Hallowed Be Thy Habs
Rev. Joseph Kerrigan apparently isn't the only one who finds a connection between faith and hockey. Since I spoke with Kerrigan last month, I came across a couple articles about a theologian who is leading a course at the Universite de Montreal called, "Religion of the Canadiens."
Olivier Bauer, a Swiss-born professor at the school, recently wrote a book that he has developed into a 16-week course on the relics and rituals that surround Montreal's NHL team.
"It was a divine inspiration," Bauer told the Canadian Press. "It was clear that the Canadiens were a kind of religion. For me, it was amazing that in Montreal there was a hockey jersey that is holy."
Bauer was referring to la Sainte-Flanelle, or the holy flannel, worn by the players. He also cites the nicknames of the Canadiens' most famous players -- Saint Patrick (Patrick Roy), Le Demon Blond, or the Blond Demon (Guy Lafleur), and Jesus Price (goaltender Carey Price) -- as further evidence of Les Habitants', or Habs, as they are affectionately known, link to religion.
The Montreal Canadiens, who are celebrating their 100th season this year, are the oldest continuously operating professional hockey team and are one of the "Original Six" teams that formed the NHL. The Habs have won 24 Stanley Cups and are the last Canadian team to win the championship (1993). The city hosts the NHL all-star game this weekend.
Besides examining the link between sports and religion, the course will also look at the broader question of what constitutes religion. According to the article in the (Montreal) Gazette, "Bauer is curious to see how Quebec's Roman Catholic traditions and Montreal's perceptions of itself as hockey's birthplace have combined to create a particularly potent liturgy."
Posted by: Paganplace | January 22, 2009 2:59 PM
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