The Birdman of St. Paul's


The most famous landmark in Macau is the ruins of Sao Paulo, the remains of a 16th-century church that burnt down* during a typhoon** about 150 years ago. The ruins consist primarly of the church’s facade.



As you can see, Saint Francis has gone to the birds.

*Burnt down or burned down? Discuss.

**I’m not sure how a large building can burn down in the middle of a rainstorm, either.


In general, "burned down" sounds right to my modern ear and eye, even thought "burnt down" is acceptable. However, "burnt" seems more poetic, maybe because it's an older form of the word. In this case it's more fitting, because this is a significant structure (in terms of size and the fact that it was a church), as well as an old one. "Burnt" seems to convey more of a sense of having been scorched and blackened.

After all, we do make "burnt" offerings rather than "burned" offerings, right? (For those of us that do, that is.)

Usually I bleed my offerings before I burn them. But that's just me. You may prefer to burn yours alive.

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