Potemkin Village of Peace

March 20, 2017

First of all I want to start with a definition of fraud:


A gleaning from online dictionaries:

Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain, a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities, intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value

The seriousness of practicing it is described in the Business Dictionary:


Act or course of deception, an intentional concealment, omission, or perversion of truth, to (1) gain unlawful or unfair advantage, (2) induce another to part with some valuable item or surrender a legal right, or (3) inflict injury in some manner. Willful fraud is a criminal offense which calls for severe penalties, and its prosecution and punishment (like that of a murder) is not bound by the statute of limitations.

I will yet again supply the facts, for which I had been doing from 2007 with the article on the supposed peace making school of the Custody of the Holy Land, the Magnificat School of Music, and let the readers be the judges.

Unfortunately, I do not have the clout and expensive PR channels of the Church so there is no comparison of a few articles questioning the misleading, shameless self-promotion of the school for about 15 years or so.  The fact that it has been a cash cow yielding golden milk year after year is not reason to put the brakes on feeding that bloated animal.


One can say, your word is as good as theirs. However, there are hard facts, circumstantial evidence, that anyone with a smidgen of intelligence can figure out that there is something very screwy about their claims of making peace in a nearly homogeneous student body of Palestinian Arabs.  The rare Israeli Jew who might study there can be counted on the fingers of one hand for all the years they have been in existence.  There are Moslem students among the Christians who are then broken down into sects by them as though this were significant. It is NOT.

Sorry, but these are the same Palestinians who go to normal schools together every day and even identify politically. One doesn’t need to make peace between them. If there are any barriers, they are artificial ones made by the PR factory. As for teachers, the non-Palestinians are mainly nominal Christians (or atheists) from the former Soviet Union who immigrated to Israel en masse in the 1990’s.

As for commonsense deduction, how should students learn to behave when the propaganda is not exactly honest? Do they learn that scrupulous attention to the truth is uppermost, for at least in the past, truth and beauty were supposed to go together? Or do they learn cynicism and sucking up to authority to get scholarships and perks like trips abroad? Do they learn that disrespecting or even denouncing teachers who do not toe the party line will get them extra points? Even if they do not become corrupted (hardly possible) the environment supports such behavior even tacitly, since it comes from the top, how can one dismiss lying as a means to get what you want?  How demoralizing!

The last piano competition in March is a case in point that contradicts every claim of peacemaking from year one in that place. No Israeli Jews are admitted unless they study in a Palestinian music school! Where will we find all these students? At the Magnificat? Again they are as numerous as hen’s teeth. Is this some kind of joke? Is this cocking a snook at the public who will donate money anyway because you said you are an “enchanting world” of coexistence? It’s amazing all the BS that can be dreamed up about the place. If you repeat lies over and over again and if enough people say them, it becomes truth? No, it doesn’t!

Their Nikolaus de la Flüe Piano Competition held in March is just an example of the self-protectiveness of keeping the money close. There were hardly any competitors even from their own school, about 2 or 3 in each category.  Of course, the Magnificat students won practically all the prizes! Where are the 200 students cheering them on or even competing? It seems like other local pianists from other schools neglected to participate. Wonder why!

An example of getting entangled in the net of deception is the claim of having 200 students 10 years ago when there were only about 100. This can be proven by concert programs from the time. They say that the school has expanded tremendously but they are plugging the same number, 200. Looks to me, like the “laboratory of peace” this is a cleverly concocted PR slogan, easy to memorize and trot out. However, after 10 years there should be some change. You said so yourself!

So how do they have the nerve to say they are a laboratory of peace and raise millions of dollars on that premise? Do they actually need all that money? The Marche region in Italy had been the target for donations 15 years ago and yielded at least a million euro by their own admission.  This is yet another area too vast and complex to go into here.  I really have a hard time with the Good Friday Collection being linked to having to provide underground parking for the school when there are real needs in the world.

The premises belonging to the Custody were renovated many times over. They had to do something with the money rolling in.  In short, they have to concoct new uses for funds.  Tuition is not a big deal. The student body on the whole is not poor. They send their children to private schools, drive late model cars and go abroad for vacations.  To boil it all down, the big bucks were used to renovate church property. Why does the public have to pay for that?  Because they are making peace? No, they are NOT!

As Jesus and St. Francis are my witnesses, they have no right to such a claim and on the basis of that raise large amounts of money for themselves.  There are real, pressing, burning needs in the world. Jerusalem may have been a poor backwater 100 years ago, but it certainly is not now.  The Church should have at least the decency and honesty to admit that and stop with their indecent trolling for funds under fraudulent premises.


Appeal for the Collection for the Holy Land

The Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land is at it again couching its requests for donations in typical sanctimonious language:

The Lenten Journey, which we are travelling, invites us to raise our eyes to the goal: we are following Our Lord Jesus Christ first to Golgotha and then, having descended with Him into the tomb, to experience the ever new and life-giving power of His Resurrection… Our sense of communion in the suffering and risen Christ moves us again this year to undertake the important initiative that is the Collection for the Holy Land. Indeed, this effort manifests the bond of brotherhood that unites the universal Church to the Mother Church of Jerusalem, as the Holy Father has indicated… Also required, however, is concrete economic aid, taking into account what St. Paul wrote at the time of the first collection for Jerusalem.


This must be the all-time miracle of money gathering, eclipsing the largest lotteries of any country in the world:

The following is a summary of what the Congregation received in the year 2015-2016, and how it was distributed: Offers for the year 2015-2016 for the “pro Terra Sancta” Collection US $ 5,275,601.56 + €1,833,339.20

Plan to regain an area (ca. 1600m2) destined for various uses, including new offices, library, refreshment  area, new spaces for the Magnificat Institute, parking lots and Auditorium underground (!)



The Magnificat Institute has become well known as a premier school of music located in the Old City of Jerusalem, but its academic director Hania Sabbara says it is also “a laboratory of peace.”

The 200 students currently studying at the Institute come from diverse ethnic, economic and religious backgrounds, she says. “They are Jewish children, Christians and Muslims,” she says, “all working together in harmony to perfect their musical talents. “

“Our students work together every day,” Sabbara says, “and they form deep and lasting friendships. They not only become excellent musicians, but better human beings,” she adds.

Since its founding, the Magnificat Institute has grown dramatically.



(Terra Sancta News) The Magnificat Institute, a “school of peace” is foremost a school of music.  Students and teachers alike work hard throughout the year to gain a deeper knowledge and performance of music. The students come from all backgrounds and are Christian, Jewish and Muslim.  The bonds formed here through music, hard work and learning will be invaluable for achieving peace in the future.

Academic director Hania Sabbara, in a featured article about the Institute in May of 2013, says, “The Institute depends heavily on donations to cover costs. Students are charged only 25 percent of the total cost for their instruction, Sabbara says, adding that the Custody of the Holy Land through the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land provides the balance. She pointed out that a $2,500 donation to the Foundation or to the Friends of the Magnificat Assn. will provide a year-long scholarship for a student.



By September 2012, the Magnificat Institute of Music in Jerusalem will increase its capacity by 500 square metres of new facilities, thanks to funding from the Le Marche Region (Italy), the municipality of Maiolati Spontini, the Premio Vallesina association and the Custody of the Holy Land.



08 March 2017

Magnificat Institute, where the music breaks down barriers…The Magnificat Institute is a laboratory in constant ferment, where different cultures, faiths and mentalities work together… a challenge and a great opportunity at the same time … A fascinating and enchanting world.

Children, youth, adults and families join to discover the beauty of the music that unites peoples.

Fr. Alberto Pari. OFM,  Director – Magnificat Institute – Jerusalem

“I think the most beautiful way to define the Magnificat is that it is a school of music that breaks down barriers. There are more than 200 students with about 27 teachers and the best thing is that here, they all study together: Christians, Jews and Muslims, without any discrimination, nor labels.

A great gift: here, everyone is welcomed for their identity and without discrimination, because there are no barriers…especially with regard to the Magnificat, we develop the youth and the adults of the future, who lived throughout their childhood and teenage years in a school where they work together and accept each other without comparisons nor differences in religion, language and culture. I believe this is one of the most beautiful things: the fruits of this school.”

With the Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land, people of good will support this initiative.



The Magnificat Institute, located in the old town of Jerusalem, is a place that promotes dialogue, peace, human and social education. Here, Christians, Muslims and Jews from different countries learn and practice together. The Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, the Holy City, was founded in 1995, thanks to the work of musician and composer, Fr. Armando Pierucci. Currently, the Magnificat Institute in the Holy City of Jerusalem counts among its ranks 200 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students, mainly children, studying various disciplines.



Currently, the Magnificat Institute in the Holy City of Jerusalem counts among its ranks 200 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students.



The Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem, established by the Custody of the Holy Land and largely funded through scholarships from the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land is making a difference both in the cultural aspects as well as in peacemaking. Students of various nationalities and faiths come together to share their love of music and then to share their talents for others to enjoy.



Peace and dialogue are supposed to justify trolling funds from the public.

Dialogue with whom? Peace with whom?

The Magnificat Institute for music is in what is called the Old City of Jerusalem inside the city walls.  Although the area strides the former demarcation lines, the Franciscan compound is in the Arab sector or traditionally, the Christian Quarter. Only two months ago a Jewish Israeli was stabbed not far inside the area.  Jews in general are loathe to go there and certainly would not be expected to send their kids alone to such a place.

Therefore, one can go with a magnifying glass to find Jewish Israeli kids who study music there. The courses anyway are in English and Arabic. And as for “welcoming Jews”, one would also need a magnifying glass to find ANY announcement at the beginning of term in the Hebrew press, which after all is the lingua franca of Jewish bambini.

Mainly Christian Palestinian Arabs form the ca. 100 student body (NOT 200, 180 or whatever number the propaganda throws at the public–one wonders why musicians themselves can never count the correct number of students)

…The tuition in my opinion has been kept at an artificially low level so as to garner sympathy and cries for “oh I don’t know how I’m going to pay my staff, except for the graciousness of the Lord”. Other competing institutions with a more realistic standard of education manage to charge more and in fact have to cope the realities of the free market, not like liberally Church subsidized institutions. One of the odd features of “poor us, we don’t have money” is the practice of giving scholarships over and above the tuition 2 and even 3 times the amount.

This was exemplified in November 2005 when a delegation from Washington DC handed out $1000 scholarships to 10 students ($10,000 in all!!) when the tuition at that time was $300 a year and even $250 for multiple students in a family. So kids and their families could rack up $750 in their pockets. I submit that such a situation is demoralizing to the students and gives them an unrealistic notion of what they deserve.  This weird practice (despite the crying need for money) is repeated time and again especially with the similar inflated money prizes given in their yearly Tavasani Competition for piano that only a relatively few students compete for every year.


Winning in your own piano competition

March 14, 2017

It has been almost ten years ago since my first post on the Magnificat Institute, Jerusalem: “Bridge of Dreams to Musical Utopia”. This article had been kindly referred to on an Italian blog, Gaspatcho, which for once as Italian publications go, takes serious matters seriously.* This was a wake-up opportunity for those who would want to know more about this fantastic utopia where children must be going around in a musically induced trance, saying “pace, pace”.  As might be expected, however, publications praising this institution to the skies are more numerous, showing that people would prefer to believe fairy stories of making peace through music and don’t mind paying for it either.

After all, didn’t Fr. Armando Pierucci, their founder, say himself he “exploded a bomb of peace”?  Sorry, it was only a wet firecracker, a stinking, smoking one at that.

Ten years later, nothing has changed except the rich getting richer. To keep the wealth in the family as it were, ever decreasing circles should be the motto of the Magnificat.

Instead of reaching out to the wider music community in Israel, they exhibit themselves as more cliquish than ever. It is known that in their much publicized piano competition (at least to the public they want to impress enough to shovel out money for them) that most of the posh money prizes are snatched up by the home team, their own students yet again, practically ALL of them! The question is why should any of the locals bother to compete over there since the house will win anyway? Better yet, why have a competition, or call it that, if there are hardly any competitors?

Narrowing down their student body to Palestinians and the rare Israeli who happens to go there to study (most likely the progeny of nominal Christians from the former Soviet Union from which many of their teachers are taken, their -isky names can sound Jewish enough to donors) using coexistence as a pretext to promote the school is simply ridiculous, but it is also obscenely dishonest.

One can search with a magnifying glass to find non-Palestinians over there. Just because they themselves break down the student population into Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Latin Catholic, etc. means THEY are the ones making artificial separations non-existent in the schools that the students attend daily together. They repeat the slogan: “we don’t have any discrimination at the Magnificat” (except in their piano competition) but there have been plenty of Arabs in Israel music schools for decades. Big deal!

Don’t they remember their scion, mascot, founder and resident composer, Armando Pierucci (who must have hundreds if not thousands of pictures of him splattered all over the internet and Italian press) was the editor of the Franciscan Terra Santa Magazine in which a storm erupted all the way to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, December 1997? Under a stock photo of an Arab was written (in Italian): “unhappy are the people who can point a machine gun at a woman, they will disappear” (meaning the Jews).  Several indignant letters of complaint can be accessed at the CdS archives.  Astonishingly, the same editor morphed into the peace monk. Sure, leopards can change their spots!

Why not take such a clever PR man at his word? Clergy wouldn’t lie! Promoting the school as a laboratory of peace has meant immense funding and praise. Who knows, maybe eventual beatification and canonization? After all, a French nun described the school as a “miracle of peace that repeats itself daily”, something like the Eucharist, presumably.  Pierucci even received several peace prizes for no evidence needed to be given except he said so and no one contradicted him as long as the denaro was rolling in, BIG TIME!

Please consider the following from the booklet for the Nicholas de la Flue 18th Piano Competition, March 2017. (And it is NOT the oldest competition on the Holy Land, yet another misrepresentation.):

Art. 3 – Participation in the Competition is open to the piano students of the Magnificat Institute, to all young Palestinian pianists and to all young  pianists enrolled in Palestinian music schools.

One would expect that their Nikolaus de la Flüe Piano Competition, now in its 18th year, a source of money and fame for their own students on the whole, would be open to Israeli Jews. But they were the people who were supposed to disappear! The idea of competition in music for children is bad pedagogy to begin with, as though some are better than others while all doing the best they can. Instead the emphasis is to please parents and jurors by doing exactly what the teachers say. This is not exactly self-expression or even personal enjoyment of music.  What does a First Prize mean when there are hardly any competitors?

The kind of repertoire by these teachers mainly from the former Soviet Union, much of it is in a time warp. Audiences and jurors are impressed by emoting, so the kids pull mournful faces, lift their hands in the air and make expressive gestures towards the piano. The more schmaltz the better, doesn’t matter if it is Baroque or Classical music where it is not stylistically correct, but oodles of Tschaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and generally end of the decadent 19th century where they mine their repertoire.

I don’t think Chopin Waltzes are the thing for young Palestinian teenagers, or having to evoke Imperial Vienna. But they are rewarded for every bit of melodrama they can pack into these pieces (without appreciating the historical context, of course). There are other weird compositions that no one probably outside the Soviet Union has heard of. Instead of giving the students standard repertoire that will nourish their musical instincts, they have to draw out the last bit of expression from Glinka variations on a Russian folk tune, or other works irrelevant to their experience. Actually, obscurity has an advantage in competitions since the judges do not know to make head or tail of them. There is no known template from standard repertoire to compare with. All they see or hear is the cooked up drama in front of them.

Squeezing the most juice from mediocre pieces done in an extravagant manner is the essence of the self-praise splattered on the Custody sites. Most music schools do not laud the theatrical emoting of their own students, which of course is a reflection on their own greatness. Rather, normal schools are modest and let the listeners decide for themselves. They just report what they do without effusive flowery language. However, they are just continuing the tradition of the elaborate propaganda of its founder, liberally sprinkled with quotations from Holy Writ.

Such a degree of self-promotion coming from humble monks is nothing short of astonishing. All the superlatives in the dictionary both in English and Italian have not been enough to praise the place and themselves. If it were true, that music could make such peacemaking (inside a homogeneous group no less) then any or all music schools must be islands of tranquility. This is stupid. Human nature is not different anywhere even if it breathes the rarefied air of holy monks.

One can imagine all the happy campers when some kids win prizes and others don’t, what favoritism is showed by teachers to some students and others not, who gets to play in prestigious concerts or who gets to go to Italy or Switzerland to show off?  The level is not that high anyway considering what’s coming out of the Far East or just open YouTube. So much of their propaganda is misleading. The student body is not necessarily taken from the poor kids in the Old City of Jerusalem but rather well-situated families who send their kids to private schools, drive late model cars and take vacations abroad.

Practically everything they say about the school is bosh.  I really have a problem with this dishonest degree of ecclesiastical money-grubbing. There are real needs in the world that religious are obliged to consider and take care of first. The Custody of the Holy Land owns vast swathes of property in the country. They did not have to keep their students (which for a long time were less than 100 even though they were touted as being twice as many – another fib) in a basement that was continually renovated, and upgraded,  while trolling for money mainly from Italy every time.

One would think after the last campaign yielding probably more than a million euro, some from municipalities in the Marche, someone would shout, “Basta!” But they say they need to expand into yet another venue for which, you guessed it, they say they need more money!!! This is not the only music school open to Palestinians. They can go to the various branches of the National Conservatory that at least has sensible and truthful self-promotion.

Aren’t Christians being persecuted in the world? Shouldn’t they be the focus of fund raising? 90,000 were killed in the last year.  There are so many more rendered homeless and desperate. How do they have the fricking nerve to ask more money for an already rich music school? Because they are making peace? Sorry, that premise is as real as a counterfeit hundred dollar bill. Really in this day and age where in terms of information getting, one can run but not hide, how does anyone have the nerve to pass off concocted PR ploys as truth? Your music does NOT make peace and does NOT overcome barriers. If there are barriers, they are of your own construction.


“The only one of its kind, it promotes the study of music, offering a professional preparation, but, above all, a place of dialogue and of education in peaceful coexistence, where children and young Muslim, Christian, and Jewish youths study together united by their common passion for the art of music. The Magnificat constitutes a little miracle…”

The money has been pouring in at least from 9 years ago:



With the Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land, people of good will support this initiative.

The above statement is utterly shameless considering the disproportionate amount of money this school has attracted. They need MORE ? How much does it cost to teach 200 students when they pay tuition and their premises are owned by them?  How much does it cost to renovate your own premises? News flash: There is a famine going on in the South Sudan. North Korean Christians are dying in labor camps. Get over your self-absorption already!

This is also not true:

Born from the dream of a musician friar, Brother Armando Pierucci, who decided to embark on the adventure of teaching music in Jerusalem, in the old town, where a poor education or no music education at all was given.

 The Armenian school in the Old City had a good music program and choir. Some students went to the Anglican School, not far away where they could learn music, the same with the National Conservatory.


Eucharistic Symphony

September 20, 2012


The composer of the magnum opus, “Eucharistic Symphony”, Armando Pierucci, has just been declared the “greatest living organist”. 

Rejoice, o ye sons and daughters of Jerusalem!


“…egli sia stato definito dal M° Riccardo Muti ‘il più grande organista vivente'”.

Until now, he has only been promulgated as one of most consummate living organists and if not the greatest modern composer of sacred music, at least one of the Olympians in that category. Of course all this is combined with making peace in the Middle East through music with a handful of non-Palestinians in a rather small music school run by the Franciscans in Jerusalem, the Magnificat Institute.

We are not sure where they get their information from, as such a drastic endorsement by an emeritus musician is not very common. We are also waiting for evidence in the form of CD’s and videos to witness the prodigious repertoire and technique that should be on the level of a Horowitz in organ since there are SO MANY in the world who can compete for this title.

The pretext for more lauds and praises was a “Message for Peace to the Entire World, to every Man and Woman” series of concerts in Italy at the end of August and beginning of September with largely amateur musicians playing amateurish music. Such performances would have been unremarkable except the word “peace” was attached to it.

In the aftermath, praising one another must have been a festival of mutual aggrandizement as gleaned from some of the comments in the article:

“P.Armando Pierucci ha realizzato a Gerusalemme rende onore al paese in cui egli è nato. Non solo a Moie e alle Marche, si potrebbe aggiungere, ma anche all’Italia, anzi, al mondo.”

“The mayor…noted that the P.Armando Pierucci has not ony made honor ​​in Jerusalem but also to the country in which he was born. Not only in Moie and Marche, one might add, but also Italy, indeed, the world.”

Are the farmers over there that stupid??? Or do they have to bend backwards to justify to themselves and the public having diverted more than a million Euro from public and private funds to renovate Church property for an already wealthy organization in the Holy Land with spurious, nonexistent peacemaking  as its pretext???

April 16, 2015

This latest bit of self-promotion has to be seen to be believed for the coming repeat of the Eucharistic Symphony in June in Italy.  This is not the only one flowing from the ever effusive praise machines of the Custody of the Holy Land * that was particularly successful in raising loads of money for their unremarkable musical projects and renovating their own property.

The mascot here is a seemingly humble monk, music flowing not only out of him but from Jerusalem, placing him in the center of Christ’s birth, passion and resurrection. That is why evidently he is SO PROUD of himself, a little forgetful perhaps that Christianity is NOT a monotheistic religion but worships the Trinity. How this escapes a clergy member is remarkable except for maybe, well, considering the grandiose notions of being the “musician of ALL the Christians of the Holy Land” (most of whom don’t know him and couldn’t give a fig) and that they are sight unseen PROUD of HIM!!! Gone are the days when Bach was busy penning his masterpieces in solitude and using his works to praise the Lord not using the Lord to praise himself!!! Music by the way, is NOT about glory and receiving applause. It is working on one’s craft night and day to become better. This in itself develops true humility.


“I am particularly proud of My Eucharistic Symphony (ES), also because it flowed from Jerusalem, the City that the three monotheistic religions regard as holy. I went to Jerusalem in 1988 as organist of the Holy Sepulchre. This church contains the Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the Holy Sepulchre, from which Jesus rose.

Io sono particolarmente orgoglioso della mia Sinfonia Eucaristica (SE), anche perché è sgorgata a Gerusalemme, la Città che le tre religioni monoteistiche ritengono Santa. Sono andato a Gerusalemme nel 1988, come organist del S. Sepolcro. Questa chiesa racchiude il Calvario, dove Gesù è stato crocifisso, e il S. Sepolcro, dal quale Gesù è risorto.

And I now no longer the organist of the Holy Sepulchre;  I feel I am the musician of Christians in Jerusalem. And all are proud of me.

E io adesso non sono più l’organista del S.Sepolcro; mi sento il musicista dei Cristiani di Gerusalemme. E tutti sono orgogliosi di me.”


* ”Jerusalem, February 25, 2015 The Franciscan Armando Pierucci has left a deep mark in the Holy Land, and this was seen in the warmth with which the public greeted him at the end of his concert in St. Saviour Church on Tuesday 24 February.” HOGWASH!!!


It is truly embarrassing to write this update but the so-called Eucharistic Symphony written by Fr. Armando Pierucci, a religious-cultural event performed in Gethsemane, Jerusalem Sept. 22, 2012, and promoted by various entities such as the “Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti” of Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori has finally been put online:


As Toto, the little dog in the “Wizard of Oz” who pulled away the curtain from the menacing tyrant, there is just a pathetic oldster magnifying himself with megaphone, smoke and mirrors. There had been such fantastic advance publicity and even commentary in the concert itself to guide the listener to holy thoughts in case they were distracted by the discordant sounds, that enough words have been wasted on it (not to mention loads of money) even to bother to criticise it, so should be ignored as the rest of the serious musical world has.

However, the contrast between the pure intonations of the Eastern rites could not have been more marked with the so-called “Symphonic developments” after each example that really stretch the definition of the term. First of all there is no “symphony” to speak of with four part choir and strings in the most square rhythms and harmonies of the 18th century with some Baroque cantata allusions thrown in. How one can subject the fluid complex rhythms of Eastern chant to such a simplification are incredible ignorance and egotism combined.

“Development” in music means just that, not to stand in one place and return a theme upon itself with bad harmonies. At the end the tired audience (together with bored looking choir members) was barely clapping, yet, a “bis” was thrust upon them of the most insipid “variations” that had not any variety to speak of.

If the music is “Western” as is claimed, there needs to be a tonal structure or point of reference. The chords just merge into one another as in a crazy mirror show. This composition has the dubious distinction of being truly bad music, when it is difficult to go that low.  In fact it is a monstrous piece of trash that the Emperor and his cortège should hide themselves for lack of any proper musical constructions to cover their nakedness with.

One might accept the premise “peace through music” when this is a clever PR slogan that cannot be proven, yet has been used successfully to rack up money for the composer’s music school of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

However, when submitting actual musical compositions to the scrutiny of the outside world, one should be a bit more circumspect. Not everyone will believe anything coming out of a cassock when accompanied by quoting Scripture and invoking the names of the Saints. In fact, it is despicable and becomes absolutely silly to promote oneself and one’s questionable “masterpieces” under such a guise. The bar of the credibility of the public is constantly raised until there are no limits to the religious fantasies that can be conjured up as shown in the rest of this article. Someone should just say STOP to all this megalomania – it’s really pathological according to psychological textbooks!

Now that all of the four ‘Eucharistic’ concerts have already occurred at the end of September, I am placing this evaluation at the head of this article so there is no need to wade through all the holy hysterical hype that has accompanied this project from the get go.  Strangely, despite their presumed vast audience with allegedly 1500 spectators at the UN, transmitted worldwide by Christian TV as well, hardly anyone is coming out to say how great it was. Practically all the glory has been generated by those with a vested interest and of course the humble composer and his sponsors have laid the thickest, most lavish praise on themselves. Otherwise the serious musical world didn’t even notice.

From their own website, the Magnificat Institute of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the protagonists of this religio-cultural project:  “Recently his “Eucharistic Symphony” was an international success.”  1. For those who have somehow missed this incredibly momentous event in the history of mankind (no joke, read on!), this was a two part musical presentation starting in Gethsemane, Jerusalem: the first composed of mainly Middle Eastern and Orthodox chants sung by clergy in the original and the second part, an elaboration of the former, essentially Western tonal harmonizations, cut and pasted onto them by the Custody’s iconic composer, organist and peacemaker, Fr. Armando Pierucci, so-named “The Eucharistic Symphony” for strings, choir and 2 soloists.

This is supposed to represent Art, Beauty, Peace, the Body of Christ, Religious Freedom, Reconciliation between the Churches up to singing with the Saints and Angels and whatever fantasy or self-importance one might want to attach to it as shown in the rest of the article.

A promotional article for the “Symphony” appearing in the newspaper, Corriere della Sera, Sept 26, doesn’t shy away from using the fact that ‘Jesus prayed in Gethsemane’ as an attention getter.


Why not start with the premise of the article: “Religious freedom is a mosaic of voices”?

Did the concert at the UN have any effect on religious freedom? In fact, did anyone of significance actually go to it, as most of the UN personnel happened to be in New York the last week of September. Too bad they didn’t check their calendars before booking the Palais des Nations.

As for “mosaic”, sure, why not add “art” to the mix of music, politics and religion? If the music could stand on its own it would not need anything else to prop it up and in fact would be noticed by professional musicians and critics.

The actual spectators in the first concert in Gethsamane on the 22nd practically matched the number of performers and participants. How much does it cost to shuttle about 60 orchestral players, choir, soloists, sound experts and other members of the team to Israel, Geneva and back to Italy with the necessary accomodation and board? There should be some compelling raison d’être, or some marvelous result, n’est-ce pas?

Check off “religious freedom” – that was a wet firecracker. “Religious significance” in having 12 guys dressed up in their robes singing one right after the other? This of course, could have been done without the ear-splitting “symphonic” commentary. In fact, there was no need for it at all!

I have a real problem with the following unashamed exaggeration, using Jesus for PR in fact when it is audacious to promote one’s questionable musical works in a “cultural happening” where angels should fear to tread:


«La bellezza del Corpo e dello Spirito di Gesù diventa musica. Una melodia che unisce le antiche tradizioni sonore di dodici chiese cristiane dell’est e dell’ovest, rivisitate in chiave moderna, in nome della pace e dell’armonia di tutte le anime religiose».

“The beauty of the Body and Spirit of Jesus becomes music. One melody unites the ancient traditions of twelve Christian churches of East and West, revisited in a modern key, in the name of peace and harmony of all religious souls.”

The above is only a sampling of the pompous, to the level of clownish, attempts to sanction a contrived religious-cultural project.  But everything they do is dripping with sanctity – screechy, out-of-tune choirs, effusive grandieloquence  about beginner pieces played on the stage at the Mormon Center year after year, or a couple of mediocre graduates suddenly becoming “maestro”, the same recycled competition winners from their own school travelling abroad – the public is supposed to be accepting of anything they turn out because they quote Jesus and the Saints! As for justifications or results, except for wildly successful fund raising from the essentially naive and musically ignorant, how about egotism and narcissism to the exponential degree? The Church in the Holy Land – where religion becomes theatre and religion is used for self-promotion and money grubbing!

Update of an update – At the risk of making this post the length of an encyclopedia, here is yet another astonishing piece of delusional grandiosity that makes one wonder what these people must be smoking in Italy or if indeed they inhabit another planet, since this particular “mondo” doesn’t care a rat’s behind about symphonies, and less, those done with half a usual orchestra.

“Una Sinfonia unisce Matera e Gerusalemme” Intervista a Saverio Vizziello    http://francesco-altavista.blogspot.com/2012/10/una-sinfonia-unisce-matera-e.html “A Symphony unites Matera and Jerusalem” Interview with Saverio Vizziello (director of the Matera Conservatory whose orchestra played in the concerts)

“Una sinfonia che unisce tutte le chiese cristiane del mondo, questo un progetto storico, un evento straordinario che ha portato il nome di Matera in giro per il mondo.

A symphony that unites all Christian churches in the world, this is a historical project, an extraordinary event which carries the name of Matera around the world. (Oh, sure!)

Un evento mai realizzato nella storia mondiale, un luce che irradia il mondo ed unisce popoli e culture, una grandezza nemmeno immaginabile, ma è meraviglioso che nasca da una città che fino a pochi anni fa era sconosciuta al mondo.

An event never in the history of the world, a light that radiates over the world and unites all tribes and cultures, a magnitude unimaginable, but is marvelous that it arises from a city that until a few years ago was unknown to the world. (Gosh, this must be more important than the birth of Christ!)

La piccola Matera ha conquistato il mondo, ma la sua città si rende conto di questa grandezza? 

The small (city of) Matera has conquered the world, but the city is aware of this magnitude?”

SORRY!!! NO ONE is aware of any magnitude or grandeur, except those who are making a lot of noise as in an empty paper bag with amateurish uncultivated music while sucking up to the Vatican for attention.

Music, Peace, Reconciliation, Art, Beauty and Religious Freedom

On September 22, 2012 an unusual musical event was launched from Jerusalem and broadcast on some mainly Christian TV channels. This was the so-called world premiere of the “Eucharistic Symphony” or “Sinfonia Eucaristica” by Fr. Armando Pierucci, the titular organist of the Holy Sepulchre and founder of the Magnificat School of Music, Jerusalem.

The Orchestra and Choir of the Matera Conservatory, Italy, with vocal soloists performed this work first at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem. Three days later they moved to the UN Palace of the Nations, Geneva, to execute it on the 25th, presumably attended by mainly diplomatic personnel and from there to the Milan Duomo on the 26th and in the city of Matera on the 29th.

From their own description:

“One of the latest compositions of…Armando Pierucci, the “Eucharistic Symphony” was written upon commission of Mr. Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori, the President of the Milan Conservatory of Music. It is inspired by liturgical pieces ordinarily sung during the Eucharistic liturgy from twelve different Christian musical traditions in the Holy Town, with twelve corresponding movements and an introduction on a Jewish theme.

 The ‘Eucharistic Symphony’ is not only musically unique, but also highly symbolical: it shall give a sight of the beauty and harmony of the rich different Christian traditions interacting precisely ‘in symphony’, a vision of Christian communion expressed through the Art of Music…The ‘Eucharistic Symphony’” is a project with multiple dimensions: spiritual and secular, Christian and universal… Through Art and Beauty, the promoters of the Symphony wish to give to our time – a time of change and uncertainty – a strong message of Reconciliation, Unity and Peace.”2.

The fame and fundraising of the above named Magnificat Institute for at least 10 years has been based primarily on their self-declared special lack of discrimination in musical education in the Holy Land and the also alleged unusual peacemaking they are achieving by getting different ethnicities playing duets together on a piano bench or by Russians teaching some Christian or Moslem students. So it should not be surprising therefore to read that the founder and head of the school, Fr. Armando Pierucci, has written the ultimate peacemaking musical work. His activities in this area of ‘music for peace’ have garnerned prestigious  prizes and medals for himself in Italy since 2006 while his compositions have been promoted and roundly praised by the parent organization, the Custody of the Holy Land (on the receiving end of at least one million euro to renovate their own property for the school thanks to all the clever self-generated PR). It is unusual of course for a work to be lauded even before it’s performed but conceivably this is one of the characteristics of “peace-music” – it’s all GREAT because it is making peace (not to mention, truckloads of money, too!) 2.&3.

Musical value however is a not only a matter of opinion but subject to musical standards. Just because a composition calls itself a Symphony (without the usual wind section) doesn’t guarantee Art and Beauty (in capital letters, of course!) as described in their promotional materials for the work. 4.

Current educated opinion, practically universal, is that Oriental chant should not be put into the straitjacket of the Western tonal system and reduced to the common denominator of chromatic half tones. To harmonize such music is a risky business and it strains credibility that when about 12 different musical traditions are put together, the results can be anything but confusion.

To explain to the layman not familiar with musicology, musical syntax is very much like spoken language. The language of Western music has its own syntax as say, English. One cannot speak or write French, Arabic or Chinese with the same sentence structure as English.  Moveover, the phonemes are different, the smallest units of sound bytes, as it were. Western music has twelve chromatic tones but Eastern music has other complex systems. Western harmonies cannot be just cut and pasted onto them.  It is musically ignorant to even attempt to do so without being totally steeped in the different traditions and incredibly egotistical to market it as having ‘spiritual’ qualities. 6.

The fact that the recently appointed head of the Milan Conservatory, with his “Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti” (House of Spirit and Art Foundation) but not with extensive musical credentials, would actually commission and promote such a work, with the intent to harmonize Eastern music, sight unseen, and thrust it into the arena of music for peace is rather astounding.

Placing on music the extra burdens of having to achieve Reconciliation, Unity and Peace is heavy indeed and unreasonable. Music in the Catholic Church has been in a strange position since Vatican II. Popular and other questionable music have come in through the front door, not always of good quality. It is still a wonder that beautiful religious music by acknowledged composers is not deemed liturgical and therefore unacceptable in services.

At the same time secular music is frequently being performed in Churches. It is even baffling what is meant by a “cultural project born in Jerusalem” that seems way out of character, even terribly wrong, in a place they call the “Mystic Garden of Gethsemane”. 2. When the Symphony moves to the UN, it is supposed to further the cause of Religious Freedom. How that idea was tacked onto it is also mystic.

There are too many wires crossed here – religion mixed with culture and a political agenda – but not impossible to disentangle them. What is the actual purpose of a musical event that will have a restricted audience at least in the first two instances, although will be broadcast on some TV channels? Is there supposed to be any tangible peacemaking result except magnified publicity for the protagonists – if the only the Vatican notices, maybe that is all that matters? In this case, the lack of clarity issues from the already flawed premise of ‘music for peace’.  And to top it off, venerable Eastern musical traditions will be subject to the indiscriminate melting pot of the “Eucharistic Symphony”. 5.&6.

The fallacy apparently gone unnoticed by those with a blunted sensibility : THE CHURCH HAS NO BUSINESS IN BEING A CULTURAL AGENT, even more so when there is a admitted bias, that is, Western harmony over Eastern melodies, and to narrow it down further, a particular composer that they want to promote. This is different than having Vivaldi or Palestrina compose beautiful Masses. Back then, they didn’t have to broadcast how wonderful they were. These were either self-evident if they were good works of music or not.

1. No praise is high enough or too outlandish to describe their wondrous activities, a continuing paean to oneself: http://www.magnificat.custodia.org/notizie08/English%20index%20news.html

“The great event is reserved for the second Thursday, 18th October: after 20 years Fr. Armando Pierucci… will play again in Jerusalem in a concert which is ‘all his’. During these years Fr. Armando has always continued to play in Italy and abroad, invited always by different organizations.”

Someone should inform these humble clergymen what it means to be a seriously recognized performer, not to play in a local church now and again some relatively easy pieces but to embrace a substantial chunk of the repertoire and to supply EVIDENCE in the form of CD’s and press reviews.

By the way, where are the latter for this great Symphony that also by the way uses about half of a usual symphony orchestra? (Someone should also inform that the bombastic Fantasy and Fugue in a minor for organ BWV 561 is most certainly NOT by Bach.)


3. Not only will this piece unite the various Christian musical traditions, a contentious premise indeed, but the very esteemed representatives who have a habit of warring against one another in holy places such as the Holy Sepulchre. As Fr. Pierucci pointed out to Francesco Battistini in the article “Una Sinfonia di Fedi”, or “A Symphony of Faiths” published by the supplement La Lettura in Corriere della Sera, September 16th, and reprinted here: http://www.finesettimana.org/pmwiki/uploads/Stampa201209/120916battistini.pdf

“…To reconcile all the metropolitans and prelates was not easy, admits Friar Armando, “there are always jealousies, misunderstandings and some resistance. The 11th Greek Patriarch Theophilus II,for example, will be in Gethsemane, on Saturday, but he made ​​it a condition that it is not called a Mass but instead a “cultural event”.

 “…Mettere d’accordo tutti i metropoliti e gli alti prelati non è stato facile, ammette frate Armando, «ci sono sempre gelosie, incomprensioni, qualche resistenza. 11 patriarca greco Teofilo II per esempio sarà al Getsemani, sabato, ma ha posto come condizione che non la si chiami Messa: meglio “evento culturale”. Gli etiopi invece, fino all’ultimo, non hanno saputo indicarci un cantore.”

Stated rather poetically by the composer:

“In Jerusalem, the concept is not taken for granted (peace among the clergy): the eucharistic anaphora glowing in the color of the velvet and the scent of the incense, but there are also all those candles and those censers that under Calvary are brandished like swords, and preferably on holidays, heaved over the head of a friar endured more than loved. The site of the Holy Sepulchre has visible divisions,, a nest of litigation, where Christians make a sound of holy thrashing. Four years ago, there were images from the huge brawl between monks who ended up on YouTube. And first, the beating of Orthodox against the Armenians in 2005, or those of the Greeks against the Franciscans in 2004, or the fight between Copts and Ethiopians of 2002 …” (trans.)

 “A Gerusalemme, non è un concetto scontato: le anafore eucaristiche risplendono nel colore dei velluti e nel profumo degl’incensi, ma ci sono pure tutti quei ceri e quei turiboli che sotto il Calvario vengono branditi come spade e, preferibilmente nei giorni di festa, tirati sulla testa di qualche confratello più sopportato che amato. Il luogo visibile delle divisioni è il Santo Sepolcro, nido di liti, dove i cristiani se le suonano di santa ragione. Quattro anni fa, le immagini di quella gigantesca rissa fra monaci che finirono su YouTube. E prima, le botte degli ortodossi contro gli armeni nel 2005. O quelle dei greci contro i francescani, nel 2004. O la rissa fra copti ed etiopi del 2002..”.

This will be a major peacemaking coup to get these fractious groups to stop fighting for which the peacemaker should get the Nobel Prize!

4. A glaring difference between normal composers and those who write for Peace, Art, Beauty, Reconciliation, Religious Freedom is the bountiful praise not freely given by critics if the compositions are worth it, but is heaped upon themselves by themselves. Please note that JS Bach did not praise himself or his works AT ALL or make outrageous extra-musical claims for his compositions.


A sampling of the flowery bluster from the composer’s own description:

“Nachid El Cheroubim” (Hymn of the Cherubim) The invitation to leave the cares of the world, to hear the Word of God and join the Alleluia of the angels, is made irresistible by the river of joy that comes from the chorus and the orchestra.

“Litania Sanctorum” (Litany of the Saints)  The ancient Gregorian melody is assigned to the various voices of the choir, while the instruments are echoing the voices of the angels and the saints in heaven, as they join the prayer of the entire Church on earth.

“Halumou Nasjudu Li Rab” (Hymn “Brunn Alles Heils”) A single voice initiates the powerful melody of this sixteenth century Cantoral from Geneva; the other voices of the choir then join, verse by verse, in a crescendo of praise, in which the instruments, in Baroque counterpoint, echo the resonant sounds of heaven.

On the other hand to meld Ethiopian chant with the style of a Renaissance motet is something so unusual, for sure beyond the capabilities of JS Bach:

 “YeGena Mezmur” Fragments from a Christmas carol of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and from its pre-Eucharistic invocation of Mercy, are elaborated by the choir in the manner of a Renaissance motet so as to represent the Lamb of God as the shepherds go to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, to worship the Lord.

5. Of course, on their own website there had to be the gushing self-congratulations accompanied by sanctimonious photos. http://it.custodia.org/default.asp?id=4&id_n=21736

There is NO LIMIT to the unbelievable, unashamed, unending narcissistic bombast:

La “Sinfonia Eucaristica” di P. Pierucci raduna le Chiese di Gerusalemme nel giardino del Getsemani

“Nel giardino del Getsemani, dove Gesù fu lasciato solo dai suoi apostoli, le chiese di Gerusalemme hanno vegliato insieme” il sabato 22 settembre…Pierucci che con la sua arte musicale ha permesso all’idea spirituale di concretizzarsi in forme estetiche… La Sinfonia è un invito a contemplare il profondo mistero della comunione della Chiesa, Corpo mistico di Cristo, che respira con i suoi polmoni orientali e occidentali, attraverso il linguaggio universale della musica… Partendo da queste melodie P. Pierucci ha offerto le proprie meditazioni musicali, composte secondo i canoni compositivi occidentali, ma utilizzando modalità orientali.

 The “Symphony of the Eucharist” by P. Pierucci gathers the Churches of Jerusalem in the garden of Gethsemane

“In the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was left alone by his apostles, the churches in Jerusalem have watched together,” (aren’t WE holy?!) Saturday, September 22… P.Armando Pierucci that with his musical art has allowed the idea to develop in spiritual aesthetic forms… The Symphony is an invitation to contemplate the profound mystery of the communion of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, breathing with his eastern and western lungs, through the universal language of music… Based on these melodies P. Pierucci has offered their musical meditations, composed according to the Western rules of composition but using Eastern modes.

To correct a constantly repeated misconception, the glaring fallacy here is: Western music is NOT a universal language. It is a species of cultural imperialism to assume a priori Eastern modes can and should be subject to the “rules” of Westen composition. And moreover, WHO is saying that these particular arrangements have ANY musical value at all? It might be well to subject the scores to the current professors of harmony at the Conservatory of Milan and hear THEIR opinion. So far, these tonal miracles have not really been offered to the educated musical public or critics. Usually music scores follow hot off the press after an “international success”. And there ARE plenty of excellent Catholic composers whose work also deserves a boost!

6. As with the Saints and Angels in Heaven the praise is never ending and all the different ways to describe these amazing works. The way religious imagery is spread around liberally is clever but transparent nevertheless:


“Una delle ultime composizioni dell’organista titolare della Basilica del Santo Sepolcro a Gerusalemme per la Chiesa cattolica romana, il musicista italiano Maestro Armando Pierucci, la “Sinfonia Eucaristica” è stata scritta su commissione di Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori, Presidente del Conservatorio di Musica di Milano. Trattasi, secondo le parole dell’autore, di un “grande cantico nato dall’Amore per la Chiesa, Corpo Mistico di Cristo”. In essa sono racchiusi 25 anni di umile ed immenso servizio quotidiano dell’organista del Santo Sepolcro, la chiesa cattedrale di tutti i Cristiani, dove o in vicinanza della quale tutte le Confessioni celebrano, molto spesso contemporaneamente, il Mistero della Redenzione, compiuta LI una volta per tutte. Ora, dopo 25 anni, Armando Pierucci ha cominciato ad ascoltare con più attenzione chi prega con lui tutti i giorni; ed è rimasto incantato dal Mistero dell’armonia incosciente di tutte queste voci.”

“One of the last compositions by the titular organist of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to the Roman Catholic Church, the Italian musician Maestro Armando Pierucci, the “Symphony of the Eucharist” was written on commission by Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori, President of the Conservatory of Music in Milan. The issue, in the author’s words, a “great song born from love for the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.” In it are enclosed 25 years of humble and immense daily service of the organist of the Holy Sepulchre, the cathedral church of all Christians, where, or in the vicinity of which all denominations celebrate, often at the same time, the mystery of the Redemption, accomplished by Him once and for all. Now, after 25 years, Armando Pierucci began to listen more carefully to those who pray with him every day, and was enchanted by the mystery of unconscious harmony of all those voices.”

With regard to the singing of saints and angels, it is not far away from the declaration of the compser himself: http://www.terrasanta.net/tsx/articolo.jsp?wi_number=4269&wi_codseq=%20%20%20%20%20%20&language=it

“E’ un’emozione grandissima per abbiamo avuto provo sensazione che tutta la chiesa pregasse insieme unita, non solo la chiesa di tutti gli cristiani di gerusalemme, ma anche gli angeli e santi che abbiamo invocato.”

“It was a great emotion to have the feeling that the whole church prayed together united, not only the church of all the Christians of Jerusalem, but also the angels and saints we were calling upon.”

Please note that St. Augustine warned against confusing art for religion. One can admire a beautiful singing and it could be an aid to worship but it is not the real thing. And surely not getting overcome by emotion either that seems to be a repeating pattern in the way these people present themselves.

The following astonishing hyperbole is worth quoting. Please note that not all the bombast comes directly from the PR machine of the Franciscans. However, as regarding the “living miracle” of their Magnificat School of music, if others make outrageous claims, they don’t step in to correct them:


“La bellezza della Corpo e della Spirito del Gesù diventa musica. Una melodia unisce le antiche tradizioni sonore di dodici chiese cristiane dell’est e dell’ovest, rivisitate in chiave moderna, in nome della pace e dell’armonia di tutte le anime religiose.”

“The beauty of the Body and Spirit of Jesus becomes music. A melody sound combines the ancient traditions of twelve Christian churches of East and West, revisited in a modern key, in the name of peace and harmony of all religious souls.”

Incidentally, there is no reason WHY different communities could not get together and sing their chants in an event that didn’t need to bring over an orchestra and choir from Italy and moreover take a back seat to the chef d’oeuvre of the evening.

Addendum: Some refreshing words from the Holy Father: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-benedict-says-humility-is-the-way-of-god/ Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 23, 2012 / 11:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI is calling upon Christians to follow the example of Jesus Christ in becoming “last of all and servants of all.”

“A key point in which God and man are different is pride,” said the Pope during his Angelus address to pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo Sept. 23.

We, who are little, desire to appear great, to be first; while God, who is truly great, is not afraid to humble himself, and make himself last.”

BTW,  pretending or feigning humility doesn’t count. And it does portend humility as the wave of the future, when the new Pope, Francis I, himself is actively practicing it. So much for tanti applausi, blah, blah, blah…

two new articles and some old ones

June 24, 2011

“Any Buddhist disciple should avoid taking anything from anywhere knowing it belongs to another.  He should neither steal, nor swindle, nor incite others to steal or cheat. He should completely avoid all theft, deception and fraud.”

Sutta Nipata 2.397

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2

“There is no justification for telling a version of a story that we know, or suspect to be, untrue, for omitting or embellishing details…or using any other tactic to hijack narratives, even for a higher cause.

It’s tempting to use cultural narratives this way (PEACE!), and fall into an ends-justify-the-means mindset, especially when we feel we’re in the cultural minority and not playing on a level playing field. Because our ’cause is just,’ we rationalize untruth.”


Personal, iconic promotion is a never ending result of the activities connected to the Magnificat Institute, Jerusalem, for its founder, Fr. Armando Pierucci. Whether this state of affairs is accidental, in other words, a lion’s share of glory going to its humble monk only by chance or whether actively promoting him being central to a rather aggressive  PR campaign is a valid speculation, especially when religious are supposed to eschew worldly fame.

Music, religiosity and peace in the Holy Land are cleverly fused together,  playing emotionally on the heartstrings of uncritical listeners and potential donors.  When there are no limits placed on the fabulous assertions of ‘peace through music’ and much more, the hype simply spirals out of control as and staggers belief as demonstrated in the rest of this article.

First of all, normal music schools promote their products, not their great leader. After 16 years, a long enough period to produce substantial musicians, if there is any validity to their fulsome claims, it should be self-evident to the public and disinterested critics, not a continuous, self-generated parroting of “how great we are” that their own websites are full of.

The students, however, are really not the focus. The “founder” gets a large chunk of attention in any and all  press releases having to do with the place – his life story, his alleged accomplishments in organ playing and music composition that very few professional musicians would recognize.  When there are such assertions that he is one of the “greatest living organists” or  “the greatest living composer of sacred music”, to start, WHERE are the critiques (without a vested interest) and successful, universally recognized commercial CD’s?  It strains credibility that one can be both a great performer and a great composer and on top of that, while making miracles of peace in the Holy Land with a few-non Palestinians in a rather small music school run by the Franciscans. ***

Two articles appeared ON THE SAME DAY about the founder’s latest tour in Italy with 3 students and a teacher that should indeed raise serious questions about all this exuberant praise and what it is intended to produce. Otherwise one might get the impression that the school is a vehicle for self-promotion for its leader and a mascot to draw money and attention for its parent organization, the Custody of the Holy Land.*

In this article of June 21, 2011  we are urged: “Do not forget that the father… has composed over 60 works for organ and is considered the most important living composer of sacred music in Europe.”

“Non va dimenticato che padre Pierucci…ha composto oltre 60 opere per concerti d’organo e che è considerato il più importante compositore vivente di musica sacra a livello europeo.”

How can anyone forget when his praises are never ending? It is not certain what is meant by “European level”. So much beautiful sacred music is being written and performed but where are his compositions being cited in any important forums or played by significant groups?  Maybe I have Alzheimers…

The same article says there are 250 students in the school attended by students of various faiths.  Well, we have been through this before. The student body is composed of mainly Palestinian Arabs who don’t need music to make peace among themselves and the enrollment has always been considerably below that number.

“This morning, Tuesday, June 21 (2011), the Mayor of San Marcello, Peter Rotoloni officially received the Franciscan friar who was born in the town of Moie, Maiolati Spontini, Father Armando Pierucci, three of his young students and a teacher of the Magnificat School of Music in Jerusalem, the school that father Pierucci founded more than 15 years ago, and is currently is attended by over 250 children – be they Palestinians, Jews or Arabs of various faiths (Muslim, Christian, Orthodox, Coptic).”

“Questa mattina, martedì 21 giugno il Sindaco di San Marcello cav. Pietro Rotoloni ha ricevuto ufficialmente in comune il frate francescano nativo di Moie di Maiolati Spontini padre Armando Pierucci, tre suoi giovani studenti ed una insegnante della scuola di musica Magnificat di Gerusalemme, scuola che padre Pierucci ha fondato più di 15 anni fa e che attualmente è frequentata da oltre 250 ragazzi sia palestinesi, come ebrei, come arabi che sono di varie fedi religiose (musulmana, cristiana, ortodossa, copta).”

But there is no consistency in what they report about themselves since in another article of the same day we are told “Currently, the school counts among its ranks more than 200 students, guided by about (!) 18 teachers: they are Israelis, Palestinians, Armenians, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.


Attualmente, la Scuola annovera tra le proprie fila oltre 200 allievi, seguiti da circa 18 insegnanti: essi sono Israeliani, Palestinesi, Armeni, di religione Ebraica, Cristiana e Musulmana.

AND (such an article would not be complete without lauds and kudos to the great leader), “He gave concerts in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the Holy Land. Father Armando Pierucci is counted among the great Masters of Organ virtuosos of our time.”

“Ha dato concerti in Italia, Grecia, Cipro e Terra Santa. Padre Armando Pierucci conta fra i grandi Maestri virtuosi di Organo del nostro tempo.”

Oh yeah? Where are all the reviews for concerts in Italy, Greece and Cyprus playing substantial works? Elizabeth Roloff used to give frequent organ concerts in Jerusalem for years, different programs every time, spinning off complex 4 and 5 voice fugues by Bach with hands and feet together, one right after the other. Surely someone who wants to be considered a great organist should at least play a 4 voice or even a 3 or 2 voice fugue once in a while in public. In the real world of music just saying you’re great doesn’t crack it. In the world of the church perhaps narcissism is not only tolerated but promoted!** & ****

In short, the quantity and quality of the promotion of the founder should put the constant declarations of ‘making peace in the Holy Land through music’ under scrutiny, the main reason people and organizations have been targeted and convinced to contribute large sums of money to support. What else might they be fibbing about? Getting prestigious peace prizes and medals in Italy for Pierucci practically every year from 2006 for having a few non-Palestinians in a school of music is surely a brilliant coup of PR engineering.  What about all the other schools and universities in Israel where Jews and Arabs study in higher proportion of diversity? Maybe they should get the Nobel Prize? ******

 The question remains: when does the bubble finally burst, since it is ALL hot air?

Update: this current news is worth putting close to the beginning of the article, since the sheer amount of self-praise and promotion is not only baffling to those who assume that religious are supposed to be humble and truthful but can be tedious to wade through what resembles an “Alice in Wonderland”  in several volumes. It just gets more and more absurd. However, this bit of bombast speaks for itself:


“Today, Brother Armando Pierucci is already working on a new and splendid project: the composition of a Eucharistic Symphony which brings together sacred pieces from all the ancient traditions present in the Orient (Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Melkites, Russians, Latins, Lutherans, Syriacs, Ethiopians, Copts, Chaldeans, Maronites), of which he is masterfully doing all the arrangements. Performances of the work are already being planned in prestigious locations.” (This is not to be confused with the same name “Eucharist Symphony” by two organist composers, Nazario Bellandi “Sinfonia Eucaristica”, or Auguste Fauchard “Symphonie Eucharistique”.)

It’s not bad enough putting weird harmonies to plainchant and traditional unaccompanied Oriental melodies (stamp my ego on those!) but now will make the ultimate pan-cultural event, a modern musical Tower of Babble, for which praise is liberally spread even before it happens.

It must be SOOO nice to have the Church to not only underwrite one’s works have them performed and recorded by vocal and instrumental ensembles while providing virtually unlimited connections, means and funds for self-promotion. You can even quote Scripture and cite the names of the Saints for extra  credibility!  And there is a substantial return since the amount of product recognition fuels money back into the pockets of the promoters.

“The Eucharistic Symphony is not only musically unique, but also highly symbolical: it shall give a sight of the beauty and harmony of the rich different Christian traditions interacting precisely ‘in symphony’…Through Art and Beauty, the promoters of the Symphony wish to give to our time – a time of change and uncertainty – a strong message of Reconciliation, Unity and Peace.” http://www.magnificat.custodia.org/notizie08/English%20index%20news.html

It must be SOOO nice to be a head of a music school where you can praise and promote your own products.  For those who don’t know what it means to reduce the complexity of Oriental chant to the common denominator of twelve tone Western harmony – it is INCREDIBLE chutzpah

Anyone knowledgable about music would say this is a monstrous idea. But really, the target audience and conceivably promoters are those with tin ears and even get elected to head music schools thanks to political clout and almost nil musical qualifications. And the end result is to exalt not Jesus, peace or brotherhood but guess WHO??? This must be egotism to the exponential degree to take place on the stones  in Holy Getsemane, aided and abetted by the current pompous stuffed shirts of the Church – absolutely DESPICABLE!!!

The rest of us have to plod along, to have to observe the rules of harmony, to sweat and study to master our crafts, to get by on merit alone that does not guarantee minimal recognition or appreciation.

Update of an update: September 2012.  The recently renovated premises of the Custody Compound housing the Magnificat Institute have been inaugurated with the expected pomp and hyperbole.  The questionable “sign of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and excellent teaching” is reported on the Terra Santa blog: “segno di tolleranza, pacifica convivenza e di eccellenza didattica.http://www.terrasanctablog.org/2012/09/05/inaugurazione-dei-nuovi-locali-dellistituto-magnificat/ 

The above glowing praise is repeated on the website of the Institute that is astonishingly depicted as an “interreligious Cenacle”, the latter word having to do with the Last Supper of Jesus and His Disciples.


Extending the analogy, they do not shrink from characterizing the rounds of air travel, honorariums, peace medals, dinners and concerts as a “long Calvary the Magnificat went through for those years” as described by the esteemed founder in an “affectionate letter”.


“Padre Armando ha inviato nei giorni scorsi un’affettuosa lettera di ringraziamento al sindaco Carbini per aver “partecipato al lungo Calvario che il Magnificat ha percorso in questi anni.”

But really, having exhausted the dictionary and thesaurus for words to praise oneself, why draw the line at religious imagery?  To troll for money on the basis of how virtuous we are is ABNORMAL in the first place. So if you get people accepting such a premise “music for peace”  you can most  probably convince those same people of anything and pay them in the currency of enthusiasm and warm feelings for planting a seed in the “oasis”.

“L’entusiasmo con cui opera padre Armando – osserva il sindaco Giancarlo Carbini – ci ripaga delle tante difficoltà per realizzare il progetto Magnificat, per cui il Comune aveva stanziato e finalmente può erogare 70.000 euro…Finalmente riusciremo a contribuire a un miglior clima di pace e di collaborazione a Gerusalemme, anche se circoscritto a quella che potremmo chiamare oasi-Magnificat, con l’auspicio che sia un piccolo seme che porti un grande frutto.”

“The enthusiasm with which Father Armando  operates”,  observes Mayor Giancarlo Carbini “repays the many difficulties to realize the Magnificat project, for which the City had set aside and eventually can deliver 70,000 Euros … Finally we can contribute to a better climate of peace and cooperation in Jerusalem, even if limited in what we could call the ‘Oasis-Magnificat’, in the hope that it is a small seed that brings a great result. ”

70,000 Euro is only about 10% collected from Italian public money and an NGO organization over 6 years. How much does it cost to renovate Church property anyway?  In 2006 it was proposed to expand the original area but meanwhile there was a plan to build a separate building. The intermediate plan fell through and 6 years of collecting money finally could not be ignored anymore. If they didn’t build a new structure, wouldn’t it have been honest to admit that the funds needed for the original project would most probably be less, conceivably MUCH less?

* The latest much trumpeted “Pentagrammando per la Pace” (the five lines of music staff for PEACE) has a few Italian kids playing duets with 3 Palestinians in a few cities from June 19-23, 2011, as though this is significant in any way, an implied urgency for making peace between Palestine and Italy through music!


Optimal success of the opening night of “Pentagramming peace together”  The musical program was devoted entirely to the piano played by two and four hands, a choice that definitely helped to unite these young musicians aged between 12 and 18 years, coming from different places, but united by the same passion and language, that of music. (translated)

Ottimo successo della serata inaugurale di “Pentagrammando la pace insieme” . Il programma musicale è stato interamente dedicato al pianoforte suonato a due e a quattro mani, scelta che sicuramente ha contribuito ad unire questi giovani musicisti tra i 12 e i 18 anni, provenienti da luoghi diversi, accomunati però da un’unica passione e linguaggio, quello della musica.

Why should I or anyone else have a problem with the above? First of all, there are REAL problems in the world and attention and money does not need to be diverted to propping up vacuous egos, clergy or no. We’re talking about considerable financial support by various entities for a few kids playing piano duets. And surely this has NOTHING to do with peace. So right there it is blatant misrepresentation, not to mention exhausting the dictionary to find superlatives to praise onself.

Update: There has been another edition of the “five lines for peace” this time getting together about 30 young string players mainly from Italy, Sarajevo and Jerusalem. I didn’t hear there was a pressing need to make peace between these peoples but the last two cities are recognizable buzzwords.  In general large musical ensembles are untenable considering the high cost of airfare and accomodation. They don’t have time to practice adequately or even get to know one another. But the publicity value is the main point, as it is ALWAYS.

** This is really astonishing, but an article from last year’s Mediterranean Festival 2010 has been trotted out by the Custody of the Holy Land’s website  in June 2011 as though this were current news.


“We reproduce below an article from anconainforma.it about the Magnificat music school, founded by Father Armando Pierucci and supported by ATS pro Terra Sancta, the NGO of the Custody of the Holy Land.

Moie (Ancona) – Another important award for the work of Father Armando Pierucci in Jerusalem. The Magnificat music school, which he directs and which was founded by him in order to provide a professional future for the youth of the Holy Land and to contribute to peace by bringing together people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, will be the site of a concert as part of the Adriatic Mediterranean Festival.”

Praise for one’s current peace and music initiatives is not enough. Why not recycle old but excellent propaganda? Such unashamed narcissism is really hard to come by. Most narcissists manage to conceal their egotistical agenda. Of course, the robe of St. Francis is a nice cover. How about if these pieces of work would dress like normal people in the 21st century, you know, in T-shirts and jeans? They’d have more than a small problem of credibility.

Please pass the vomit bag…

*** Googling “Magnificat” and “miracolo” (miracle) can be a source of wonder and amusement at the same time. 

 Here’s from the horse’s mouth, the Custody of the Holy Land site:  “Il Magnificat costituisce un piccolo miracolo poiché dalla sua nascita”    http://www.custodia.org/default.asp?id=534 The Magnificat has been a small miracle since its inception.”

When religious talk about “miracles”, we are supposed to believe them: “The Magnificat constitutes a little miracle because, from its birth, which took place more than 16 years ago, it has grown and lives, essentially, thanks to generous outside donors.”


Sounds like a circular argument to me, making fatuous claims and getting people to believe them enough to contribute loads of money – certo, a miracle!


“..tutto ha avuto inizio per miracolo ed è tuttora un miracolo vivente”   “It started as a miracle and is still a living miracle.”

http://www.anconainforma.it/news-ancona/ancona/2010-03-06/moie_concerto_del_magnificat  Padre Armando Pierucci e la scuola Magnificat continuano nella loro attività a Gerusalemme: un lavoro silenzioso, qualificato e capace di offrire serenità e una formazione musicale a tanti bambini e ragazzi. È la musica che compie miracoli: è un piccolo mondo in cui s’incontrano tutte le componenti della società, come la definisce il fondatore e Moiarolo padre Armando.

“Father Armando Pierucci  and the Magnificat school continue their activities in Jerusalem, a silent work (yeah, no fanfare or publicity!), qualified and capable of providing serenity and a musical education to many children and young people. It is music that works wonders: it is a small world in which all members of society meet, as defined by the founder, Padre Armando from Moie.” This article is a gem – offering serenity and therapy at the same time!
…Spiega padre Armando – attraverso la musica, vogliamo stabilire ponti e relazioni di amicizia e stima tra le componenti della società israeliana. La musica è uno strumento capace di aprire le menti e i cuori ed ha una funzione anche terapeutica nell’elevare gli animi».
“Padre Armando explains, ‘Through music, we want to establish bridges of friendship and esteem, and relationships between the components of Israeli society. Music is an instrument that can open minds and hearts, and also has a therapeutic role in raising the spirits.'” No small claims indeed for a few non-Palestinians in a small mediocre music school! Any musician according to this logic must be not only psychologically healthy but serene and capable of performing miracles
Bear in mind the small number and percentage of non-Palestinians:
“l’Istituto Magnificat di Gerusalemme, in cui dal 1995 lo studio musicale unisce studenti di diverse etnie e religioni, in un piccolo miracolo di convivenza nel cuore di una terra martoriata dall’odio e dalla guerra.”
The Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, in which music study unites students of diverse ethnicity and religion, in a small miracle of coexistence in the heart of a country martyred by hate and war.
“Armando Pierucci… oggi autentica anima di quella meravigliosa realtà che è il Progetto “Magnificat”, l’Istituto musicale che ha fondato e dirige, in cui si sta compiendo il “miracolo” di far studiare e collaborare quotidianamente giovani di fede cristiana, islamica ed ebraica.”
“Armando Pierucci… today the genuine spirit of the such marvelous reality of the Magnificat Project that he founded and directs, in which comprises the miracle to have young people from the Christian, Islamic and Jewish faith study and collaborate.”
A lot must have changed from when the above named person was editor of  “Terra Santa” and the Jews were supposed to “disappear”. (Re: the previous article in this blog.)
http://www.gruppocoralesantacecilia.it/rassegna_stampa_testo.php?cod_rassegna=200  “L’Istituto “MAGNIFICAT rappresenta un esempio mirabile di pacifica convivenza… Molte le difficoltà iniziali per insegnare musica in un Paese dove esistono solo canti popolari… gli allievi al pianoforte suonano Chopin, Debussy e Beethoven… un vero miracolo della pace… Si rende necessario, anche a livello regionale, pensare ad un progetto a sostegno del “miracolo” Istituto Magnificat.”
“The Magnificat Institute is a marvelous example of peaceful coexistence… (There were) many initial difficulties to teach music in a country where there are only popular songs  (!) The students at the piano (now) play Chopin, Debussy and Beethoven… a miracle of peace… It is necessary, even at the regional level, think about a project in support of the “miracle” Magnificat Institute.”

Just to inform, an young pianist from Nazareth played with the Israel Philharmonic in the early 1990’s, not to forget the many Arab students enrolled in Israeli music schools for decades – no discrimination!
 These people must REALLY be out of the loop of information and some Italians incredibly naive to publish and even believe such nonsense.  
http://www.assimusica.it/wmprint.php?ArtID=1675  “Questa istituzione costituisce un piccolo miracolo.” “This institution is a small miracle.”

http://www.panedivita.org/notiziedalmondo.html Alla Messa di Pasqua di questa mattina al Santo Sepolcro si rinnoverà un piccolo miracolo musicale: un coro di cristiani di diverse confessioni, di ebrei e musulmani accompagnerà la celebrazione dell’eucaristia delle ore 9. È questa una delle tante «esplosioni di pace» – definizione dello stesso direttore, il frate francescano Armando Pierucci.

At Easter Mass this morning at the Holy Sepulchre is renewed a small miracle of music: a chorus of Christians of different denominations, Jews and Muslims will accompany the celebration of the Eucharist 9 AM. This is one of many “explosions of peace” – as defined by the director, the same Franciscan friar Armando Pierucci.


“La Scuola di musica, nel complesso francescano del San Salvatore, diretta da un frate marchigiano organista, padre Armando Pierucci, è un piccolo miracolo di normalità e di collaborazione.”  “The School of Music, in the Franciscan complex of San Salvatore, led by a Marche organist monk, Father Armando Pierucci, is a small miracle of normalcy and cooperation.”

Fr. P: Adesso abbiamo 180 ragazzi che vengono a scuola. D: E’ un piccolo miracolo di pace.

Fr. P: Now we have 180 young people coming to the school. Interviewer : It is a little miracle of peace. (Note:  In 2003 there were ONLY about 75 students and hardly any non-Palestinians.) 

https://cabbagejuice.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/insieme-per-magnificat/ The interviewer, Paolo Notari, on Italian TV, March 7, 2009:  “Questo frate francescano in questa terra, gerusalemme, a FATTO UN MIRACOLO…proveniento di varie etnie. Pierucci: “stanno nella gioia e nella serenità.”

Notari: “This Franciscan friar in this land, Jerusalem, made a miracle … from various ethnic groups.” Pierucci:  “they (the teachers) stand in joy and serenity”.

Maybe if you keep repeating something, it eventually becomes true??? http://www.amicimagnificat.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92&Itemid=93

 “Nel clima generale di tensione della Terra Santa, un luogo di educazione alla pacifica convivenza L’istituto Magnificat costituisce un piccolo miracolo… con un successo crescente.”

“In the general climate of tension in the Holy Land, a place of education for peaceful coexistence, The Magnificat Institute is a small miracle
…with increasing success.” All I can say is: PROVE IT!!!

Great opportunity for PR during the visit of the Pope in 2009: http://www.lastampa.it/cmstp/rubriche/stampa.asp?ID_blog=242&ID_articolo=341

“Si tratta dei bambini e dei giovani del ‘Magnificat’, un’conservatorio  sui generis che da venti anni compie ogni giorno il miracolo di mettere insieme, nel nome della musica, adolescenti divisi dalle guerre e dalla religione. I locali della scuola si trovano attualmente nello scantinato del San Salvatore, il quartiere generale della Custodia francescana …Magnificat, che ora conta 210 studenti e 20 professori, quest’ultimi, in buona percentuale, ebrei russi dell’Accademia Rubin. Gli allievi arrivano da Gerusalemme est, da Ramallah, da Betlemme. “Cresce il numero di ragazzi che frequenta la scuola, nonostante le difficoltà, i posti di blocco, la paura”, osserva il francescano. Molti di loro – aggiunge – sono adolescenti salvati dalla strada, dalla disperazione, dalla tentazione di trasformarsi in miliziani di Hamas.”

“These are children and young people’s ‘Magnificat’, a ‘conservatory’ sui generis from twenty years makes every day a miracle to join together, in the name of music, adolescents divided by war and religion. The premises of the school is currently located in the basement of St. Saviour, the headquarters of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land… the Magnificat, which now has 210 students and 20 professors, the latter, in good proportion, Russian Jews from the Rubin Academy. Students come from East Jerusalem, from Ramallah, from Bethlehem. ‘A growing number of children who attend school, despite the difficulties, the checkpoints, the fear,’ says the Franciscan. Many of them – he adds – they are teenagers rescued from the street, from despair, from the temptation to become militants of Hamas.'” (Yeah, “rescue” them from their private schools, summer vacations abroad, take them out of their late model cars and regale them with scholarships and trips to Italy and Switzerland!  BTW, Jerusalemites do not pass checkpoints.)

It’s a pity that this bombast is not in English. It would save me from having to translate (and trying not to vomit while doing so). English speakers would have caught all this out a LONG TIME AGO and taken it to the cleaners. Please note that “loving” personal relationships between teacher and students are NOT advisable. Read on…
http://www.sassoferratomia.it/rivista%202008.pdf (Page 19)
“Muna, la più grande, ha incontrato la sua professoressa, un’ebrea, nel corridoio. Sembravano due innamorate. L’Israeliana ha abbracciato la Palestinese. Concludo: se qualcosa di buono c’è stato, l’ho imparato a Sassoferrato. Se un miracolo c’è stato, questo è un miracolo della musica, del lavoro, dell’amore.”
“Muna, the oldest, met her teacher, a Jew, in the corridor. They seemed like two lovers. The Israeli has embraced the Palestinian. I (Pierucci) conclude:  if there were something good, I taught it to Sassoferrato. if there were a miracle, this is a miracle of music, work, love.”

If you want to believe the following, go ahead. (Page 4) “Padre Armando Pierucci è considerato in Europa il ‘più grande compositore e organista’”. In just ONE article, he is the “GREATEST COMPOSER AND ORGANIST”. This must rest somewhat on the personal testimony of the humble monk himself (p.19): “Ho lavorato a tutto campo; ho insegnato tanto che il Ministro Generale mi ha nominato ‘professore emerito’. Un onore che raramente si dà ai musicisti. Ho suonato notte e giorno per i servizi liturgici; ho armonizzato centinaia e centinaia di canti per la chiesa, per la scuola; ho composto 18 messe per vari complessi, affinché non scomparissero i cori di chiesa; ho composto 4 cantate, incise tutte, eccetto ancora l’ultima, la Terra dei Fioretti, su CD. Posso dire di aver sollevato un quintale con una mano. Non era un sacco di farina; sembrava un sacco di sabbia del deserto; invece era terra buona. Adesso la nostra scuola di musica, l’Istituto ‘Magnificat’, ha 180 allievi e 20 tra professori e personale ausiliario.”

“…I worked in all areas, I taught so much that the General Minister appointed me “Professor Emeritus”, an honor rarely given to musicians. I played day and night for liturgical services and have harmonized hundreds and hundreds of songs for the church and school.  I composed 18 masses in various complexities, so the church choirs would not disappear. I made 4 cantatas, recorded them all, but still the last, the Land of the Little Flowers, on CD.  I can say I raised a  hundredweight with one hand. It was not a sack of flour,  it seemed like a sack of desert sand, but it was good soil. Now our school of music, the Magnificat Institute, has 180 students, 20 among professors and auxiliary staff.” (Aren’t we humble?)


“Il miracolo della musica: Ricevendo il suo premio Padre Armando Pierucci, ritenuto uno dei maggiori compositori  e organisti europei, ha parlato del ‘miracolo della musica universale’, diventata uno tornato di pace nell’Istituto Musicale da lui fondato a Gerusalemme dove sono accolti ebrei e musulmani, arabi e armeni. Nato a Moie di Maiolati, ha appena ricevuto anche la cittadinanza onoraria e una targa d’argento del Presidente della Repubblica quale speciale riconoscimento.” (p. 7)

Miracle of music:  While receiving his prize, Father Armando Pierucci, considered one of the greatest organists and composers of Europe (!), spoke of the “miracle of universal music,” turning into peace at the music institute he founded in Jerusalem, where are welcomed Jews and Muslims, Arabs and Armenians. Born in Moie, Maiolati, has also just received the honorary citizenship and a silver medal of the President as a special recognition.” (p. 7)

In the same magazine, prophecy of greatness! One can’t help but speculate the ORIGIN of ALL the claims to miracles of peace, greatness in musical composition and organ playing. WHO started it all? (I’ll give you ONE guess…)

“This child will be great (a priest approached my mother and said).” un prete si avvicinò a mia madre e le disse: “Questo bambino sarà un grande…(p. 8 )


 And finally in French: “… un petit miracle se produit ici de façon continuelle, tout ce petit monde (israéliens, arabes, juifs, chrétiens, musulmans) travaille ensemble dans la paix.” “… A small miracle happening here on an ongoing basis, all these people (Israelis, Arabs, Jews, Christians, Muslims) working together in peace.”

 The ONLY miracle here is convincing a gullible public to donate money and give peace prizes to a founder of an institution that has but a handful of non-Palestinians.  Please be informed that in ALL of the music schools in Israel there is NO discrimination and the proportion of different ethnicities and religions is much higher than the Magnificat.
To sum up, there are miracles of peace being accomplished everyday by the greatest composer of sacred music and one of the world’s greatest living virtuosos on the organ! You all believe that, right????
**** The “Peacemaker” as a clever, contrived PR product:

Riconoscimento di prodotti in pubblicità dipende sul visibilità e promozione persistente che sono costosi dello sforzo, tempo e denaro. Ma i risultati possono essere molto gratificante, se perseguiti con dedizione e tenacia. Essere costantemente agli occhi del pubblico ha infatti prodotto un mascot di pace della Terra Santa, che ora fa parte degli eventi e discussioni riguardanti alla “pace in Medio Oriente”. Il problema è, come con la pubblicità, così molti prodotti sono inutili, costruiti dell’aria, come l’inesistente pace che ha solo una manciata di candidati, non-palestinesi, in una piccola scuola di musica.

Product recognition in advertising depends on visibility and persistent promotion that are expensive in effort, time and money. But the results can be very gratifying if pursued with devotion and tenacity.   Being constantly in the public eye has indeed produced a mascot of peace from the Holy Land who is now part of events and discussions having to do with “peace” in the Middle East.  The problem is, like with advertising, so many products are useless, constructed out of air, like non-existent peace that has but a handful of candidates in a small school of music.  

This is only a sample taken out of the abundant self-praise on their own site:  


“Riportiamo in seguito un articolo tratto da agensir.it sulla scuola di musica Magnificat, fondata da padre Armando Pierucci e sostenuta da ATS pro Terra Sancta, la ONG della Custodia di Terra Santa. L’Istituto Magnificat è un luogo di dialogo e pacifica convivenza, dove ebrei, cristiani e musulmani imparano e praticano musica insieme. Le attività dell’istituto Magnificat sono realizzate grazie ai contributi dei nostri amici Pro Terra Sancta e al sostegno di donatori istituzionali.

Al concerto sarà presente padre Armando Pierucci, direttore e fondatore del Magnificat e organista del Santo Sepolcro… L’Istituto Magnificat di Gerusalemme… è una scuola di musica che ha la sua sede nella Città Vecchia di Gerusalemme, ovvero in una parte della città ancora contesa dalla politica tra israeliani e palestinesi. La scuola di musica è “aperta”, luogo di “pacifica convivenza”, cui vi partecipano ragazzi e giovani di ogni nazionalità, credo politico e religioso in nome della più alta e pura accettazione reciproca.”

“We report an article taken from agensir.it about the music school Magnificat, founded by Father Armando Pierucci and supported by ATS Pro Terra Sancta, the NGOs of the Custody of the Holy Land. The Magnificat Institute is a place of dialogue and peaceful coexistence, where Jews, Christians and Muslims learn and practice music together. The activities of the Magnificat are realized thanks to the contributions of our friends Pro Terra Sancta and the support of institutional donors.

At the concert will be Father Armando Pierucci, director and founder of the Magnificat and organist of the Holy Sepulchre…The Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem… is a school of music which has its headquarters in the Old City of Jerusalem in a part of town still disputed between Israelis and Palestinians. The music school is “open” a place of “peaceful coexistence”, where are participating children and young people of all nationalities, religious and political beliefs in the name of the highest and purest mutual acceptance.”

Please note above that the great leader and founder’s name is repeated twice and terms for peace and coexistence are liberally spread. This is a technique of advertising to fix an image on the (unthinking) public.  Pierucci = Peace.

They only forgot to mention out of the 30 kids they brought over to Italy, there weren’t any non-Palestinians!  So WHOM are they making peace with?

Below is yet another astonishing article. There are so many to choose from – the Church in the Holy Land has seemingly given a blank check for self-glorification. And PR, glossy brochures, plane tickets, accomodation, rental of halls, etc., do cost REAL money, a LOT of it.

 Il Messaggero Aug 28 2010

 Padre Pierucci: la mia opera di pace é Magnificat  AdMed premia il frate. “Musica e tigna”. Così faccio convivere le religioni a Gerusalemme

Un cammino artistico che silenziosamente ha gettato il seme della pace laddove la differenza religiosa èda sempre motivo di atrocità. Con uno spiccato accento marchigiano padre Pierucci dice: “Questa è ‘tigna'”. Eh, si. É tigna. In senso buono, per fortuna.

Father Pierucci: My Work for Peace is the Magnificat
AdMed rewards the friar. “Music and ringworm.” In this way I make coexsistence among religions in Jerusalem

“An artistic journey quietly sowed the seeds of peace where the difference is always a source of religious atrocities. With a strong Marchian accent Father Pierucci says: “This is ‘ringworm’.” Oh, yes. And ringworm, in a good way, thankfully. ”

Ringworm, indeed! Does anyone need more proof as to the contempt of the public being exhibited here? The first test has been passed. The Italian public has not reacted uncritically to fables of ‘peace in the Middle East through music’ with a handful of non-Palestinians issuing the mouth of a guy with a rope around his waist and cheerfully donate funds (although now as the Euro is falling and Italy is going the way of Greece, conceivably less money will be allotted to frivolous activities dreamed up by clergy).  To liken it all to a parasitic “ringworm”, indeed, it could not be truer!

I just want to add for the readers coming to this site who would find outright fooling the public by religious as impossible, well, that is the hook whereby they catch you. The clergy have a practically guaranteed credibility which is the very reason they should NOT lie in ANY way.

First of all, the number of students have always been inflated at least by 2 going back to 2003 in the Radio Vaticana interview. The percentage of non-Palestinians as students is single digits. So, WHY and HOW does the founder get prestigious peace prizes and medals? And, don’t forget, one prize is a stepping stone to another. But sorry, the whole edifice is built on sand!
As for “peace and love”, stop and think a bit. What NORMAL school or NORMAL people would say we are a “miracle of coexistence”? Even Fr. Joe’s orphanage in Bangkok admits of difficulties with the mix of truly destitute children (not rich brats in the Holy Land) from different backgrounds.  What is so extraordinary about they are doing that the public should empty its pockets to support it? All over the world including Israel there is no discrimination in music schools, so why all this hype? They have practically exhausted the dictionary for words and phrases to praise themselves – miracle, utopia, laboratory of peace, highest and purest acceptance (whatever THAT means!), “I exploded a bomb of peace in Jerusalem”, etc.
Furthermore, those Israelis who might send their kids to a predominantly Arab school (highly unlikely – Jews are not admitted to their yearly piano competitions anyway) or staff who might teach in one, are ALREADY peaceniks, so in this case a peace monk would be irrelevant, only preaching to the converted. That is, if he is going around the classrooms saying “pace, pace, miei 250 bambini!”  (peace, peace, my 250 – in actuality around 100 – children!) There is nothing special indeed, nothing worthy of recognition, even less of prizes, medals and honorariums, instead a incredible scam, a smokescreen of pseudo-religiousness and mediocre music that doesn’t even shrink from quoting Scripture to hoodwink the public. 
The advertising trick of “bait and switch” is very much in evidence here. Sainthood by association, the frequent use of the word “miracle”, well, the public thinks it is getting the real thing. Instead, it is hypnotized by the buzz words to accept a quasi miracle of coexistence – no proof needs to be given!  The language is purposedly emotionally charged – people falling on their knees, hardly able to keep their tears back, fantastic, etc. What these spin doctors want you to believe is that as soon as staff and students enter the Magnificat basement they are overcome by the odor of sanctity, they suddenly love one another, and guess WHO is responsible for THAT?*****
I hate to disappoint but musicians are not better than anyone else and maybe even worse because of the egotism of some of them like plastic artists, dancers and all. Furthermore, encouraging emotional bonds between teacher and student is bad pedagogy.  Giving lessons is after all, a business transaction and a respectful distance should be maintained, not spiritual and emotional enmeshment.
It is really despicable to use religious terminology and practice for self-aggrandizement. The terrasantablog is unbelievably full of superlatives regarding the Magnificat Institute.  This article could be at least 3 times longer if all their cheap non-stop bragging were included. It’s one thing to say how great their music might be (questionable assumption indeed) BUT to make a quasi mystical ‘standing in joy and serenity’ fairy story presided over by the chief wizard degrades the premises of religion itself and certainly NOT would be approved by Jesus or St. Francis, whom they also quote freely to make themselves appear saintly.
This piece of con-artistry could not be more clever, since it is right smack in the Israel-Arab conflict. And who can check it as being true or not from the outside, except that religious would never lie OR use the current situation as an unprecedented opportunity to promote oneself as a peacemaker plus greatest composer of sacred music in Europe and one of the greatest living organists as well.  The two latter claims alone are enough unmistakable red flags that there is something really fishy going on.
WHY doesn’t the parent organization, the Custody of the Holy Land, put the brakes on all this megalomania, instead aids and abets it with unlimited publicity and funds? WHY? Because it is bringing in the dough!!! Because they would surely benefit when their peacemonk gets the Nobel Prize and is up for beatification!!!
I am truly sorry to say this, but what can be imagined in a place where it is a machine churning out self-promotion for itself and its great leader, the dark side of narcissism is only to be expected. This happens all the time with  entertainment figures – an ever widening gap between the blown up image sold to the public vs. stark reality; adulation vs. the realization that one doesn’t remotely deserve it.   There is the need to up the ante all the time, to constantly be in the public eye (pictures all over the place, so loved by dictators), to repeat slogans ad infinitum, to court more praise and applause to keep going so it doesn’t collapse like a worn out balloon. This is all sick, of course, and completely avoidable when true humility is cultivated.
Narcissism in all its fake glory – poisonous, aggressive, manipulative, rageful, destructive to oneself and others  – how would one put it – collateral damage in the service of one’s almighty ego?
***** This was too irresistable to omit, in German, no less!
“Wenn man herkommt, ist es, als träte man in eine andere Welt.”
“When someone comes here, it is as though entering another world!”
Ja, sicher…
****** So as not to be culpable of expecting readers to believe without providing evidence, here is a short list in chronological order of the prestigious peace prizes received by the honorable founder.  How about an extra prize for clever media manipulation over non-existent peace?
(1) http://www.promagnificat.org/
Nel giugno del 2006, nella terza edizione del Premio Vallesina, abbiamo premiato Padre Armando Pierucci con una targa del Presidente della Repubblica per la sua opera umanitaria, sociale e culturale che sta svolgendo da 15 anni in Terra Santa.
WHY A SCHOOL IN JERUSALEM? (Yes, WHY, indeed, when there are plenty!)
In June, 2006, 3rd edition of the Vallesina Prize, we have awarded Padre A Pierucci with the medal of the President of the Republic for his humanitarian, social and cultural work, ongoing for 15 years in the Holy Land.


A Padre Armando Pierucci sarà consegnata la targa d’argento del Presidente della Repubblica. L’intero incasso della serata sarà destinato alla scuola di Musica Magnificat a Gerusalemme di Padre Armando Pierucci

(2) http://www.sassoferratomia.it/Soci%20Sassoferratesi%20mondo.pdf  Padre A.Pierucci Gerusalemme Socio onorario Premio Monte Strega 2007

3) http://www.magnificat.custodia.org/Cavaliere.html

Con decreto firmato dal Presidente della Repubblica Italiana, Giorgio Napolitano, e controfirmato dal Ministro per gli Affari Esteri, Massimo D’Alema, il 22 aprile 2008, festa del B. Francesco Venimbeni da Fabriano, l’Istituto Magnificat è stato onorato con la nomina a Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana  (Knight of the Italian Republic) data a P. Armando Pierucci. Il 27 maggio 2009 il Console Generale Italiano a Gerusalemme, Dr. Luciano Pezzotti, ha consegnato all’interessato la “Stella della Solidarietà” (has consigned the “Star of Solidarity”)

 (4) l’Accademia dei Piceni lo premierà tra i marchigiani dell’anno. 30 mag 2008. (The Piceni Academy will award him as one of the Marchians of the Year, May 30, 2008.)

(5) http://www.7×4.it/index.php/ancona/6034-festival-adriatico-mediterraneo-linaugurazione-alla-cittadella

Il 28 Agosto l’inaugurazione alla Cittadella – Sede Segretariato alle ore 18.00 con la consegna Premio Adriatico Mediterraneo per la Pace tra i Popoli 2010 a Padre Armando Pierucci. Quest’anno Adriatico Mediterraneo ha scelto Padre Armando Pierucci come destinatario dell’annuale premio: francescano, musicista virtuoso e compositore di grande talento nato a Maiolati Spontini…La sua attività si snoda nei concerti, direzione di cori, composizione ed insegnamento ed è considerato fra i pochi grandi maestri virtuosi di organo del nostro tempo. (virtuoso musician and composer of great talent born in Maiolati Spontini … His work unfolds in concerts, choral direction, composition and teaching and is considered one of the few great masters of organ virtuosos of our time.)

(6) http://www.custodiaterrasanta.com/magnificat/notizie08/English%20index%20news.html   During the same ceremony, the Picenum Prize 2011 – a beautiful little statue of “the Madonna with Child” by the sculptor Mastrojanni – was awarded to Fr. Armando Pierucci, or rather, to the Magnificat Institute…The reason for this prize was “to have made of the Magnificat Institute a place of brotherhood and peace, uniting the contrasting realities that animate Jerusalem”…

Just to add, as one can see that a big production is being made over the compositions of the founder. In fact, on the Magnificat site, his works are very much in evidence.  This may be a little strange when music composition is touted as being one of their important subjects.  So one might like to see works by students over 16 years.  It might be a good idea to correct some of the outstanding errors in harmony -but pardon- clergy are exempt from telling the truth, from true humility and following rules like everyone else they preach to.

Update for those who managed to read until the end – a megalomanic fantasy that gets more and more ridiculous as time goes on if such a thing were possible. Now, “Beauty will Save the World” in their own words on their own site  yet again promoting the works of according to them, “two outstanding composers”, one of whom is of course, Pierucci. In this Milan concert scheduled for Sept. 30th, sponsored by “Syncre”, the worth of Giuseppe Verdi is presumably known, so he doesn’t need extra publicity!


It’s an extraordinary musical event even before it happens! Well, hopefully anyone with musical discretion will have earplugs ready for discordant harmonies and purposeless melodic meanderings – after all, unlike any other composers in history including Bach – UGLY WILL SAVE THE WORLD. 

It really looks like some people have actually started believing their own concocted propaganda. It strains belief that the Custody of the Holy Land would allow such monstrous self-indulgence constantly promoted on their own site.  In an article that really had nothing to do with him,  here is more ridiculous self-praise in the obligatory “in nomine Pieruccis”:

This represents a vocation and particular challenge for those who live in a multi-religious context as complex as Jerusalem. And on this side, keeping to the Franciscan spirit, Father Manns remembers a special praise for the work undertaken by Armando Pierucci, composer and director of the Magnificat, the music school of the Holy Land, based in Jerusalem, for that intelligent and effective dialogue achieved by music. In an outrage like the Middle East, music really heals all wounds, the language uniting all the children of Abraham.
“Ciò rappresenta una vocazione ed una sfida particolari per tutti coloro che vivono in un contesto multireligioso e complesso come Gerusalemme. E proprio su questo versante, così conforme allo spirito francescano, ricorda padre Manns, una lode speciale spetta all’opera intrapresa da fra Armando Pierucci, compositore e direttore dell’Istituto Magnificat, la scuola di musica della Custodia di Terra Santa, con sede a Gerusalemme, per quell’intelligente ed efficace dialogo perseguito attraverso la musica: in un contesto offeso come il Medio oriente, la musica davvero guarisce le ferite, è il linguaggio capace di unire tutti i figli di Abramo.”
You people are really disgusting. You know damn well: 1. No peace is being made in that nasty place. 2. Music is only a vehicle for your own self-gratification and promotion. 3. Repeating lies will not to make it truth even by egotistical sanctimonious monks quoting Holy Scripture. 4. No wounds are being healed. On the contrary, many children do not want to study music again after being shouted at.
This article should stop at some point but the self-praise never ends – in saecula saeculorum! In fact, the public is reminded at a rate of once a month who is the founder, director and composer.  Now, propaganda for the school has shifted somewhat towards “giving hope to the children of the Holy Land by offering them a career in music”.  Unless employment is guaranteed by the Church, music is a notoriously bad choice for a money making profession. It is admitted that less than five icons of the school have come out of 16 years, which in itself is not a good result. The following video could not be more evidence for using any opportunity possible to promote the great leader. 
It is supposed to be about Organ Concerts and giving their boy a chance to shine but right away the film shifts to the peace monk busily scribbling away at “composition”. He is shown beside his student under the armpit of Christ on the cross. Soon after in front of  the Ascension of Christ he gives a monotone account about writing so much music for the students in the schools to be able to sing, a great value for them (where are these compositions?) and turning out musicians.
To continue the above interrupted list: 5. Mixing Western and Oriental music is like throwing pasta and maklouba into the same pot. Ungrammatical “harmonizations” of Arabic music is simply MAD – PAZZO!
It’s mighty pathetic that the above is all you apparently have to offer after  800 years – fake peace  and bad music.
There is also the astounding conclusion to be drawn from all this – how ‘saints’ can actually be manufactured using all the clever PR methods of modern advertising – ubiquity like Coca Cola being very high on the list. 
Well, you might fool the public, but you don’t fool God.
UPDATE, May 5, 2012:
I must admit that it gets boring after a while to report on what becomes a “never-ending story” and even I get tired of it, so have to take a break every now and then.  However, the propaganda mills are busy as bees thinking of new ways to praise themselves and churning out astonishing articles such as the following:
Together with Jesus: “The story of every Christmas in the Holy Land is special and fascinating. Fr. Armando Pierucci, Director of the Magnificat Institute, the school of music of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, in Jerusalem, is certainly one of the leading figures in this marvellous story which is repeated every year.”
The following  is REALLY a matter of opinion, but WHY don’t we hear from parties without a vested interest if these compositions are as great as they are cracked up to be? And moreover, WHY there are NOT multitudes of choirs all over the world jostling with one another just for the privilege of singing these marvelous, fantastic works? In fact, the prevailing expert musical opinion is that monophonic oriental music should NOT be harmonized, much less turned into a polyphonic mishmosh.
“In over 25 years of activity in these Holy Places, he has composed and arranged beautiful melodies and has carried out a precious job of preserving and increasing appreciation of the heritage of sacred and popular music of the local Christian Arab tradition, and for some time now he has also been the highly esteemed composer of the music , every year new and fine music for the Holy Mass that is solemnly celebrated on Christmas night in the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine, next to the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This Holy Mass is at the centre of attention of the whole world and beats in the heart of all Christians, wherever they are on this Holy Night when God came into the world.”
It gets somewhat incoherent towards the end, the part about “to boost  talents”: “The polyphonic Holy Masses for Christmas are an invaluable treasure, which further enhances the long tradition by the Franciscan Custody of promoting high profile cultural initiatives, capable of fitting into and harmonizing with the particular context of the Holy Land, taking into account the cultural resources and heritage that exist here and by working actively and competently to develop in people the awareness of what exists, to educate to know and feel what is beautiful and infinite, to develop and boost talents.”

I bet you didn’t know if you can’t sing, you don’t exist! “Music and singing,” says Fr. Armando again,”are a fundamental part of our history and culture. If we do not sing, this means that we do not have an identity and that the social and cultural world we belong to does not actually exist.”

If you have the patience to listen to the end, this goofy propaganda is quite astonishing coming from a Professor of International Law: http://vimeo.com/40257260

“The Magnificat Institute is a place of encounter for healing and understanding showing to the Israeli and Palestinian communities the advantages of working together for mutual benefit and for full development of personality.” http://www.wwu.edu/fairhaven/news/worldissuesforum/12winter.shtml

The latest, as in the hymn: “Your miracles are new every morning”: http://www.terrasanta.net/tsx/articolo-rivista.jsp?wi_number=3882&wi_codseq=EC1203

“…qui non ci sono muri; lavorano insieme ebrei, arabi, olandesi, italiani… un miracolo di armonia! Da noi al Magnificat nessuno chiede di che religione sei, a che popolo appartieni.”

“…here there are no walls; working together are Jews, Arabs, Dutch, Italians…a miracle of harmony! With us at the Magnificat, no one asks what religion are you, or what people you belong to.” Sure, only except in their annual piano competition where Israeli Jews who don’t study in Palestinian schools are not admitted. (Now the fingers of only one hand are needed to count possible candidates. And, really why bother anyway, since their own students win, year after year, the majority of the prizes?)

Methinks there is more than a hint of desperation, or more like it, pathology, in the quantity and quality of the self-promotion not only of the esteemed composer and founder but what a few non-Palestinians in a small music school are supposed to be capable of producing, except MONEY and ATTENTION for its parent organization.  Let’s admit it, the peace racket has been one of the most successful money making scams over the past few decades.  Say you are making peace, true or not, and be prepared with baskets to collect all the money raining down from heaven.  And if you present yourself as a humble monk from the Holy Land, so much better!!! 

The law of diminishing returns, however, does exist. When you go too high or too far out on a limb, you might actually fall in the mud below. Now that Europe has real financial problems, hopefully they will wake up over there and stop funding useless, untrue, but incredibly profitable scams for peace.


two articles from the crypt

April 6, 2011

For the convenience of readers, particularly the English speakers, significant parts of two articles (“the Jews will disappear – Storm over the Franciscans” and “Misinformation”) from the archives of the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, December 1997, have been translated here. These links have been posted before but it may be easier to view them together and with some explanation.


 The above have to do with the uproar 13 years ago over a statement in a panel attached to an article in the bi-monthly publication of the Franciscans, La Terra Santa (or the Holy Land), edited then by Padre Armando Pierucci. From page 32 to 35 was an account written by P R Cetoloni, “Il Blocco per Betlemme” (Blockade of Bethlehem) mainly about the difficulties faced by Italians in a tour of the Holy Land when arriving to Bethlehem. This was a time where stringent measures were gradually able to control the carnage over ten years done by freely passing individuals from that area with bombs strapped onto them.

Strangely enough, the inflammatory comment and two pictures at the beginning and end had little to do with the content of the article.  On page 32 is a rather primitively drawn cartoon with a distressed woman in a headscarf carrying a crying baby in front of barbed wire. On page 35 in the right side panel is a large print denunciation over a photo of an Arab woman carrying an older child.  The juxtaposition of pictures and screed sticks in the mind, however, more than the article itself, a clever manipulation of public opinion that just seemed to increase in intensity, temerity and actually achieved success for its writer!

The denunciation in the panel is in remarkably strong language coming from someone who will be feted a decade later as a peacemonk: 

“There is no blockade, nor military, nor bureaucracy against a mother and her child. Sooner or later life will succeed in passing. Unhappy is the people who put up a machinegun against a mother and her baby. This people is destined to disappear.” (trans.)

Non c’è blocco nè militare nè burocrato dinnanzi a una mamma col suo bambino. Prima o poi la vita riuscirà a passare. Infelice il popolo che mette un mitragliatrice dinnanzi a una mamma col suo bambino. È destinato a sparire, quel popolo.

A scandal ensued that went all the way up to the prestigious Corriere della Sera. Beniamino Lazar in his response rightly called attention to the cheap buzz words that were used. I would say this continued to be a regularly recurring pattern, except demagogery using facile slogans has morphed into shining  icons of love and peace!

Controversy in Jerusalem over an article
“The Jews will disappear” – Storm over the Franciscans

Controversy in Jerusalem over an article “‘The Jews will disappear’ Storm over the Franciscans” JERUSALEM  It is a tough debate between Benjamin Lazar, president of the Jews of Italian origin in Israel, and the Franciscan magazine “Terra Santa” printed in Jerusalem. “It is an anti-Semitic publication with increasing hostile tones that now has really hit rock bottom,” protests Lazar speaking to the “Corriere”. “History proves that, if the Jews continue to repress the Palestinian people with weapons, the future will take revenge against them,” replied the Franciscan editor, Father Armando Pierucci.

 An event that exploded before Christmas will perhaps force the same Latin Patriarch, Michel Sabbah, a Palestinian, to try to calm the waters. Everything began with an article published in the latest issue of the journal in which it tells of difficulties faced by Christian pilgrims that summer due to the closure imposed by the Israeli military in Bethlehem. “Unhappy is the people who put a gun in front of a mother with her child. And (they are) destined to disappear, these people” written in a side panel. Lazar responded by sending a peremptory letter to Pierucci: “It is not the first time that you use anti-Israel and anti-Semitic terms… But this time I feel you have reached the limit, I demand an explanation.” (trans.)

Lorenzo Cremonesi
Page 11, December 11, 1997,  Corriere della Sera

Polemica a Gerusalemme per un articolo ‘Gli ebrei spariranno’

Polemica a Gerusalemme per un articolo “‘Gli ebrei spariranno’ Bufera sui francescani GERUSALEMME” E’ polemica dura tra Beniamino Lazar, presidente dell’associazione degli ebrei di origine italiana in Israele, e la rivista francescana “Terra Santa” stampata a Gerusalemme. “E’ una pubblicazione antisemita, dai toni sempre ostili, che ora ha davvero toccato il fondo”, protesta Lazar parlandone con il “Corriere”. “La storia prova che, se gli ebrei continueranno a reprimere con le armi il popolo palestinese, il futuro si vendichera’ contro di loro”, replica il direttore francescano, padre Armando Pierucci.

 Una vicenda che esplode prima del Natale e costringera’ forse lo stesso patriarca latino, il palestinese Michel Sabbah, a cercare di calmare le acque. Il tutto inizia con un articolo pubblicato sull’ultimo numero della rivista in cui si racconta delle difficolta’ incontrate dai pellegrini cristiani, quest’estate, a causa della chiusura imposta dai militari israeliani su Betlemme. “Infelice il popolo che mette una mitragliatrice dinanzi a una mamma col suo bambino. E’ destinato a sparire, quel popolo”, si legge in un riquadro. Lazar risponde inviando una lettera perentoria a Pierucci: “Non e’ la prima volta che usate termini antisemiti e antiisraeliani…Ma questa volta ho l’impressione abbiate raggiunto il limite, richiedo una spiegazione”.  Cremonesi Lorenzo

Pagina 11 (11 dicembre 1997) – Corriere della Sera

Misinformation AGAINST ISRAEL With reference to the article “The Jews will disappear – Storm over the Franciscans” (Corriere, December 11) while avoiding insults, personal attacks and irony, I regard the words of the Franciscan Father Armando Pierucci, editor of the “Terra Santa” magazine printed in Jerusalem, very bad and offensive towards Israel and the Jewish people. The impression is the disinformation campaign against Israel is being restarted stronger, which cannot attach itself to presumed Israeli “belligerence” but exploits topics with a facile grip on public opinion of the majority of the Christian faith.

 I would remind Father Pierucci what the Pope said in April 1993, when the priests preach and “all those who exercise the ministry of the word with writings, publications, radio or television transmissions” should not express their point of view, their psychological experience, not to make a display of “exhibitionism “or worse, to instill “doubts” among the faithful. I believe the words of Father Armando Pierucci unjust, they do not oppose injustice or serve to make good prevail. Nabissi Galliano, regional President of the Italy-Israel Association, Marche   (trans.)

 Page 41, December 21, 1997,  Corriere della Sera

  La disinformazione CONTRO ISRAELE In riferimento all’articolo “Gli ebrei spariranno – bufera sui francescani” (Corriere, 11 dicembre) ed evitando insulti, attacchi personali, ironie, ritengo le parole del Direttore francescano Padre Armando Pierucci della rivista “Terra Santa” stampata a Gerusalemme, molto cattive ed offensive nei riguardi di Israele e del popolo ebraico. L’impressione e’ quella che sia ricominciata piu’ duramente la campagna di disinformazione contro Israele, la quale non potendo piu’ aggrapparsi alla presunta “bellicosita” israeliana, sfrutta argomenti di facile presa sull’opinione pubblica, nella maggioranza di fede cristiana.

 Ricordo a Padre Pierucci cosa disse il Papa nell’aprile del 1993: i sacerdoti quando predicano e “tutti coloro che esercitano il ministero della parola, con scritti, le pubblicazioni, le trasmissioni radiofoniche e televisive” non devono esprimere il loro punto di vista personale, la loro esperienza psicologica, non devono fare sfoggio di “esibizionismo” o peggio instaurare dei “dubbi” nei fedeli. Ritengo le parole di Padre Armando Pierucci ingiuste e non opporsi all’ingiustizia non e’ mai servito per far prevalere il bene. Galliano Nabissi Pres. regionale Associazione Italia -Israele,Marche

Pagina 41 (21 dicembre 1997) – Corriere della Sera

It would be nice if these two articles could “disappear” as the “people” so named according to the editor should do.  In a dictatorship  anything inconvenient or unflattering  would just be sent down the memory hole to be evaporated. Unfortunately for those who would like to manipulate the truth rather than witness to it, universal cyber communication means that somewhere there will be a hard or soft copy, email, fax, scan or any type of digital storage to remind them of what did happen and who they really are.

Even if the Church owned Corriere della Sera or had enough clout to exert pressure  to obliterate anything that would reflect unpleasantly on them (this happened on a few occasions in other contexts), the silent witnesses would still remain in some form or another. This is precisely the level of accountability one risks in going public. Secluded religious would like to use mass communication for self-promotion but it can turn into a boomerang to hit them on their most vulnerable parts – the need to protect their own no matter how pathological, and to claim a default monopoly on truth.

These articles testify if nothing else, to a different side other than the praise, prizes and applause of recent years.  But more than that, there is something particularly perverted in courting recognition and publicity for making with “safe” Jews,  those already converted peaceniks, nominal Russian Christians whose names sound Jewish (!) and of course the insignificant number of non-Palestianians that pass through the Magnificat Institute presided over by the same editor of “Terra Santa”, the pretext for medals, honorariums and unlimited personal publicity.  Real Israeli Jews they can make peace with in their secluded monastery compound are about as numerous as hen’s teeth.

How to spend other people’s money

April 6, 2011

9,430 Euros have been put at the disposal of the Magnificat Institute, the music school of the Custody of the Holy Land for its “Magic Lamp” project by the  Italian Ministry of External Affairs (project “Support the emergency education in the Palestinian Territories. Bethlehem, Jericho and East Jerusalem MAE 9226/AVSI/TOC).*

Congratulations, AVSI (non-profit Voluntary Association for International Service (tr))  and MAE, you found an emergency just as worthy as feeding the hungry in Southern Sudan and Mozambique!!

According to the website of the Custody, this is not only a concert, but a “prestigious initiative”. (Oh sure, like everything else you do!!)  http://www.proterrasancta.org/la-lampada-magica-%E2%80%93-vii-edizione/

Let’s see where all the money is going.

A composer by the name of Maroun Askar left some unpublished melodies, in this case, 12 short simple ones for kids to be used in this project. Harmonization is not a big production. These are done all the time in music schools in the first year of studying harmony.  Does that cost money if the arrangements are done by the venerable composer in residence?

Since it is the 7th edition of the Magic Lamp, one can compare it to what they did the past. Like many music schools, they cheaply publish their own material, either in house (photocopy or their own printing center) or send it out locally.

A booklet of 32 pages has already been produced mainly in black and white, similar to the previous ones, so this could not have been the main expense. Something was said to the effect that computerizing the melodies and arrangements  is “not a simple task” because the arrangements go from left to right and the melodies go from right to left. No big deal, actually, since they have their own books of hymns printed going the other way, so there must be a program already in place.  Transliteration is used however with languages going from right to left with music, or separating each syllable – no big inconvenience either.

They mention that other schools will use the scores but if the students are not taught to read music backwards, it is virtually unusable for them.  Again, how much does it cost to send a 32 page booklet either through the post or by internet to a relatively small number of schools?

“On top of everything else” a CD will be made to accompany the book. WOW, really expensive!!!  A record of the event will be made into a DVD. How much is that, $300?  Bringing in kids from local schools for the concert and adding a few instruments, is that where the rest of the 9000 Euros is going?

In the Middle East, the Magic Lamp traditionally has a genie inside who will fulfill every wish when you rub on it. The Custody says “we have an emergency“.  AVSI and MAE, respond in effect, like the genie, “your wish is my command”.

*Maybe Italians with money to spare and who cannot do simple math will accept that 9430 Euros are needed to harmonize a few baby melodies, publish, perform and distribute to a few schools.  English speakers tend to be more circumspect and critical, and surely not ready to waste money on bombastic schemes of the Church.   

But please note that the Church doesn’t NEED all that money for such a small project and to pompously receive it certainly not by misleading the public.  The way they justify themselves is simply ridiculous to whoever knows some music and how these things are done. There ARE emergencies in the West Bank -orphanages, etc. – but THIS IS NOT one of them.**  http://www.avsi.org/default.asp?nofather=yes&pageName=NewsDettaglio&ID=958

** Splattered all over the internet, particularly in Catholic News outlets(of course from Rome!)  are bombastic announcements of concerts (which in any music school are usual and normal) for the “joyous month of May” that includes the Magic Lamp: http://www.h2onews.org/english/201-Holy%20Land/224449065-the-concerts-of-the-magnificat-institute-of-jerusalem.html?cat=49&maincat=6#

Friar RICCARDO CERIANI, OFM, Magnificat Institute – Jerusalem: “The Magic Lamp involves the activity of the Magnificat in 360 degrees. We begin with the composition of the songs, or, as in this case, by looking for unpublished songs. These are then harmonized and arranged musically.

Then, we pass to the computerized edition which permits the printed publication of the score. The songs are taught to the children, both those that sing and those that play instruments. Then, from the concert, we produce a video, and in the proceeding days a CD is already recorded. Video, CD and musical score are put in a boxed set and sent to the schools… The School of Music of the Custody of the Holy Land, the Magnificat Institute, has entitled these concerts MOM, which stands for Magnificat Open Music…

So that, in this period of the year in which, in the Middle East, the feast of the Resurrection and spring happily coincide, this joy is appropriately expressed in music by those who represent new life: the children of the Holy Land! “

Strangely enough, they omitted to mention how much the Magic Lamp was costing the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in other words getting public money for something usually done de rigueur by any music school internally – 9430 Euro is about $13,500 – outrageous!!!

The point is if this were said by a regular guy in a business suit or in jeans and a tee shirt, it would not support the alleged halo of sanctity, therefore,  encouraging the suspension of critical thinking.***

Hear, hear!!! Sainthood by association is WRONG.  How much does it REALLY cost to put together a few mediocre arrangements of kiddie songs and send them to a few schools? This is a perfect example of despicable self-serving obfuscation.

*** Meanwhile, yet another initiative is afoot for spending money from various entities and also sponsored by local municipalities in Italy: “Pentagrammando la Pace insieme”. This is a little difficult to translate, since the 5 lines of the music staff is refered to as a pentagram in Italian and Spanish. Here it means that 9 young students of music will be making peace together between their home countries of Palestine and Italy by playing piano duets in public and by being coached by a few teachers.

Does this strain credibility? Well, not if you’re Italian and anything the Peace Monk does AUTOMATICALLY will contribute to World Peace and deserves serious attention and financial support.

 The press dispatches read “momento così delicato per la Pace nel mondo”, meaning, “in such a delicate moment for Peace in the world” (don’t forget to capitalize Peace!).  One cannot help but wonder WHAT are they are talking about, what burning issue of World Peace these days they are referring to, unless one missed the beginning of World War III or something.

Also, it doesn’t seem like Palestine and Italy are at war or at the brink of it, the home countries of these music students. Put bluntly, how can 3 Palestinian and 6 Italian kids  contribute to Peace in the World by getting coached for a few piano duets?  How much MONEY is involved in this intiative that includes plane tickets, accomodation, publicity, etc.,  for the three, their teacher and the Peace Monk?

This is only one more example of yet another manufactured self-serving initiatve that has to bring CONSTANTLY to the public that PEACE is being made even if the premises are so transparent that one can step right through them.  This silly venture should make it clearer to those who may have had doubts about it: music or peace are NOT the objectives.  Music is being used to self-promote and also justify raising yet more money.  There is usually one promotional event for the Peace Monk on the average every two months or so. This is yet another step (tappa) on the road to the Nobel Prize.  So much for “humble” religious. They must be dinosaurs.


9.430 euro sono stati messi a disposizione dell’Istituto Magnificat, la scuola di musica della Custodia di Terra Santa per il suo progetto “La Lampada Magica”   finanziato dal Ministero degli Affari Esteri Italiano (“Sostenere l’emergenza educativa nei Territori dell’Autonomia Palestinese, di Gerusalemme est, Betlemme e Gerico”/9226/AVSI/TOC MAE).

Congratulazioni, AVSI (Associazione Voluntari per il Servizio Internazionale) e MAE, avete trovato una situazione di emergenza così come degno di nutrire gli affamati nel Sudan meridionale e il Mozambico!

Secondo il sito della Custodia, questo non è solo un concerto, ma una “prestigiosa iniziativa”. (Oh, certo, come tutto il resto si fanno!) http://www.proterrasancta.org/la-lampada-magica-%E2%80%93-vii-edizione/

Vediamo dove tutti i soldi stanno andando.

Un compositore con il nome di Maroun Askar ha lasciato dei melodie inedite, 12 corti, quelli più semplici per i bambini, per utilizzare per questo progetto. Armonizzazione non è una grande produzione. Queste sono fatte tutto il tempo nelle scuole di musica per il primo anno di studio armonia. Ritiene che costano denaro, se gli arrangiamenti sono fatte dal venerato compositore in residenza? 

Come questo è la 7° edizione della Lampada Magica, si può paragonare a quello che hanno fatto il passato. Come molte scuole di musica, che pubblicano il loro proprio materiale senza grandi spese, sia nei locali (fotocopia o il centro stampa proprio) o inviarlo a un negozio locale.

Un libretto di 32 pagine è già stato prodotto principalmente in bianco e nero, simile a quelli precedenti, quindi questo non avrebbe potuto essere la spesa principale. Secondo loro, per armonizzare le melodie non è  “operazione non così facile”, perché gli accordi vanno da sinistra a destra e le melodie vanno da destra a sinistra. Nessun grosso problema, in realtà, poiché essi hanno i loro libri di inni stampati nella direzione opposta, quindi ci deve essere un programma già in atto. Traslitterazione è usato però con le lingue che vanno da destra a sinistra con la musica, o separando ogni sillaba – nessun grande inconvenienza.

Essi indicano che altre scuole utilizzeranno le partiture, ma se non si insegna gli studenti a leggere la musica a ritroso, è praticamente inutilizzabile per loro. Ancora unavolta, quanto costa inviare un libretto di 32 pagine sia attraverso la posta o via internet a poche scuole? 

“Quest’anno c’è una grande novità in aggiunta a tutto il resto” un CD sarà fatto per accompagnare il libro – davvero molto costoso! Una  registrazione della manifestazione sarà trasformata in un DVD. Quanto è che – $300? Portando in bambini delle scuole locali per il concerto e l’aggiunta di alcuni strumenti, è quella in cui il resto dei 9.000 euro sta andando?

In Medio Oriente, la Lampada Magica ha sempre un genio dentro che soddisferà ogni desiderio quando si strofinano sulla parte esterna. La Custodia dice “abbiamo una situazione di emergenza”. AVSI e MAE, rispondono in effetti, come il genio, ” il tuo desiderio è il mio comando”.

*Forse gli italiani sono pronti di gettare via i soldi e che non possiamo fare la matematica semplice possono accettare che 9.430 euro sono necessari per armonizzare le melodie semplice, pubblicare, eseguire e distribuire ad alcune scuole. I locutori inglesi tendono ad essere più circospetti e critichi, e sicuramente non pronti a sprecare denaro su progetti in silenzio come pecore.

Ma vi prego di notare che la Chiesa non ha bisogno di tutti quei soldi per un progetto di piccole dimensioni e alla pomposamente lo ricevono di certo non indurre in errore il pubblico. Il modo in cui si giustificano è semplicemente ridicolo per chi conosce un poco di musica e di come queste cose siano fatte. Ci sono emergenze in Cisgiordania, orfanotrofi, ecc. – ma questo non è uno di loro.    http://www.avsi.org/default.asp?nofather=yes&pageName=NewsDettaglio&ID=958

Peacemaking without Jews

February 2, 2011
They all knew it was a farce, an inside joke. And now the evidence has come from the horse’s mouth, the Custody of the Holy Land, who cleverly used the gimmick of “making peace through music” for about 10 years to attract incredible amounts of money and attention all the way up to the Vatican, peace prizes for which they didn’t remotely deserve and pretty much exhausted the dictionary for innumerable ways to praise itself,  NOW admits what this blog has been saying from 2007. They are making peace in effect without Jews – how inconvenient!!!

The evidence is right here in their own website:


The Custody of the Holy Land FINALLY admitted that the Magnificat Institute piano competition, now named “Nikolaus de la Flüe” (their holy sponsor watching from the sky), is for Palestinians. They FINALLY corrected the notion that the Jewish sounding names of staff are really “Russian teachers with Israeli citizenship”.

Spreading about names ending with -ski for years was a nice trick to solicit attention and prospective funds abroad. Now, they are not Jews – ha, ha.

Where are all those Jewish bambini making peace with Arab bambini in a flooded basement withall those Jewish teachers looking on with “joy and serenity”?* Obviously they have evaporated in the smoke and mirror act of the Custody magicians. 

So WHAT has all this tripe been about, getting prizes for coexistence, endless self-promotion for “making peace in the Holy Land  through music” if Israeli Jewish kids ARE NOT WELCOME to participate, assuming that there is a significat representation out of their alleged 250 students in the school, not to mention opening up its doors to Israeli musicians from outside? This would have been SUCH an opportunity to prove to the world that the Custody stands up for true peace, not political correctness.**

The sanctimonious title of the article – The Oldest Competition in the Holy Land – is not true at all and very misleading. The Keren-Sharett competition has been going on for decades freely admitting Jews and Arabs, not to mention internal competitions of music schools in Jerusalem, Haifa, etc. that ALSO include Jews and Arabs.

ONLY the Magnificat Institute and the Custody of the Holy Land discriminate in their piano competitions. And they get peace prizes, silver medals, the knighthood of the Italian Republic, etc.,  for that???

Dispatches were sent to Vatican Radio and SIR, as though a few kids tinkling the piano keys were signifcant news. 


“Terra Santa: concorso per giovani pianisti palestinesi ed arabo-israeliani” 

This time they couldn’t pretend it was peacemaking, rather a concours for young Palestinian and Israeli Arab pianists. This itself is a joke as the locals do not make this distinction. Is this supposed to confuse the public that they are making peace among Arabs from both sides of the wall?

It’s really obvious that the Custody MUST make this auto-da-fe declaration of Palestinianess in their promotional material as Palestine TV, PBS, was present filming the winners’ concert.

As per inflating the number of students from at least 2003, now it is a record high on their blogs, 250 students (!) but in this competition only 30 kids participated and that includes outsiders. But one expects anyway, their little clique gets, as they always do,  the lion’s share of the money and prizes.

For 10 categories in a competition, this is an average of 3 kids for each one, an almost guaranteed win.  The probable conclusions one can draw is that “250 students” is a gross exaggeration that should NOT be made by high ranking clergy who preach truth telling (that’s their business, after all) therefore should NOT scandalize by misleading the public. Also a valid assumption is that locals are not exactly beating down the doors to study or compete because maybe the place doesn’t have such a sterling repuation anyway either for coxistence, fairness or even  normal civility.

How about “the most bombastic competition over nothing”, the competition that is not a competition” anytime the President of the school, Armando Pierucci has been from time immemorial the head of the jury?  What is the point of bringing in 5 more judges, some of them from abroad to judge 30 kids? An emphasis on competition in music is bad pedagogy anyway. What does it mean to win over another student? What is involved in nerve-racking note-perfect preparation geared not for personal enjoyment and love of music, but to be pressured into being judged by others, pleasing parents and gratifying frustrated teachers in order to win money prizes?

It can also be called “the Potemkin Competition without competitors”, in a “Potemkin village of peacemaking” and a “fake Potemkin religious organization” that doesn’t have a shred of modesty, accountablity or honesty – instead a disgusting collection of money grubbing conartists and charlatans. ***

Discrimination masquerading  as peacemaking, constructing a complete edifice of self-promotion that not only includes prizes for non-existent peacemaking but kudos for non-existent acheivements in organ playing (where are the CD’s for one of the “greatest living organists”?) and ungramattical musical compositions that if were subjected to the free market and not the promotional machine of the Church would have been passed over a long time ago – ALL of this WILL be apparent to the public. in due time.  A music school should not be the vehicle of money and glory for it’s so-called founder and director and a small clique of a homogenous group that wants to parade itself as being “diverse”.  Obviously all of the above and more is allowed to go on since the Magnificat is a big fat money making cow for the Custody of the Holy Land.****

The worst part of all this, is the children learn that integrity and accomplishment don’t count but sucking up to the right people do, telling others what they want to hear is more important than the truth and no level of falsity or manipulation is too low to stoop when you want something for yourself.  Well, maybe they are doing the kids a favor by teaching them what the real world is like EXCEPT IN THE CHURCH IT SHOULD BE DIFFERENT!!!!!

* Check out “Together for the Magnificat, a Miracle” where Pierucci says on Italian TV to Paolo Notari on March 7, 2009 that the teachers  “stanno nella gioia e nella serenità”, they stand in “joy and serenity“.


This is worth quoting in full, just to show what self-serving nonsense they have been spreading around:

 Paolo Notari:  “Questo frate francescano in questa terra, gerusalemme, a FATTO UN MIRACOLO…proveniento di varie etnie…senza preclusione per cosa?” 

Peace Monk: “per fare musica insieme…vengono di tutto mondo…il megliore parte d’europa“

Paolo Notari “tante donne suonano insieme, cantano insieme e divertono insieme senza pensare di proprie origine…”

Peace Monk:  (heh, heh) “stanno nella gioia e nella serenità

translation:   Paolo Notari “this Franciscan father has made a MIRACLE…they come from various ethinic backgrounds without precondition (or prejudice) to do what?

Peace Monk: : to make music together

Paolo Notari: So many women come together, play together, sing together and enjoy together without thinking of their respective origins

Peace Monk:  (heh, heh) standing in joy and serenity.

 ** “the greater the difficulties we face, the greater the ideals and standards must be”   Véronique Nebel, the director of the Friends of the Magnificat, Switzerland, the sponsors of the Competition, in the speech given at the Winners’ Concert, January 30, 2011.

What difficulties do the children of the administrators face when two substantial money prizes are the average every year in a competition with hardly any competitors? Instead, a red carpet is spread out all the way to Switzerland to host the winners and have them perform.  

Apparently in order to accomodate other privileged students, placing them in a lower category in order to win a prize doesn’t contradict their high ideals and standards.  A winner of the C prize in 2011 was actually in the D category in 2010. And they can’t claim ignorance, because she is a long standing student at the school!!!

The standards of Switzerland must be as “high” as they are in the Middle East. It may be that nepotism, yes-men, graft, bribery, “business” by fiat, piling up unimaginable wealth at the expense of an oppressed population cowed into submission, MAY have been the norm for centuries. However, as 80 million Egyptians have testified, this is not the wave of the future.  Thanks to modern mass communication, the truth, like cream, rises to the top.

Lincoln’s adage that “you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time” has become the bane of dictators whether they wear monastic garb or Saville Row suits.

And, judging by their “high” standards of performance with sloppy playing and dropped notes all over the place, it’s good they did not admit Israeli Jews in their competition. Israeli kids would have wiped the floor with them.

*** The latest update on the competition that had only 30 participants with most of the winners from the Magnificat School, has three of them “uniting Jerusalem with Lugano” through music. How some teenagers playing pieces that hundreds of thousands of kids are doing throughout the world, many of them much younger on youtube can carry any musical weight let alone, joining two cities is yet another miracle of clerical spin.


Il Concorso per pianoforte “Nikolaus de la Flüe”, giunto quest’anno alla sua dodicesima edizione, è riservato ai giovani pianisti palestinesi, compresi gli arabi di cittadinanza israeliana. La finalità del concorso è quella di individuare e incentivare giovani talenti per divulgare la musica classica anche nel contesto della società palestinese, storicamente meno interessata a questo tipo di repertorio.
Al concorso hanno partecipato trenta concorrenti di età compresa mediamente tra i dieci e i quindici anni, provenienti da Gerusalemme, Nazaret, Shafa-Amer, Abu Gosh, Ramle, Betlemme, Beit Shaur, e da varie scuole di Terra Santa, suddivisi in categorie in rapporto all’età e alla difficoltà dei brani obbligatori da eseguire, tra i quali alcune invenzioni contrappuntistiche di Padre Armando Pierucci, fondatore e direttore del Magnificat, il Preludio e fuga in do minore di Bach, e un brano a scelta di corrispondente levatura.

The Competition for Piano “Nikolaus de la Flüe, ” now in its twelfth year, is reserved for young pianists Palestinians, including Arab citizens of Israel. The purpose of the competition is to identify and encourage young talent to popularize classical music in the context of Palestinian society, historically less interested in this kind of repertoire.
First of all, a school and whose founder who has been collecting peace prizes with the oft repeated slogan “we do not ask religion or race, what does it matter?’, now admits that they are discriminating in their own piano competition.

Why don’t we go back 8 years to 2003 when he exploded a “bomb of peace”  in Jerusalem? At that time there were nowhere near 180 students in the school, which after all, is not a large number anyway.

http://www.stjohn.ac.th/arc/ARCNewsletter/Vol.%201%20No.%202%202003.htm FRANCISCAN BUILDS BRIDGES IN HOLY LAND THROUGH MUSIC

“We never had problems of racial animosity; music unites us,” the Franciscan said. (except when he was grilled for his anti-Semitic remarks in the edition of Terra Santa, December 1997, when he was editor)

If that is the case and the leopard rubbed out his spots, then WHY are they discriminating in their piano competition? Simple, they have one version for Italian banks and donors and another for the Palestinian Authority.

If there are more than 1500 kids studying music in the East Jerusalem and the West Bank, WHY were there ONLY 30 competitors, when the Khalife biannual had many more??? Is it because by now they know that the bulk of the prizes will be snatched up by the home team???

I really cannot stand the Church abusing its privileged position to spread such cheap hoaxes, their networks of news dissemination to spread fairy stories about non-existent peacemaking, much less for individual self-promotion. In ANY of their writeups on the peace school there  is ALWAYS some plug for the “founder, resident composer and one of the world’s greatest living organists”  The required pieces for their Palestinian piano competition of course has “counterpoint inventions” by Armando Pierucci not only in the same sentence as JS Bach but in bold print!!!

Who needs rat droppings on a page to be promoted by the Franciscans?

The competition was attended by thirty competitors aged on average between ten and fifteen years, from Jerusalem, Nazareth, Shafa-Amer, Abu Gosh, Ramle, Bethlehem, Beit Shaura, and various schools of the Holy Land, divided into categories according age and the difficulty of the pieces required to perform, including some contrapuntal inventions of Father Armando Pierucci, founder and director of the Magnificat, the Prelude and Fugue in C minor by Bach, and one piece selected for the corresponding level.
…il Magnificat è davvero un’oasi di pace e di educazione che rende possibile, specialmente per quei bambini e giovani circondati da un ambiente “ostile”, vivere un’esperienza di contatto umano completa e che mantenga in vita le loro speranze.
The Magnificat is truly an oasis of peace and education that makes it possible, especially for those children and young people are surrounded by an environment “hostile”, an experience full of human contact and keep alive their hopes.
First of all, the hostile environment is inside and not outside, the most probable reason for the low enrollment compared to other schools.  But if  the premise is the students escape from the parlous warzone to the oasis full of human hope, WHY is it the SAME, relatively homogenous group of Palestinians who study together outside the Custody compound at the numerous private schools in the city?
Again, having a small number of Israeli Jews as teachers is NO pretext for fanfare, absurd claims for peacemaking, much less getting prestigious prizes in Italy and using their own concocted propaganda to attract money to themselves up to and including the Vatican’s Lenten Collection for the Holy Land. This is simply despicable when there are crying needs in the world much more urgent than a bunch of spoiled brats in the HolyLand –  students, administrators and clergy.



What, Three Monotheistic Religions?

December 27, 2010

“May Jerusalem become a model of harmony and coexistence between the THREE MONOTHEISTIC RELIGIONS” is a translated quote by Monseignor Fouad Twal at the Midnight Mass in Bethlehem, 2010,  at 3:36 on this youtube clip.


Three monotheistic religions? What? The WHOLE point of Christmas is bringing into the world the Third member of the Trinity. This line by Twal was unfortunately repeated by the international press. In fact, worshipping Jesus is the main objection by the TWO Monotheistic religions. I submit a statement like that is to water down the Faith in order to be politically correct.  This spoiled a rather timely sermon on the family and anti-abortion.

“…in a packed church the patriarch’s homily was a true historical recollection” at 1:26

Yes, this was historical all right, the night the Catholic Church in the Holy Land lost the right to call itself as such.

fear and compassion

December 23, 2010

Recently there was a before and after Oprah show about the closing of the Williamson, WVa. swimming pool in 1987 by the manager when an AIDS infected man insisted upon entering it. At the time the etiology and transmission of the disease was not fully understood, so some citizens acted in panic by refusing to swim in it. Some off the top comments made by community members in her early show were not exactly gracious but given the threat, they could not be seen as unwarranted.

How this became a media event is another question. How a swimming pool in a small mining town suddenly becomes a national issue, stagecraft surely smells here.  It’s not enough to persuade already converted urbanites to secular values. The problem is how to filter these to small town conservative folk and get them to admit they might not be right or kind all the time, i.e., destroy their own credibility to themselves.

Bringing the original members back to “repent” of their outspokenness was supposed to be a feel-good healing experience for them and for the millions of viewers. The idea was to parade these people as being untrue to their own values, to show how Bible believers can be so un-Christian. 

I submit this was highly perverse and sneaky coming from the high-priestess of Hollywood values but true to form the way anti-family values have been coming from a crack in the window and spreading all over the house, just like infectious bacteria. 

Over the 23 years since this event happened there has been non-stop, in-your-face, bending-over-backwards to promote compassion for the same sex lifestyle in the mass media. What about compassion for dismantling the family, the cornerstone of society? The latter is a far more grievous concern than being caught with one’s compassion pants down.

 “Fear” is the hook so cleverly wrought. Offense is the best defense. Well, fear is a natural response to perceived danger. Should one be fearful of a highly infectious disease when all the facts were not in? Is this unreasonable? Surely not. Caling it phobia makes normal people seem deranged. When caught, good people will examine themselves first and say mea culpa if they offended anyone.  This was the repeating refrain in so many words during the show from the carefully selected group that was by the way, not open to the public as the forum 23 years before.

Having seen the recent program, I believe this was a disgusting display of manipulation by Oprah to have the community members constantly defending themselves when they should have nailed her instead on being one of the country’s biggest home wreckers in her own drippingly fake, subversively accusative, selective compassion.

Thyphoid Mary 100 years ago may have been worthy of compassion as an individual but who really cares when people sickened and died because of her lack of personal responsibility in spreading the disease. Blotting out the fear mechanism by saying these are really nice people worthy of compassion while the whole structure of society crumbles, is perverse and much more blameful.

addendum and clarification

September 1, 2010

Due to the increased activity of on this site recently, cabbagejuice would like to make it easier for readers not to have to wade through other articles and information to get to the heart of the matter regarding the Custody of the Holy Land and its Magnificat School of Music.

It’s a massive, almost impossible, task to bring down to earth any and every fantastic claim by the Church and its supporters. When their old superlatives are exhausted, new ones spring up like the “therapuetic, opening the heart and mind” qualities that of course, are in special abundance at the  music school in the heart of the “martyred Holy Land” .  The latest is a laboratory for peace and sharing all united by music to build up a new Jerusalem of peace. Yeah, right!!! *

The website of the school is an incredible display of the audience falling to the knees, tears barely being held back, always to be remembered, everything done not in a normal, human manner but fantastic, marvelous, wonderful, accompanied by plentiful, exuberant rounds of applause. Liberally sprinkling around names of saints, in particular St. Francis (who would no doubt be horrified by the gratuitous self-promotion), imparts a quasi religious quality that could only be associated with its many splendoured founder, regaled by now with many prizes, medals and  limitless publicity with his pictures all over the place.**

To shorten the argument considerably is simply to ask the question WHY?

A clip below of a recent article is just typical of the advertising hype that by now  is repeated like catechism.  I just want to pull out the phrase “recognized by all“, which to any thinking person should cast suspicion on the rest of the bombastic claims.*** 

The answer to the WHY is actually simple, why to inflate the qualities of a product in order to promote it — to get people to buy  — basic advertising!

What is terribly wrong here as compared to usual marketing, people who are seduced into this project and dole out money do not get the product. Peacemaking doesn’t benefit either. The money goes to an organization that cleverly is hidden behind the scenes. 

If the public were shown the Statute of the Magnificat School of Music that says upon dissolution of the school, EVERYTHING reverts to the Custody, they might hesitate. Instead there is a constant publicity campaign to glorify and promote the founder under a smokescreen that has presented it on more than one occasion as the School of Father Armando Pierucci (scuola di Padre Armando), rather than a simple school, like many other schools, and immobile property like many other properties of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

  1. The Franciscans are not only custodians and administrators of the Vatican properties in the Holy Land (probably worth billions of dollars) but also a monastical order owning sizable property. Is such a religious organization entitled to public money?  How transparent is the channelling of public money into a rich ecclesiastical organism? Is this legal, in a secular state like Italy ?  
  2. Furthermore, one could question:  what will happen to the donated money? Will the public retain control over it or its fruition? The answer is right  here, in the Statuto of the  Magnificat Institute  

 CONVENZIONE fra la Custodia di Terra Santa (CTS) e l’Istituto “Magnificat” (IM)

 1. All CTS spetta la scelta della sede accademica dell’IM nell’ambito di Gerusalemme. In caso di cessazione o estinzione dell’IM, la CTS dispone a suo piacimento dei locali e del materiale didattico.

Translation: ( The CTS will select the academic home of IM in Jerusalem. In the event of termination or extinction of IM, the CTS disposes of the premises at will and teaching materials.)

Could anyone pretend not to understand the meaning of this?  All money donated to such a project turns ultimately into a gift to the Franciscan Custodia di Terra Santa – de jure and de facto.  Or. put blatantly: a donation to the aggrandizement of Franciscan property in the Holy Land.  And surely, after the renovation of the new premises, the “nuova sede” of the school, its property value will be magnified.

The above should be plastered on ANY fundraising initiative, on ANY article rather than the hyped-up claims below. Please note that everything must be taken on faith and not proof, no independent critiques or any opinions outside a circle that may have a vested interest in promoting the product or benefit by sucking up to the Church.****


…Si parte sabato 28 agosto alle ore 18.30 con l’inaugurazione del Festival nella suggestiva sede del Segretariato Iniziativa Adriatico Ionico (Rocca della Cittadella) alla presenza delle autorità e degli enti promotori che consegneranno a Padre Armando Pierucci, direttore del conservatorio di musica Magnificat, il Premio Adriatico Mediterraneo 2010.

Musicista virtuoso e compositore di grande talento, padre Armando Pierucci è nato a Moie nel 1935. Dal 1988 risiede ed opera a Gerusalemme, in seno alla Custodia di Terra Santa, dove si prodiga per il superamento delle barriere fra ebrei e palestinesi. Nel 1995 fonda l’Istituto Magnificat a Gerusalemme, una scuola di musica che, oltre ad essere un luogo di preparazione professionale di alta qualificazione in campo concertistico e didattico, è anche un luogo di dialogo, di pacifica convivenza e di promozione umana e sociale. L’Istituto Magnificat è infatti aperto ad insegnanti, studenti, personale ausiliare e fruitori musicali senza discriminazione di lingua, paese, razza o religione. L’opera di convivenza, tolleranza, rispetto e condivisione portata avanti da padre Armando è riconosciuta da tutti, tanto più in una terra martoriata dall’odio e dalle divisioni etniche e religiose.

Translation …It begins Saturday, August 28 at 18.30 with the inauguration of the Festival in the picturesque seat of the Secretariat of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative (Fortress of the Citadel) in the presence of the authorities and promoters bestowing on Father Armando Pierucci, director of the Magnificat Conservatory of Music, the Adriatic Mediterranean Prize 2010.

Virtuoso musician and composer of great talent (says WHO?), Father Armando Pierucci Moie was born in 1935. Since 1988 he lives and works in Jerusalem, within the Custody of the Holy Land, where he devotes himself to overcome barriers between Jews and Palestinians. In 1995 he founded the Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem, a school of music, besides being a place of professional preparation of high qualification in the field of concertizing and teaching, is also a place for dialogue, peaceful coexistence and human and social promotion. The Magnificat Institute is therefore open to teachers, students, auxiliary staff and users without discrimination of musical language, country, race or religion. The work of coexistence, tolerance, respect and sharing carried out by his father Armando is recognized by all, especially in a land torn by hatred and ethnic and religious divisions.

By back calculation the sequence of events is not difficult to extract.

1) The incredible opportunity of being in the midst of the most flammable political and religious trouble spot in the world and the virtual freedom to exploit it.

2) Patient accumulation of contacts and sympathizers over about 15 years from mainly outside the country who can’t very well check the facts but would believe anything coming from a cassock. Add to that those who crave publicity themselves and holiness by association.

3) The advertising advantage of having a more than willing mascot who can serve as the spokesperson and also the beneficiary of limitless publicity and honorariums, with every medal and peace prize making it even more credible to the public. So why not add to that, “GENIUS composer” and “one of the world’s GREATEST organists”?

4) To have a tight home group that supports and benefits financially at the same time by the megalomania. Therefore, the enrollment would never go higher than a certain number. Too many people would dilute the mythology and heaven forbid, some accountibility or truthfulness might be demanded.

5) The parent organization will protect ANYTHING that goes on in the place as LONG AS IT IS MAKING MONEY AND GETTING ATTENTION FOR ITSELF. They will even join in inflating the number of students, for instance, with the excuse that they didn’t have the possibility of checking or that they trust their subordinates. But they KNOW that NO PEACE ( the reason that everyone has been asked to donate money for including the annual worldwide Vatican Lenten donation to the Holy Land) is being made, in fact, the opposite! But, repeat, as LONG AS IT IS MAKING MONEY AND GETTING ATTENTION, pile on the propaganda and glory!

6) Conclusion: the Church in the Holy Land is despicable.

* Please note that normal institutions do not write their own reviews. Only independent critics without a vested interest can be credible.  Comparisons with other child performers, say the little geniuses on youtube who play Mozart Concertos and Chopin Etudes,  would put such outlandish claims in perspective.  But pour on the sauce, baby!!!  And they STILL insist on 200  students!!!


“Great success for the students of the Magnificat at the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies

On Sunday 14th November, the best students of the Magnificat, the School of Music run by the Custody of the Holy Land, performed in the auditorium of the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies …fifteen students of the Magnificat, aged between 9 and 14 performed with bravura and panache classic pieces…Applause from the audience confirmed the successful performance…The reputation of the Magnificat is continually growing thanks to the great professionalism of the teachers….The characteristic of the school of music run by the Custody of the Holy Land, however, is also that of effectively being a laboratory for peace and sharing, with teachers and pupils who are Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians of all confessions, all united by music to build up a new Jerusalem of peace. This is why the Custody of the Holy Land considers the Magnificat a very important activity for its mission…The Magnificat Institute has more than 200 pupils, over 20 teachers and three choirs. FRC”

This shameless tripe was repeated on the videocustodia channel (news of 19/11/10 ) on youtube by Fr. Riccardo Ceriani. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05jPZz9t0ok

Telling fairy stories about “great success” with a half empty auditorium in the background, showing clips of baby pieces that normal conservatories keep for internal consumption is patently ridiculous. But more than that, an institution that wants to retain any kind of credibility CANNOT slip up and say they have one student more than the actual number of regular students  because indulging in exaggerations is 1) BAD EXAMPLE  and also 2) people will question what other fibs and half truths they may be telling.

But really, the purpose of such lavish, sanctimonious self-praise is transparent and has been described above – disgusting!


At the citidella of Ancona, Fr. Armando Pierucci received the ‘Adriatic Mediterranean Prize for Peace among Peoples, 2010’, an honour bestowed on him between rounds of applause. “The honour goes to St. Francis“, he said, “who understood what we had to do by going to the Holy Land and leaving us there. And to all of you who have the same aims, “Do not leave us alone!”.  Finally…the organ recital to take place on 5th September at the Cathedral of St. Ciriaco in Ancona.

At this concert, Fr. Armando performed music composed by Frescobaldi, Vivaldi and himself. The audience…became especially enthusiastic over his final improvisation.

Note: Even Horowitz and Rubinstein didn’t write their own reviews.

*** The local press after the reception of the “Prize for Peace among the Peoples” (big laugh) was a smorgasbord of new fantastic claims worth translating and repeating here:

From Resto del Carlino, August 28, 2010: “with his sympathy, his humanity, his modesty…Father Armando is a demonstration of…one who wants, can obtain unimaginable results.” (unimaginable self-promotion over nothing or less than)

From Messaggero August 28  (translation)”For example, when a Moslem student becomes enamoured of his Jewish teacher, the barriers come automatically down”.  Ha, you forgot to mention that personal attachments are not necessarily a pedagogical advantage, better to keep a respectful distance. But really, what happens when a student despises his teacher, if he or she shouts or forces a kid to be a little robot doing the teacher’s will?

Where is there proof that so many students love their so many teachers? Instead, there is a scant number of non-Christians interacting with one another. Proportionally there are many more in other institutions so the notion of a “flagship” of peace known to the local Israeli population is an outright falsehood.

It’s really difficult to keep the lid on the actual pathology of the whole scheme but such clues manage to come out into the open revealing  its true mentality.  The title of the article is “Music and Ringworm – this is how the religions live together in Jerusalem”. Quote:  “Questa è tigna” Eh, si, È  tigna. In senso buona, per fortuna.” (This is a ringworm. Eh, yes, a ringworm. In a good sense, luckily.)

If the  farmers in the home country can be convinced that peace is being made in the Middle East by a monk sprinkling fairy dust on the heads of a few non-Christians (“pace, pace miei 250 bambini”), surely they would accept “ringworm” making peace as well.  “It is a ringworm” however is about one of the truest statements coming out of the peace monk.

A ringworm is a parasite –gorging off the earnings and work  of others, cherry-picking intellectual property while turning it into useless fungus, feasting itself on undeserved publicity and glory, diverting nutrients to its miserable organism which instead should go to real needs in the world (Africa, North Korea, etc.) to actual starving children and not spoiled rich brats touring Europe every few months.  

**** The latest shameless bombast is a smorgasbord of self-bestowed compliments “Huge success for the Magnificat Christmas Concert” from the ATS, terrasanctablog.


In fact, no one really noticed the singing and playing at the Midnight Mass as it was overshadowed by the political figures who strut themselves in the annual photo-op at the Church, plus the usual noise. According to tradition, no outside critique can really check if these exclusive concerts were so marvelous except there were some privately filmed parts that showed nothing special.  The orchestra “created to to share the experience of the most beautiful music of all time” – are they talking about the senile scribblings of their resident composer?

Self-praise is bad enough, the abject lack of humility coming from an ecclesiastical organization is enough to make one vomit but the DEGREE of magnification surely is pathological, evidencing not only obsession but desperation as well. It’s as though piling on the compliments will create a smokescreen so people will suspend their reason, fall on their knees and horse droppings will turn into gold BECAUSE THEY SAID SO.

SORRY, in the free market, you can’t change lousy compositions into masterpieces, you can’t change screechy singing into the heavenly choirs. In fact you lay yourselves open to doubt because if you lie about one thing, the question will be inevitably asked, what else are you lying about?

This is sheer chicanery: “she turned the heads of the 120 celebrants who were looking for the source of this incredible sound, and immediately rendered listeners into a state of devout meditation.”

Sainthood by association, that is, invoking the name of the Saints and the Deity to attract glory and raise money might not be such a good idea. If you do actually believe in the Bible, take heed:

Galati 6:7

Non vi ingannate; non ci si può beffare di Dio; perché quello che l’uomo avrà seminato, quello pure mieterà.

Galatians 6:7

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked; for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.