Pope Gregory IX and his curia

20 April

Today in 1233, Pope Gregory IX (above) put the Inquisition into the hands of the Dominicans, who became known by a satirical Latin pun, the Domini-canes, ‘the dogs of the Lord’. And so the monastic order that was formed to spread the truth of the gospel through preaching, education and reasoned argument became the secret police of the Middle Ages, authorised by the Pope to torture heretics.

Elizabeth Barton, famously known as the Nun of Kent, was executed at Tyburn in London today in 1533, along with five of her supporters: two monks, two friars and a priest. She had prophesied against the marriage of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, saying the king would die if he continued the relationship. She enjoyed huge popularity, but was arrested as soon as her fans turned against her. She was hanged at the age of 28.

It is St Caedwalla’s day, a 7th century Anglo-Saxon who ruled Wessex and conquered the Isle of Wight. Wounded during that conquest, he abdicated and went on pilgrimage to Rome in order to be baptised. On this day in the year 689, 10 days after his baptism, he died in Rome.

It is also the feast of St Beuno Caslych (‘drycoat’), so named from the supernatural waterproof cloak woven for him by St Winefrid. She gave it to him as a thank-you present for raising her from the dead, as you do.

Today in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI visited Ground Zero in New York, the site of the former Twin Towers which were destroyed in the September 11 attacks of 2001. He met survivors, firefighters and other first responders, as well as relatives of some of the 2,977 people who died. He prayed for ‘those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred,’ as well as for the rescuers and those who lost their lives.

Image: Yale Law Library

Time-travel news is written by Steve Tomkins and Simon Jenkins

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