Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne

On this day in the year 840, one of the biographers of Charlemagne, a man named Einhard, died at the age of roughly 65. (His name is also spelled “Einhardt” and “Eginhard.”) He was born into a noble family in East Franconia, the German-speaking lands of the Carolingian Empire, and sent to be educated as […]

St Peter Damian on Liturgical Prayer

St Peter Damian died in 1072, on February 22, the feast of St Peter’s Chair, a very appropriate day for one who spent so much of his life in service to the Church and to the Holy See. When Pope Leo XII made him a Doctor of the Church in 1828, and extended his feast […]

The Resignation of Pope St Celestine V

On this day in the year 1294, Pope St Celestine V abdicated from the Papacy in the fifth month of his reign, a strange denouement to one of the strangest episodes in the Church’s long and complex history. He was born in 1215 with the name Peter Angelerio, in a tiny town in south-central Italy […]

The Honesty of St Eligius

Most of France has traditionally kept December 1st as the feast of St Eligius (“Éloi” in French), who was born near Limoges in about 590, and died on this day in 660 after serving as bishop of Noyon for 19 years. In youth, he was trained as a goldsmith, and he has long been honored […]

A Natural Disaster in Medieval London

On October 17, 1091, a very unusual natural disaster occurred in England; the city of London was hit by a tornado. From the accounts of it given by the monastic chroniclers William of Malmesbury and Florentius of Worcester, both active in the early 12th century, modern scientists estimate it to have reached an 8 out […]

The Feast of St Lawrence

Today is the feast of one of Rome’s most famous Saints, the deacon Lawrence, who was martyred by being roasted alive on a grill during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian in the mid-3rd century. The Roman church has long honored this native son as one of her chief Patrons, alongside Ss Peter and Peter; […]

The Birth of St Dominic

The Church traditionally celebrates the feasts of the Saints on what it has from time immemorial called their “dies natalis”, Latin for “birthday.” This is a specifically Christian technical use of the term, in that it really means the day of their death, which is to say, the day on which they are born into […]

The Dogs of August

One of the strangest aspects of ancient Roman religion was an annual sacrifice known as the “supplicia canum – the punishments of the dogs”, which an early Byzantine writer, John the Lydian (ca. 495-565), says took place on August 3rd. (Earlier sources give no specific date for it.) This consisted of suspending live dogs on […]

Blessed Hermann of Reichenau

On this day in the year 1013 was born one of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages, the Benedictine monk now known as the Blessed Herman. In English, he is usually called “Hermann the Cripple” or “the Lame”, but his Latin appellation “contractus – the deformed” (literally ‘the contracted one’) is really more accurate, […]

“Their Sound Is Gone Out” – The Division of the Apostles

July 15th is the traditional date of a feast known as the “Divisio Apostolorum – the Division (or ‘Dispersion’) of the Apostles.” This feast is first attested in a hymn written by a German monk named Godeschalk, who died in 1098. It was very popular in the Middle Ages, and continued into the Tridentine period on many […]