Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Louis, King (died 1270) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Joseph Calasanz, Priest (died 1648).
Born in 1214 in Poissy, France, Louis was the son of King Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile. In 1226, at the death of his father, he became King of France and Count of Artois at the age of eleven, being crowned king within the month at Rheims cathedral; his mother ruled as regent until he reached 22, and then he reigned on his own for a further 33 years. He married Marguerite of Provence, whose sister Eleanor was the wife of Henry III of England, at age 19, and was the father of eleven children. Louis IX took very seriously his mission as “lieutenant of God on Earth”, with which he had been invested when he was crowned in Rheims. He made numerous judicial and legislative reforms, promoted Christianity in France, established religious foundations, aided mendicant orders, propagated synodal decrees of the Church, built leper hospitals, and collected relics. In 1248 he went on the Seventh Crusade, and was captured by the Egyptian forces, but eventually ransomed. Following his release from Egyptian captivity, Louis spent four years in the Crusader kingdoms of Acre, Caesarea, and Jaffa. Louis used his wealth to assist the Crusaders in rebuilding their defenses and conducting diplomacy with the Islamic powers of Syria and Egypt. Upon his departure from the Middle East, Louis left a significant garrison in the city of Acre for its defense against Islamic attacks. Louis’ patronage of the arts drove much innovation in Gothic art and architecture, and the style of his court radiated throughout Europe by both the purchase of art objects from Parisian masters for export and by the marriage of the king’s daughters and female relatives to foreign husbands and their subsequent introduction of Parisian models elsewhere. He went on the Eighth Crusade in 1270, and died in Tunis. He was canonized in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII, the only French king to be declared a Saint; he is the Patron Saint of crusaders, of prisoners, and of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Co-Patron Saint of the Third Order of St. Francis (with Saint Elisabeth of Hungary). We also honor Saint Joseph Calasanz, Priest (died 1648). Born in 1556 in Peralta, Barbastro, Aragon, Spain, he was the youngest of five children in a noble family. He studied at Estadilla, at the University of Lereda, at Valencia, and at Alcala de Henares, and obtained degrees in canon law and theology. His father wanted his son to become a soldier, to marry, and to continue the family name, but a near fatal illness in 1582 caused the young man to seriously examine his life, and he realized a call to the religious life. Ordained in 1583, he became the parish priest of Albarracin. He also served as secretary and confessor to his bishop, as a synodal examiner, and as a procurator, and revived religious zeal among the laity and discipline among the clergy in his section of the Pyrenees. Both his bishop and his father died in 1587. Following a vision, he gave away much of his inheritance, renounced most of the rest, and traveled to Rome, Italy in 1592, where he worked in the household of Cardinal Ascanio Colonna as theological advisor for the cardinal and as tutor to the cardinal’s nephew. He worked with plague victims in 1595. Becoming a member of the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine, he tried to get poor children, many of them orphans and/or homeless, into school. The teachers, already poorly paid, refused to work with the new students without a raise; in November 1597, Joseph and two fellow priests opened a small, free school for poor children. Pope Clement VIII, and later Pope Paul V, contributed toward their work. He was soon supervising several teachers and hundreds of students. In 1602 the school moved to larger quarters, and Joseph reorganized the teaching priests into a community. In 1612 they moved to the Torres palace to have even more room. In 1621 the community was recognized as a religious order called Le Sciole Pie (Religious Schools), also known as the Piarists, or Scolopii, or the Ordo Clericorum Regularium Pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum (Order of Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools); Joseph acted as superior of the Order. The community encountered many obstacles; Joseph’s friendship with the astronomer Galileo Galilei caused a stir with some Church officials. Some of the ruling class objected that to educate the poor would cause social unrest. Other Orders that worked with the poor were afraid they would be absorbed by the Piarists. But they group continued to have papal support, and continued to do good work. In his old age, Joseph suffered through seeing his Order torn apart. He was accused of incompetence by Father Mario Sozzi, who was chosen as new superior of the Order. Sozzi died in 1643, and was replaced by Father Cherubini who pursued the same course as Sozzi, and nearly destroyed the Order. A papal commission charged with examining the Order acquitted Joseph of all accusations, and in 1645, returned him to superior of the Order, but internal dissent continued, and in 1646 Pope Innocent X dissolved the Order, placing the priests under control of their local bishops. The Piarists were reorganized in 1656, eight years after Joseph’s death. They were restored as a religious order in 1669, and continue their good work today. He was canonized in 1767 and is the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools.
I took the polish off of my toenails, and while doing my Bathroom Devotional Reading managed to give myself a deep paper cut on my right middle finger, just above the cuticle of my fingernail. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. What was once Category 3 Hurricane Danny has dissipated into a low pressure system, but now we have Tropical Storm Erika, which is now far to the east of the Leeward Islands, and is forecast to remain a Tropical Storm and to aim for the Bahamas. When we clocked in Richard was on Flop Poker; when they closed that table he became the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, adding the second Mississippi Stud game to his relief string at 8:20 am. I was on Mini Baccarat, and never had a player (although I had one guy who asked me to explain the game to him). I was happy today to not be a Roulette Dealer; for five or six hours they had one player, who had a scoresheet keeping track of each number the wheel hit, and who for those five or six hours did nothing but play $6.00 on Number 27, over and over and over. (That is the kind of game that turns the dealers into the land of autopilot.)
On our way home from work we stopped at the McDonald’s in Kinder for lunch from the drive through window. When we got home I read the morning paper, then took a nap until 4:00 pm. While I was sleeping we got our communication regarding our note for the new car; it is with an outfit called Ally Auto (they have a website and an app), so we now know when and how much to pay them each month. I watched Jeopardy! and put fresh polish on my toenails, then got busy with my Music Conversion Project again. While working on that Richard went to Little Caesars and brought back pizza pizza for our dinner. I converted my artists / groups starting with the letter J from Wmas to Mp3s, and started converting the artists / groups starting with the letter K (I got as far as the second of fourteen Miscellaneous compilation albums). I also did an Advance Daily Update Draft for this weblog. And I am now finishing up today’s Daily Update, and then I will climb into bed and do some reading.
Tomorrow we have no Saints upon the calendar, so instead we will recall that tomorrow is the anniversary of when Hurricane Andrew made landfall, not in Florida (which it did, a few days earlier), but in Louisiana in 1992. And tomorrow is the birthday of Richard’s grandniece Alyssa, the granddaughter of his brother Slug here in town (1991). I will get up early, do the Weekly Computer Maintenance, do my laundry, and continue my Music Conversion Project.
This Tuesday evening brings us a Parting Quote from Neil Armstrong, American astronaut. Born in 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio, his father worked as an auditor for the Ohio state government, and in the next fourteen years the family moved around Ohio before settling back in Wapakoneta. Armstrong earned his flying license at age 15, before getting his driver’s license, and was an Eagle Scout. In 1947, at the age of 17, he began studying aeronautical engineering at Purdue University. His college tuition was paid for under the Holloway Plan: successful applicants committed to two years of study, followed by three years of service in the U.S. Navy, then completion of the final two years of the degree. He entered the Navy in 1949, became a fully qualified Naval Aviator. Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea for a total of 121 hours in the air, most of which were in January 1952. He received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star. Armstrong left the Navy at age 22 on August 23, 1952, and became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He returned to Purdue and was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955, and married the next year. By then he was an experimental test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base. Armstrong’s first flight in a rocket plane was on August 15, 1957, in the Bell X-1B, to an altitude of 11.4 miles. The nose landing gear broke on landing, which had happened on about a dozen previous flights of the Bell X-1B due to the aircraft’s design. He later flew the North American X-15 seven times; his penultimate flight reached an altitude of 207,500 feet. In 1958 he was selected for the U.S. Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest program. In November 1960 Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane under development by Boeing for the U.S. Air Force, and on March 15, 1962, he was selected by the U.S. Air Force as one of seven pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane when it got off the design board. In the months after the announcement that applications were being sought for the second group of NASA astronauts, Armstrong became more and more excited about the prospects of both the Apollo program and of investigating a new aeronautical environment. Deke Slayton called Armstrong on September 13, 1962, and asked whether he would be interested in joining the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of what the press dubbed “the New Nine”; without hesitation, Armstrong said yes. The crew assignments for Gemini 8 were announced on September 20, 1965, with Armstrong as Command Pilot and David Scott as Pilot. Scott was the first member of the third group of astronauts to receive a prime crew assignment. The mission launched on March 16, 1966; it was to be the most complex yet, with a rendezvous and docking with the unmanned Agena target vehicle, the second American extra-vehicular activity (EVA) by Scott. The last assignment for Armstrong in the Gemini program was as the back-up Command Pilot for Gemini 11, announced two days after the landing of Gemini 8. Having trained for two flights, Armstrong was quite knowledgeable about the systems and was more in a teaching role for the rookie backup Pilot, William Anders. The launch was on September 12, 1966, with Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon on board, who successfully completed the mission objectives, while Armstrong served as CAPCOM. Following the flight, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Armstrong and his wife to take part in a 24-day goodwill tour of South America. On January 27, 1967, the date of the Apollo 1 fire, Armstrong was in Washington, D.C., with Gordon Cooper, Dick Gordon, Jim Lovell and Scott Carpenter for the signing of the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. On April 5, 1967, the same day the Apollo 1 investigation released its report on the fire, Armstrong assembled with 17 other astronauts for a meeting with Deke Slayton. Slayton talked about the planned missions and named Armstrong to the backup crew for Apollo 9, which at that stage was planned to be a medium Earth orbit test of the Lunar Module-Command/Service Module combination. After design and manufacturing delays in the Lunar Module (LM), Apollo 9 and Apollo 8 swapped crews. After Armstrong served as backup commander for Apollo 8, Slayton offered him the post of Commander of Apollo 11 on December 23, 1968, as Apollo 8 orbited the Moon. The Command Module Pilot would be Michael Collins, and the Lunar Module Pilot would be Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin, Jr. A March 1969 meeting between Slayton, George Low, Bob Gilruth, and Chris Kraft determined that Armstrong would be the first person on the Moon, in some part because NASA management saw Armstrong as a person who did not have a large ego. The landing on the surface of the Moon occurred several seconds after 20:17:40 UTC on July 20, 1969; Armstrong announced the landing to Mission Control and the world with the words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Aldrin and Armstrong celebrated with a brisk handshake and pat on the back before quickly returning to the checklist of tasks needed to ready the lunar module for liftoff from the Moon should an emergency unfold during the first moments on the lunar surface. Once Armstrong and Aldrin were ready to go outside, Eagle was depressurized, the hatch was opened and Armstrong made his way down the ladder first. At the bottom of the ladder, Armstrong said “I’m going to step off the LEM now” (referring to the Apollo Lunar Module). He then turned and set his left boot on the surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969, then spoke the famous words “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” After they re-entered the LM, the hatch was closed and sealed. While preparing for the liftoff from the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin discovered that, in their bulky spacesuits, they had broken the ignition switch for the ascent engine; using part of a pen, they pushed the circuit breaker in to activate the launch sequence. The lunar module then continued to its rendezvous and docked with Columbia, the command and service module. The three astronauts returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific ocean, to be picked up by the USS Hornet. After being released from an 18-day quarantine to ensure that they had not picked up any infections or diseases from the Moon, the crew were feted across the United States and around the world as part of a 45-day “Giant Leap” tour. Armstrong then took part in Bob Hope’s 1969 USO show, primarily to Vietnam. In May 1970, Armstrong traveled to the Soviet Union to present a talk at the 13th annual conference of the International Committee on Space Research; after arriving in Leningrad from Poland, he traveled to Moscow where he met Premier Alexei Kosygin. Armstrong announced shortly after the Apollo 11 flight that he did not plan to fly in space again. He was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator for aeronautics for the Office of Advanced Research and Technology, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), but served in this position for only a year, and resigned from it and NASA as a whole in 1971. He accepted a teaching position in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, having decided on Cincinnati over other universities, including his alma mater, Purdue, because it had a small aerospace department; he hoped that the faculty members would not be annoyed that he came straight into a professorship with only the USC master’s degree, which he had earned in 1970. The official job title he received at Cincinnati was University Professor of Aerospace Engineering. After teaching for eight years, he resigned in 1979 without explaining his reason for leaving. In the fall of 1979, Armstrong was working at his farm near Lebanon, Ohio. As he jumped off of the back of his grain truck, his wedding ring caught in the wheel, tearing off the tip of his ring finger. He collected the severed digit and packed it in ice, and surgeons reattached it at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. In February 1991, a year after his father had died, and nine months after the death of his mother, he suffered a mild heart attack while skiing with friends at Aspen, Colorado. He and his wife divorced in 1994, after 38 years of marriage; he married his second wife later that same year. After 1994 Armstrong refused all requests for autographs because he found that his signed items were selling for large amounts of money and that many forgeries were in circulation; any requests that were sent to him received a form letter in reply, saying that he had stopped signing. In May 2005, Armstrong became involved in an unusual legal battle with his barber of 20 years, Marx Sizemore. After cutting Armstrong’s hair, Sizemore sold some of it to a collector for $3,000 without Armstrong’s knowledge or permission. Armstrong threatened legal action unless the barber returned the hair or donated the proceeds to a charity of Armstrong’s choosing. Sizemore, unable to get the hair back, decided to donate the proceeds to the charity of Armstrong’s choice (died 2012): “The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet and our visions go rather further than that and our opportunities are unlimited.”