Media Watch

Call Him Dr. Brubeck

ASCRIBE NEWSWIRE, Nov. 15 — American pianist and jazz legend Dave Brubeck has been awarded an honorary doctorate in sacred theology from Switzerland's University of Fribourg in recognition of his sacred compositions.

Although secular, the university has a theology department under the auspices of the Holy See; it is administered by the Dominican Order.

A California native, Brubeck led the original Dave Brubeck Quartet from 1950 to 1967. The group defined “college jazz” through its albums and hit songs, which included “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” the latter a re-arrangement of a Mozart sonata.

Brubeck's sacred compositions include the oratorio “The Light in the Wilderness,” based on the words of Christ; “Upon This Rock,” a chorale and fugue written for the entrance of Pope John Paul II; and the Mass “To Hope: A Celebration,” which Brubeck performed in Fribourg Nov. 21.

The citation for Brubeck's doctorate reads in part, “Like the Levites of old who were appointed by God to sing his praises, you have for over 40 years placed your considerable musical gifts in the service of strengthening people's knowledge of God and of helping them to discover their vocation to love God and even their enemies.”

Brubeck, who will turn 84 Dec. 6, responded, “I am both very humbled and deeply grateful to receive this honorary degree. I am very aware how little I know compared to the theologians of the world.”

French Town Fights ‘Da Vinci Code’ Vandals

LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, Nov. 14 — Fans of Dan Brown's bestselling religious fantasy The Da Vinci Code are so obsessive that they have laid siege to a small French town and forced its mayor to take extraordinary measures to protect against grave robbers, thieves and vandals.

The book, a lurid compilation of time-worn, anti-Catholic conspiracy theories, has resulted in tens of thousands of devotees arriving in Rennes-Le-Chateau and searching for, among other things, the body of 19th-century parish priest Abbe Berenger Sauniere, a supposed possessor of occult secrets.

After grave robbers attempted to tunnel under the 12th-century church, Mayor Jean-Francois L'Huilier reburied the priest in the museum next door, under a 3.5-ton sarcophagus surrounded by five cubic meters of concrete.

“It'll take one hell of a lot of explosives to get through that,” the mayor said, adding, “It's a well-written book, but it's a novel, not a historical document. It astonished me that some readers get to the end and think it's true.”

Tunisian Catholics Organize Augustinian Celebration

CATHOLIC INFORMATION SERVICE FOR AFRICA, Nov. 16 — The Archdiocese of Tunisia will hold celebrations next month to mark the 1,650th anniversary of the birth of St. Augustine of Hippo.

St. Augustine was born at Tagaste, located in present-day Tunisia, on Nov. 13, 354. The archdiocesan celebration, which will focus on the theme of “St. Augustine: His African Roots and Universality,” will be held at the Acropolis of Carthage from Dec. 15-Jan. 10.

St. Augustine, who converted to Christianity after a dissolute youth, was baptized in Milan, Italy, in 387. He returned to his native North Africa and was ordained in 391.

He became bishop of Hippo (now Annaba, Algeria) in 395.