Jim Algie looks back on some of his family history that dates back to Italy, where his distant ancestor worked as a scribe
for the Vatican. Words and pics by Jim Algie.
Many towns and villages in Mexico are named after Catholic saints. Our patron is Saint Catherine (1347-1380). We just celebrated her annual feast day on April 30th with live music and dancing in the churchyard, masses in her honour and the constant bombardment of fireworks.
In the 15th century she was canonized for her contributions to Italian literature and benevolent influence on the papacy. Still a teenager, Catherine entered into what she called a “mystic marriage” with Christ. Instead of giving her a conventional ring, he apparently gave her a rounded piece of his foreskin.
“Saint Catherine and the Demons,” by an unknown artist circa 1500 AD that hangs in the National Gallery in Poland (Wikimedia Commons photo credit to Giovanni Cerretani).
When it comes to weird tales, you really can’t beat the lives and deaths of the Christian saints. Nor can you top the fantastical artworks they inspired, like “Saint Catherine and the Demons,” by an unknown artist circa 1500 AD that hangs in the National Gallery in Poland (Wikimedia Commons photo credit to Giovanni Cerretani). In the shapes of the lusty and clasping demons, modern women may be unpleasantly reminded of the creepers, gropers and dick-pic senders of today, for the masterworks of the past frame any number of future harbingers and universal concerns.
I know a little about Saint Catherine because our great ancestor, Jacobo Algeo, a scribe with the Vatican, wrote about her before moving with the papal to Scotland in the 15th century, where the family surname was later altered to Algie.
Some five centuries later, and here I am, a different kind of scribe, living in a small town named after Saint Catherine. This is how bloodlines intersect and family histories do a 360. It’s also a testament to magical powers of the written word, to traverse 800 years in 7 paragraphs) and bind generations together with the thread and stiches of sentences and paragraphs. .
Photo of our village’s church by Jim Algie
If I ever get around to writing a book and/or screenplay entitled “The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine,” it will be credited to Jacopo Algeo and Jim Algie, to keep up the family line and business.
Many of the author and musician’s best music stories, both fiction and nonfiction are included in the collection “On the Night Joey Ramone Died: Tales of Rock and Punk from Bangkok, New York, Cambodia and Norway.” The ebook and paperback are available on Amazon. The acclaimed mystery author, Timothy Hallinan, said, “The book captures the pop music world as well as, and in some cases better than, most actual rock autobiographies.”