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Born in Monte Compatri, Italy 1858, Alessandro Moreschi was probably castrated before he reached eight years old, either as a "cure" for inguinal hernia or through the centuries-old practice of castrating vocally talented boys for the Catholic Church. Moreschi was a member of the Sistine Chapel Choir where he held the position of first soprano for thirty years. The technology did not exist for recording until late in his career, this session took place in 1904. Moreschi remains the first and only recorded castrato. The barbaric practice was banned in Italy in 1870.

Here, Moreschi hauntingly sings his best known work, Ave Maria composed by Charles Gounod based on a work by J.S. Bach. It is a traditional prayer in Latin and is the basis for the rosary. I have included the Latin text and its English Translation.

Áve María, grátia pléna, Dóminus técum. Benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus frúctus véntris túi, Iésus. Sáncta María, Máter Déi, óra pro nóbis peccatóribus, nunc et in hóra mórtis nóstrae. Ámen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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At 6:41pm on August 23, 2008, Jim Winkler said…
I built a "diving helmet" when I was 11 or 12. I used a soap can, made a port hole with a piece of polycarbonate and wood frames. My dad got someone at work to weld some rebar rings together for weights. It had plywood shoulder rests. A garden hose and a bicycle pump supplied air. Worked pretty well and was a big hit with my friends at the community swimming pool. The only problem was that the hose would come off the fill pipe which was on top of the helmet. The result would be that the helmet would immediately fill with water and weigh about 50 pounds. You would have to get the helmet off and get back to the surface to get a breath of air. I am now surprised that nobody got an embolism.


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