Page 79. " Oh Mary We Crown Thee with Flowers Today "

This is a line from a Catholic hymn entitled 'Bring Flowers of the Rarest'. Often, the words used are: 'Oh Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today'. The hymn is sung during a ceremony in early May when a statue of the Virgin Mary is crowned with a wreath of flowers.

Listen here on Spotify.



Page 85. " like Joan of Arc before the fire "

Saint Joan of Arc was a French peasant girl, born in the 1400s, who led the French army to several victories against the English at just 16 years of age. She claimed that God spoke to her and sent her visions, and that her actions were the result of divine guidance.

She was burned at the stake when she was 19 years old, but later declared a martyr. She was canonized in 1920 and is now one of the Patron Saints of France.

Page 89. " if she was thinking about Brunhilde, if she was wishing for a horse that would take her into the fire "
by hector

Brünnhilde's Immolation
Public DomainBrünnhilde's Immolation - Credit: Arthur Rackham
The very last scene in the epic Ring cycle of operas by Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is the Immolation.  Divine heroine Brünnhilde rides her horse Grane onto the funeral pyre of her beloved warrior Siegfried.  Her fiery suicide spreads the flames wide and sets light to Valhalla, home of the corrupted gods, a grand act of destruction that clears the way for a new Age of Man.  It is possibly one of the most grandiose and dramatic moments in all of musical theatre (as well it should be after 15 hours of build up).  It is also more or less unstageable.

Listen on Spotify  (you'll catch a number of key Wagnerian motifs reprised, including the famous one from The Ride of the Valkyries).

It is said that this piece of music was the last played by the Berlin Philharmonic before their evacuation from their shattered city at the end of World War II.



Page 95. " a photo button of Che Guevara "
Che Guevara
Public DomainChe Guevara - Credit: Museo Che Guevara, Habana, Cuba

Revolutionary, intellectual, military theorist and popular icon of millions of T-shirts and posters on student bedroom walls around the world (and photo buttons), Ernesto "Che" Guevara needs little introduction as one of the most significant figures in South American history.



A key player in the Cuban Revolution and first Castro government, he was named one of the 20th century's most influential people by Time magazine and continues to inspire hundreds of books, essays, memoirs, songs and films, including the two-part epic released in 2008 starring Benicio Del Toro as Che.

Page 95. " a cheap scapula of the Sacred Heart "
Christ appearing to Margaret Mary Alacoque
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeChrist appearing to Margaret Mary Alacoque - Credit: Giovanni Destefanis

Roman Catholic in origin, the Sacred Heart devotion emerged from Margaret Mary Alacoque’s experiences between 1673 and 1675, when she experienced visions of Jesus Christ. 

Sacred Heart
Public DomainSacred Heart

I could plainly see His heart, pierced and bleeding, yet there were flames, too, coming from it and a crown of thorns around it. He told me to behold His heart which so loved humanity. Then He seemed to take my very heart from me and place it there in His heart. In return He gave me back part of His flaming heart.


A scapular (not scapula) is a sacramental in the form of two small pieces of wool cloth linked by a string. It is worn over the shoulder so that one piece hangs over the chest and the other over the back.