June 26, 2006

I love old tortoises

From the BBC:

A giant Galapagos tortoise, the world's oldest known living creature, has died in Australia at the age of 176. Harriet the tortoise passed away after a short illness. Experts believe the elderly creature . . . was once the personal pet of the British naturalist, Charles Darwin.

Other Galapagos tortoises have lived even longer. The world record holder, which died in 1965 at age 188, was once the personal pet of Captain James Cook.

This Wednesday, the feast of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, might be a good day to meditate on these creatures.  A Galapagos tortoise born the same year as Christ might easily have lived through the dispersion of the Apostles and the apostolic witness of men like St. Ignatius (50-115), St. Polycarp (69-155) and St. Irenaeus (130-202).  Ignatius and Polycarp were disciples of the Apostles themselves, and Irenaeus was Polycarp's student.  All three of them left voluminous writings attesting to the Catholic beliefs of the early Church.  (You can read them all here.)

Dan Brown notwithstanding, 176 years is not such a long time for Church Fathers.  Or tortoises.