17th century map of Geneva

16 December

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Today in 882, Pope John VIII distinguished himself by becoming the first pope to be assassinated. He was poisoned and clubbed to death by members of his court.

John XII (probably the worst pope ever) became pope today in 955 at the age of 18. Amid the greatest spiritual revival of the Middle Ages, he converted the papal palace into a brothel and raped visitors to his church. He is reported to have consecrated a bishop in a stable and castrated clergy who criticized him. He died in bed of a stroke, in his mid-twenties. Appropriately enough, it was John (previously known as Octavian) who started the tradition of popes taking a saintly pseudonym, to dissociate the holy office of St Peter from their private lives.

This was the day in John Calvin’s Geneva (pictured above) on which annual elections for pastors were held.

St Eusebius became the first Bishop of Vercelli today in 340. A friend of Athanasius, in whose cause he suffered kidnapping by Arian opponents, he is the suspected author of the Athanasian Creed:

Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
The Athanasian Creed

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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