Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Greek banks' ECB funding falls in October, ELA drops

European Central Bank funding to Greek banks fell by 1.35 billion euros in October, while emergency liquidity assistance from the country's central bank dropped by 1.01 billion euros, the Bank of Greece ...


Milik hits three as Poland beat Greece

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Greece Is Very Optimistic That Tourism Will Help End Its Recession in 2014

Greek tourism revenues should rise 13 percent to a record 13 billion euros in 2014, the head of the main industry body said on Tuesday, boosting chances the country will finally emerge from its deep recession next year. Tourism is the biggest ...


Greek statistics office looking for more staff

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) asked for more staff on Tuesday. ELSTAT issued an announcement saying that it needed 58 more employees and invited civil servants working in other departments to apply for transfers to the statistical authority.


Greek MPs to receive some 8000 euros a month in 2014

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Rancho SD Greek Orthodox church arsonist to be sentenced

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You Better Believe in as Many as Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Festival of Arts: Shiraz-Persepolis1 Overview2 The Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts was an international festival held in Iran every summer for eleven years, 1967-1977. Jashn-e Honar-e Shiraz as it was popularly known in Persian was an inspired and feverish exploration, experimentation and creative conversation between Iran and the outside world that unfolded primarily through music, drama, dance and film. The programs started at 10 a.m. every day and ended at 1 or 2 a.m. the next, staggered across ancient, medieval and modern venues, some natural, some formal, others makeshift, in Shiraz, or forty miles northeast at the Achaemenid ruins of Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rostam. True to its mission, the festival's ecosystem cut across time and other boundaries, refreshing the traditional, celebrating the classical, nurturing the experimental, and stimulating a dialogue across generations, cultures, and languages, East and West, North and South. Shiraz, "without doubt the most important performing arts event in the world...,"3 was where most Iranians first encountered the traditional arts of Asia, Africa and Latin America-- Indian raga music, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali, Qawwali, the music of Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Korea and Vietnam, Balinese Gamelan, Japanese Noh, the drums of Rwanda, traditional dances of Bhutan, Senegal, Uganda, and Brazil . . . The experience was eye-opening, expansive, magical, and transformative. Shiraz is also where Iranians came to 'rediscover' their own traditional music on a different platform. Presented by master musicians on an international stage before large publics for the first time, this exquisite art form acquired a fresh vitality and just recognition and gained new fans, especially among youth. Regional music from the four corners of the country was also presented at the festival, with the same result. And that is not all. It is at the Shiraz Festival that Iranian audiences witnessed the revival of Persian storytelling and dramatic traditions on a large scale, naqqali, ta'ziyeh/shabih-khani and ruhowzi, celebrated a new generation of Iranian filmmakers along with cinema legends from East and West, and watched the spectacular birth of new Iranian theatre--playwrights, directors, set designers and actors fearlessly writing and staging innovative plays in Persian that for the first time resonated globally. Five groundbreaking works by Iranian dramatists were invited to festivals in the West, including Arby Ovanessian's staging of Abbas Nalbandian's equally original début work, Pazhouheshi . . . (1968)4 that virtually transfigured and modernized Iranian theatre, and Esma'il Khalaj's Shabat (1976). A distinguishing feature of the Shiraz Arts Festival was the variety of unique works it commissioned from pioneers of contemporary music as well as avant-garde theater and dance, works that embodied a transcendent blend of East and West and were shaped by the landscape for which they were created. These were, in music, Iannis Xenakis's Persephassa5 and Persepolis (1969 and '71, respectively), and Bruno Maderna's Ausstrahlung, a spiritual journey through history that integrated recitations of Persian poetry (also in '71); in theatre, Peter Brook's Orghast, a "work in progress" (1970) that involved actors of diverse nationalities, Iranians among them, and an invented idiom that included Avestan, Greek and Latin; and in 1972, Bob Wilson's KA MOUNTAIN . . . which ran non-stop for seven days and nights on a hill at Haft-tan with the participation of American and Iranian actors and nonprofessional locals; and last but not least, in dance, Maurice Béjart's Golestan (1973), named after Sa'di-e Shirazi's 13th century literary masterpiece and choreographed entirely on Iranian music. Tens of thousands of admiring spectators experienced the festival each year on site. Millions more had the opportunity to watch the recorded programs on national television throughout the year. The festival operated on a starting indie budget of $100K that grew to $700,000 in 1977. The budget was subsidized in part by the state but mostly by the National Iranian Radio and Television (NITV/NIRT)6, which offset its costs by airing the programs as part of its broadcast schedule. Ticket sales generated some revenue; most travel costs for foreign artists were taken up by governments that had bilateral treaties with Iran; and the artists, thrilled by the opportunity to explore and innovate in a singular environment, accepted minimum fees and no extra funds for commissioned or world premieres of their work. To be sure, the festival's fans, artists, and organizers represented a minority of the general population in Iran; the majority had little or no awareness of, interest in, or access to the likes of Balachander, Béjart, and Bijan Mofid. But that was precisely the point, to bring down the wall between the culturally privileged and underprivileged, to celebrate and share humanity's artistic wealth as widely as possible for the benefit of larger publics, especially the younger generation. The vision was all the more meaningful given the state of the country as a whole. Many dream of making the world a better place; some dare act on their dreams. Others slumber in the luxury of stagnation. Jashn-e Honar never slept.Formation, Mission and Organization The idea for organizing an international festival designed to "nurture the arts, pay tribute to the nation's traditional arts and raise cultural standards in Iran" and to furthermore "ensure wider appreciation of the work of Iranian artists, introduce foreign artists to Iran, and acquaint the Iranian public with the latest creative developments of other countries"7 originated in 1966 with Empress Farah Pahlavi, Shahbanou Farah in Persian. The responsibility for shaping and executing the concept was delegated to Reza Ghotbi, then project manager for television at the Plan Organization, later director general of NITV. An advisory board was formed that charted the festival's scope and principal goals. In Ghotbi's words, the festival would present all the arts "in the context of an encounter between East and West" with a focus on "the best traditional arts of the East, the finest classical traditions of the West, and the avant-garde apropos its place in the world."8 The festival would also undertake research and pursue activities in the creative domain.9 Most cultural activity being centered in Tehran, the group decided to host the festival away from the capital thinking that the effort to make the trip and the concentration of artists and festival-goers in one location would enrich the experience, "like an artistic pilgrimage." After considering Kashan and Isfahan, their choice fell on Shiraz. The city offered a variety of venues such as Hafezieh, Delgosha Garden, Saray-e Moshir, Narenjestan, the Jahan-Nama Garden . . . and not far off, the magnificent ruins of Persepolis. The Mehmansara provided hotel accommodation--not luxurious, but adequate and in line with the festival's identity -- as did the newly built Pahlavi University student dormitories. To govern the festival, a 31-member board of trustees was formed under the patronage of Empress Farah comprised of cabinet members, university chancellors, provincial authorities and other officials, and individual scholars, cultural figures, and custodians of properties earmarked as performance venues. The trustees, who served for two-year terms and who changed over time were responsible for approving the budget and the bylaws, nominating the board of directors, and appointing an inspector for financial oversight. A five-member board of directors was then appointed: Dr. Mehdi Boushehri served as President, with Reza Ghotbi, (NITV and Festival Director General), and Farrokh Gaffary (NITV and Festival Deputy Director General), Dr. Qassem Reza'i, Director, Tourism Organization, and Dr. Zaven Hakopian, Director General, Ministry of Culture and Arts. The Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts officially opened on 11 September 1967 (20 Shahrivar 1346), less than a year after NITV televised its first program.To experience this full project, go here.____________________________________________________ 1. The official English title in festival catalogues published annually, 1967-1977. 2. The primary printed sources for content and images for this report include the Shiraz Festival catalogues, bulletins, program notes, and Tamasha Magazine, 1967-1977. Supplemental data were provided by individuals with firsthand knowledge of the Festival, Reza Ghotbi, Sheherazade Afshar, Bijan Saffari, and Arby Ovanessian, as well as Parviz Sayyad and Mohammad-Baqer Ghaffari. Secondary sources include, in Persian: interviews with Farrokh Gaffary (1984) and Bijan Saffari (1983), Foundation for Iranian Studies, "Program for Oral History;" "Jashn-e Honar-e Shiraz," Kargah-e Nemayesh az Aghaz ta Payan, 1348-1357 (The Theatre Workshop from Beginning to End, 1969-1978), Setareh Khorramzadeh Esfahani, ed. Tehran: Afraz, 1387: 101-199; "Jashn-e Honar-e Shiraz-Takhte- Jamshid: 1346-1358," Yad-ha va Boud-ha: Khaaterat-e Iraj Zohari. Tehran: Mo'in, 1382: 171-227; and in English, "Iran," The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Asia/Pacific, Don Rubin, et al., eds. London/NY: Routledge, paperback ed., 2001: 191-221. This is a fairly comprehensive but by no means exhaustive account of the Festival; it omits countless artists and other relevant information due to considerations of space. All data have been meticulously reviewed for accuracy. All omissions, editorialized commentary and concluding remarks are the personal views and the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the sources that contributed to this report. 3. One of many such accolades by foreign critics over the life of the festival, excerpted from an article by Professor Enrico Fulchignoni, director of UNESCO's International Committee for Cinema and Television, first published in Il Tempo at the close of the 9th festival in 1975, translated in Tamasha No. 246 (1976): 74. 4. Pazhouheshi zharf va setorg va no dar sangvareha-ye dowre-ye bist-o-panjom-e zamin shenasi (A Modern, Profound and Important Research into the Fossils of the 25th Geological Era. 5. Co-commissioned with the French Ministry of Culture. 6. Launched in March 1967, NITV merged with Radio Iran in 1971 and was renamed NIRT. 7. Excerpts from an address by Empress Farah Pahlavi at the inaugural festival. Festival catalogue 1967. 8. Ibid. 9. The festival's principal programs were music, theatre, dance, and film (described separately below under "Programs") seminars and conferences, and related publications. Poetry and painting, exhibitions of Persian carpets and handicrafts, children's theatre and dance workshops, and other special and intermittent programs organized by the festival are not covered in this report.


New rule restricts inter-class year communication for Greek women

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Walls: an illusion of security from Berlin to the West Bank

Although doomed to crumble, humans have always built walls. From the failed Maginot Line to the Great Wall of China they are an indelible part of our history

'Something there is," runs a line from Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall, "that doesn't love a wall." But for as long as mankind has been building, we have been building walls: around cities, along borders, across disputed lands; to protect, keep out, demarcate and divide.

Jericho, on what is now the West Bank, threw up its walls as early as 8000BC. China built stretches of its Great Wall by 700BC. Hadrian's Wall, "to separate the Romans from the Barbarians", came in AD129.

In recent times, France misplaced its faith in a supposedly impregnable barrier on its frontier with Germany. Three decades later, concrete and barbed wire was slicing Germany's former capital in half as well. The Maginot Line did not work and the Berlin Wall did not last. But walls and fences have not stopped going up. Indeed, since the Iron Curtain came down a quarter of a century ago, the world has been busy building separation barriers at a rate perhaps unequalled in history: at least 6,000 miles of wire, concrete, steel, sand, stone, mesh; anything to keep peoples out – or in.

It is not just walls separating divided communities in cities such as Belfast and Homs, or compounds hermetically sealed to divide rich from poor such as in São Paulo. The vast majority of barriers are going up on borders – and not just around dictatorships or pariah states.

Most strikingly, some of the world's leading democracies including the US, Israel and India have, in the past decade, built thousands of miles of barriers along borders both recognised and disputed. Since 2006, the US has erected 600 miles of fence along its Mexican border. Israel is building a 400-mile West Bank barrier, plus another 165-mile fence along its Egyptian border. India has built a 340-mile barrier along the so-called Line of Control of its disputed border with Pakistan, and is busily constructing another 2,500-mile fence on its frontier with Bangladesh. Last year, Greece threw up a four-metre-high wall along its short land border with Turkey. The river Evros runs along much of the land frontier.

What is odd is that this building is happening at a time when less-physical walls appear to be crumbling. This is the age of the global economy, multinationals, vanishing trade barriers; of "the free movement of goods, capital, services and people", unprecedented mobility and instantaneous communication.

So why build new walls – especially when, as history shows, the old ones rarely did what they set out to do? For there is almost always a way through, under, over or round a wall. As Janet Napolitano, until recently US secretary of homeland security, once astutely observed: "Show me a 50ft wall, and I'll show you a 51ft ladder."

James Anderson, emeritus professor of political geography at Queen's University Belfast, notes that walls get built for very different reasons. He says: "There are those built as a response to internal civil, often ethno-national, conflict, within states and often within cities. There are those erected because two groups are going at each other, but the state itself is not at stake – rich against poor, white against black, criminal against potential victim. And there are those that run along state borders."

Justified more often than not, these days, as anti-terrorist measures, border fences are more likely to be aimed "at keeping out, or at least differentiating, migrant labour", argues Anderson. He distinguishes, too, between walls that came from "the bottom up", and those imposed from the top down.

Belfast's walls, he notes, originated in 1969 as "simple defence mechanisms, barricades made of bedsteads and doors to stop vehicles coming in to your street".

Thirty years on, they have become "part of people's reality" and are still – perhaps uniquely in the world of walls – supported by almost all those who live beside them. Running for the most part parallel to the roads into the city centre, though, they are not "huge impediments" to day-to-day life.

The barrier separating Israel and the West Bank is different. "This was a state project," says Anderson. "Certainly some, especially the settler movement, welcome it as protection, security against suicide bombers. Palestinians see it as a mechanism for a land grab." At times it also causes almost unimaginable inconvenience and hardship.

But walls can have unforeseen consequences, says Mick Dumper, professor in Middle East politics at Exeter University. "Israel built the separation barrier to separate two communities and prevent terrorism," he says.

"One result has been that 60,000-70,000 Palestinians who had moved out of Jerusalem have moved back, as they didn't want to be cut off from the services they need. At a time when Israel is seeking to assert the city's Jewish identity, its Palestinian population has sharply increased."

And a wall changes a city, even after it has come down. Wendy Pullan, senior lecturer in the history and philosophy of architecture at Cambridge University, calls this a "disruption of urban order. A divided city changes its whole metabolism. And divided cities do not flourish."

The physical reorganisation engendered by a wall is accompanied by an inevitable impact on the psychology of those who live beside it, adds Pullan, who heads the Conflict in Cities (CinC) project run by Cambridge University's centre for urban conflicts research: "There's a tendency to vilify those on the other side. It's very easy to say: we can't see them, we don't know them, so we don't like them."

But mainly, walls just don't do their job very well. "We don't have examples of walls solving problems," says Pullan. Suicide bombings may have fallen dramatically since Israel built its wall. "But it's hard to say whether that's cause or correlation. The regime has also got much firmer, in other ways," she adds.

Anderson, also a member of CinC, argues that national border fences are at least partly intended for show: to let governments be seen to be doing something. If the US were truly serious about tackling illegal migrant labour, he says, "it would prosecute more employers".

So in general, concludes Pullan, walls are "more symbolic than anything else. But their symbolism is enormous. Even now, Berlin remains best known for the wall. The most recognisable image of Jerusalem is now, arguably, its wall. The visual impact is so very strong. If you want to get across the idea of division, a wall is very, very powerful."

BelfastNorthern IrelandMiddle East and North AfricaGermanyEuropeFranceSecond world warJon © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Israeli diamond billionaire to gain stake in Greek real estate

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Microsoft Recognises Two Greek Schools for Innovative Teaching

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Who Still Drives a Ferrari in Greece

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Troika Runs Into Greek Brick Wall

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Greek cafés market to experience a CAGR of -8% through 2017

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Independent Scotland would face choice of tax rises or deep cuts, says IFS

Scottish government contests Institute for Fiscal Studies report that predicts 'significant additional fiscal tightening'

An independent Scotland would face decades of higher taxes and deeper spending cuts than the rest of the UK because of its heavy reliance on dwindling North Sea oil, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has predicted.

The economics thinktank warned that Scotland would face a "significant" and "very difficult" task in trying to cut its debts and absorb the impact of lower oil revenues if voters backed independence next September.

Even using the most optimistic forecasts of oil revenues from the Scottish government and the Office of Budget Responsibility, declining oil production would leave it facing income tax rises of at least 9% or a 28% rate of VAT – higher than that of Greece – or enduring billions of pounds of spending cuts for the next 40 years.

As a result, Scotland would have to very quickly start cutting spending or raising taxes to put the economy on a sustainable footing and confront the challenge of paying off its share of the UK's debt, something the Scottish government had so far failed to discuss.

If not, Scotland would eventually face a fiscal gap – the difference between what it raises and what it needs for public services and cutting the debt – of 1.9% of gross national income, compared with 0.8% for the UK.

The IFS admitted its predictions had a series of caveats but said those cuts or tax rises were on top of the cuts planned by the UK government. If Scotland continued public spending at its current rate, its national debt would become more than 100% of national income by 2032. IFS economists added that under their more downbeat central model, that gap would jump to 4.1% of Scotland's national income – equivalent to an 18p rise in the basic rate of income tax or a VAT rate of 36%, nearly double today's rate.

The institute's long-term forecasts in Fiscal Sustainability of an Independent Scotland, the most detailed analysis yet of Scotland's future economic prospects, led to a fresh verbal battle over independence.

The forecast was published just over a week before Alex Salmond publishes his government's key document on independence, a white paper which is set to spell out the case for independence and the SNP's plans for sweeping reforms of the economy and public policy.

Alistair Darling, chairman of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, said the IFS had left "the SNP's economic case for independence in tatters".

Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury in the coalition, said the paper posed a series of major challenges which needed to be confronted in the Scottish government's white paper. It proved that Salmond's promises on independence were "too good to be true".

John Swinney, the Scottish finance secretary, said the IFS paper underlined the case for independence by pointing out that different economic policies after a yes vote could see the situation significantly change. His government's analysis had shown that with independence at an earlier stage, Scotland could have matched the growth rates of other small countries which would have made Scotland's population £900 a head better off.

Without independence, he said Scotland would remain tied to the UK's weak, unequal and unstable economy and remain simply a "branch economy" for south-east England. "We are doing OK but we could do so much better," Swinney said. "Under the status quo we have witnessed the decline of major manufacturing industries, a continual trade deficit with the rest of the world and ever rising levels of debt that are holding the economy back.

"With independence we will have the full range of economic tools we need to target all of our efforts and resources [at] creating a more prosperous Scotland."

IFS staff insisted their modelling was robust but said all their figures were subject to a number of caveats, chiefly on whether Scotland wanted to follow the UK government's target of cutting national debt to 40% of GDP over the next 50 years.

Those variables also included how much debt it inherited from the UK, the interest rates Scotland had to pay international lenders, its oil revenues in future, Scotland's more rapidly ageing population and on future immigration rates.

It pointed out that Scotland's balance of payments are currently very healthy, thanks for the time being to high oil revenues. Independence would also allow Scotland to introduce a more efficient tax system, attract far more immigration to boost productivity and adopt policies closer to Scotland's economic needs.

Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said he was surprised about how very low Scotland's immigration rates were compared with some parts of the UK. Increasing that would boost the economy.

But Scotland also faced tougher challenges paying off its share of the UK's debt, since international markets were likely to impose higher interest rates on a new state with a heavy reliance on a volatile commodity like oil, adding billions of pounds to the total bill.

In that case, Johnson said, Scotland would be better off swapping some of its oil with the UK in exchange for a lower share of the UK's debt – a politically awkward challenge for Salmond.

Scottish independenceScottish politicsScotlandThinktanksEconomic policyEconomicsScottish National party (SNP)Severin © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Romania aiming for error-free performance against rampant Greece

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Saint Peter's bones: Vatican exhumes old argument with plan to show 'relics'

For the first time in nearly 2,000 years, fragments of bone held to be those of the apostle will go on public displayJonathan Jones: Christian relics on display

On 26 June 1968, as much of Europe was busy rebelling against authority and fighting for free love, Pope Paul VI made a dramatic announcement that put the Roman Catholic church back in the headlines for reasons other than its stance on women, abortion or contraception.

Bones discovered in a Roman cemetery in the Vatican, he declared, had been identified "in a way we believe to be convincing" as those of Saint Peter, the Christian martyr who is traditionally held to have been the first pope and died 1,950 years ago.

But despite the 1968 announcement, the bones remained hidden. That will change on Sunday, when fragments are to be displayed in public as part of celebrations to mark the end of the Year of Faith, an initiative launched by Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned this year.

The fragments, contained in an urn usually kept in a private papal chapel, will be presented for public veneration in St Peter's Square at a mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

The decision to exhibit is controversial. No pontiff has ever said the bones are without doubt those of Saint Peter, and some within archaeological circles are fairly sure they are not.

The battle over the bones, which pits a rigorous Jesuit archaeologist against a pioneering female epigraphist, is one of the strangest stories to have come out of the Vatican during the 20th century and may also be one of the least dignified.

But, speaking on Monday, Monsignor Rino Fisichella said he had no qualms about thrusting the relics back into the spotlight. "We did not want to, and have no intention, of opening up any argument," said Fisichella who, in a carefully worded article for the semi-official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano last week, described the relics as those "recognised by tradition" as Saint Peter's.

"We believe … faith, the people of God, has always believed these to be the relics of the apostle Peter, and we continue to venerate them in this way and give them the honour they deserve," he said.

Fisichella, president of the pontifical council for the promotion of the new evangelisation, also said "the symbolic value" of the bones – their "underlying theological value" – was hugely important. Regardless of what scientific testing might reveal, he said, Christians would venerate the remains and pray at the tomb of Saint Peter.

The story of how the bones came to be proclaimed Peter's dates back to 1939, when Pope Pius XII ordered an excavation of an area below St Peter's basilica thought to contain his tomb. The digging, overseen by a German monsignor, Ludwig Kaas, lasted 11 years and led, in 1950, to a stunning papal radio broadcast announcing "the tomb of the prince of the apostles" had been found.

But the pope was forced to admit his team had been unable to prove with certainty the bones were Peter's.

Years later, Margherita Guarducci, an archaeologist and the first woman to lead Vatican excavations, began to question the original findings. She noted graffiti near the tomb reading Petr eni, which she believed was an abbreviation of Petros enesti, the Greek for "Peter is here".

She was told Kaas had been collecting bones out of concern that they were not being properly looked after, and putting them in boxes in a Vatican storeroom. Having located some bones she thought were the most interesting, she convinced Pope Paul VI to commission tests on them. These revealed, among other things, that they belonged to a robust man who died approximately in his 60s. To the outrage of Antonio Ferrua, the Jesuit father who had been the chief archaeologist on the initial excavation, Guarducci told the pope he should say the bones were believed to be Saint Peter's. And, to the disquiet of Ferrua and some other Vatican experts, he did just that. Kaas, Ferrua and Guarducci have all since died.

In his book The Vatican Diaries, longtime observer John Thavis calls the affair "an embarrassment" for the church. "The supposed bones of Saint Peter had been surreptitiously dug up by a meddling monsignor when the archaeologists weren't looking; then they were thrown into a box and forgotten for more than a decade; then they were rediscovered by accident and became the focus of a feud between church experts," he writes.

"The whole affair did not inspire confidence in the Vatican's ability to exhume its own history, and it is little wonder that none of it is mentioned in the Vatican guidebooks." The Vatican, however, hopes the bones' moment has finally come. During its Year of Faith, which began in October 2012, 8.5 million pilgrims had prayed at St Peter's tomb, Fisichella said, and it seemed only fitting that the year should be rounded off with "a unique moment".

"For the first time, the relics of the apostle will be displayed for the veneration of believers," he said. "Peter was called by the Lord to confirm his brothers in faith. Around the successor of Peter, but almost in the physical presence of the first of the apostles – to whom, with Paul, we owe the foundation of this church – we will be called to profess our faith once more with conviction and strength."

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