This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Sherlock Holmes and the Pachamama affair

I have described elsewhere how my friend Sherlock Holmes had on an earlier occasion been consulted by the Holy Father in order to track down the mysterious Marcantonio Colonna. One October day we were summoned again to the the papal presence in order to investigate the Crime of the Century.

Lavender Hill mob

"Right, Zuhlsdorf and Voris will keep us covered, while Donnelly and Taylor Marshall knock off the idols. We'll meet at the Tiber."

After offering us a humble glass of indigenous Amazon water, Pope Francis explained the problem to us. "Mr Holmes, only you can help us. Last night thieves broke into the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, removed four idols of the Blessed Pachamama (here the Holy Father knelt down and kissed the ground) and threw them into the Tiber."

At this point I was so shocked that I sipped at my indigenous drink and immediately felt a sharp pain in my tongue. Removing the piranha fish that had been swimming in the glass of Amazon water, I coughed a few times, and listened while the Successor of St Peter gave us our instructions.

"Do you not have replacement idols?" asked Holmes. "I saw traces of Brazilian sawdust on the floor when I came in, which suggest that an idol-making factory is somewhere nearby. I have written a monograph classifying six hundred varieties of sawdust, and these fragments clearly came from the deadly Hummes tree of Brazil."

"Oh yes, we have a whole shed full of the idols," explained Francis. "We shall be sending one to every parish in the world. But it is important for the prestige of the Synod that we recover the missing idols and place them in St Peter's Basilica."

Pachamama idol

Coming soon to every Catholic church!

We went into the garden, and I remarked to Holmes, "That's a very strange-looking garden-gnome standing on top of the compost-heap. Or is it another pagan idol?"

"I think not, Watson," replied my friend. "One can see that it is moving its lips."

As we approached, we could hear the gnome talking to himself. "Hail Pachamama, Our Lady of the Tiber! Those fascist, alt-right, racist, anti-semitic, Hitlerite, conservative, neo-Nazi, fascist, Brexiting, cat-torturing, thieving, baby-snatching, Telegraph-reading, criminal fascists have committed the Worst Crime in the World! But I will be avenged on the whole pack of you, or my name isn't Austen Ivereigh the Caped Crusader!"

We promptly turned round and walked away.

diving suit

Massimo Faggioli joins the hunt for the missing idols.

Holmes and I went down to the Tiber bridge from which Pachamama had received her early bath - now renamed St Pachamama's Bridge - and looked for clues. Would the idols have sunk into the mud, or would they be drifting out to sea, like a small flotilla, wending their way back to the shores of South America? There were no clues, and the crime seemed to be motiveless. What Catholic could possibly object to the demotion of the Trinity, the Virgin Mary and the saints, and their replacement by a smelly old lump of wood? Only the worst extremist Genghis Khan-following fascist sedevacantists, as little Austen might put it.

bowing to Pachamama

Bowing to Pachamama. Catholic worship at its best.

After a detailed search of the neighbourhood, Holmes and I finally stumbled across a quaint Italian shop, which advertised "LITURGICAL SUPPLIES. Puppets, statuettes, idols, and dolls. All your Catholic needs supplied here." Disguising ourselves as indigenous Amazonians (those feathers really tickled), we went in and asked to see something "spiritually nourishing". There, sitting on a shelf, were four muddy idols, which were clearly the missing Pachamamas.

"I do not wish my name to appear in this case," said Holmes. "Let us alert Inspector Ploddo of the Flying Squad, and allow him to take the credit for this discovery."

And so it was. Following Inspector Ploddo's advice, the Pachamama idols appeared in a place of honour in St Peter's, the following Sunday. Inspector Ploddo was there, ready to arrest anyone seen trying to liberate them. Indeed, the Holy Father had organized a "Bring your own idol for blessing" service, to which I took along my own ten-foot statue of Moloch.


Blessed by Pope Francis.

Holmes was not present. Bored by the whole affair, he had retired to his chamber to inject himself with another 7 per cent solution of Coccopalmerio.


  1. Mrs Hudson sweeps into Sherlock’s consulting-room at 221B Baker Street. “Mr ‘Olmes! Mr ‘Olmes! You’ve been exposed… that funny-business in Rome! (By the way, there’s a regular pea-souper out there on the river tonight, and no mistake)”.

    “I’ve got a memory like a sieve. Remind me, Watson”.

    “Holmes, remember the Affair of the Pachammamas who Didn’t Sleep with the Fishes After All? - I’m writing it up for an ITV series one day”.

    “What’s ITV?”

    Mrs Hudson goes on: “The statues you ‘recovered’ have been revealed as clumsy substitutes. And really, who was ever going to believe that a few small bits of wood were going to be recovered from the Tiber by the Police? The head of Carabinieri’s DNA is all over them and he has, as the saying goes I believe, ‘fessed up’”.

    “What’s DNA, Mrs H? Look, there’s only one thing for it. I must solve the original crime: who carried out the depontification of the original Pachammamas.....Hmm, I must think. This is a deep conundrum – a 3-pipe problem and I must get my violin out and scratch some Beethoven on it moodily.

    Or failing that, I could just drop a few tabs of Esctasy and listen repetitively to Taylor Swift’s latest offering. Yeah on balance I’m going Ecstasy/Taylor Swift.”

    “Mr ‘Olmes, I’ve told you before to keep away from that woman. No good can come of it”.

    “Put a sock in it, Mrs Hudson…. Ah! I have it! Ralph Wiltgen! With his seminal book The Rhine Flows into the Tiber he exposed the machinations of the Catholic modernists - and his knowledge of the Tiber’s tidal currents make him the ideal suspect for this crime!”

    “Great, Holmes. Except that he passed to his reward in 2007”.

    “OK, so it’s not a perfect theory”.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I guess we have to take whatever humour we can, out of the present desperate situation, both inside and outside the Church. God Bless.

  2. Thank you Eccles. A great laugh amongst all these horrors!

  3. Until my appeal for calling an American basketball player who is a whore for the Chinese Communists a whore for the ChiComs, which is probably never, I am off the Twitter. Which, judging from Steve Skojec and Deacon Nick on Facebook would probably just have me more angry and depressed.

  4. Farewell, then, Pachamama. When Cortés cast down the blood-drenched Aztec idol and replaced it with a tiny statue of Our Lady, then the ground shook with the anguished roar of the demons thus exorcised. Much the same has happened in the last few days.

    Let not your hearts be troubled by anything to do with the Amazon Synod. Those who do not believe that Our Blessed Lord ever uttered His Commission to Saint Peter, much less that Saint Peter ever set foot in Rome, are seeking to invoke the Successor of Peter's universal ordinary and immediate episcopal jurisdiction, in which they do not believe, in the knowledge that those of us who did believe would be obliged to submit. Well, the Holy Father knows their game. And the Holy Spirit knows their game.

  5. Elementary, my dear Eccles - with a sack, after dark, into the Tiber - clearly a premeditated (or premedicated) crime, rather than the work of an idol moment...

  6. Scathingly brilliant and spiritually nourishing.

  7. Holmes pondered for a while, then cranked the phone.

    "Good afternoon, your Eminence ...just returned from Rome?.... Please join us for dinner. And bring your violin. It is high time we tackled the last quartets of Beethoven. Yes, Watson on viola, and Mrs Hudson on cello, as usual…"

    The Cardinal soon arrived, wearing a worn cassock and carrying a battered violin case. When they were seated in Holmes' study, the detective asked:

    "So how was Rome?"
    The Cardinal looked weary. "Rome was a madhouse. People were abusing my Essay on Development to justify the worst heresies and idolatry. And those idols! People think that because the Vicar of Christ has allowed this, it cannot be wrong…"

    "I see the hem of your cassock still bears traces of mud", observed Holmes. "I have written a monogram on the different types of mud found in Rome. It is interesting that the mud found on the banks of the Tiber is of a unique type, doubtless, because of the various foul objects that have been tossed into that river over the centuries, such as heretical popes and idols."

    He gazed steadily at the Cardinal. His friend did not flinch, but gave a slight smile. "I was standing on a bridge, not on the banks", he murmured.

    "Also", continued Holmes, "traces of rosin were found on the recovered idols. Pirastro Goldflex."

    "It's the best rosin there is, in my opinion", said the Cardinal, not dropping his gaze.

    "I prefer Jade myself", replied the detective.

    "But", continued Holmes, "who can possible inspect the clothing of everyone in Rome, and talk to every violinist? I will contact the inspector tomorrow, and tell him that I have no interest in pursuing the case of the Pachamama thief any longer.And now, let us go to dinner, and afterwards, see what we can make of the Grosse Fuge."

    1. Bravo! I can't top this. So, after all, it was a time-travelling JHN who done it!

      I'd love to see Holmes playing the Grosse Fuge. The great detective, wrestling with Beethoven's heavy-metal chamber music.

  8. Well, that covers it. Between your brilliant essay and the comments in response, I have had enough spiritual nourishment to last me for a good 8-9 days---plenty of time for our friend Francis to be deep in the middle of another 'episode'. If he were bipolar, I would say the mania is recurring at an astonishing rate.

  9. Errata: for monogram read monograph.