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SOUL FOOD:Religion's role in the Ancient Wonders

July 12, 2007|By MICHÈLE MARR

The seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of a century rolls around only once every 100 years. Only once in a lifetime for those whose lifespan straddles the century right.

For us, the rare day was last Saturday, prompting — among other events — more weddings than the average Saturday among couples who believed the 7-7-7 day to be uniquely blessed or lucky. Seven brides and seven grooms tied the knot on a Six Flags roller coaster in Bowie, Md., named of all things, Joker's Jinx.

In more traditional venues, couples got hitched in record numbers. Saturday evening at a concert at the San Juan Capistrano Library I met a postman who told me about a church on his route that crammed so many weddings into the day he couldn't get his mail truck anywhere close to it. The ceremonies were held back-to-back, flooding the streets and the parking lots with crowds and cars. The draw was apparently tied to the symbolism of the number seven in the Bible.

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In the Bible, the number seven represents completion or perfection — the ultimate realization of God's plan. So 7-7-7 portends the unimaginably divine, the antidote to 6-6-6, which as the sign of the Beast, portends unspeakable evil.

Gamblers in places like Las Vegas and Laughlin threw money hand over fist at potential colossal jackpot winnings as if some god might smile on them on this day more than others. The website americancatholics.org does, after all, list St. Bernadine of Sienna as the patron saint of compulsive gambling.

Meanwhile, in Portugal, Bernard Weber's New7Wonders foundation announced the winners of its seven-year contest by popular vote to create a modern list of man-made marvels to parallel, if not replace, the list of Seven Ancient Wonders (most of which have vanished) compiled in the Middle Ages.

The campaign, which began in 1999, gathered votes from around the world by Internet and phone "American Idol" style. I learned of it late last year.

By then, close to 200 nominations had been whittled down to 21 contenders. I favored nine that I had seen. But in the end only two of them — Petra in Jordan and the Roman Colosseum in Italy — made the final list after some 100 million votes were cast, according to Weber's foundation.

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