Spiritual-Lite – @AceHistoryNews

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.07: This post is by my friend and a great writer of history Phil whose site is well worth a visit and please comment on his site on this really great post … Spiritual-Lite
// Excuse Us for Living


My Life Anchors


Philip Fontana

Excuse us for living, but over the years of our lives many of us find we have need to call upon sources for spiritual sustenance. We need these fountains of strength to get through difficult or demanding moments or chapters in our lives. I look at these sources as my life anchors. These are very “portable” entities, separate from or outside customary church-going and organized religion. I refer to these anchors as “spiritual-lite.” They offer guidance, comfort, strength; solace, if you will.

The first is “Desiderata,” Latin for “desired things.” This poem, written in prose, words to live by, was very popular in the 1970’s and I found it personally instructive and inspirational. I used it in my middle school history classroom with my students. It hung on my podium as a poster and I would play a popular 1971 spoken word recording of it made by TV and radio talk show host Les Crane. I would go over the text with my students for its meaning. It is a neat recording recited well by Les Crane with a musical background sung by a choir or chorus.

Once read or heard, most people are curious where “Desiderata” came from. It does not help that there are copies floating around that say, “author anonymous, c. 1620. Baltimore, Spain. from the wall of a monastery.” Actually, it originated as a poem written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann. The music was added later, composed by Fred Werner. “Desiderata” was saved from obscurity in 1956 by Reverend Frederick Kates, rector of Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore, Maryland. He included it as part of a “compilation” of devotional materials for his congregation. On the cover page was printed, “Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore AD 1692,” the date of the founding of the church! These words had nothing to do with “Desiderata,” but so began the various mistaken corruptions of the poem’s derivation!


Max Ehrmann. 1872-1945, of German descent, was an American writer, poet, & attorney from Terre Haute, Indiana. Spiritual themes were characteristic of his works. Ehrmann’s 1927 prose poem, “Desiderata,” achieved notoriety in the decades after his death, recognized today with a statue honoring him in his hometown.

“Desiderata” – – the recording – – peaked at #8 on the “Billboard Chart” in 1971 and won a Grammy! Here is the URL to click on (if it works for you) or “copy and paste” it to go to YouTube to listen to it. It’s really nice! – – Or just read it here as follows. You may find as I did, the poem offers wise precepts by which to live. – – First, the URL.



Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble,
it’s a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

–Max Ehrmann

The second of my spiritual-lite anchors is “Footprints,” referred to as a poem, but to me it is more of a spiritual narrative. It comes in a least four versions, including an alternative title, “Footprints in the Sand,” often accompanied by an appropriate photograph.

Here again, the authorship of “Footprints” is disputed among dozens of people, a discussion of which I will spare you. However, the source and inspiration was indisputably conceptualized in a 19th century “footprints imagery” traced to the opening paragraph of a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a British preacher, in 1880. – – I’ll spare you the details here as well.

“Footprints” was introduced to me in the form of a plaque, given to me by a teacher when I was a principal. Reading “Footprints” for the first time is truly special. If you never read it, you may be pleasantly surprised as I was. My first reaction was almost one of disappointment, as if I had been denied some special truth up to that point in my life. And yet, I knew in my heart that through the most difficult times in my life, I must have received help “from above” with faith and strength. – – See what you think. See how you feel.



One night a man had a dream.

He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand:
one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.

“Lord, You said that once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.”

The Lord replied,
“My son, My precious child, I love you and I would
never leave you. During your times of trial and
suffering, when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I Carried You.”

And the third “spiritual-lite” anchor, “The Serenity Prayer,” familiar to you in part, no doubt, is by far my favorite. The first stanza is well-known due to its use at “AA Meetings” (Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings). But to my delight, many decades ago, I discovered the prayer in its entirety in, of all places, a “Dear Abby” column in a newspaper! I was so taken by it, I gave small, laminated copies to my wife and three sons. I considered knowledge of it a real gift. I always carry a little card copy in my pocket like a money clip. And it stands at my bedside and on my desk shelf as well.

My greatest surprise was to discover that “The Serenity Prayer” was written by Reinhold Niebuhr in 1943, known to me as a political theorist and scholar and author through my political science studies. Little did I know that Reinhold Niebuhr was one of the most renowned theologians of 20th century America. He was a Congregationalist and professor at the Union Theological Seminary in Brooklyn, New York, for over 30 years, 1928-1960.

See what you think of “The Serenity Prayer” in its entirety…just in case you’ve been reciting the first stanza alone at Friday night meetings. It really is so meaningful, helpful, and beautiful at the same time. – – Talk about “spiritual anchors”! “Serenity” reduces life to the basics and grounds you. But first a little more about Reinhold Niebuhr.


Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971, was of German ancestry, born and raised in Wright City, Missouri. Niebuhr was such an accomplished & controversial theologian & political theorist, he cannot be done justice in a mere caption here. He was praised & scorned by conservatives & liberals alike at different times in religious & political circles. His political philosophy & political theology were intertwined. Author of numerous prominent & distinguished books, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1964, he went from being a prominent leader of the Socialist Party of America in the 1930’s to being a strong voice confronting Soviet communism after 1945.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Excuse us for living with a little help along the way from these spiritual sources. May you too have your own favorites that you rely upon!

Comments: Please!

Sources: My personal files & notes, Wikipedia & various online websites


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Amona Outpost: Overlooking land given by God through Abraham (Named by God as Israel ) is located on a hill overlooking Ofra within the municipal boundaries of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, the village was founded in 1995 on privately owned Palestinian land – @AceHistoryNews

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.06: Amona (Hebrew: עמונה‎‎) is an Israeli outpost in the central West Bank.

Located on a hill overlooking Ofra within the municipal boundaries of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, the village was founded in 1995 on privately owned Palestinian land. As of 2012, its population was around 200. As of October 2013, the outpost lodged 42 families.

The High Court of Israel ruled in 2006 that the settlement is illegal under Israeli law, but as of March 2013, its status remained unresolved as the Israeli government continued to fight the court’s eviction order. In May 2014 an Israeli police investigation revealed the entire outpost lay on private Palestinian land, and that documents used by settlers to claim they had purchased the sites were forged.

In December 2014, the Israeli High Court ordered the state to completely evacuate and demolish the settlement within two years. The international community considers all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.

Its name is derived from the Book of Joshua 18:24, where it is named Kfar HaAmmonai, literally, Village of the Amonites.

Amona was founded in 1995 on privately owned Palestinian land by young settlers from Ofra who thought it was getting too urbanized for their taste. It was one of the first outposts. Amona was constructed on property the Palestinians of Silwad used to cultivate and grow crops on, land that it was stolen from them by Ofra teenagers.

According to documents of the Israeli Civil Administration, the land had been cultivated and worked by local Palestinians until the outpost was erected, though the settlers claim that the site was a rocky hilltop before.

Yesh Din states that Amona is built on the land of three Palestinian villages, Silwad, Ein Yabrud and Taybeh.[11] Amira Hass, interviewing one of the Silwad petitioners, Abed al Rahman Ashur, writes:

“In Arabic we say about cultivated land that it is ‘laughing’ land,” says Abed al Rahman Ashur, 70, who is one of the 10 petitioners together with Peace Now against the unauthorized Jewish outpost Amona. Back at the start of the 1980s, nine dunams he owns, planted with fig trees and grapevines, stopped laughing by force of various military orders preventing access to them. Thirty-two dunams stopped laughing after the outpost of Amona was established at the end of the 1990s on private lands belonging to inhabitants of the villages of Silwad, Dir Jarir and Taibeh.

It is usually categorized as an outpost because its construction was never officially approved by the Israeli government, although according to the settlers, the state played a role in supporting the outpost through the provision of electricity and other services by Israeli utilities.

Amona has become highly symbolic, revealing the role in the settlement enterprise of the settlement movement, the Israeli State and the Court.

In 1997, the first demolition order was issued, followed by another one in 2003. In 2006, settlers were evacuated, but only nine permanent buildings were razed. In 2008, the state said that construction on the site was illegal and announced that the entire outpost would be razed. In 2011, the announcement was repeated, but as of January 2015 the outpost was still there.

In 2004, the Amana settlement organization completed the construction of nine permanent homes at Amona, all built illegally on privately owned land and appropriately registered to Palestinians. In October 2004, the Israeli Civil Administration ordered the demolition of the structures. On 3 July 2005, Peace Now petitioned the Israeli High Court charging Israeli authorities with failing to implement stop-work orders at the site, and with failing to implement demolition orders issues in October 2004. In November 2005, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the demolition by the end of January 2006.

A Jewish home in Amona before the destruction by Israeli forces. The sign reads “Every house destroyed a victory for Hamas.”

On 1 February 2006, settlers and protesters were evacuated, attended with unprecedented clashes. 10,000 Israel Police, Israel Border Police, and Israel Defense Forces troops appeared in Amona to carry out the demolition and to secure the troops involved in the operation. They faced an estimated 4,000 Israeli protesters, one thousand actively protesting inside and around the houses, and another few thousand in the surrounding area. The protesters mostly consisted of youths from across the country, but especially from nearby settlements and schools, some of which had fortified themselves inside the homes and on the roofs in an effort to block, delay, or protest the order being carried out. Over 300 people were injured, including about 80 security personnel. Among the injured were three Knesset members. After several hours, the houses were demolished. Young girls that were evacuated accused police officers of sexual assault.

In March 2006, the Knesset parliamentary inquiry into the events at Amona determined that security forces had employed excessive brutality, striking protesters with clubs and charging them with horses. Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra was criticised for preventing police commanders from testifying at the hearings. The committee also found contradictions in the testimonies of the Army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and the Internal Security Minister. Despite these findings, no resignations followed. In May 2006 Israeli President Moshe Katsav met with some of the protesters injured at Amona and stated that he would ask for a renewal of the investigation.

In 2008, the Israeli non-governmental organization Yesh Din petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of the Palestinian landowners, demanding the demolition of the entire outpost. The State repeatedly requested delay. On 28 April 2013, the court granted a last postponement of the evacuation until 15 July 2013.

As the settlers contended they purchased some of the land in the meantime through the Al-Watan company, the Supreme Court again postponed execution of the ruling. The court ordered that on 24 July only the uncontested homes and part of the access road should be torn down, pending a petition by the settlers before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court.

While only one Palestinian owner petitioned the court, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed the army to demolish only one building.

At a High Court hearing on 20 August 2013, the state’s attorney said that she believed the 24 July ruling applied only to those Amona residents whose names were attached to the petition.

In May 2014, a police investigation into the Al-Watan company, a subsidiary of Ze’ev Hever’s Amana organization, revealed that the documents filed by Al-Watan and Amona petitioners had been forged.

Meanwhile, Yesh Din filed another petition demanding the demolition of some 30 structures that were not evacuated.

The Court confirmed that the case was against the entire outpost and that all structures (except the 16 contested homes) should be removed.

On 14 October 2013, the state asked the court for a new postponement, to prevent “harm of Israel’s diplomatic interests”, and because there is “no concrete petitioner”(because it was a general claim). While previously, evacuation was linked to illegal settlement on privately owned Palestinian land, this was the first time in the last few years that the state had spoken of the outpost evacuation within diplomatic terms. Commentators suggested that this move alluded to the current peace negotiations. The state also feared a precedent for other cases.

In June 2014 an Israeli court brought down a judgement awarding 300,000 shekels ($85,700) to 6 Palestinian plaintiffs, the owners affected by the Amona settlement on their land, and further ruled that the State is to pay out a further sum of 48,000 shekels ($13,500) in damages if it fails to remove the settlers by 2015.

In December 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the state to completely evacuate and demolish the settlement within two years.

The judges wrote “These structures were built on privately owned land so there is no possibility of authorizing their construction, even retroactively. The military commander of Judea and Samaria must act decisively to protect the private property of residents who are under his protection, including protection from the usurpation of and illegal construction on their lands. This illegal construction on private land requires giving the highest priority to the enforcement of work stoppage and demolition orders.” The judges also stated that it would make no difference if some of the land had been legally purchased since the settlement was established.

  1. ^ Matthew Bell (29 March 2012), “Future of Israel’s Amona Settlement Outpost Uncertain”, The World
  2. ^ a b c State: Demolition of Amona diplomatically harmful. Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, 15 October 2013
  3. ^ Motti Inbari, Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount: Who Will Build the Third Temple?, pp. 166–167. SUNY Press, 2009
  4. ^ a b Levinson, Chaim (26 May 2014). “Police discover that entire Amona outpost was built on Palestinian land”. Haaretz. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Chaim Levinson (25 December 2014). “High Court orders demolition of largest West Bank outpost within two years”. Haaretz.
  6. ^ “The Geneva Convention”. BBC News. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  7. ^ ‘Meet the settlers:Chapter 5,’:’Amona, in the central West Bank, which was founded in 1995 on private Palestinian land.’
  8. ^ Ilene R. Prusher,‘Peace by Percentages in Mideast,’ Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 1998.
  9. ^ Mitch Ginsburg, ‘Amona, the West Bank’s largest outpost, clears another hurdle,’ The Times of Israel July 25, 2013
  10. ^ Chaim Levinson, Much of Amona outpost built on cultivated Palestinian land, Civil Administration says. Haaretz, 22 August 2013.
  11. ^ ‘The unauthorized outpost of Amona: How Israel dispossesses Palestinians of their private,’ Archived March 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Yesh Din 1 December, 2013.
  12. ^ Amira Hass, ‘In West Bank buying land isn’t always what it seems,’ Haaretz 10 January, 2012.
  13. ^ “Settlers in West Bank Outpost Battle Police Who Came to Raze Houses”. The New York Times. 2 February 2006.
  14. ^ Chaim Levinson, ‘Illegal West Bank outpost to be razed by end of 2012, Barak decides,’. Haaretz, 1 November 2011:'[Amona] has become one of the symbols of the settlement movement in recent years.’
  15. ^ a b The Amona complex. Haaretz, 16 October 2013
  16. ^ Chaim Levinson (20 January 2015). “Evacuated Amona settlers must compensate Palestinian landowners, says state”. Haaretz. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  17. ^ Americans for Peace Now (APN), Settlements in Focus – Vol. 2, Issue 3: Amona Redux. 20 February 2006
  18. ^ [1] Arutz Sheva – Hundreds Injured in Brutal Demolition of Nine Jewish Homes
  19. ^ Weiss, Efrat (February 7, 2006). “Were settler girls sexually assaulted?”. Ynet. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  20. ^ Tovah Lazaroff, High Court delays Amona evacuation until July 15. Jerusalem Post, 28 April 2013
  21. ^ Tovah Lazaroff, High Court delays evacuation of West Bank outpost Amona. Jerusalem Post, 12 July 2013
  22. ^ Tovah Lazaroff, A-G to PM: Prioritize home demolitions on private Palestinian property. Jerusalem Post, 19 July 2013
  23. ^ Chaim Levinson, Israel’s AG postpones evacuation of 30 houses in Amona outpost. Haaretz, 19 July 2013
  24. ^ Tovah Lazaroff, Amona outpost homes now in High Court’s hands. Jerusalem Post, 21 August 2013
  25. ^ Yesh Din, Yesh Din today filed a motion … Archived October 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. 30 July 2013
  26. ^ AFP, ‘Palestinian landowners win wildcat settlement payout,’ Ynet 25 June 2014

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Who is St. Nicholas ? Well he is NOT Santa Claus but he gave away all he had from his inheritance to the poor and needy, this is the true meaning of Christmas to give without expecting to receive SO maybe he was the first – @AceHistoryNews

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.06: This day is celebrated as ‘ Saint Nicholas Day ‘ BUT Who was St Nicholas ? Was he the first Santa Claus and we just got the understanding of what it means to give without expecting to receive wrong … ? And how did this day evolve … to become a saints day ? Here is a number of answers … Ed

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.

He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district. They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup. For Basilios’ parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly, filled with grief. As the next St. Nicholas’ feast day approached, Basilios’ mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home—with quiet prayers for Basilios’ safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home back in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the king’s golden cup. This is the first story told of St. Nicholas protecting children—which became his primary role in the West.

Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens. A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families. And so St. Nicholas is the patron and protector of children.

Several stories tell of Nicholas and the sea. When he was young, Nicholas sought the holy by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There as he walked where Jesus walked, he sought to more deeply experience Jesus’ life, passion, and resurrection. Returning by sea, a mighty storm threatened to wreck the ship. Nicholas calmly prayed. The terrified sailors were amazed when the wind and waves suddenly calmed, sparing them all. And so St. Nicholas is the patron of sailors and voyagers.

Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return. Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint. Today he is venerated in the East as wonder, or miracle worker and in the West as patron of a great variety of persons-children, mariners, bankers, pawn-brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, children, sailors, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need (see list).

Sailors, claiming St. Nicholas as patron, carried stories of his favor and protection far and wide. St. Nicholas chapels were built in many seaports. As his popularity spread during the Middle Ages, he became the patron saint of Apulia (Italy), Sicily, Greece, and Lorraine (France), and many cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Belgium, and the Netherlands (see list). Following his baptism, Grand Prince Vladimir I brought St. Nicholas’ stories and devotion to St. Nicholas to his homeland where Nicholas became the most beloved saint. Nicholas was so widely revered that thousands of churches were named for him, including three hundred in Belgium, thirty-four in Rome, twenty-three in the Netherlands and more than four hundred in England.

Nicholas’ tomb in Myra became a popular place of pilgrimage. Because of the many wars and attacks in the region, some Christians were concerned that access to the tomb might become difficult. For both the religious and commercial advantages of a major pilgrimage site, the Italian cities of Venice and Bari vied to get the Nicholas relics. In the spring of 1087, sailors from Bari succeeded in spiriting away the bones, bringing them to Bari, a seaport on the southeast coast of Italy. An impressive church was built over St. Nicholas’ crypt and many faithful journeyed to honor the saint who had rescued children, prisoners, sailors, famine victims, and many others through his compassion, generosity, and the countless miracles attributed to his intercession. The Nicholas shrine in Bari was one of medieval Europe’s great pilgrimage centers and Nicholas became known as “Saint in Bari.” To this day pilgrims and tourists visit Bari’s great Basilica di San Nicola.

Through the centuries St. Nicholas has continued to be venerated by Catholics and Orthodox and honored by Protestants. By his example of generosity to those in need, especially children, St. Nicholas continues to be a model for the compassionate life.

Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor—and sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.

Quién es Nicolás? Spanish translation of Who Is St. Nicholas?

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IRELAND: The annual ARA public awareness campaign ‘Explore Your Archives’ is now in its fourth year in the region – @AceHistoryNews

#AceHistoryNews – Nov.27: Archives and Records Association, Ireland


The annual ARA public awareness campaign ‘Explore Your Archives’ is now in its fourth year in the Ireland region. As with previous years, there has been great interest from archive services all around the island with many events planned, story boxes created, and exhibitions and newly accessible collections being launched.

A tiny flavour of these include:

  • National Archives of Ireland: Free talk on the recently completed report on the Survey of Hospital Archives in Ireland. The Survey of Hospital Records in Ireland is the fruits of a project conducted by the National Archives of Ireland, with support from the Wellcome Trust. It draws together archivists and historians to discuss the current state of Irish medical archives, and aims to draw attention to the myriad of issues that practitioners face when dealing with historical health and medical archives.
  • National Library of Ireland: Free talk on the National Library’s web archiving programme and other activities connected with their 2016 Web Archiving project. This project aims to archive websites surrounding the commemorations of both the 1916 Easter Rising and the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. This will capture snap shots of not only the state led official commemorations, but also smaller locally organised events in libraries, museums and communities throughout the country to give a complete picture of what is happening online in 2016.
  • IFI Irish Film Archive: Archive open day and promotion of the recently launched IFI Player. The IFI Player is a virtual viewing room for the remarkable collections of the IFI Irish Film Archive, giving audiences across the globe instant access to this rich heritage. The material includes home movies, newsreels, travelogues, animations, feature films, public information films and documentaries reflecting all aspects of indigenous amateur and professional production.
  • Galway County Council Archives: Launch of the Gort Poor Law Union Collection online as part of general promotion of Galway County Council Archives’ Digital Archive.

Again this year, an Explore Your Archive campaign launch event has been organised and will take place on the evening of Thursday 17 November 2016 at 18:00 in the Crypt of Dublin City Hall. The Explore Your Archive campaign will be launched by this year’s campaign ambassador Catherine Murphy TD. Deputy Murphy is joint-leader of the Social Democrat Party and a long standing supporter of Irish archives and heritage in general.

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CUBA: Wearing a green military uniform, a somber Raul Castro, 85, appeared on state television on Friday night to announce his brother’s death that will leave a lasting impression on the people of a man who the US could not assassinate and his affect on the people who earn on average the equivalent of $20 a month and struggle to make ends meet even in an economy where education and health care are free and many basic goods and services are heavily subsidised – @AceHistoryNews

#AceHistoryNews – Nov.26: Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dies aged 90

Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died on Friday. He was 90.

A towering figure of the second half of the 20th Century, Castro stuck to his ideology beyond the collapse of Soviet communism and remained widely respected in parts of the world that had struggled against colonial rule.

He had been in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006. He formally ceded power to his younger brother Raul Castro two years later.

Wearing a green military uniform, a somber Raul Castro, 85, appeared on state television on Friday night to announce his brother’s death.

“At 10.29 at night, the chief commander of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, died,” he said, without giving a cause of death.

“Ever onward, to victory,” he said, using the slogan of the Cuban revolution.

Tributes came in from allies, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who said “revolutionaries of the world must follow his legacy.”

Although Raul Castro always glorified his older brother, he has changed Cuba since taking over by introducing market-style economic reforms and agreeing with the United States in December 2014 to re-establish diplomatic ties and end decades of hostility.

Fidel Castro offered only lukewarm support for the deal, raising questions about whether he approved of ending hostilities with his longtime enemy. Some analysts believed his mere presence kept Raul from moving further and faster, while others saw him as either quietly supportive or increasingly irrelevant.

He did not meet Barack Obama when he visited Havana earlier this year, the first time a U.S. president had stepped foot on Cuban soil since 1928.

Days later, Castro wrote a scathing newspaper column condemning Obama’s “honey-coated” words and reminding Cubans of the many U.S. efforts to overthrow and weaken the Communist government.

The news of Castro’s death spread slowly among Friday night revelers on the streets of Havana. One famous club that was still open when word came in quickly closed.

Some residents reacted with sadness to the news.

“I’m very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is a public figure that the whole world respected and loved,” said Havana student Sariel Valdespino.

But in Miami, where many exiles from Castro’s Communist government live, a large crowd waving Cuban flags cheered, danced and banged on pots and pans.

Castro’s body will be cremated, according to his wishes. Cuba declared nine days of mourning, during which time the ashes will be taken to different parts of the country. A burial ceremony will be held on Dec. 4.

The bearded Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War.

He was demonized by the United States and its allies but admired by many leftists around the world, especially socialist revolutionaries in Latin America and Africa.

Nelson Mandela, once freed from prison in 1990, repeatedly thanked Castro for his firm efforts in helping to weaken apartheid.

In April, in a rare public appearance at the Communist Party conference, Fidel Castro shocked party apparatchiks by referring to his own imminent mortality.

“Soon I will be like all the rest. Our turn comes to all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain,” he said.

Castro was last seen by ordinary Cubans in photos showing him engaged in conversation with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang earlier this month.

Transforming Cuba from a playground for rich Americans into a symbol of resistance to Washington, Castro crossed swords with 10 U.S. presidents while in power, and outlasted nine of them.

He fended off a CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 as well as countless assassination attempts.

His alliance with Moscow helped trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, a 13-day showdown with the United States that brought the world the closest it has been to nuclear war.

Wearing green military fatigues and chomping on cigars for many of his years in power, Castro was famous for long, fist-pounding speeches filled with blistering rhetoric, often aimed at the United States.

At home, he swept away capitalism and won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor. But he also created legions of enemies and critics, concentrated among the exiles in Miami who fled his rule and saw him as a ruthless tyrant.

“With Castro’s passing, some of the heat may go out of the antagonism between Cuba and the United States, and between Cuba and Miami, which would be good for everyone,” said William M. LeoGrande, co-author of a book on U.S.-Cuba relations.

However, it is not clear if U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump will continue to normalize relations with Cuba or revive tensions and fulfill a campaign promise to close the U.S. embassy in Havana once again.

Castro’s death – which would once have thrown a question mark over Cuba’s future – seems unlikely to trigger a crisis as Raul Castro is firmly ensconced in power.

In his final years, Fidel Castro no longer held leadership posts. He wrote newspaper commentaries on world affairs and occasionally met with foreign leaders but he lived in semi-seclusion.

Still, the passing of the man known to most Cubans as “El Comandante” – the commander – or simply “Fidel” leaves a huge void in the country he dominated for so long. It also underlines the generational change in Cuba’s communist leadership.

Raul Castro vows to step down when his term ends in 2018 and the Communist Party has elevated younger leaders to its Politburo, including 56-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is first vice-president and the heir apparent.

Others in their 50s include Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and economic reform czar Marino Murillo.

The reforms have led to more private enterprise and the lifting of some restrictions on personal freedoms but they aim to strengthen Communist Party rule, not weaken it.


A Jesuit-educated lawyer, Fidel Castro led the revolution that ousted U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista on Jan 1, 1959. Aged 32, he quickly took control of Cuba and sought to transform it into an egalitarian society.

His government improved the living conditions of the very poor, achieved health and literacy levels on a par with rich countries and rid Cuba of a powerful Mafia presence.

But he also tolerated little dissent, jailed opponents, seized private businesses and monopolized the media.

Castro’s opponents labeled him a dictator and hundreds of thousands fled the island.

“The dictator Fidel Castro has died, the cause of many deaths in Cuba, Latin American and Africa,” Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the island’s largest dissident group, the Patriotic Union of Cuba, said on Twitter.

Many dissidents settled in Florida, influencing U.S. policy toward Cuba and plotting Castro’s demise. Some even trained in the Florida swamps for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion.

But they could never dislodge him.

Castro claimed he survived or evaded hundreds of assassination attempts, including some conjured up by the CIA.

In 1962, the United States imposed a damaging trade embargo that Castro blamed for most of Cuba’s ills, using it to his advantage to rally patriotic fury.

Over the years, he expanded his influence by sending Cuban troops into far-away wars, including 350,000 to fight in Africa. They provided critical support to a left-wing government in Angola and contributed to the independence of Namibia in a war that helped end apartheid in South Africa.

He also won friends by sending tens of thousands of Cuban doctors abroad to treat the poor and bringing young people from developing countries to train them as physicians


Born on August 13, 1926, in Biran in eastern Cuba, Castro was the son of a Spanish immigrant who became a wealthy landowner.

Angry at social conditions and Batista’s dictatorship, Castro launched his revolution on July 26, 1953, with a failed assault on the Moncada barracks in the eastern city of Santiago.

“History will absolve me,” he declared during his trial for the attack.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released in 1955 after a pardon that would come back to haunt Batista.

Castro went into exile in Mexico and prepared a small rebel army to fight Batista. It included Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who became his comrade-in-arms.

In December 1956, Castro and a rag-tag band of 81 followers sailed to Cuba aboard a badly overloaded yacht called “Granma”.

Only 12, including him, his brother and Guevara, escaped a government ambush when they landed in eastern Cuba.

Taking refuge in the rugged Sierra Maestra mountains, they built a guerrilla force of several thousand fighters who, along with urban rebel groups, defeated Batista’s military in just over two years.

Early in his rule, at the height of the Cold War, Castro allied Cuba to the Soviet Union, which protected the Caribbean island and was its principal benefactor for three decades.

The alliance brought in $4 billion worth of aid annually, including everything from oil to guns, but also provoked the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when the United States discovered Soviet missiles on the island.

Convinced that the United States was about to invade Cuba, Castro urged the Soviets to launch a nuclear attack.

Cooler heads prevailed. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. President John F. Kennedy agreed the Soviets would withdraw the missiles in return for a U.S. promise never to invade Cuba. The United States also secretly agreed to remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey.


When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, an isolated Cuba fell into an economic crisis that lasted for years and was known as the “special period”. Food, transport and basics such as soap were scarce and energy shortages led to frequent and long blackouts.

Castro undertook a series of tentative economic reforms to get through the crisis, including opening up to foreign tourism.

The economy improved when Venezuela’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who looked up to Castro as a hero, came to the rescue with cheap oil. Aid from communist-run China also helped, but Venezuelan support for Cuba has been scaled down since Chavez’s death in 2013.

Plagued by chronic economic problems, Cuba’s population of 11 million has endured years of hardship, although not the deep poverty, violent crime and government neglect of many other developing countries.

Cubans earn on average the equivalent of $20 a month and struggle to make ends meet even in an economy where education and health care are free and many basic goods and services are heavily subsidized.

For most Cubans, Castro has been the ubiquitous figure of their entire life.

Many still love him and share his faith in a communist future, and even some who abandoned their political belief still view him with respect.

“For everyone in Cuba and outside his death is very sad,” said Havana resident Luis Martinez. “It is very painful news.”

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Marc Frank; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Kieran Murray and Hugh Lawson)


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SNIPPETS OF HISTORY NEWS: Professor Mace wrote the following article for DEN newspaper on February 18, 2013 I was allotted five minutes to explain the famine of 1933 in Ukraine before the American Commission on Holodomor – @AceHistoryNews

#AceHistoryNews – Nov.26: Professor Mace wrote the following article for DEN newspaper on February 18, 20013: I was allotted five minutes to explain the famine of 1933 in Ukraine before the American Commission on Holodomor.


There was clearly not enough time to say much, except that we had done everything we could. Ukraine, with a few exceptions such …

The post HOLODOMOR 1933: Light a candle in your window appeared first on Euromaidan Press.


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ALBANY, N.Y.- The 144-year-old shipwreck of a rare sailing vessel that typically wasn’t used for long voyages on the Great Lakes has been found in deep water off Lake Ontario’s New York shore, according to two underwater explorers – @AceHistoryNews

#AceHistoryNews – Nov.26: N.Y. explorers find 1872 shipwreck of rare Great Lakes vessel
The 51-foot-long, single-mast ship known as a scow-sloop sank during a gale while hauling goods along the lake’s eastern end in August 1872…

The bow area and mast of the “Black Duck” is shown in 350 feet of water off Oswego, N.Y.

Roger Pawlowski, AP, Roger Pawlowski

Western New York-based explorers Jim Kennard and Roger Pawlowski announced Friday that they identified the wreck as the Black Duck in September, three years after initially coming across it while using side-scan sonar in 350 feet of water off Oswego, New York.

The 51-foot-long, single-mast ship known as a scow-sloop sank during a gale while hauling goods along the lake’s eastern end in August 1872.

The ship’s captain, his wife and a crewmember, the only people on board, all survived by getting into a small boat and reaching shore eight hours later.

Only a few scow-sloops sailed the Great Lakes, Kennard told The Associated Press. A search of nautical records turned up only about a dozen references to scow-sloops being built in the region, he said.

The Black Duck wreck is believed to be the only fully intact scow-sloop to exist in the Great Lakes, Kennard said.

“It’s definitely a rarity,” said Carrie Sowden, archaeological director at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio, which sponsors the New York team’s explorations.

The vessels’ simple design — squared bow and stern and a flat bottom — allowed it to be run up on beaches for loading and unloading of cargo.

“Scows, because of their shape, are workhorses,” Sowden said. “They’re not there to move fast through the water. They’re there to carry a lot of cargo.”

Typically used on rivers or for short voyages on the Great Lakes, scow-sloops weren’t constructed for high winds and waves in open water. The Black Duck got caught in such conditions on Aug. 8, 1872, during the 40-mile trip from Oswego to Sackett’s Harbor on Lake Ontario’s eastern end. The ship sank soon after springing a leak during a gale.

“They weren’t built to withstand that kind of pounding,” Kennard said.

The Black Duck is the latest Lake Ontario shipwreck discovery for Pawlowski, of Rochester, and Kennard, of nearby Fairport. Earlier this year, they and a third member of their team, Roland “Chip” Stevens, announced they had found the wreck of the sloop Washington, which sank during a storm in 1803.

The find was the second-oldest confirmed shipwreck in the Great Lakes, the explorers said.


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