On this day: the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan

ChristianMartyrsOfNagasakiThe Christian martyrs of Nagasaki. 16-17th-century Japanese painting. Japan Art

The Christian Martyrs Of Nagasaki (painted 16th-17th century).

On the 5th of February, 1597, a group of Catholics were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki, Japan.

The victims were four Spaniards, one Mexican, one Indian (all Franciscan missionaries), three Japanese Jesuits, and seventeen Japanese members of the Third Order of St Francis (including children).

The atrocity was carried out on the orders of Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

Generations later it was discovered that Japan had a community of underground “hidden Catholics” who had not been discouraged by the persecution.

UrakamiTenshudoJan1946Urakami Tenshudo (Catholic Church in Nagasaki) destroyed by the atomic bomb, the bell of the church having toppled off. 7th January 1946.

The Catholic church of Nagasaki was ground zero when the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945 at the end of the Second World War.

Christmas Eve and Koliada

Today is Christmas Eve by the old calendar, and is still celebrated by millions of people around the world, especially in Eastern Europe.

The 6th of January is also the date of the beginning of Koliada, an ancient Slavic winter festival that predates Christianity. The festival is now incorporated into Christmas festivities.

Koliada in the Mogilev region of Belarus at Christmastime in 1903.

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Калядоўшчыкi_Горацкага_павета_,_Магілёўская_губерня,_1903гKoliada in the Mogilev region of Belarus at Christmastime in 1903. X

The festival in Lviv, Ukraine.

Парад_вуличних_вертепів_у_Львові,_початок_2010-х Winter Koliada and Ukrainian Christmas in Lviv Ukraine

Russian Orthodoxy – GONE!

ANDRIY BARANSKYY

The Lavra in Kyiv

In a centuries’ overdue move, and one that is going to lead to more Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Constantinople Patriarchate approved Ukraine’s split from the Russian Orthodox Church overnight. It is being called the biggest split in all of Christianity in a thousand years.

Russian Orthodoxy was forced on Ukrainians over several centuries, finishing with the forced conversion of my family’s Ukrainian Catholic villages in the west of the country when Churchill gifted the country to Stalin after the Second World War (thanks for that, Winston!).

What will happen now? Well, in anticipation of this move, the Russian military has already stepped up attacks in Ukraine’s east, with people being killed in record numbers again. It has to be understood that Russia’s Church – in the past decade or so – has become a weaponised political party that effectively runs the country, behind only Vladimir Putin.

Additionally, experts are predicting staged attacks on Russian churches, so that Putin can blame them on “fascist Ukrainians”, and attack and invade even more.

What I’m worried about is attacks on the thousand-year-old Orthodox monasteries and cathedrals in Ukraine, such as the Lavra complex in Kyiv. I sure hope they’ve stepped up security at those locations.

This move removes a major aspect of Russian colonialism from Ukraine.

I’m not sure why Russia never comes up alongside the likes of France and Britain and Spain in discussions about colonialism and cultural appropriation (because people think Russia is romantic?). The Russians were just as brutal as anybody else (see the Holodomor). And – unlike other nations – their behaviour is ongoing (see the annexation of Crimea, the invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine, the ongoing invasion and occupation of one-fifth of Georgia, and the illegal occupation of Moldova).

The next few weeks are going to be chaotic for Eastern Europe.

On this day: the death of Pope Pius IX

IX__Piusz_pápaPope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, who reigned from 16 June 1846 to his death in 1878.

Pope Pius IX, head of the Catholic Church, died in the Apostolic Palace in Rome on the 7th of February, 1878.

Pio_IX_04Foto scattata nel 1862 ad Anzio - autore naturalmente deceduto da oltre 100 anni Pope Pius IX 19th Century Catholicism Christian

Photographed in the 1860s

Born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti in 1792, the Italian port town of Senigallia, Pius IX became the longest-running elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, with a papacy that lasted for over thirty-one years, from the 16th of June, 1846 until his death.

The Pope was beatified on the 3rd of September, 2000.

On this day: a Japanese Church in Ruins

UrakamiTenshudoJan1946Urakami Tenshudo (Catholic Church in Nagasaki) destroyed by the atomic bomb, the bell of the church having toppled off. 7th January 1946.

One of the many buildings destroyed in the 9th August, 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan was the city’s Catholic church. The Urakami Tenshudo was of historical significance because of the centuries of persecution Japanese Christians faced for practicing their religion.

At Urakami people risked death by torture for following a religion Japanese authorities saw as undermining their power and bringing too much Western influence to the Empire.

Urakami was ground zero for the nuclear attack on the city.

Photographed here on the 7th of January, 1946, the destroyed church is seen to still be a ruin five months after the atomic bombings that forced Japan’s surrender in the Second World War.

On this day: the Butler Act is enacted

On the 21st of March, 1925, the Butler Act, a Tennessee law banning the teaching of evolution, and forcing public school teachers to acknowledge the Biblical account of the origin of humankind, came into effect.

The Butler Act 1925 Tennessee law prohibiting public school teachers denying Biblical account of man's origin. Signed into law by Tennessee governor Austin Peay. The law also prevented t

Austin Peay

Signed into law by Austin Peay, the Governor of Tennessee, it was infamously challenged in court a few weeks afterwards.

Tennessee verses John T. Scopes Trial, "Dayton, Tennessee", July 1925,  William Silverman Photographs, accession #10-042, View of trial proceedings outdoors (man taking down "Read Your Bible" sign)

The Scopes Trial.

The law stayed in effect until 1967.

 

On this day: the Irish government stands up to the Catholic Church

On the 12th of March, 1985, the government of the Republic of Ireland finally stood up to the powerful Catholic Church and legalised contraception.

feminists-on-the-platform-of-connolly-station-dublin-in-1971-prior-to-boarding-the-belfast-train-contraceptive-train-contraception-illegal-in-the-republic-of-ireland

Women leave Dublin on their protest journey to Belfast.

The 1970s saw feminists travelling to Belfast in Northern Ireland and returning home with contraceptives, risking arrest for importing illegal products. They were met by protestors upon their arrival home.

Illegal in the Republic in all circumstances until 1980, a new law allowed some contraception to be dispensed by a pharmacist to people with a doctor’s prescription.

This highly restrictive law was finally changed five years later, despite conservative opposition.

american-letter-to-complain-about-womens-rights-and-ireland-legalising-contraception

Some Americans were so outraged that “Holy Ireland” now allowed contraception, they wrote to the Prime Minister to complain.

Even so, advertising of contraceptives was still banned, and Ireland continued to have one of the highest birth rates in the developed world.

The banning of Christmas

The celebration of Christmas was banned by Puritans in Boston, Colonial America in 1659. The ban was revoked by an English governor in 1681, however Christmas celebrations did not gain popularity in the area until the middle of the nineteenth century.

Through these years the holiday continued to be observed in other parts of America. It fell out of favour after the American Revolution, but returned to favour some years afterwards.

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puritanchristmasbanpublic-notice-from-1659-in-boston-regarding-the-banning-the-celebrations-of-christmas