I recently met a friend for a wee road trip in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and in Vermont. I was pleased, along the way, to honour some genii and gods of land and water that I had never encountered before (the god of Lake Memphrémagog made an especial impression on me) as well as to pour out a libation of wine for Mercury on the summit of Mont-Orford. The climbing of which, by the way, made plain how lamentably out of shape I am!—a revelation for which I consoled myself with some local cheese and ale. The Eastern Townships reminds me somewhat of the Auvergne or Limousin—and is not Quebec, after all, a kind of extension of Gaul in North America, after a fashion?
Needless to say, however, no trip to New England could be complete without a stop at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, which houses perhaps the most charismatic portrait bust of Faustina the Elder that I have seen.
This is actually the image of the divine Faustina that captured my attention when I was first learning to be a Faustinian devotee a year or so ago. In this face, you can discern a good deal of the equanimity she shares with her husband the divine Antoninus Pius, but also great gentleness and thoughtfulness; there is even the faintest hint of a playful smile about her lips. I took a good number of photos, and will erelong be producing a polychrome version that I expect to share here by and by.
I rather liked Mount Holyoke College. Faustina resides in the midst of some very fine artwork—including busts of her own nearest and dearest (there is an 18th-century representation of Faustina the Younger, for example)—and the museum itself is at an attractive spot on campus, near a large pleasant pond and stream. It also seems quite fitting for her to be housed in a liberal arts school for women.
The birthday of the divine Antoninus Pius was September 19. From that day until our election day here in the US, I will be praying daily to Antoninus Pius for the well-being of our republic and for justice and good governance. Feel free to join with me in this. Here is the text of one such prayer, following phraseology from Eutropius, an evocatus named Q. Talotius Allius Silonianius in Lusitania, and other sources:
Salue, díue Antóníne pie!
Vir fuistí ínsignis et quí meritó Numae Pompilió conferátur;
pius propter clementiam díctus es;
inde inter díuós relátus es et meritó consécrátus.
Nulli acerbus, cunctís benignus,
uirós aequissimós ad administrandam rem publicam quaerens
cum orbem terrae nulló belló per annós uíginti trés auctoritáte sólá réxistí.
Díue Pie, te precor ut rem publicam nostram saluam serues.
Tribuas pácem iustitiam incolumitátem populó Ciuitátum Foederátárum
Aue díue Antóníne Auguste Pie, Pater Patriae,
optime et sanctissime omnium saeculórum prínceps.
Hail, divine Antoninus Pius!
A man extraordinary wert thou and justly likened to Numa Pompilius;
thou art called “pious” because of thy own clemency;
presently wert thou called back among the gods and justly consecrated.
Bitter towards none, to all obliging,
seeking the fairest of men to administer the republic,
alone thou ruled for twenty-three years with no war in all the world.
Divine Pius, I pray thee to keep our own republic safe.
Mayst thou bestow peace, justice, and good health to the people of the United States,
and mayst thou favour the people.
Hail, divine Antoninus, august and pious, father of thy country,
best and holiest prince of all ages.
There are some allusions in this exhortation that I hope none can mistake—one man in this race is anything but aequus ad administrandam rem publicam, to say nothing of the threat he poses to peace, justice, and the rule of law at home and abroad. However, I shall resist the urge to rant further, and here conclude!