HISTORY OF ST JOSEPH Today, March 19, is Saint Joseph’s Day, or the Feast of St Joseph. It is celebrated by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran Churches worldwide. The terms feast and festival are often used interchangeably and often refer to a religious holiday. What is the history of the holiday and of Joseph…

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St Patrick

HISTORY OF ST PATRICK’S DAY Although much of the life of the patron saint and Apostle of Ireland is shrouded in legend, St. Patrick was probably born around the year AD 389. Stories are told of the many contests Patrick had with Druids, pagans, and polytheists, as well as the well-known but unlikely story of…

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Ides of March

HISTORY OF THE IDES OF MARCH According to the ancient Roman calendar, the ides fell on the 13th of the month with the exception of the months March, May, July, and October, when it fell on the 15th of the month. Something epochal occurred in 44 B.C. Et tu, Brute? It was on March 15,…

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40 Martyrs

HISTORY OF THE 40 MARTYRS OF SEBASTE A curious occurrence happened in the early 4th century Roman Empire. The early church historian Bishop Eusebius tells the story of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who, before a battle against his rival Emperor Maxentius in 312 AD at the Milvian Bridge outside of Rome, had either a dream…

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March

HISTORY OF MARCH The month that can come in “like a lion and out like a lamb” is named after Mars, the Roman god of war (and agriculture). Indeed, in French, the month is called Mars. March, or Martius as it was known in ancient Rome, is the first month of Spring and was considered…

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HeadlessNero

HISTORY OF ERASING UNPOPULAR LEADERS: DAMNATIO MEMORIAE During the early Roman Empire two millennia ago, an emperor might be deified after he died if he was popular and good. (Think: the Divine Augustus.) Alternatively, if he was unpopular and wicked, he was “erased” from society’s memory. The Latin term Damnatio Memoriae means the condemnation of…

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HISTORY OF ST. VALENTINE’S DAY St. Valentine¬†was martyred on February 14. However, Valentine or Valentinus is the name of at least three martyred saints. The most celebrated are the two martyrs whose festivals fall on February 14. One was a Roman priest, the other, bishop of Terni.   Context It would appear from legend that…

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Fourth Estate

HISTORY OF THE FOURTH ESTATE: THE PRESS When you hear about The Fourth Estate, it usually means The Press. Where did the term Fourth Estate come from? What do we mean by The Press, and how has it changed in modern times? I conclude with a cautionary tale from early U.S. history.   Origin of…

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HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS As I mentioned previously, New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March, but later changed to January by the Romans. Where did we get the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and why at the beginning of the year?   Roman New Years Resolutions The…

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