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Wednesday, February 28, 2007


posted by on February 28 at 11:54 AM

This paragraph, from this story about a new-fangled way to drop off unwanted babies, is awesome:

Foundling wheels were institutionalized by a papal bull issued in the 12th century by Pope Innocent III, who was shocked by the number of dead babies found in the Tiber. By 1204, there was a wheel in operation at the Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome, next to the Vatican. A 14th-century home for abandoned children in Naples, annexed to a church, is now a museum about foundlings. Many common family names in Italy can be traced to a foundling past: Esposito (because children were sometimes “exposed” on the steps of a convent), Proietti (from the Latin proicio, to throw away) or Innocenti (as in innocent of their father’s sin).

I really wish my last name meant “trash.” (But did Innocenti really mean “innocent of their father’s sin”? Were all the little ladies miraculous virgins?)

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I assumed the "innocent of their father's sin" was an oblique reference back to the comment about the mothers typically having been raped while they were servants. Great article though.

Posted by Dorothy | February 28, 2007 12:35 PM

the father's sin is also the abandonment of the baby, who is innocent of that sin.

Posted by bill | February 28, 2007 12:49 PM

So Antonio Unwantedito, tell me about your childhood...

Posted by monkey | February 28, 2007 1:22 PM

"Innocent of their father's sin" because it was once a tenet of theology (I don't know if anyone still believes this) that original sin was passed down through the father's line. So the mothers were not innocent of original sin themselves--they got it from their fathers--but they didn't pass it on to their children. The Virgin Mary was the only female to be born "immaculate," without original sin (hence "the immaculate conception" which refers to the conception of Mary in her mother's womb). Fun with goofy theolgical arcana!

Posted by Sandra | March 1, 2007 11:03 AM

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