He got a turtle!

Pope and Pygmies.jpgThe pope gets treated, well, like a pope. A group of Pygmies showed up as Benedict XVI was leaving Cameroon in an unscheduled visit with an unexpected gift: a live turtle to take back to the Vatican. John Thavis of CNS reports:

The 15 Pygmies from the Baka ethnic group came to the pope’s residence at the apostolic nunciature in Yaounde March 20 as the pontiff was preparing to leave for Angola. They built a ceremonial hut out of leaves in the garden of the residence, and the pope came out to greet them.


[CNS photo at right]

The Pygmies, including grandparents, parents and children, sang songs and danced to the beat of drums, and then gave the pope three gifts: a basket, a cloth mat and a turtle, which is a symbol of wisdom in Cameroon.

The fate of the turtle was a little unclear at first. Vatican officials aboard the papal plane to Angola told reporters it had been left behind in Cameroon.

But a few minutes later, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, walked into the journalist section of the plane carrying the turtle in a woven cage. Reporters snapped photos as the brown turtle, about eight inches long, poked its head out from under its shell.

The spokesman said he wasn’t sure if the turtle would make the return trip to Rome and take up residence in the Vatican. He suggested it might find a home in the Vatican gardens.


I love turtles. Even got salmonella from one as a kid. Serious deadly. I hope the pope was careful. And the fact that he could bring it back shows that it’s good to be king–no customs.  

I’m desperate to find a shot of the little guy. Or even what kind it is. Googling only turns up sea turtles as nesting on Cameroon beaches. It can’t be a sea turtle. Any herpetologists out there?

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posted March 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Turtle, huh? Does he really deserve that? NO.

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Mere Catholic

posted March 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm

This is just cool. If you get over being raked over the coals by the media and being deemed unworthy by pagansister to be gifted a turtle, it must be really, really cool to be Pope. But I feel bad for the little guy (or gal?) having to be all alone in the Vatican gardens. I say they should have given a pair of turtles, a male and female, to make a turtle family.

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posted March 21, 2009 at 1:14 am

Oh sure, then the turtle will get too demanding and it will be flushed down the toilet. There in the dark and dank, it will continue to grow in the sewers under the Vatican. Soon whole heads of lettuce will disappear in the night, with the only clue being the scraping of it’s enormous shell as it drags along the marble halls. The Swiss Guard will be called upon to capture the beast, but it will be too late. After eating several heretical tomes it become a liberal protestant and demands it be able to marry, eat anything it wants on Friday, give up nothing for Lent, and constantly draws its head into its shell in fear of Armageddon. Soon the Turtle will be too big to make it back into the sewers and it will be skewered on a Swiss Guards pike, shelled and cleaned, and served in a soup.
Who knew that such a benign gift could go so bad.

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posted March 21, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Oh, you Catholics! You miss the point.
A turtle has the God-given spiritual authority of the pope. Put a mitre on him and a ring on his toe, and he does you just as much good as Benedict.

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posted March 22, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Mere Catholic: The turtle is a symbol of “wisdom” according to the people of Cameroon. Thus the “no” to his deserving the gift. Wise isn’t something he has proven to many.
Great turtle story, jestrfyl!

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