The Year was 1380

Twins Catherine and Giovanna were the 23rd and 24th children of Giacomo de Benincasa, a cloth dyer, and his wife, Lapa. Giovanna soon died. At seven, Catherine made a vow to remain a virgin for life. As a teenager, she advised, “Build a cell inside your mind, from which you can never flee.” When Catherine…

The Year was 1978

The 1978 Belmont – the third leg of the Triple Crown – saw two great horses fighting it out. Affirmed had just barely beaten Alydar in the Kentucky Derby and then again in the Preakness. Affirmed won – becoming the Triple Crown winner. But it was Alydar, the fabulous horse from Lexington Kentucky’s fabled Calumet…

The Year was 1972

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. It was being argued by no less than former Supreme Court justice Arthur Goldberg. What was at stake was Major League Baseball’s 1897 reserve clause: after a player played all the years of his original contract, a team owner could reserve that player for each new…

The Year was 1917

Facing the firing squad, Mata Hari refused the white blindfold. In a firing squad, all the shooters fire bullets except one, who fires blanks, so that no shooter knows who fires the fatal bullet. As the sun came up, Mata Hari smiled, seemingly unafraid, even blowing a kiss toward her executioners.   Born in Holland,…

The Year was 1118

Canon Fulbert of Notre Dame wanted an excellent education for his brilliant teenage niece, Heloise. Who better than the most preeminent and respected scholar in the land, the monk Peter Abelard? At 39, Abelard was a famed philosopher and teacher, handsome and regal. Not only was Heloise brilliant, she was also strikingly beautiful. Shockingly, Abelard…

The Year was 1922

Lee Duncan and his dog were watching a movie crew shoot a scene with a wolf for a movie called Man from Hell’s River. The wolf could not get it. Duncan called to the crew, “Hey guys, my dog could do that on the first take.” “Oh, sure!” they said. “Get lost!” But after more…

The year was 1163

That was the year a fateful progression of events began with a single act: a priest in England was accused of a murder. The king, the powerful Henry II, demanded that the priest be tried for the crime in his secular court system. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, who was Henry’s good friend and…

The Year was 2017

Hurricane Irma has left many in Miami without power. Thankfully power should be restored by the end of the week for almost all of us. Check back next week for more of the usual fare! Photo is Miami post-Irma from GettyImages.

The Year was 401 BC

Mother liked him best. She really did. But his father, King Darius II, did not. Cyrus, a golden boy, was the second son. His older brother, Artaxerxes, was heir to the Kingdom of Persia. When the king was ill and dying, after a 24-year reign of political intrigues and open revolts, Cyrus’s mother rushed him…

The Year was 1956

Called by many one of the worst films ever made, The Conqueror, a movie about Genghis Khan, packed a secret, lethal punch. It was an RKO movie, made when the studio system was king. Dick Powell, an actor turned director, was given the script. He thought it was horrible. But while he took a break,…