one that really show Annie Clark’s true artistic ability.
For those of you that are just jumping on the bandwagon with this album, you might not have known the extensive journey that Annie took to get to where she is today. Before her self-titled album, St. Vincent explored many different areas in life, taking on many different facades. Annie Clark is an important figure in this generations artistic community and it’s time she gets the praise she deserves.
Marry Me - Review
Release Date: July 10, 2007
For any debut album to be successful it’s got to contain the characteristics of a great up-and-coming artist: creativity, originality, and heart. Creativity in how they handle their productions throughout the tracks, the way their vocals glide across each hum from their instruments, and how they’ll execute this spectacle within roughly a 45 minutes time period. Originality would be their distinction between themselves and their peers in the music industry, which could range as far as Kanye West to Adele. Heart is where you’ll have to do a bit more digging into the record to uncover. For instance, a lot of people would think Lady Gaga’s music was trash, but it oddly has a lot of substance behind the lyrics that many wouldn’t try to interpret. One artist that debuted a few years back exuded all of these elements, packed on with a theatrical flare, even though she went fairly under the radar until last year. St Vincent’s Marry Me brought pop music to the stage and set it on fire, while no one watched.
I know that I might be exaggerating this notion a tad bit, but ever since I first heard St. Vincent’s debut album, I’ve always wondered why I’ve never heard anything about it. Sure her latest releases (Actor, Strange Mercy, & St. Vincent) we’re, in my opinion, better than Marry Me, but that doesn’t exclude the fact this was her debut album, where she found her roots, and I don’t think that’s something to be overlooked in anyone’s discography.
If I haven’t already unearthed this common theme throughout this record, I’ll state again that St. Vincent (real name, Annie Clark) took a very theatrical approach to her version of pop music, setting a scene for each each song and captivating the listeners with a new story each time. In “Paris Is Burning” Annie takes the form of an American soldier a midst the ruins of Paris, France after WWII, where her words are precise and her vocals even better. “Sticks and stones have made me smarter, it’s words that cut me under my armor” is an example from the aforementioned song where St. Vincent plays on the idiom “sticks and stones may break my bones,” inverting the message, showing that words can in fact hurt. It’s no hidden agenda that these small tidbits are really what makes the album glorious; her word play, her extensive vocal range, her strange rock-tinged sound. Following along the themes of war, St. Vincent dives headfirst into “Landmines” to assimilate their relationship to that of warfare, using the smoke as metaphors for times that they’re relationship is unclear. One part of the record that is unclear though is that at some points in this record, you’ll probably be asking yourself if this is a break-up album, or one about history. While the distinction is blurry sometimes, it still makes for a really decent record and St. Vincent does her best to at least make the ambiguous moments blissful and exuberant. On “Jesus Saves, I Spend,” St. Vincent kind of trails on the borderline of her talent; the song isn’t exceptionally good, but for me it’s the most skipped song on Marry Me, possibly for the line “While Jesus is saving, I’m spending all my days,” which I thought was clever at first, but cringe-worthy after a few listens.
Look, I love St. Vincent and this record just as they are, but even the things you love have flaws and that’s just the case with this record. So if you’re looking for the beginning of St. Vincent’s road to success, they’ll all say it started here, between “Now, Now” and “What Me Worry” on her debut record, Marry Me.
Actor - Review
Release Date: May 4, 2009
If St. Vincent’s first album was her broadway show, then her sophomore record, Actor, is the movie adaptation. Stepping into her own with this record, Actor showed a slight change in style from Marry Me where Annie Clark really develops her core sound that’s still present in her music six years later. With film being a huge influence throughout the record, St. Vincent uses references to actors and their line of work to tell her stories of anti-love and hardships from everyday life. Actor represented a lot of different things: the life of a performer, the deception of time and having it slip between your fingers, and the absurd way that history repeats itself.
Before the music even begins, it’d be hard to miss some of the extravagant track names that are on this record: “Actor Out Of Work,” “Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood,” and “Marrow” are just a few. With names like these, I felt a little anxious when walking into this record, because typically songs with very over-the-top names are “extreme” songs; they’re either extremely good, or extremely bad, no in between. Luckily for Annie, her talent extends beyond the normalities of commercial pop music, making Actor an emotional joyride. On “Save Me From What I Want” Annie explores the downside to love and her cry for help from a toxic relationship. “The Party” works as a reflection for Ms. Clark as she begins to feel like her youth is behind and she’s grown up faster than expected, using lines like “how did we get here with creaks in these chairs” as metaphors for rocking chairs and old age. Before that though, we have the track “The Bed” that brings her back to her childhood years where they’d be worried about monsters under their beds and where she flips old nighttime stories to connect with the listeners. Throughout the record it’s themes like this that really sparked my interest because her attention to detail is so fine and clever.
While I’m trying to keep this review short, I’d just like to end it by saying that there was very few things I disliked about this era for St. Vincent. To her advantage, she stuck with similar lyrical content as before while her sound and themes felt like progressions from her previous work. It was an overall improvement from her previous work and if Marry Me started the road to her success, than Actor was her taste of fame that she deserved.
Strange Mercy - Review
Release Date: September 12, 2011
For her third time around, Annie Clark (better known by her stage name St. Vincent) follows her road to success through a winding road of societal ignorance. Strange Mercy serves as Annie’s view on the world around her and the injustices she sees throughout her travels. It’s interesting how she explores these different personas in order to get her message across about different parts of society.
Strange Mercy starts off with “Chloe In The Afternoon,” a track about a dominatrix of sorts that heals her pain by selling herself. Within the context of the track, we find the prostitute in a situation where they both retreat back to emotional distress after an act that should have made them feel better. This unwavering sadness is explored again in her track “Surgeon” where Annie tells the “best finest surgeon” to “come cut [her] open” to solve her depression and find solace in a better skin. On “Champagne Year” St. Vincent takes a more autobiographical account of her success and what she’s really doing here with her music: “I make a living telling people what they want to hear.” Throughout this record there’s an obvious pessimistic feel that St Vincent exudes; something that just feels so upset with her inner feelings, that she lets out her very cynical view on others around her. While this feeling remains throughout the majority of the record, there is a sort of acceptance that’s passionately placed behind her vocals. It’s a tone in her voice, a sadness in her words that really shows how St. Vincent feels about these different personas, that she understands their individuality.
With this record furthering St. Vincent’s progression into stardom, Actor showed her moving closer to her current musical stylings, but Strange Mercy showed Annie Clark really talking about the subjects she was born to discuss. Strange Mercy was beautiful, yet sporadic; enlightening, yet dark. If you’ve followed St. Vincent this far, keep going because her story isn’t fully told just yet.
St. Vincent (Deluxe Edition) - Review
Release Date: February 9, 2015
I can’t believe its been a little over a year since St. Vincent graced the world with her self-titled fourth studio album…where did the time go? Annie Clark’s depiction of the world around her had once again set fire to the hearts of many and had them craving for more music. If you weren’t part of the masses that flocked to Annie’s side as she received a Grammy for this record than you’re in luck. With St. Vincent re-releasing her highly acclaimed record, you once again have the opportunity to take the album for a spin and fall in love as we all did.
Right off the bat you’ll notice that St. Vincent isn’t like other artists, she’s unique in every way possible. Let’s take the first track for example: “Rattlesnake” is this track thats apocalyptic at heart, but introspective as a whole. On the track, Annie’s vocals are distorted, making her sound as if she’s part of a radio broadcast or that her voice is being transmitted from somewhere else. This feeling might have originally generated from her album artwork where she looks like she could be the alien queen from another universe. This apocalyptic feel is reflected again in the later song, “Severed Crossed Fingers” where she finds herself “in the rubble there” as she reflects on how she got there. Now I wouldn’t know exactly what category to put her music in, mainly because her distinct sound is best described as “indie pop” and even that doesn’t do it justice. Tinged with rock influences mixed with some modern pop music, this record does have a somewhat futuristic sound about it. Being one of the most praised parts of the album, St. Vincent’s distinct sound is what really got her recognized as an avant garde type of artist. Her lyrics also played a huge factor in her acclaim; her single, “Digital Witness,” made statements about modern life and the social media culture, while using a soul inspired production to connect it to the music of popular culture.
“Birth In Reverse” and “Psychopath” were two of my favorite tracks on the record, the later being one of the few about a relationship. "Birth In Reverse“ on the other hand was a revolutionary way of thinking about life in general. Birth is the process of giving new life, the reverse of that would be St. Vincent’s way of looking at death. ”Huey Newton“ was a track that I felt fell short compared to the rest of the album and while it wasn’t necessarily a bad song, the way Annie sung the lyrics made the it feel awkward and dreary. Shockingly enough, the only other track that I found to be fairly dull was ”Regret“ for the soul fact that the chorus always felt very drawn out. Other than those two songs, I didn’t find any other tracks on the record that I didn’t like.
With the expansion to the album (simply titled St. Vincent Deluxe Edition) St. Vincent really just flawlessly expanded on what was already a fantastic album. Whenever an artist does a re-release like this, I’m always worried that things will go wrong. On one hand they could add four good songs, but it could mess up the flow of the album. On another hand they could add four bad songs and ruin a perfect album. Luckily its not the case for St. Vincent’s repackaging, where we ended up getting four really great songs that perfectly fit into the jigsaw puzzle that we already had. ”Bad Believer“ is the obvious standout amongst the five new songs; its catchy, upbeat, and again her lyrics are captivating, yet complex. ”Del Rio“ felt a little different when compared to the rest of the album as a whole, but with the variety on this album it doesn’t feel out of place. While I loved all of the new bonus tracks, I have to say that I really thought the ”DARKSIDE remix“ of ”Digital Witness“ was unneeded and fairly dull. It takes a lot for me to like a remix and this one is nothing different.
Aside from that one remix track, I found St. Vincent’s deluxe edition to be one of the better repackagings I’ve seen in a while. It kept the essence and flow of the original eleven tracks but served as the perfect addition to an already amazing album.