In order for Mother Teresa of Calcutta to become a saint she first had to be beatified.
That's like being a saint on probation.
To be beatified, in most cases, the person must have performed a miracle from beyond the grave.
On October 1, 2003 the Vatican certified that Teresa, who died in 1997 had in fact cured a woman of cancer in 1998.
This was miraculous.
This was a miracle.
There are three degrees of miracle. The first is represented by resurrection from the dead (quoad substantiam). The second (quoad subiectum) is for curing someone that has been deemed incurable. The third (quoad modum) involves instantaneous recovery from an illness that would normally require a long period of convalescence.
Miracles need to be instantaneous, complete and permanent.
They also must lack any scientific explanation.
Doctors are not eligible to apply to be saints.
The Vatican body in charge of reviewing applications to the position of sainthood is called the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and they refer all potential miracles to the Consulta Medica, a body made of around 100 (Catholic) medical doctors.
Five members of the Consulta Medica will meet to review x-rays and medical notes and at least three must agree that God has had a greater role than science in the recovery.
After this, another panel meets, this time consisting of Cardinals. Their job is to make sure that the miracle was the result of praying to the saintly candidate, and not just because God was feeling benevolent.
The subject of Mother Teresa's miracle was Monica Besra, a Bengali woman who reported suffering from a malignant ovarian tumour. In 1998 she arrived at a hospice founded by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity where nuns claim to have placed a medallion featuring Teresa's likeness on Besra's abdomen.
And the tumour disappeared.
There were claims, published in the Times, that an Indian physician had treated Besra nine months before she arrived at the hospice. They claimed they diagnosed the patient with tubercular adenitis and prescribed drugs to treat the tubercular cyst.
They also say they were not contacted by anyone at the vatican.
On July 1, 2018 at the beach in Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk, an inflatable trampoline explodes with great force. A three year old girl, Ava-May Littleboy is thrown from the inflatable 20 feet into the air and later, dies in hospital.
In August 2021, as part of their 'Great British Spraycation', Banksy bestows a mural on a wall that borders the sands of Gorleston. It depicts children on an inflatable dinghy being flung into the air.
Perhaps Banksy isn't from Gorleston, and wouldn't know about the history of the place, or the terrible event that had occurred there three years previously. Perhaps they had done some research and they are and were aware of it. Perhaps they had concluded that following such a grim tragedy people were ready to laugh again.
What is an artist responsible for, particularly when using public spaces as a canvas for their work? Do they have any responsibility when they are operating in environments that are not their own, when their form relies on not being asked in the first place?
Workers at Great Yarmouth Council reacted quickly, covering the mural with white paint, however, a month later the Council met and Trevor Wainright, leader of the council's Labour opposition asked whether the 'valuable' artwork could be 'brought back to life'.
An interesting choice of words. A miracle for a piece of art that could not be performed on a child.
Paula Boyce, Strategic Director at Great Yarmouth Borough Council and lead on their City of Culture 2025 bid confirmed that the council had commissioned a conservator to restore the work.
"We do believe it would be worthwhile taking it off the wall and conserving it and putting it on show in a public gallery somewhere".
At some point in the mid-90s there was an artist working in Morecambe.
They went by the name, 'Social Pest'.
You probably aren't aware of their work. That was the point.
Their tag, their name appeared all over the town, but only in places where few people chose to look.
The top edge of doors.
Underneath the flaps of salt bins.
The roof of the bus shelter.
They found a new space, a new canvas.
Morecambe was a gallery, but only for those that chose to look.
One of the most common types of miracle you'll encounter in the wild is the 'weeping statue', or sometimes the 'bleeding statue'.
For example, in 1953 a statue of the Virgin Mary in Syracuse, Sicily apparently started shedding human tears.
The Church recognized the weeping as a genuine miracle.
Thousands of visitors visited the statue until 1995 when Dr. Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemistry researcher at the University of Pavia, debunked the miracle.
He proved that the statue, made of plaster, would readily absorb moisture from the air which would later leak out of small scratches in the glazing.
In March, 2011 another variation of this miracle occurred. A twelve foot statue of a crucified Jesus in Mumbai began to cry, the tears pooling below its feet.
Again, thousands of visitors, many making donations to the church, attended the statue and drank the tears to cure ailments and bless their lives.
Sanal Edamauku, author and president of the Indian Rationalist Association, demonstrated on national television that a burst sewage pipe in the wall behind the statue was the likeliest source of the tears.
Edamaruku was subsequently charged with blasphemy. He moved to Finland to avoid arrest and persecution.
Let's call him 'Dee'.
As a teenager, in the late 90s, he'd ended up somewhat homeless.
He found himself staying at a house in Yealand Redmayne, a village in Lancashire.
Guidebooks will talk about the history of Yealand, the Vikings and the record in the Doomsday book. They'll probably mention the large ancient stone circle on nearby Summerhouse Hill
It's one of those places that exists in the British landscape somewhere between quaint village and housing estate, a place that can feel particularly isolated. It is just out of the way enough, with too few bus services or any other viable public transport to get out of. It's a pretty trap of a place.
Dee was struggling with this. The boredom and the bleakness. He found himself walking around the village most nights.
One night Dee encounters the remnants of roadworks near the entrance to the village. A collection of red and white plastic barriers and cones. Alongside them a solitary can of yellow spray paint, used to mark the road surface.
We will never know if it was boredom, defiance or mischief that propelled Dee to take the can and spray his displeasure on the gable end of the first house you encounter as you drive into Yealand Redmayne on the A6.
We do know, however, why the can had been so casually discarded.
What should have read, in large, foot high capitals, 'FUCK YEALAND', would remain a cryptic retort as the paint ran out.
On Boxing Day, 2021 a 24-year old man from East Sussex is arrested during Operation Sirius.
Operation Sirus was dedicated to tackling graffiti on railways during the winter period through increased patrols and rapid deployments. It would lead to British Transport police arresting nine men in total.
“The tags they sprayed on the station walls were linked to an ongoing operation that is investigating years’ worth of graffiti damage to the railway. The damage has totalled to more than £500,000 and has impacted train operators across London and the South East,” a spokesperson added.
"...most importantly it protects the people who decide to trespass on the tracks to commit such vandalism. It’s well known that the railway is incredibly dangerous, and trespassing can easily result in loss of life or life-changing injuries"."
The man was released on bail with orders preventing him from using the railway and carrying spray paint cans.
Two other suspects fled the scene.
As you approach Glasgow Central on the West Coast main line, you'll see, in the distance, a city covered street art.
A number of sanctioned murals line the streets, by artists and collectives such as Rogue-one, Art Pistol, VELOCITY, Smug and Recoat. Some were commissioned to celebrate the hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth games by the city.
This is street art at its slickest, its most professional and acceptable. These are legitimate works by legitimate artists featuring legitimate subjects, such as a man with a robin perched on his finger, or a woman blowing on a dandelion clock.
There is a whimsical taxi being lifted into the air by balloons.
This is the acceptable face of painting on buildings. The council-backed decoration of urban environments, often by artists from other places, trying to reflect the communities that live there.
There is a piece called 'Fellow Glasgow Residents' that depicts, on the side of a building, some wildlife you may encounter. Deer, fox, red squirrel.
As you approach Glasgow central on the West Coast main line, you'll see, close up, next to the rails, some one, probably local, has spray painted, "Fuck Street Art".
The original accusation was one of vandalism. This was later downgraded to merely, 'the worst restoration of all time'.
In 2012 Cecilia Gimenez, a retired Spanish octogenarian, began a restoration of a fresco that had suffered flaking due to the moisture in the walls of the Sanctuary of Mercy church in Borja.
'Ecce Homo', translated as 'Behold, Man', was originally painted around 1930 by the Spanish artist Elias Garcia Martinez. It was a traditional Catholic depiction of Jesus Christ accessorised with a crown of thorns.
The restoration, by the amateur artist, left the son of God looking somewhat different. The crown of thorns now smudged into his hair, the subtle shading of Christ's neck merging with a full underbeard.
The alteration was discovered only once the great-granddaughter of the original artist had made a financial donation to have the work restored.
The result was international coverage, jokingly labelling the new, improved version as 'Ecce Mono', or 'Behold the Monkey', in a combination of Latin and Spanish. This is all well known.
Perhaps lesser known is the eventual fallout.
To date the formerly struggling church has earned over 50,000 euros in donations and merchandising of mugs, t-shirts and tea towels featuring the updated fresco.
A modern miracle.
"Police on the hunt for vandals behind graffiti"
Published: 10:38 AM January 21, 2021 - Sarah Burgess, Eastern Daily Press
Police are on the hunt for whoever graffitied the words "King" and "Grind" on different spots around a coastal village.
The tags were discovered and reported on January 19, at Beach Car Park on Beach Road, Caister and on Charles Close, also in Caister.
A second tag was also found in Caister and reported to police.
Police have asked anyone with information to contact PC Dan Brown at Great Yarmouth Police Station on 101.
Last year, police also investigated an instance of graffiti in Great Yarmouth's town centre after a swastika was drawn on the wall in Quaker Row.
The incident was reported to Norfolk Police by a member of the public, and a hate crime investigation was launched.
One of the murals, depicting a child with a crowbar on the side of disused electrical shop, Lowestoft Electrical, was removed and reportedly sold for around £2 million at auction. Another, a model added to the Merrivale Model Village, sold for £1 million.
Another work, showing a rat relaxing in a deckchair on the sea wall at North Beach, in Lowestoft was defaced. The council said it was "considering the most suitable option" for restoration.
North Norfolk District Council said it spent over £700 on various measures to protect an artwork on a sea wall in Cromer. This one is of hermit crabs, with one in a shell holding a sign stating: "Luxury rentals only."
Great Yarmouth Borough Council said it had spent £8,385.49 on security patrols, CCTV cameras and cover screens for the works under its jurisdiction.
East Suffolk Council defended spending over £7,500 on security patrols, guards and polycarbonate sheets saying that the Banksy murals were a 'welcome benefit' and that it generated 'great interest'.
Conversely, a study, carried out for the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on left behind neighbourhoods, published in May 2021 highlights that Great Yarmouth falls into a category it describes as the “most deprived of the deprived”.
“A number of left behind neighbourhoods are entirely lacking in shops, cultural assets and open spaces that provide places for people to meet and engage in community life,” the report says.
Today more than a third of the population in Lowestoft live in financial hardship while over 30 percent of children live in poverty.
In total the three councils spent around £20,000 guarding and protecting the works.
"MEAT HERE AT 8" -- Marker Pen, Morecambe Prom, mid-90s.
The Wandsworth Times reported, on 29 June, 2021, that a man from South London had been arrested for causing £100,000 in damage to railway property through graffiti.
The 30 year old was arrested on suspicion of 46 counts of criminal damage.
Officers from the British Transport Police's specialist search unit and graffiti team carried out the raids at two addresses on Wednesday 16 June, one in South London and the other located in Kent, as well as searching a vehicle.
“The vandalism goes far beyond just looking unsightly, it has huge financial implications for the rail industry and causes frustrating delays to passengers while trains are taken out of service to be cleaned," a spokesperson added.
“...not only this, offenders are also putting their lives at risk by trespassing on the railway, which can have life-changing or fatal consequences.
“It will not be tolerated and we will continue to run dedicated operations to target this type of crime.”
I was once chatting with an avant-garde musician.
Someone described him as internationally obscure. He's unknown all over the world.
He confessed that in his youth his favourite pastime was to create factually correct graffiti.
"Mr Jones is the headmaster"
"One mile is 1609.344 metres"
"This is graffito"
Shepherd Fairey, perhaps best known for his 'Hope' Obama poster, was arrested on February 7, 2009, on his way to the premiere of his show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts, on two outstanding warrants related to graffiti.
He was charged with damage to property for having postered two Boston area locations with graffiti.
His arrest was announced to party goers by longtime friend Z-Trip who had been performing at the ICA premiere at Shepard Fairey's request.
The etymology of the word, ultimately from the Greek 'graffio', meaning to scratch or scribble via the Italian plural for 'graffito', hints back to the origin of some of the earliest examples.
The tomb of Ramesses VI, in the Valley of the Kings sports over 1,000 inscriptions, most of which were etched into the rock by Roman visitors around 2,000 years ago.
One example reads, “I visited and I did not like anything except the sarcophagus!”
Another states, in a factual manner, "I cannot read the hieroglyphs!"
Similarly, Pompeii is decorated with examples. These range from pornographic through to the rather touching, "You love Iris, but she does not love you'.
Scholars have used these ancient examples to gain insight into the social structures of these societies. Not only do the words hint at levels of literacy, but they provide context to the lives, the concerns and the motivations of the people that lived there.
This doesn't really explain the 'why' of graffiti though. What it is that drives humans to mark their environment with their thoughts.
Maybe if we look sideways at another form of art.
Earth Art, or Land Art is a movement that emerged as a form in the late 60s. Using materials such as soil and rocks, artists created large scale works in situ to decorate the land. The movement in the 60s considered this as a response to the rejection of commercialisation, particularly of the art market itself, and urban living. It was closely allied with the emergent ecological movements. Essentially, this form arose as a way for artists to explore the relationship between humans and their environment in the context of the growing realisation that people do not exist separately from the land, but in an intricate and intimate relationship with it.
There is something about interacting with the environment in this way that traverses the impermanent nature of human endeavour.
In a similar way, the earliest humans frequently built earthworks, not just as shelters, but as focal points for spirituality.Land Art often persists long after the humans that have made it. It's a very primal way of changing the environment to reflect your presence.
Scratching into the very material of earth.
We could also consider this territorial. You could ask the question of who has the right to commit such an act on the landscape. Perhaps the people that live there have the greatest claim as they demonstrate their connection to the land that created them, sustained them and would eventually consume them.
Then there is the red hand. The oldest known cave painting is in Maltravieso cave, Cáceres, Spain. This painting was made by using a human hand as a stencil.It is over 64,000 years old.
What can that be other than a human demonstrating their presence in the environment? I was here, and now you are here, seeing this, too.
Scratched into the very fabric of time.
It is best described by a work of graffiti in Palmyra, written over a thousand years ago. It says, “This is an inscription that I wrote with my own hand. My hand will wear out but the inscription will remain.”
In December, 2018, Bacari Adams, a 33 year-old man was arrested alongside 31 year-old Jake Martin.
They were charged with causing £130,000 worth of damage to the London Underground through graffiti.
Adams was jailed for six months after pleading guilty to conspiring to destroy or damage property. Martin also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 months in prison suspended for 18 months.
Evidence in the case demonstrated that Bacari's tag was the same as the tattoo he had across his knuckles.
In his defence, Bacari claimed he was, “creating a job for the person cleaning it”.
In 2017, investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published a book called 'Original Sin'. It detailed documents from the Institute for the Works of Religion, which is better known as the Vatican Bank.
The documents revealed that the funds held by the bank in Mother Teresa's name, on account of her charity, amounted to billions. Nuzzi hypothesised that had Mother Teresa, formerly known as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, made significant withdrawls, the bank would have risked default.
It's important to understand that this money wasn't sitting idly during this time. The money was working for the Church. It was invested, re-invested, accrued and traded.
Mother Teresa accepted money from Robert Maxwell, the disgraced British publisher who died in 1991 just before a scheduled meeting with the Bank of England to discuss his default on £50,000,000 of loans. He also embezzled £450,000,000 from his employees' pension fund.
She also accepted money from Charles Humphrey Keating Jr.an American sportsman, lawyer, real estate developer, banker, financier and fraudster. He donated millions to Mother Teresa and let her borrow his private jet when she visited the United States.
The name 'Mother Teresa' was trademarked shortly after her death. It could be argued that this is to stop exploitation of the name for commercial gain.
Several scandals have been related to organisations using the name. A school in Nepal that failed to pay teacher's salaries, a co-operative bank in India, shops and stalls selling unofficial merchandise.
There is official merchandise. You can buy that too. The Catholic Company, for example, sells the 'Do it Anyway' tile, bearing the inscription hung on the wall of Mother Teresa's orphanage. At the time of writing, it costs $24.95.
The simple sari, with blue trim, that Mother Teresa wore has also been trademarked. It is recognised by India's government as the intellectual property of the Missionaries of Charity.
In order to sell a Banksy artwork at auction it needs to be verified.
Despite the hidden identity of the artist and the notionally illegal method of creation it is possible to do this through an organisation called 'Pest Control'.
They will authenticate a work.
Processing a Screenprint for authentication = £50 + VAT.
Processing an Original for authentication = £100 + VAT.
If you are successful you will be issued with a Pest Control Office Ltd Certificate of Authenticity.
There is something inextricably linked between miracles, those that bestow them and money. The holy trinity of a real world interface of belief.
It's interesting to note where miracles tend to happen too. Often they are targeted at the poor and the sick, or the dying.
Whilst in Catholicism, one of the requirements is that the subject of the miracle must request aid, they must be praying to the saint, it isn't so clear if this is true of artistic miracles like the ones that appeared for the councils of the East coast.
Some of us don't want to be healed, not like that, not by them. Some of us have perfectly good local doctors.
Nor is it clear who the beneficiary fo such a miracle is. Is it the sellers that walked away with a combined total of £3 million? Is it the people of Great Yarmouth that don't appear to be substantially better off for the experience?
Your seaside town is a canvas, but it is not a canvas for you.
When people mark their environment with their lives they are accused of criminality and arrested, by the same institutions that spend money on resurrecting an authentic Banksy.
One case is vandalism, the other is a bestowment.
The difference is in the resale.
Your raw sewage statue tears and your Ecce Mono t-shirts.
No amount of sly recognition or self awareness can absolve someone of partaking in this. You can choose to exit through the gift shop whether that is one of Banksy's making or Mother Teresa's and the only thing on sale has the vague appearance of a miracle.