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  • Is the Pope Catholic? March 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Is the Pope Catholic?

    Here follows a potted biographer of one of those seventeenth-century Quakers who enjoyed riling the world. In fact, this was the period when the Society of Friends was anything but… One case, in London, may be given as an illustration in John Perrot, an Irishman, who during the times of stripping from death or imprisonment […]

    Who Needs Anti-Aircraft Guns When You Have Saints? March 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Who Needs Anti-Aircraft Guns When You Have Saints?

    In Norman Lewis’ brilliant, astounding Naples ’44, the British writer has many curious and memorable passages from his diary of that year. However, this is one of Beach’s favourites. At Pomigliano [north-east of Naples] we have a flying monk who also demonstrates the stigmata. The monk claims that on an occasion last year when an […]

    Broad Beans, Paschal Candles and Graveside Stories February 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Broad Beans, Paschal Candles and Graveside Stories

    Popular superstitions survived surprisingly late in many parts of Europe. However, these superstitions had two enemies, Christianity and urbanization, enemies that gradually scoured them out of mind and memory. From the arrival of Christianity on the scene (any time between 300 and 1000) and increased urbanization (any time from 1700-1950) any superstition would have to […]

    A Mysterious Island, Incest and a Twelfth-century Papal Letter February 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Mysterious Island, Incest and a Twelfth-century Papal Letter

    Greenland certainly had contact with the New World in the late tenth century. Did though this contact continue into the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth century? This controversy is one we have looked at before, showing that there is some evidence that it did: though the evidence is intermittent. Here is a further document […]

    The Empire of Claus December 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Empire of Claus

    Who is the ruler of Christmas? Santa Claus, of course. But the red bearded one has climbed over a lot of dead bodies to get to where he is today. And every so often when you travel around western countries you find traces of Christmases past. In Spain, for example, and, indeed, through much of […]

    Medieval Nun Vampire? December 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Nun Vampire?

    Anyone for a medieval vampire-type legend courtesy of Chris from Haunted Ohio Books? It is true that there is no blood here but the demon comes to the sleeping man who perishes soon after. There is also the whole ‘sex thing’ that suffuses western vampire mythology. Perhaps in the end the birth of the vampire […]

    Clipping the Church December 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Clipping the Church

    ***Nine precious days to write a book on the Medieval North Atlantic, expect then a profusion of posts on this subject – there have been a few already. Expect also break down in answering emails. Sorry. Must focus.*** Clipping the Church: a cute little custom that Beach has not been able to properly parallel. On […]

    Wynne’s Madonna at Ely: Love Goddess 2# November 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Wynne's Madonna at Ely: Love Goddess 2#

    Ely Cathedral is one of the great works of English civilisation. Approached by car or on foot over the flatlands of East Anglia it surges above the landscape. In fact, ‘the ship of the Fens’ is one of the few churches that can be enjoyed from a distance: so often we are reduced to glancing […]

    Church Porch Devilry October 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Church Porch Devilry

    Midsummer’s eve doubtless had significance to our distant pagan ancestors, yoked to the land and to the seasons like oxen. What is striking is how often these traditions survived Christianity, the Reformation and even industrialisation. Take one of Beach’s favourite: looking for the dead-to-come on Midsummer’s Eve. Tradition claimed – traditions that still survive in […]

    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa October 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa

    By the mid first century AD the Roman Empire had run against four limits, limits that its subjects would never overcome: in the west, the Atlantic; in the north, the German tribes (thanks Varus); in the east, the ‘Persian’ Empire and its successors; and in the south, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert beyond. […]

    Holy Gunpowder October 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Holy Gunpowder

    ***Thanks to Chris*** Beach was recently sent a link to Io9 and a remarkable couple of late renaissance images of devils and angels using gunpowder. As the Io9 writer notes – a writer who deserves most of the credit for what follows – the devil ‘packing heat’ is particularly delicious. We include below the wood cut and […]

    Jesus Christ and Naked Men September 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Jesus Christ and Naked Men

    All the fuss about Jesus’ wife the other day, put Beach in mind of an earlier controversial Biblical find, one that is, in many ways, more exciting. In 1958 a (then) young Biblical scholar Morton Smith (obit 1991) was working in the library of the Monastery of Mar Saba on the West Bank when he […]

    Christ’s Wife September 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Christ's Wife

    ***Thanks to Larry, Amanda, Southern Man and PJ*** The news came in yesterday afternoon courtesy of three or four emails sent in by readers. The email line: ‘Breaking News Alert: Ancient papyrus suggests Jesus was married’. Wth! Beach spilt his Bacardi and Rum all over his keyboard and walked around the room in a stupor. […]

    The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns September 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns

    The following appears in the Life of St Paul by Jerome, chapters 7 and 8. These passages are interesting because we have a very unusual attitude to in-between creatures, particularly given what an intolerable stick in the mud, Jerome was about everything that didn’t come out of the gospels and Paul’s letters… The blessed Paul […]

    Stay Alive to 1975! September 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Stay Alive to 1975!

    Messianic religions have long faced a simple problem with final calamity. If you predict the end of the world you are going to get lots of new members: that’s humanity. But, God help you when the world’s end does not come. Not, of course, that this has stopped the faithful from trying. Despite said problem […]

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