Sunday, November 10, 2002

In the year 1987, a woman named Rosario, a poor inhabitant of Santa Coloma, a Barcelona working class suburb (sort of the local equivalent of Raytown, Missouri), saw the Virgin Mary appear near a locust tree in an empty area of the neighboring suburb of Badalona. Since then, local believers, of whom there seem to be a good few, have erected an altar, built a professional-looking wooden platform around the tree, and generally cleaned up the area. However, the unused land where the sanctuary is belongs to the Badalona city government, and they've ordered the shrine to be removed, supposedly for environmental reasons. They will permit a wooden bench near the tree, where the devout sit to pray, but nothing more.

This is ridiculous. I know the piece of land they're talking about and it's just a big vacant lot, a few dozen acres or so. People dump crap there. If these people are cleaning it up and building a little shrine, it's not hurting anything; in fact, it's good, since someone is picking up the garbage, and if decent people are going there regularly to pray, it keeps the junkies and the prostitutes away, all of which does immense good for the environment. The real reason is almost certainly that Badalona and Santa Coloma have an image problem. They're generally crappy dumps, though there is a nice part of Badalona, and they're seen by the rest of the metro area as being undesirable places to live. The last thing they need is a bunch of Andalusian redneck women with no teeth and black shawls ululating deliriously at the tree where the Virgin Mary appeared.

No comments: