Romans, Christians, Catalans

Last night I had the privilege of singing at Ferrari driver Marc Gené‘s wedding reception, held in a neo-Renaissance palace (built 1940-50) called Bell Recó (something like “Beautiful spot”–it’s tucked away behind some absolutely splendid trees on a hillside up near Argentona).

Apart from the kitchen, I found the building of interest principally because of the clear priorities of whoever paid the bills. A prominent tag on the main façade reads CIVILITZACIÓ ROMANA I CRISTIANISME EN TERRES CATALANES (“Roman civilisation and Christianity in Catalan lands”), and the theme is taken up in various features of the exterior and interior decoration and echoed in a formulaic 1941 message to Juan Navas and family from a fairly menacing-looking Pius XII found lurking (the message, that is) in a corner.

I found it weird because I guess that it had never really occurred to me that one would include the Romans and Christians and leave out the Greeks and the Jews. My hunch is that the Jews get excluded more than the Greeks from the (Graeco-Roman) + (Judaeo-Christian) formula, but I don’t know if any meaning can be imputed to such omissions here (this is genuine curiosity: I’m not trying to imply anything unpleasant). I also wonder whether the owners knew that racó/recó comes from the Arabic.

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