2434.  Tonsured

Not an actual photo of me but pretty close

Today is a true story because the well has run dry!

You know those old pictures of monks with a ring of hair on their heads called a tonsure? These days the meaning of it escapes anyone with a pulse. For hundreds of years, possibly for more than a thousand years, monks in the Roman Catholic tradition had tonsures.

Now I make the dates up because I can’t remember, but after more than a thousand years I was the second to last person in the history of the world to get a legitimate tonsure. My friend, John, was the very last, he being several months younger than me. In those days everything was arranged in age from oldest to youngest. The bishop came to do the deed. It was around 1972/1973. Let’s say it was arranged to happen on the 22nd of May.

The pope had issued some decree or other that did away with the tonsure. A new ritual was to replace it. The new ritual was to become valid on 23rd of May, the day after our arranged ceremony. The bishop sent a telegram to the Vatican: can we use the new rite the evening before? He had another urgent task to do and had to go away. Back came the answer: Negativo.

And that is how I became the second to last person in the history of Western Civilization to get tonsured.

Don’t panic! I was still young and within a few months had curly ringlets down to the centre of my back. Perhaps the tonsure had been there to safeguard against vanity!

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