Sunday, December 15, 2013

Arkenstone of Dwarves, Bones of St. Peter, and the Blessed Sacrament

The Arkenstone Necklace Sterling Silver - Lord of the Rings Jewelry
The Arkenstone Necklace Sterling Silver - Lord of the Rings Jewelry
The Arkenstone provides Thorin the right to rule in the same way as the ownership of the Bones of St. Peter supports the claim of primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all other bishops.  The Arkenstone also reminds us of the Blessed Sacrament which is displayed by the priest during Benediction.

A. The Arkenstone 

In the movie, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, the movie revolves not so much about Smaug the Dragon, but about the Arkenstone:
 "The Arkenstone!  The Arkenstone!" murmured Thorin in the dark, half dreaming with his chin upon his knees. "It was like a globe with a thousand facets; it shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the Moon!" (Inside Information, The Hobbit, p. 231)
It was the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain.  So bilbo guessed from Thorin's description; but indeed there could not be two such gems, even in so marvellous a hoard, even in all the world.  Ever as he climbed, the same white gleam had shone before him and drawn his feet towards it.  Slowly it grew to a little globe of pallid light.  Now as he came near, it was tinged with a flickering sparkle of many colours at the surface, reflected and splintered from the wavering light of his torch.  At last he looked down upon it, and he caught his breath.  The great jewel shone before his feet of its own inner light, and yet, cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it from the heart of the mountain long ago, it took all light that fell upon it and changed it into then thousand sparks of white radiance shot with glints of the rainbow. (Not at Home, The Hobbit, p. 237)
The Hobbit Arkenstone TM of Thrain Replica Treasure By the Dwarven Longbeards Clan of the Lonely Mountain
The Hobbit Arkenstone TM of Thrain Replica Treasure By the Dwarven Longbeards Clan of the Lonely Mountain
Why is the Arkenstone important for Thorin?  In the movie, we hear that the Stone would give Thorin the right to rule.  There is nothing in the book that says about this.  We only know the following words of Thorin considers it as an important heirloom:
For the Arkenstone of my father... is worth more than a river of gold in itself, and to me it is beyond price.  That stone of all the treasure I name unto myself, and I will be avenged on anyone who finds it and withholds it.  (A Thief in the Night, The Hobbit, p. 269)
The Lord of the Rings explained how this jewel was found and how it was lost, which forms the historical background of the movie:
Most of those that escaped (the Balrog of Moria) made their way into the North, and Thrain I, Nain's son, came to Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, near the eastern eaves of Mirkwood, and there he began new works, and became King under the Mountain.  In Erebor he found the great jewel, the Arkenstone, Heart of the Mountain.... But there were dragons in the wastes beyond.... and they made war on the Dwarves, and plundered their works....Thror, Dain's heir... returned to Erebor.  To the Great Hall of Thrain, Thror brought back the Arkenstone, and he and his folk prospered and became rich, and they had the friendship of all Men that dwelt near...So the rumour of the weath of Erebor spread abroad and reached the ears of the dragons, and at last Smaug the Golden, greatest of the dragons of his day, arose and without warning came against King Thror and descended on the Mountain in flames.  It was not long before all that realm was destroyed, and the town of Dale nearby was ruined and deserted; but Smaug entered into the Great Hall and lay there upon a bed of gold. (Appendix A, The Lord of the Rings, p. 1072)
The Hobbit Thorin SDCC 2012 Exclusive Mini Bust
The Hobbit Thorin SDCC 2012 Exclusive Mini Bust
When Thorin died, the Arkenstone was buried with him, for during the division of the treasure, Dain son of Nain who became King Under the Mountain said:
We will honour the agreement of the dead, and he has now the Arkenstone in his keeping. (The Return Journey, The Hobbit, p. 293).
The Lord of the Rings explained much further:
In that first Battle of Dale, Thorin Oakenshield was mortally wounded; and he died and was laid in a tomb under the Mountain with the Arkenstone upon his breast. ( Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p 1078)
So clearly, owning the Arkenstone is not a prerequisite to becoming King Under the Mountain.

But I think the writers of the Hobbit Film has an excellent insight on the necessity of possessing the Arkenstone in order to obtain the right to rule.  Dain son of Nain may not have the Arkenstone with him in his person, but because Thorin's tomb is within his realm Under the Mountain, then Dain can claim to possess the Arkenstone indirectly, which would give him the right to rule.

Bones of St. Peter
Bones of St. Peter
B. The Bones of St. Peter

The ownership of an artifact as a precondition to the right to rule is similar to the claim of primacy of the Bishop of Rome, for the reason that St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, the apostle whom Christ made as the Rock of the Church, died in Rome.  Like the Arkenstone which was found by the Thorin's ancestor Thrain buried beneath the mountain, the Bones of St. Peter was also found buried beneath St. Peter's Basilica.  Notice the similarity of the Vatican mausoleums beneath the ground with Dwarven city complexes:
Saint Peter's tomb is a site under St. Peter's Basilica that includes several graves and a structure said by Vatican authorities to have been built to memorialize the location of St. Peter's grave. St. Peter's tomb is near the west end of a complex of mausoleums that date between about AD 130 and AD 300.[1][2] The complex was partially torn down and filled with earth to provide a foundation for the building of the first St. Peter's Basilica during the reign of Constantine I in about AD 330.[3] Though many bones have been found at the site of the 2nd-century shrine, as the result of two campaigns of archaeological excavation, Pope Pius XII stated in December 1950 that none could be confirmed to be Saint Peter's with absolute certainty.[4] However, following the discovery of further bones and an inscription, on June 26, 1968 Pope Paul VI announced that the relics of St. Peter had been identified.
The grave claimed by the Church to be that of St. Peter lies at the foot of the aedicula beneath the floor. The remains of four individuals and several farm animals were found in this grave.[5] In 1953, after the initial archeological efforts had been completed, another set of bones were found that were said to have been removed without the archeologists' knowledge from a niche (loculus) in the north side of a wall (the graffiti wall) that abuts the red wall on the right of the aedicula. Subsequent testing indicated that these were the bones of a 60-70 year old man.[6] Margherita Guarducci argued that these were the remains of St. Peter and that they had been moved into a niche in the graffiti wall from the grave under the aedicula "at the time of Constantine, after the peace of the church" (313).[7] Antonio Ferrua, the archaeologist who headed the excavation that uncovered what is known as the St. Peter's Tomb, said that he wasn't convinced that the bones that were found were those of St. Peter.[8] (Wikipedia: St. Peter's Tomb)
Francis: Pope of a New World
Last November 2013, Pope Francis displayed the relics of the bones of St. Peter for the first time:
The Vatican has publicly unveiled bone fragments purportedly belonging to Saint Peter, reviving the scientific debate and tantalising mystery over whether the relics found in a shoe box truly belong to the first pope.
The nine pieces of bone sat nestled like rings in a jewel box inside a bronze display case on the side of the altar during a mass commemorating the end of the Vatican's year-long celebration of the Christian faith. It was the first time they had ever been exhibited in public.
Pope Francis prayed before the fragments at the start of Sunday's service and clutched the case in his arms for several minutes after his homily. (The Guardian)
The act may be simple, but it is a powerful symbol of the continuity of the Petrine ministry from St. Peter to the present pope, who claims the title, "Successor of Peter", thereby fulfilling Christ's promise to Peter of the indestructibility of His Church:
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:17-19)
Thorin entered Erebor using a key.  This key reminds us of the Petrine keys which the Popes hold, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, as shown in the flag of Vatican City.

Large Cross Monstrance with Luna
Large Cross Monstrance with Luna
C. The Blessed Sacrament

In the movie, we see the Arkenstone drawn in the walls of Erebor as a circle with light rays.  What is lacking is the Arkenstone itself.  The circle with light rays reminds us of the monstrance or the Tabernacle and Arkenstone is the Sacred Host or the Blessed Sacrament.

Only a properly ordained priest can offer the Mass (Holy Eucharist), and during the Mass, bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  The consecrated bread are laid to rest in the Tabernacle and the priest keeps the keys (notice again the image of the keys) to prevent unauthorized persons from profaning the Sacred Host.  As stated in the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 934 In sacred places where the blessed Eucharist is reserved there must always be someone who is responsible for it, and as far as possible for it, and as far as possible a priest is to celebrate Mass there at least twice a month.
Without the Arkenstone, the King Under the Mountain has the right to rule.  In a similar way, without the Eucharist, the priest has no right to rule over a parish, because he only dispenses the Sacraments in persona Christi.

Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary (A Liguori Classic)
Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary (A Liguori Classic)
During Benediction, the Blessed Sacrament is placed inside the circular glass of the monstrance, and the priest holds it high for all the people to adore.  Had Thorin saw the Blessed Sacrament, he would describe it as he would describe the Arkenstone:
 "It was like a globe with a thousand facets; it shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the Moon!" (Inside Information, The Hobbit, p. 231)
But the Blessed Sacrament is not an artifact.  Like the Arkenstone that contains a light within, the Blessed Sacrament contains the Light of the World, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the God-Man Christ Himself:
 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (Jn 8:12)
Indeed, as the Prologue of John teaches us:
In the beginning* was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.a 2 He was in the beginning with God.3* All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.b What came to be4 through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;c5* the light shines in the darkness,d and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn 1:1-5)
Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent
Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent
The Blessed Sacrament is Christ Himself, for when the priest pronounces the words of Consecration, a circular white bread ceases to be bread though it still appears as bread, for this bread has become the Body of Christ:
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
St. Thomas Aquinas describes it best in the song that we sing during Benediction: Pange Lingua Gloriosi Here's the English translation:
On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He, the Paschal Victim eating,
first fulfils the Law's command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own Hand.
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His Word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.
Down in adoration falling,
This great Sacrament we hail,
O'er ancient forms of worship
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,
When our human senses fail.