Tag Archives: canonisation

January 2nd

On this day in 1791 there was a bit of a massacre in Ohio. At the time Ohio was a country and not a state and people were all starting to move over there because there was a lot of space and as it was in the mid-west, it was less scandalous than places like New York, so those of very little brain could wander off there and be happy worshipping God, snakes and beating their children for having impure thoughts.

Unlike Queen and Spinal Tap, the Wyandot did not like Big Bottomed Girls

That said, they probably didn’t deserve to be massacred, but then neither did the Wyandot Indians deserve to lose their land. All in all it’s a bit of a conundrum when it comes to “whose side should I be on?” To be fair to the Wyandot, they suffered far more in the aftermath as a big war began which was known as the Northwest Indian War. The clue is in the name; it was a war to murder as many Indians as humanly possible.

To be even fairer to the Indians, we need to know what the massacre was called and to understand more about the Wyandot people. The massacre was called The Big Bottom Massacre. The Wyandot people feared large arses and saw them as things that only devil type people had. The Wyandot were a slender and small-arsed tribe. The settlers liked a pie or several and as a result a few of them had rather large backsides.

As a result, on this day, the Wyandot went down to the place where the fattest settlers were staying and murdered 11 men, one woman and two children. From this we can see that the men were the fattest, with only one chunky woman and two chunky children who evidence tells us had a huge Ye Olde McDonald’s habit and were forerunners of kids who eat too many Twinkies and shit like that.

Despite how it may seem, I do not support the murderingof

Wyandot: Please note, no big bottom

overweight people. Far from it. Live and let live is pretty much my raison d’etre, but one has to understand the fear, albeit a bloody stupid one, of the Wyandot. They thought they were being invaded by devils who would kill them in their sleep. As it happens they did end up being murdered in their sleep because they killed the large of arse, so the whole thing is a terrible old mess for all concerned. But, and I do think this is very important, it did give us the wonderfully named Big Bottom Massacre and for that I think we can all be truly grateful.

 

 

 

 

Today was the birthday of Thérèse of Lisieux who went on to die in 1897 and become a saint in 1925.

What was so special about her, you may ask. Or not. Well, she was a sickly sort. She’d been nervy and poorly as a child, joined a convent at the age of 15 and not long after that got TB and died aged 24. But as befits a woman who was to become a saint, she never complained about her suffering and was very Pollyanna about the whole thing. Personally, I think she must have really annoyed some of the other nuns, but we have no record to prove that one way or the other.

Like Ernie Wise, St Theresa had short fat hairy legs

She also said lots of pretty stuff when she was alive, like be nice to other people and you don’t have to do great deeds to be holy, you can do small things as well and that’s just as nice. She was also very tiny due to being ill a lot as a child. Apparently she liked being small because according to her only dwarfs, midgets and children could get into heaven, which indicates that she probably had a strange idea about the entrance of heaven and the ability of taller people to bend over a bit.

She got made into a saint very quickly, probably because people with a cold went along to her grave, said a prayer and oh, my, they stopped sneezing. Or something. Men in the church liked her because she was all tiny and sweet and said things like “Ooh, that book is too hard for my little brain I think I’ll do some embroidery and think about God instead.” [The book in question being “Janet and John add up one plus one.”] In other words, she wasn’t a woman who might kick them in the nuts and tell them to make their own cup of tea.

Since her death and canonisation, she’s been made the patron saint of lots of things, including AIDS. Frankly, given her inability to cure AIDS from beyond the grave, people should be doubting her holiness, but luckily for her, no one has put two and two together yet (they’re still to busy with Janet and John’s One Plus One).

So, happy birthday you little sickly midget. I hope you spend it doing good things like actually curing something rather than faffing about being all “oh what a pretty birdy” like you usually do.

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May 30th

On this day in 1431 Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for being a heretic and wearing men’s clothes. The hussy.

A pretty much contemporary image of Joan

The day is celebrated in France and is a Catholic holy day (although not a holy day of obligation). It’s nice that the Catholic church remember her, as it was their English contingent that tried her and found her guilty in 1431 and then it took nearly 500 years to decide that she was a saint – she was canonised in 1920. I don’t know why this annoys me, as I don’t believe in saints, but it just seems that because she was a bit active and going out there and getting something done – which isn’t the Catholic model of the passive virgin female saint – they ignored her for as long as they could. In effect, I’m allowing myself to be annoyed by the sexism of an inherently sexist institution and about the canonisation of some girl when I don’t believe in any of that nonsense. And there was me thinking I was at the very least a semi-rational human being.

Anyway! The gen on this execution and martyrdom is as follows. We all know that Joan, or Jeanne or Jehanne heard some voices telling her to go and fight for the Dauphin and to help him beat the bloody English in a war that had been going on forever and a day. The One Hundred Years War, to be precise. So she got on her horse, dressed as a man, got herself some armour and went up to see the Dauphin and told him he needed to get his arse in gear and that she was just the warrior to get him out of schtuck. Of course she said it much more politely and in French, but you get the gist.

The Dauphin was wary at first. His father, Charles VI had been barking mad (he thought he was made of glass, which on a scale of 1 to that is one of the maddest things I’ve ever heard, ranks pretty bloody highly) and he didn’t want to let some girl with visions get in front of his army if she was either mad or could be proved to be not holy enough and therefore in league with the devil. He had some ecclesiastical types check her out and while they couldn’t confirm that she had been chatting with saints Catherine, Margaret and Michael, they were able to tell him that she was a top lass, very virtuous and properly holy and stuff. That was enough for him. To be honest, he was so fuckered at the time that he was prepared to try anything. This is hardly surprising; one can’t imagine a king in that period being all “Yeah, a girl, that’s just the secret weapon I need!”

So, young Joan, got on her warhorse, with a standard and a sword and marched out in front of the French army to give the English a bit

Joan being led to her death

of  a seeing too. And she did. Thanks to her, the English fortunes went into reverse and she did what the saints had told her to do; she got the Dauphin crowned King Charles VII of France. This is all pretty amazing really. She was an illiterate girl from a village. She had no training in warfare, she was about 19 years old and yet somehow, she managed to plan, strategize and bring victory to an army that until that point had been dead on its feet. That’s the thing with Joan, it’s not that she’s a saint that makes her notable, it’s the stuff she actually did and that history shows that she did. She stands out as an utterly amazing person whose deeds are pretty much beyond explanation.

Unfortunately, although she was the cause of victories and the king getting his crown, fortune very quickly turned against her. She was captured by Burgundian forces, who weren’t on the king’s side. At this point a ransom should have been paid and she should have been handed back to her family; this wasn’t going to happen given that her family weren’t wealthy. Charles VII should have paid to have her released, but he did not, which was frankly shitty of him. Joan attempted a few escapes, but was eventually captured again and then sold by the Burgundians to the English who were not at all happy with her. What followed was a trial so dodgy that even Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA and noted bent bastard, would have blushed at the proceedings. Joan had no one to speak for her, no recourse to legal representation, was refused the right to send word to those who could help her, including the pope and was basically stitched up like a kipper.

The transcripts of the trial show her as an uncommonly intelligent and quick woman. A lot of these can be read in George Bernard Shaw‘s Saint Joan. Shaw was so impressed by them, that he included much of Joan’s own words, verbatim, in his script. None of it mattered. The court who was trying her knew that they would execute her. They made up evidence, the ignored facts and within a short period of time found her guilty and sent her to be burned. She died in this most heinous of ways in front of a horrified crowd and at the hands of an executioner who feared for his soul, so wrong did he know this outcome to be. And then nearly 500 years later, she got to be a saint because, thankfully as well as being a top bird she’d also been a virgin. If she hadn’t been a virgin, she’d just be that bird what got burned. The Catholic church has standards to uphold after all!

 

Today was the birthday of Irving Thalberg, one of the greatest film producers of all times. His life was short, he died at the age of 37, but his achievements have rarely been equalled. He had a golden touch when it came to picking scripts, actors, directors and putting together films that were critical and commercial successes.

Thalberg with wife Norma Shearer in 1929. Effortless glamour

The Oscars has the Irving G Thalberg award which is given to producers whose body or work shows a consistently high level of achievement. It’s not awarded every year, because, frankly, there aren’t that many people whose body of work comes close to making them even slightly eligible.

Thalberg started work for Universal Studios at the age of 20. By the age of 21 he was the executive in charge of production at Universal City. He then moved to MGM where he was vice-president and supervisor of production. He reigned supreme until 1932 when he had a heart attack and was sidelined by Louis B Mayer, who was jealous of him, but thanks to Nicholas Schenck, who was president of Loewe’s (MGM’s parent company), this was more or less overruled and Thalberg went on to produce many more amazing films before his premature death in 1936.

He was married to Norma Shearer from 1927 until his death and they had two children. A brilliant and driven man, those of us who love movies have a lot to thank him for. Here’s a short list of some of those films:

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
  • Greed (1924)
  • Flesh and the Devil (1926)
  • Anna Christie (1930)
  • Mata Hari (1931)
  • Freaks (1932)
  • Grand Hotel (1932)
  • The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  • A Night at the Opera (1935)
  • Camille (1936)
This is a fraction of his output, but more than enough to see how damned good he was. Happy birthday, Mr Thalberg, if I believed in all that heaven stuff, I’d imagine you making films up there for all of us to see when we’re deaded!

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April 17th

On this day in 1986 after centuries of terror a peace treaty was signed and the Three Hundred and Thirty-Five Year War finally came to an end. As you can imagine, listing the victims of such a long war would be an impossible feat. However, calculating the exact figure couldn’t be easier. Not one shot was fired in this war and there were precisely no casualties. Sounds like a bit of a mental war doesn’t it? Well, I guess that’s because it was. Here’s what went down.

Admiral Tromp getting ready to be all "we're at war you bastards!" with the Scilly people

From the 16th century the Dutch and the English were pretty good mates. The English had backed the Dutch and given them support in the Eighty Years War (this was the one in which the Dutch got independence from Spain and owned their own gaffe again). From 1648 and the Treaty of Münster, the Dutch were independent and free to do whatever they wanted, so as England was having its Civil War at the time, they chose a side (the Parliamentarians) and sent their navy over to do some fighting for them. By the time they got involved Oliver Cromwell had chased the  Royalists to the very edges of the country, which down in the west of the country meant Cornwall. The Dutch Navy did a lot of fighting off that coast and then off the Isles of Scilly when the Royalists had to flee there being all beaten in England.

Although the Royalists were losing badly, they were inflicting quite a few losses on the Dutch navy, so on March 30th 1651, the admiral of the fleet Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp  went over to Scilly and demanded some stuff back off the Royalists to make up for the ships they’d ruined and the goods they’d taken. The Royalists laughed in his face and told him to do one. Well, this made Maarten very angry indeed, so he declared war upon them. By this time the rest of England was in the hands of the Parliamentarians, so war was declared on the Isles of Scilly alone. Once he’d declared war he buggered off back to the Netherlands and that was it. A few months later the last of the Royalists surrendered to the Parliamentarians, the Dutch fleet was no longer under threat and forgetting all about the war in the Isles of Scilly, they didn’t bother to declare peace and went about their business which as we know was mostly growing tulips and smoking dope.

In 1986 a local historian wrote to the Dutch embassy about the “myth” of the declaration of war. The embassy however found a letter confirming it and were all “Dude, it’s not a myth, we are totally at war.” So the historian said “Er, do you fancy popping down here for a beano and we can sign a peace treaty at the same time, it’ll be a right laugh.” And lo, the Dutch ambassador went to the Isles of Scilly and signed the peace treaty. He joked with the Islanders must have been bricking it, knowing that they could have been attacked at any time. They were all “Yeah, not so much.” and then dispersed. V.S. day was slightly less of a party than either V.E.  or V.J. day had been. A pint or two may have been drunk and there might have been some snogging, but there was no dancing in the streets. As far as we know there are no V.S babies, conceived in the moments of joy in the aftermath of the peace treaty, but maybe everyone was just well knackered after being at war for a few generations. War can be a bit tiring like that.

Today was the birthday of Ursula Ledóchowska. She was born in 1865, died in 1939, beatified by John Paul II in 1983 and canonised in 2003, so her full title is Saint Ursula Ledóchowska.

I had a look into her background to see what might have made her a saint and found no particularly devout acts, or insane visions or speaking in tongues or any of that sort of stuff. But she was Polish and a bit of a Polish nationalist and oh, so was ole JPII, so I’m thinking “Hmm, curious. Could it really be that a big holy pope would be all partisan and that?! Well I never did!” Except of course, I’m not in the least surprised.

So, low down on holy Ursula. She was born into a rich, titled family. She became a nun, she founded an order (Ursuline Sisters of the

Look at me all rich and holy!

Agonising Heart of Jesus – talk about a drama queen!), was a good speaker and liked Jesus a lot. She died, her body remained uncorrupted – allegedly – and that’s that. The beatification thing happens either when someone has died a martyr or there is a verified miracle attached to them. So, for instance, I’m v. sick and I pray to some random and I get better and I go to the priest and say “Oh my, I got cured” and then the Church figures out if it’s for real (how can it ever be for real?!) and then the random is beatified and become the blessed random. Then if there’s another miracle (“verified” again) the random gets to be saint random. And that’s how it was with Ursula. A couple of so-called miracles and the Polish nationalist pope made the aristocratic Polish nationalist nun a saint. Which was nice.

I’d wish her a happy birthday, but no doubt she’s too saintly for that sort of nonsense, so let us leave her to Jesus and all that and save our happy birthdays for someone who gives a shit.

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