Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (died c. 79), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Margaret of Antioch, Virgin and Martyr (died 304). Today is also the anniversary of when Apollo 11, the first manned lunar mission, landed on the moon in 1969. And today is also the birthday of one of the Assembled, another Matthew (1983).
According to tradition, today’s first Saint was a native of Antioch in the Roman Province of Syria. Legend identifies Apollinaris as one of the seventy-two disciples sent on a preaching mission by Jesus; after the Resurrection, he was a disciple of Peter, who made him the first Bishop of Ravenna. In this office for twenty-six years, he faced nearly constant persecution, and was personally beaten badly four times and otherwise mistreated upon being thrown out of Ravenna by the pagans; four times, after healing up, he returned. He and his flock were exiled for the final time from Ravenna during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian (or Nero, depending on the source). On his way out of the city Saint Apollinaris was identified, arrested as being the leader, tortured, and martyred by being run through with a sword. His feast day according to the old Tridentine Calendar was July 23rd, but the present General Roman Calendar devotes this day to Saint Bridget of Sweden, who is much better known world-wide. Owing to the limited importance of Saint Apollinaris’s feast worldwide, his liturgical celebration was removed from the General Roman Calendar (with his name remaining in the Roman Martyrology, the official list of saints) in 1969, but it was restored in the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal. The date of celebration was changed to July 20th, the nearest day not taken up with other celebrations. He is the Patron Saint of Ravenna, Italy, and his aid is invoked against epilepsy and gout. Today is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Margaret of Antioch, Virgin and Martyr (died 304). Born about 289 in Antioch, Pisidia (in modern-day Turkey), she was the daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. Her mother having died soon after her birth, Margaret was nursed by a Christian woman fifteen to eighteen miles from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, Margaret was disowned by her father, adopted by her nurse, and lived in the country keeping sheep with her foster mother. Olybrius, Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her, but with the demand that she renounce Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon’s insides. The Golden Legend dryly describes this last incident as “apocryphal and not to be taken seriously”. She was put to death in 304. She was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades, when she became one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. She was one of the Saints who spoke to Joan of Arc (died 1431). She is the Patron Saint of women in childbirth, and her aid is invoked by those wishing to cast out devils. Today is also the anniversary of the first manned lunar landing in 1969. Launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16th, Apollo 11 was the fifth manned mission of NASA’s Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a Command Module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins), which was the only part which landed back on Earth; a Service Module (SM), which supported the Command Module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a Lunar Module (LM) for landing on the Moon. After being sent toward the Moon by the Saturn V’s upper stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered into lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into the Lunar Module and landed in the Sea of Tranquility. Broadcast on live TV to a world-wide audience, Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong and Aldrin stayed a total of about 21½ hours on the lunar surface. After lifting off in the upper part of the Lunar Module (leaving the lower part of the Lunar Module on the Moon) and rejoining Collins in the Command Module, they returned to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24th. Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy in a speech before the United States Congress, “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” (At the time, my family was on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and we were in our Shasta travel trailer. I was ten years old, and we all went that night to see the landing on a small black and white television set that another family in the RV park had; however, the images were so grainy that I gave up and went back to our Shasta to listen to the landing on the radio.) And today is also the birthday of one of the Assembled, another Matthew, who is married to Sheila, known as Chi-Chi (1983).
I slept well last night, taking Nyquil©, and when I woke up today at 10:15 am, my cold appears to be mostly gone. (Yay!) I did my Book Devotional Reading, and posted to Facebook that today was the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. I missed a call from my friend Nedra in Tennessee, which went to voicemail. I burned my June 2017 photos from the hard drive of the computer to a CD for Liz Ellen, and burned my June 2017 photos from the hard drive of the computer to CD for myself. I then read the Thursday papers. I then prepared the monthly package for Liz Ellen, addressed and mailed a Birthday Card to Richard’s cousin Lele, filled out the form to request a Synchrony credit card to use at our auto garage, and figured out which psych meds I will need to get renewed before my appointment with my psych on August 2nd.
Richard and I left the house at 12:15 pm, and our first stop was the post office, where I mailed off Liz Ellen’s package. We ate Chinese for lunch at Peking, dropped the Synchrony credit card application off at our auto garage, stopped at Verizon to see why Richard was unable to use Mobile Data (he had Limit Mobile Data checked on in his Settings, and they unchecked it for him), and went to Wal-Mart, where Richard got my salad supplies for me. Our final stop was at True Value to get tree root removal crystals for our sewer line, but they were out.
We returned home at 1:30 pm, and I did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog. I then finished my laundry. Richard went to bed at 3:30 pm. I ironed my Casino pants, apron, and shirts, and made my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday. I then watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm. And I will now finish this Daily Update and do a bit of reading before going to bed.
Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor (died 1619), and tomorrow is also the birthday of Richard’s good friend Jack here in town, who is an optometrist (but not the one at the Wal-Mart Vision Center), and who is also known as Chookie. Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week of dealing table games, and I will continue re-reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.
This Thursday afternoon we have a Parting Quote from Klaus Schmidt, German archaeologist. Born in 1953 in Feuchtwangen, he studied Prehistory, Classical Antiquity, Classical Archaeology and Geology at the Heidelberg University and the University of Erlangen. In the 1960s archaeologists found what was then classified as an abandoned cemetery at Göbekli Tepe, a site about ten miles away from Sanlıurfa, Turkey. The hill had long been under agricultural cultivation, and generations of local inhabitants had frequently moved rocks and placed them in clearance piles, possibly destroying archaeological evidence in the process. In 1978 Schmidt came to Turkey to work on other sites; it was not until 1994 that Schmidt’s attention was caught by the report about Göbekli Tepe, and he began excavations there. A short time later Schmidt’s team uncovered evidence that the area was not used as a settlement. Schmidt suggested the possibility of the site being a burial ground with the dead placed along the hillside, and that the site could give potential insights into hunter-gatherer groups. In 1995 Schmidt purchased a house in nearby Urfa which became his base of operations. His excavation schedule was typically two months of excavation in the spring and two months of excavation in the fall. Göbekli Tepe includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the tenth to the eighth millennium BCE. During the first phase (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected. More than two hundred pillars in about twenty circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to twenty feet and a weight of up to twenty tons, and are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock. In the second phase (Pre-pottery Neolithic B (PPNB)), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. Topographic scans have revealed that other structures next to the hill, awaiting excavation, probably date to fourteen to fifteen thousand years ago, the dates of which potentially extend backwards in time to the concluding millennia of the Pleistocene. The site was abandoned after the PPNB-period. Radiocarbon dating as well as comparative, stylistic analysis indicate that it may be the oldest religious site yet discovered. In 2011 Schmidt was interviewed and revealed that roughly five percent of the site had been excavated, and that he was leaving major areas of the site untouched for later generations of excavators (died 2014): “The major discoveries as a result of work at the site are the realization that there must have been a very complex degree of organization in hunter-gatherer societies and that non-sedentary groups like those were building such monumental constructions. To build those gigantic circular arrangements would have required a certain degree of cooperation between groups as well as some organization to coordinate work like this. Coordinating and supplying larger groups of people might also be the key to the early motivation behind sedentism.”