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A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, December 13, 2003
Islam prefers cats to dogs!

ONION (my beloved peke) is not amused.....

(And reading that article is one reason - among many! - I could never be a Muslim!).

Blogger down again

Began posting later than usual today; Blogger down again. But up and running at least right now, thankfully.

Today in Christian history

December 13, 37: Nero, the Roman emperor who was the scourge of early Christians, is born. After his suicide in 68, many believed he would return, and "false Neros" appeared throughout the eastern provinces.

December 13, 304: Lucy, one of the earliest Christian saints to achieve popularity, dies. According to legend, she renounced marriage out of devotion to Christ, but a spurned suitor convinced Roman authorities to force her into a life of prostitution. When this was unsuccessful, they tried to burn her to death, but she wouldn't catch fire. Finally, she was killed by the sword. Lucy was probably one of several Christians killed in the Diocletian persecution. But within a century of her death, she had a remarkable following.

December 13 1294: After issuing a constitution giving popes the right to quit, Pope Celestine V shocks the world by resigning. An aged, nearly incoherent hermit when he was chosen to succeed Pope Nicholas IV, Celestine was desperately unsuited for the job and served only 15 weeks before Cardinal Gaetani, masquerading as a voice from heaven, convinced him to step down. Gaetani then became the infamous Pope Boniface VIII, and he imprisoned Celestine until the old man's death

December 13, 1545: Pope Paul III opens the 19th Ecumenical Council, better known as the Council of Trent in the northern mountains of Italy. It was a landmark counter-reform council that would last eighteen years (on and off) and through five popes in which Protestantism was strongly condemned and measures passed to preserve the Catholic faith and reform the Church.

December 13, 1641: Death of Jane Frances Chantal, wife, mother and religious founder. After her husband died she was left with her seven children to raise. When they reached adulthood she chose to found the Congregation of the Visitation for young girls and widows which spread throughout France. She was a close friend and pupil of Saint Francis de Sales and she died at Moulins, France on this date after returning from a Parisian visit with Queen Anne. She was canonized in 1767.

December 13 1835: Phillips Brooks, Episcopal prelate and author is born in Boston. Though he produced ten volumes of sermons, he is better remembered today as author of the Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” written in 1868 for the children of his Sunday School.

Friday, December 12, 2003
Mother of Unity

This card has been used by the Orthodox Church in America in its Mexican Exarchate; it demonstrates just how deep the devotion of the Mexican people is to Our Lady of Guadalupe and that the Orthodox accept the reality of this apparition, using it in their own literature. As a Catholic, I rejoice in this usage by our Orthodox brethren since we share together such a profound veneration for the Mother of God, the Mother of unity.

When Mary appears

"Wherever in Christianity Mary appears, everything abstract and distant, all veils and obstacles disappear; and every soul is immediately touched by the heavenly world."

- Adrienne von Speyr

Episcopal parishes apply for new bishops

"Parishes from 37 Episcopal dioceses — more than one-third of all the church's domestic dioceses — have applied for a new bishop, an unusual move for a denomination whose name, "episcopal," signifies governance by bishops.

These are parishes under liberal bishops who voted Aug. 5 to approve V. Gene Robinson as the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop and who may have attended his Nov. 2 consecration in New Hampshire..."

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Roses and an Image

Roses and an image. These are the central elements of the apparitions of Our Lady at Tepeyac — not words, or at least not many words, no message as at other appari­tions which took place during the octave of the Immaculate Conception, and thus during the Advent season, in 1531.


The roses were a sign for Bishop Zumárraga who would recognize them as a species of rose native to Castile. How could the good bishop have failed to be amazed by these Castilian roses in midwinter Mexico, roses picked on a barren hillside and arranged by Our Lady. “There is no rose of such virtue / As is the rose that bore Jesu / Alleluia,” to quote a fifteenth-century English carol. The roses make us think of the expectant Mary, the Advent Mary, who directs our gaze to Christ and the mystery of his coming. The Advent theme is sounded: roses from a midwinter hillside signify the unexpected pure grace of Christ’s coming for which we cannot really prepare and for which grace itself must make us ready. “For in this rose contained was / heaven and earth in little space: / Res Miranda.”

An image

The miraculous image of Guadalupe, measuring six and one-half by three and one-half feet, imprinted on the rough cloth of Juan Diego’s cloak has remained intact for 465 years; and, not only are there no brush strokes, but it is next to impossible to paint such an image on cloth of this kind.

But perhaps even more important than the miracle is the fact of the image itself. Mary says of it: “This sacred image will be known as the Entirely Perfect Virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe?" In a 1688 work on the appari­tions, Franciscan Fray Jeronimo Valladolid put the point clearly: “This Virgin as she is portrayed needs no writing because she is herself a writing on a piece of cloth." The image itself communicates its message like a pictograph.

Prior to the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the language Nahuati was written entirely in hieroglyphics. Helen Behrens, who studied Mary’s image by comparing it to Aztec iconography, points out that the image of Our Lady is a pictograph which itself contains Mary’s mes­sage to us. The most important elements in the picto­graph can be understood in connection with the word “Guadalupe” which is neither a place name (as one might suppose) nor a Nahuati term. It has been shown that the word “Guadalupe” in fact corresponds to the Nahuati “te coatlaxopeuh” as a Spanish speaker would hear and repeat it. It means “to crush the stone serpent” and clearly refers to the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, to whom untold numbers of human beings were annual­ly sacrificed. Thus, the title of the image turns out to mean: “the Entirely Perfect Virgin Holy Mary who crushes the stone serpent." It is the image itself that is powerful in overcoming the serpent (see Gn 3: 14-15).

Other elements of the image are also significant: the sun rays behind Our Lady show that human beings are more important than the sun god to whom they were sacrificed in the old religion, and the crescent serpent depicts the crushed Quetzalcoatl.

Again, we can discern a striking Advent theme. The incarnate Son, whom we expect in this holy season, is the Word made flesh, the perfect image of the Father. God sent us, not words, but his very own Son. Just like the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the incarnate Son is the divine message in himself.

So: the roses and the image that are central to the apparitions of Guadalupe draw us into the deepest mystery of Advent. “By that rose we may well see / That He is God in Persons three: / Pari forma.” The unex­pected and astonishing roses remind us of the pure and unmerited grace of the incarnation. The image reminds us of the awesome immediacy of the divine in Christ.

How fitting it is that, in the heart of the Advent season, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, north and south of the Rio Grande, we all embrace “the Entirely Perfect Virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe” as the Mother and Queen of the Americas.

- Father I. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., is a Dominican priest and Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

From MAGNIFICAT, December 2002

Today in Christian history

December 12, 1189: King Richard I "the Lion Hearted" leaves England on the Third Crusade to retake Jerusalem, which had fallen to Muslim general Saladin in 1187.

December 12, 1667: The Council of Moscow deposes Russian Orthodox Patriarch Nikon. A "man of great ability and sincerity but of autocratic temper," according to one historian, his calls for liturgical reform grew into a fight over the relationship between church and state. Though deposed at the council, banished, and imprisoned for 14 years, his liturgical reforms were sanctioned. In 1681, he was recalled to Moscow by the new tsar, but he died on the way. He was buried with patriarchal honors and all decrees against him were revoked. His liturgical reform provoked the schism of "the Old Believers" whose numbers have dwindled but who still exist today.

December 12, 1712: The colony of South Carolina requires "all persons whatsoever" to attend church each Sunday and refrain from skilled labor and travel. Violators of the "Sunday Law" could be fined 10 shillings or locked in the stocks for two hours.

Thursday, December 11, 2003
French Panel Recommends Banning Head Scarves in Schools

"PARIS, Dec. 11 — As Europe struggles with the integration of its rising Muslim population and a new wave of anti-Semitism, a long-awaited official report on church-state relations in France is recommending sweeping changes in the way the country balances its fierce commitment to secularism with the demands of its religious minorities.

The report's most dramatic recommendation, which was delivered today to President Jacques Chirac, was to urge passage of a law banning "conspicuous" religious symbols in public schools. Such symbols would include head scarves worn by Muslim girls, skullcaps worn by Jewish boys and large crosses worn by Christians..."

Awake for Advent

"And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." - Romans 11: 11-14

Advent is “the springtime of love,” when the soul awaits her lover, knowing deep down that he is com­ing and that he will make her his own!

This knowledge is unshakeable. It is based on a faith that is immovable, filled with a knowledge that is found, not in books, but in the prayer of silence, the prayer of love.

To meet this lover, our bridegroom, we must be awake for him. In his letter to the Romans (13: 11-14), Saint Paul calls us in a loud voice to arise from our sleep! Our salvation is nearer than we believed; the night has passed, and the day is at hand. This call of his means now! Today! Every day of the year, every hour of every day is the hour for us to arise from our sleep.

We have so many “sleeps.” We have that strange inner sleep that wants to escape from whatever we have to conduct in the marketplace with the powers of secularism. And we have that other emotional sleep that drags us into bed to escape an even bigger fight with the powers of darkness within ourselves. For we know that we have to “die to self" so that we may live in Christ, and this is hard for us to face.

We also have to fight the simple sleep of weariness that any vocation places on the shoulders of its members - weariness of body, weariness of mind, and weariness of soul.

Yes, Saint Paul is right: we must arise from our sleep. Let us come out of the night of our emotions - the night of our anger, of our hostility, of all those negatives within us. Let us walk in the daylight of simplicity, of friendship, of forgiveness, of under­standing, of tenderness, and gentleness to one another.

Advent is a time for this arising. It is such a joyous season, such a loving season! Let us enter into its joy.

- Catherine de Hueck Doherty
From Magnificat December 2002

Indonesian Christians Once Again Living in Fear

"Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - As Christmas approaches, Christians in Indonesia's Sulawesi province are worried that despite an influx of troops and police, the deteriorating security situation of the last two months may worsen.

Christian campaigners working in the area say many are too scared to live normal lives, afraid to tend, harvest or market their crops for fear of attack by Muslim extremists..."

Religion leads to a merrier Christmas

"Who has the merriest Christmas? It's just as the old country pastor says: Those who keep the Christ in Christmas have the most satisfying holiday. "Religious people are happier than those without spirituality in their life," notes a new study from Britain's University of Warwick.

And those who keep their religious practices intact at yuletide, the study found, are happier than those who rely on the pleasures of shopping for their holiday meaning..."

Today in Christian history

December 11 1518: Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli becomes "people's priest" at the Old Minster Church in Zurich, a position he held for the remaining 13 years of his life. After nearly dying from the plague, he began his reforming program almost immediately, persuading the city council to judge religious issues by Scripture alone.

December 11 1640: English Puritans introduced a petition with 15,000 signatures to Parliament, seeking to abolish the church episcopacy, "with all its dependencies, roots and branches." The House of Commons accepted what has become known as the "Roots and Branch Petition," but the House of Lords (many of whom were bishops) rejected it, and the episcopal organization of the Church of England remained.

December 11, 1792: Joseph Mohr, the Austrian Roman Catholic vicar who, along with the Oberndorf Church organist Franz Gruber, on Christmas Eve of 1818, authored the enduring Christmas hymn, "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night") was born.

December 11 1918: Russian author Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, an Orthodox believer whose works include "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and "The Gulag Archipelago", is born. His books are credited by many scholars with "helping to bring down the last empire on earth".

December 11, 1983: Pope John Paul II paid a historic visit to a Lutheran church in Rome, the first visit by a Roman Catholic pontiff to a Protestant church in his own diocese.

December 11 1984: The White House displays a nativity scene for the first time since courts ordered its removal in 1973.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Muslims Converting To Christianity In France

Thanks to Mark Shea for pointing to this article with its hopeful news. Just yesterday I read a report on Saudi Arabia and about 1400 ex patriates converted to Islam last year. I presume at least a sizeable portion of these were Catholics. There are maybe 6,000,000 ex patriates living and working in Saudi Arabia - the bulk of whom are Muslims from countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia. I believe there are about 5,000,000 Muslims in France. I wonder how many native French convert to Islam.

I have no way of verifying either conversion statistic. But I am hoping the news from France is authentic!

The praise of Senator Paul Sarbanes continues

Not just a Catholic problem!

Several years ago, when Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was visiting Baltimore, at a huge banquet, he praised to the sky one of the most vocal proponents of abortion rights in the U.S. Senate, Paul Sarbanes, Democratic State Senator. Sarbanes had been inducted as an "Archon" of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a special honor, and this is what the Ecumenical Patriarch said about Sarbanes:

"But among them all [the Greek Orthodox Christians in America], as Ecumenical Patriarch, we desire to single out one man who sums up your love for the Mother Church, for Orthodox culture, for the highest Christian ideals, Senator Paul Sarbanes. We express our fatherly pride in this accomplished son of the Mother Church; for his unwavering pursuit of righteousness and truth in both his public service to the Church and to the people of the United States of America. Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Very recently Senator Sarbanes visited with Archbishop Demetrios, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Here is what Demetrios said:

"Being with the Senator is always a great joy and a great source for exchange of ideas. He is one of the people that has wisdom in political, international and cultural issues. He is someone who is a combination of a scholar and a politician. Therefore, it is more than enjoyable to be with him and have the opportunity to discuss issues of general interest, of current affairs--political and otherwise--and issues that are in the center of attention of contemporary people, here and in other parts of the Globe."

I am sure Sarbanes has many fine qualities. Yet he is one of those (among the Catholic and Orthodox) who voted against the ban on partial birth abortion! It seems that this aspect of his record is completely overlooked by the hierarchs of his Church or it is acceptable to separate faith and politics in their understanding.

We Catholics can be embarrassed at the behavior of some bishops towards prominent Catholic politicians who are similiar in voting record to Sarbanes. But I can't imagine them speaking in such positive terms without expressing at least some measure of disagreement. Be that as it may, this is not just a Catholic problem.

May GOD have mercy on us all!

Karen Marie Knapp - update

To my surprise, this evening I received a call from Karen Marie Knapp of From the Anchorhold blog - one of my favorites. Karen was hospitalized yesterday with a severe case of cellulitis. She is doing better now and hopes to be home soon. She sure would appreciate any prayers. Thanks.

Refreshing Islamic Voice

And it's Italian!

I found the comments about John Esposito of Georgetown interesting after he had been kindly recommended to me by a commentor for a balanced view of Islam. I have grown a bit "cynical" about the effect of Saudi money in some sectors. Whether Palazzi's comments are accurate I don't know. But it does make me more cautious.


by Thomas Merton (Father Louis OCSO), + December 10, 1968

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Today in Christian history

December 10 1520: German reformer Martin Luther publicly burns Pope Leo X's bull "Exsurge Domine," which had demanded that Luther recant his heresies—including justification by faith alone.

December 10 1824: Scottish writer, poet, preacher George MacDonald, whose fairy tales and mythopoetic novels inspired C.S. Lewis, is born.

December 10, 1968: Death of Thomas Merton, Brother Louis, OCSO, controversial Trappist who wrote the famous "Seven Story Mountain" the story of his struggles and vocation to become a Trappist monk. He died at the age of fifty-three by electrocution while in Bangkok for a Monastic Conference.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Welcome "home", Steve!

Seminarian Steve Mattson has reopened his blog "In Formation". That is good news and a nice early Christmas gift to St Blog's.

Advent Antiphons

From Mary's sweet silence
Come, Word mutely spoken!
Pledge of our real life,
Come, Bread yet unbroken!
Seed of the Golden Wheat,
In us be sown.
Fulness of true Light,
Through us be known.
Secret held tenderly,
Guarded with Love,
Cradled in purity,
Child of the Dove,

Sr. M. Charlita, I.H.M.

The Saudi Connection

How billions in oil money spawned a global terror network

This long article in U.S. News seems important to me as we face the "war on terror" upfront. I am no Middle East expert, nor an expert on Islam, but I have come to believe that Saudi Arabia has been behind much of the world's growth of Islam and its transformation into more puritanical and militant forms.

From this article:

"Threatened within the kingdom, and fearful that the radicals in Tehran would assert their own leadership of the Muslim world, the Saudis went on a spending spree. From 1975 through last year, the kingdom spent over $70 billion on overseas aid, according to a study of official sources by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank. More than two thirds of that amount went to "Islamic activities"--building mosques, religious schools, and Wahhabi religious centers, says the CSP's Alex Alexiev, a former CIA consultant on ethnic and religious conflict. The Saudi funding program, Alexiev says, is "the largest worldwide propaganda campaign ever mounted"--dwarfing the Soviets' propaganda efforts at the height of the Cold War. The Saudi weekly Ain al-Yaqeen last year reported the cost as "astronomical" and boasted of the results: some 1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges, and nearly 2,000 schools in non-Islamic countries."

This article is confirmed in large part by another article in "The Atlantic Monthly" by Robert Baer, The Fall of the House of Said.

I am trying to learn and discern. I must admit much of what I am learning is not exactly good news.

France split by proposal to ban Islamic headscarves and crucifixes in schools

If I'm not mistaken Turkey bans the "headscarf" for its state institutions. Interesting that western Europe - and "the west" - is more "open" in this area than this largely Islamic state.

Stressed out

Why pastors leave

"The Christian Century" explores some reasons Protestant clergy leave the ministry.

Diocese to mortgage seminary, cathedral

Loans to temporarily finance settlement

"The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has agreed to mortgage St. John's Seminary, as well as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and has dipped into funds for retired clergy and cemeteries as part of an elaborate plan to finance the estimated $90 million the church has promised to pay to victims of clergy sexual abuse..."

Rome for the holidays

Festive churches, street markets and affordable monastery (and convent) stays, make the Eternal City a must-visit in December

(Thanks to Father Bryce Sibley for pointing out this link!)

"...ROMANS DO NOT revel in holiday cheer. Some merchants roll out a red carpet in front of their store entrance and windows as a subtle acknowledgement of the holiday season, and you may see smatterings of Christmas lights and even a few decorated trees, but blatant commercialism is rare. This is what makes visiting the city this time of year so inviting. In Rome, the real magic of Christmas lies inside the city’s many churches in their extravagant presepi, or nativity scenes. Almost every Catholic church in Rome lays out a spread, and the best are easy to find..."

Today in Christian history

December 9 1608: English poet John Milton is born in London. Though most famous for his epic Paradise Lost, he also penned an exposition of Christian doctrine, a plan for Christian education, and various political writings.

December 9 1840: Unable to go to China, David Livingstone sets sail from London as a missionary to southern Africa.

December 9, 1979: Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, renowned TV broadcaster, died in NYC at 84.

Monday, December 08, 2003
The Failure of the Eucharist - HUH?

New blogger, Father Tom Dowd, from Canada, blogs about a new "more intimate mass" being proposed. Encouraging to read the words of this newly ordained priest (well, ordained 2 years ago).

Leading Evangelical Dies

I encountered the name Carl F. Henry many years ago when I subscribed to "Christianity Today", of which he was the first editor. Once in a while I take advantage of some offer and have resubscribed. One such subscription just expired a few months ago. Henry struck me as a serious Christian, intellectual and devout, convinced of his faith, and faithful in his life and work. I am struck with the closing words of this obituary:

"Henry's vital relationship with Jesus Christ informed and animated all his accomplishments and dreams. Of that relationship, he once wrote, "Into the darkness of my young life he put bright stars that still shine and sparkle. … I walked the world with God as my Friend. He prodded me to go to college, to choose my career and my mate and still leads me day after day."

Beautiful. May he rest in peace.

One Sign of Hope in The Netherlands

Searching for information on the Church in the Netherlands I remembered this link I published once before on this blog. May the LORD receive their prayer and penance on behalf of a renewal of the Dutch Catholic Church.

Opus Dei raises questions among some

Similiar to "the Fellowship" mentioned below, Opus Dei has its adherents, admirers, critics. My own experience has been positive but have found that Opus Dei is not "my style". But I am glad they're around!

N.Va. Neighbors Up in Arms Over Secretive Enclave

Dignitaries' Visits Prompt Complaints on Quiet Street

The religious scene in The United States is rich and manifold and often enough not without controversy. I post this link since I have been aware of "the Fellowship" for some time and it is, more or less, "in my neighborhood" and hope it may be of interest to some.

Hail, Mary, full of grace!

Hail, O you, through whom Joy will shine forth!
Hail, O you, through whom the curse will disappear!
Hail, O Restoration of the Fallen Adam!
Hail, O Redemption of the Tears of Eve!
Hail, O Peak above the reach of human thought!
Hail, O Depth even beyond the sight of angels!
Hail, O you who have become a Kingly Throne!
Hail, O you who carry Him Who Carries All!
Hail, O Star who manifest the Sun!
Hail, O Womb of the Divine Incarnation!
Hail, O you through whom creation is renewed!
Hail, O you through whom the Creator becomes a Babe!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure

- From the Akathist hymn of the Byzantine Church!

Sonnet to the Virgin

Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend,
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!

- William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Today in Christian history

December 8, 1854: Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in his Apostolic Letter Ineffabilis Deus. It asserted that by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, Mary was freed from original sin “in the first instant of conception.”

December 8, 1869: The First Vatican Council is convened by Pope Pius IX at St. Peter's in Rome.

December 8, 1962: Pope John XXIII closes the first session of the Second Vatican Council, the 21st Ecumenical Council. He would not live to reconvene Vatican II which would be left to his successor Pope Paul VI.

December 8, 1965: Pope Paul VI brings the 21st Ecumenical Council, Vatican II, to a solemn close after a three year run incorporating four sessions in which sixteen documents were promulgated.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of him by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith's walled place,
with hope's expectance of nativity.

I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth's most amazing knowledge:
someone is hidden in this dark with me.

- Jessica Powers
Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit OCD

Welcome to St Blog's

Mere Catholic - Mercandes, Kalanna
Cup and Saucer - Jennifer Steward
The Granola Catholic - Granola
Rex Olandi Rex - Paul Rex
Stealing Heaven - Dismas

Today in Christian history

December 7 374: Ambrose is consecrated bishop of Milan, Italy. The first bishop to stand up to the emperor and win (thus creating a church-state precedent that would influence the West for a millennium), he was also an influential theologian, especially regarding the Holy Spirit. His preaching led to the conversion of Augustine.

December 7 430: At the Synod of Rome, Cyril of Alexandria, 54, formally condemned the Nestorian heresy, from the teachings of the Antiochene monk Nestorius, who had claimed that there were two separate Persons in the Incarnate Christ (one Divine, the other Human).

December 7 521: Irish monk Columba, missionary to Scotland and founder of Iona and many other monastic communities, is born in Donegal.

December 7 1254: Innocent IV, who became pope in the middle of a tremendous controversy with Holy Roman emperor Frederick II, dies. As the controversy continued, both sides called each other the Antichrist. Frederick's supporters noted that the Roman numerals of "Innocencius papa" (if you count p, the 16th Greek letter as 16), adds up to 666. "There is no doubt that he is the true Antichrist," they concluded.

December 7 1598: Sculptor and architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, best known for "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa" and the Colonade of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, is born in Naples.

December 7, 1875: Five Franciscan nuns were drowned on the ship Deutschland. Under obedience Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a poem about the event, The Wreck of the Deutschland, and began a new chapter of remarkable poems.

December 7 1965: Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lift mutual excommunications in place since the Great Schism of 1054.

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