Monday, December 02, 2019

Advent Calendar of Cards Day 2 (1980)

I have used parts of what I thought was a letter that Fra Giovanni Giocondo wrote to his friend, Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513 in cards and little books over the years. I first became aware of it at the Christmas Revels which we attended for many years. A reading of it by Robert J. Lurtsema, host of Morning Pro Musica on WGBH radio from 1971–2000, was on their first recording. After a comment on facebook from Cari Ferarro and some further research, I now know that it was written by Ernest Temple Hargrove.

Here's some information from inspirationpeak:

The name of a certain "16th century monk" is familiar now to millions of people but, he never lived; he was created by an English barrister, Ernest Temple Hargrove. With the arrival of Christmas season each year, the monk, Fra Giovanni, becomes better known, and his creator drifts farther into obscurity. This is the way Mr. Hargrove wanted it. Hargrove was born into a distinguished English family, came to the United States as a young man and spent many years in religious endeavors, particularly in the field of writing.

Before his death in 1939 Hargrove composed a Christmas greeting to a friend, writing in literary style that gave a medieval  flavor to his message. The greeting took the form of a letter from a monk to an Italian countess. According to a close friend, G.M.W. Kobbe of New York, Hargrove secured no copyright, feeling that if his greeting carried a real message there should be no impediment to its circulation. With the passage of years, the letter is now thought of as the perfect Christmas card by a great host of appreciative readers, many of whom believe Fra Giovanni was a real person.

I printed it on light green stationery (came with matching envelopes) at my favorite local copy shop in Lowell. I was just beginning to expand my collection of writing tools and was in love with the scroll pen.

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