These are the Top 5 articles from my blog this year based on the number of reader views at billpetro.com:
Top 5 of 2021
This is the oft-told story of the monk who caused the Roman gladiatorial games to be ended upon his martyrdom on January 1, A.D. 404. I say oft-told because stories have been told about him since the 8th and 9th centuries. It’s in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Alfred Lord Tennyson recounted it during Victorian times, and Ronald Reagan used it at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1984. The Feast of St. Telemachus is celebrated on New Year’s Day.
From the Easter story, this article talks about the ancient Jewish “Supreme Court,” the council of the High Priestly family, Elders of the tribes and families, and the Scribes of the Law. It was the responsibility of this body 2,000 years ago to identify the Messiah and expose false ones. Yet the council had lost to the Roman governor Pilate the power of capital punishment, the jus gladii, except for against Gentile trespassers into the Temple.
This California landmark and the most famous bridge crossing the San Francisco Bay — there are six others — is often believed to have given the name “Golden Gate” to the city. This article explains where the term Golden Gate actually comes from historically. It also describes the construction and uniqueness of the bridge.
I wrote this article on the occasion of my twin sister’s birthday. I “buried the lede” by recounting two other significant historical events that occurred on April 19: The Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, which triggered the American Revolutionary War, and the Second Diet of Speyer in 1529. The latter caused a reaction among German Princes against the Edict of Worms, which excluded toleration of Lutherans, Zwinglians, or Anabaptists. Still with me? This caused several Princes to write “I protest,” and the term Protestant was coined.
The Nativity story is popular, especially when people turn their attention toward the Christmas Season. In this first article of my Christmas series, I explain the meaning of “Advent,” the four weeks before Christmas, the dating of Christmas Day on December 25, and its surprising relation to the old Roman Saturnalia.
Read ’em all.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian