Today is the birthday of Pope Francis (pictured above). He was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, today in 1936.
The composer Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized today in 1770.
John Greenleaf Whittier, the American Quaker poet and lobbyist for the abolition of slavery, was born today in 1807. A number of his poems were adapted in the 20th century as hymns, most famously, ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’:
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.
John Greenleaf Whittier
King Henry VIII of England was excommunicated by Pope Paul III today in 1538. This followed the destruction of the shrine of St Thomas à Becket in Canterbury, and the continuing dissolution of the monasteries, masterminded by Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s chief minister.
English writer Dorothy Sayers died today in 1957. Best remembered for her detective stories, she also wrote The Man Born to Be King, a radio series dramatising the life of Jesus which created huge controversy by having Jesus speak in modern English.
‘Not Herod, not Caiaphas, not Pilate, not Judas ever contrived to fasten on Jesus Christ the reproach of insipidity; that final indignity was left for pious hands to inflict. To make of his story something that could neither startle, nor shock, nor terrify, nor excite, nor inspire a living soul, is to crucify the Son of God afresh.’ Dorothy Sayers