Happy Birthday Santa Claus

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I know what you’re all thinking” Has he lost his marbles, we are only 2 days away from St Patrick’s day and he is coming up with a Christmas story”

Do not worry I can assure you that I still have all my faculties. Legend has it that on this day in the year 280 Saint Nicholas was born. Saint Nicholas who we now know as Santa Claus, Saint Nick or if you live in a Dutch speaking country Sinterklaas or still as Saint Nicholas

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There are so many different version of his origin varying between Lapland and Spain.

According to tradition, he was born in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara, currently in Turkey,,when he was young, he traveled to the Middle East. He became bishop of Myra soon after returning to Lycia. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian but was released under the rule of Constantine the Great. He attended the first Council of Nicaea (325), where he allegedly struck the heretic Arius in the face.

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He was buried in his church at Myra, and by the 6th century his shrine there had become well known. In 1087 Italian sailors or merchants stole his alleged remains from Myra and took them to Bari, Italy; this removal greatly increased the saint’s popularity in Europe, and Bari became one of the most crowded of all pilgrimage centres. Nicholas’s relics remain enshrined in the 11th-century basilica of San Nicola at Bari,

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It is however also alleged that Saint Nicholas is buried in County Kilkenny,Ireland. Tradition in these parts tell that the earthly remains of St. Nicholas were secretly removed from Bari by returning crusader knights, who brought them back to Newtown Jerpoint for safe keeping.

The grave’s stone slab is carved with the image of a cleric with the heads of two knights behind each shoulder, said to be those of the two crusaders who, so the story goes, brought Nicholas’s remains to Ireland. Evidence lends some credence to this tale as the Normans in Kilkenny were keen collectors of religious relics, and it is known that Norman knights participated in the Holy Land Crusades.

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We all know of course that all these theories are incorrect because he still delivers present every Christmas.

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Don’t lose your head on Valentine’s day

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Ah yes, it is that time of year again when men frantically rush into the shops to buy those last minutes cards and presents for their beloved. Sweaty palms, nervous twitches etc. I say men because lets face it, you hardly see any women in shops buying valentine’s gifts(they are clever, they would have bought  stuff a week earlier).

It is the feast day of love and romance but the origin of St Valentine’s day is a brutal one.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns.

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The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine.

A Roman priest named Valentine believing that the decree was unfair, went against the cruel emperor’s decree and continued to secretly wed young lovers. When his actions were discovered, Claudius had the defiant Roman priest arrested and put to death. Part of the legend is the priest’s farewell note for his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended. He signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

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Valentine was taken to the Prefect of Rome, who sentenced him to be beaten to death and beheaded. Valentine’s execution took place on February 14, around the year 270. He was declared a saint for his service, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Although not much is actually known about this St. Valentine (as there are actually several early Christian martyrs named Valentine), and whether he actually performed his heroic deed for lovers, the world has come to regard him as a true herald of love, and has been celebrating February 14 by exchanging love letters and special gifts.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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The siege and massacre of Magdeburg

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On this day in 1631 the city of Magdeburg in Germany is seized by forces of the Holy Roman Empire and most of its inhabitants massacred, in one of the bloodiest incidents of the Thirty Years’ War.

In November 1630, King Gustavus sent his colonel Dietrich von Falkenberg to direct Magdeburg’s military affairs and promised his personal protection.

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Backed by the Lutheran clergy, Falkenberg had the suburbs fortified and additional troops recruited. When the Magdeburg citizens refused to pay a demanded tribute to the emperor, in a matter of months, Imperial forces under the command of Count Johann Tserclaes of Tilly laid siege to the city.The city was besieged from 20 March 1631 and Tilly put his subordinate Imperial Field Marshal Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim in command while he campaigned elsewhere.

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In fierce fighting, the Imperial troops conquered several sconces of the city’s fortification and Tilly demanded capitulation. At the time, about 24,000 Imperial soldiers gathered around the walls.

After two months of laying siege, and after the Swedish victory in the Battle of Frankfurt an der Oder on 13 April 1631, Pappenheim finally convinced Tilly, who had brought reinforcements, to storm the city on 20 May with 40,000 men under the personal command of Pappenheim.

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The Magdeburg citizens had hoped in vain for a Swedish relief attack. On the last day of the siege, the councilors were convinced that it was time to sue for peace, but word of their decision did not reach the Count of Tilly in time.

In the early morning of May 20, the conquest began with heavy artillery fire. Soonafter, Pappenheim and Tilly started marching against Magdeburg. The city’s fortifications were breached and Imperial forces were able to overpower armed opposition and open the Kröcken Gate which allowed the entire army to enter the city, plundering its rich stores of goods. The city was dealt another blow when Swedish colonel Dietrich von Falkenberg was shot dead by Catholic imperials.When the city was almost lost, the garrison mined various places and set others on fire.

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After the city fell, the Imperial soldiers supposedly went out of control and started to massacre the inhabitants and set fire to the city. The invading soldiers had not received payment for their service and took the chance to loot everything in sight; they demanded valuables from every household that they encountered. Otto von Guericke, an inhabitant of Magdeburg, claimed that when civilians ran out of things to give the soldiers, “the misery really began. For then the soldiers began to beat, frighten, and threaten to shoot, skewer, hang, etc., the people.”

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It took only one day for all of this destruction and death to transpire. Of the 30,000 citizens, only 5,000 survived, most of them had fled into Magdeburg Cathedral. Tilly finally ordered an end to the looting on May 24, and a Catholic mass was celebrated at the Cathedral on the next day. For another fourteen days, charred bodies were carried to the Elbe River to be dumped to prevent disease. In a letter, Pappenheim wrote of the Siege:

“I believe that over twenty thousand souls were lost. It is certain that no more terrible work and divine punishment has been seen since the Destruction of Jerusalem. All of our soldiers became rich. God with us.”

After Magdeburg’s capitulation to the Imperial forces, there was much bickering between the residents who had favored resistance against the emperor and those who had been against such an action. Even King Gustavus Adolphus joined in the finger pointing, claiming that the citizens of Magdeburg had not been willing to pay the necessary funds for their defense.Pope Urban VIII expressed his satisfaction that “the nest of heretics” was destroyed.

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On the other hand, the Imperial treatment of defeated Magdeburg helped persuade many Protestant rulers in the Holy Roman Empire to stand against the Roman Catholic emperor