Dervishes whirl at Vatican

Mystical whirling dervishes danced at the Vatican's Chancery Palace this week in a Holy See commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Sufi poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi's birth.

Zenit reports that the performance was organised by the Turkish Embassy to the Holy See and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Muammer Dogan Akdur, Turkish ambassador to the Holy See, introduced the event by noting what he called an excellent relationship between his country and the Holy See after Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey last November.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, explained in his address that "on the intercultural scene, which frequently takes an interreligious dimension, we have taken this meaningful opportunity to meet: the 800 years since the birth of Meviana Celaleddin Rumi, one of the greatest Persian poets, one of the finest heralds of monastic Sufism, and above all, the founder of the famous Mawlawiyah Confraternity whose members are called Whirling Dervishes in the Western world."

"Music and dance are universal languages that nourish the spirit and make us experience the beauty of cultural exchange and of the dialogue between cultures," Cardinal Poupard, who is also president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, commented.

"The chanting and rotation with a progressive increase of rhythm and speed show the artist with one hand palm up and the other hand palm down, as if wanting to unite heaven and earth; the man, the dervish, presents himself as a union between what is finite and what is infinite.

"The drum marks the rhythm in an incisive manner and the flute marks the turns and envelopes the atmosphere in a spiritual exercise directed towards a contact with the Divine.

"Rumi defines the role of the mystical poet comparing it with a flute: The mouthpiece is the mouth of God; the divine breath/wind goes through the flute, that is the body of the poet, and the opening is the poet's mouth."

Meanwhile, Catholic News reports that Pope Benedict now has a new state-of-the-art stage that is handicap-accessible and portable.

Pier Carlo Cuscianna, head of the Vatican's department of technical services, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that the new steel and aluminium stage took more than a year to design and was used for the first time last week when the pope celebrated a canonisation Mass in St Peter's Square. It will be used for outdoor audiences and liturgies.

Visit Kimberley, Pope requested

In another story, ABC News reports that Tourism Australia chair, Tim Fischer, is calling on the Pope to visit the Kimberley, in Western Australia's far north, on his way to World Youth Day in Sydney next year.

Mr Fischer says he hopes the local Catholic diocese will be inviting Pope Benedict to visit the region in recognition of two centenaries.

"In the same way that his predecessor John Paul II made it to Alice Springs and Darwin, this time it should be the Kimberley and I hope that Bishop Saunders or the papal nuncio might take this up," he said.

Vatican Hosts Whirling Dervishes Show (Zenit, 13/6/07)
Pope's new state-of-the-art stage is handicap-accessible, portable (Catholic News, 13/6/07)
Tourism group wants Pope to visit Kimberley (ABC News, 13/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Whirling dervishes (Wikipedia)
Paul Poupard (Wikipedia)
Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (Wikipedia)

Bombs found under Pope's stage (CathNews, 30/5/03)
End of era as Pallottines quit Kimberley (CathNews, 7/7/06)

14 Jun 2007