Thursday, 25 July 2013


“For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.” - William Penn

Today is the anniversary of the birthday of:
Henry Doulton, potter (1820);
Arthur Balfour, British PM (1848);
Eric Hoffer, author (1902);
Elias Canetti, Bulgarian author (1905);
Jack Gilford, actor (1907);
Paul J Weitz, US astronaut (1932);
Janet Margolin, actress (1943);
Louise Brown, world’s 1st test tube baby (1978).

Purple lilac, Syringa vulgaris, is today’s birthday flower. It means in the language of flowers: “Do you still love me?”.  It is symbolic of memory, first love and fastidiousness.

Today is said to be an auspicious day for commencing journeys. Both St Christopher and St James are traveller Saints and are invoked for special protection by travellers.  St Christopher (from the Greek Christos + Phoros means “Christ bearer”), according to legend was a giant who carried the infant Jesus on his shoulders across a flooded rushing river.  A St Christopher medal is carried by travellers and its adoration in the morning protects the faithful from harm during that day. In the Low Countries, St Christopher was identified with the Norse god of thunder, rain and farming, Thor. Well into the middle ages St Christopher was invoked (just as Thor was invoked) against thunderstorm-induced damage to their crops. The flowers dedicated to St Christopher are the vetch, meadowsweet, fleabane and royal fern.

Many people in Spain celebrate the life and deeds of James, son of Zebedee, on Saint James' Day (Santiago Apostol), which celebrated today, July 25. St James (Santiago) is the Patron Saint of Spain. James was one of Jesus’ first disciples. Some Christians believe that his remains are buried in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. St James travelled from Palestine to Spain where he preached the Gospel. His principal shrine in Compostella attracts many pilgrims to make the journey from all around Europe to adore his burial place.  He is the protector of pilgrims and they often wore the Compostella scallop shell as a badge as a symbol of their pilgrimage and the saint’s protection. Today is an auspicious day for picking chicory, as this plant (Cichorium intybus) is dedicated to St James.

This year of course, it is a sad day for Spain and Compostella as the train accident that killed about 80 people and injured many more is an occurrence that will mark the lives of hundreds of families indelibly. The driver of a Spanish high-speed train that derailed, killing at least 80 people, has been named as a suspect in one of Europe’s worst rail accidents. A court in Santiago de Compostela ordered police to question Francisco Jose Garzon, 52, who had admitted to driving at 190 kilometres per hour on a curve where the speed limit was 80km/h.

The train carrying 218 passengers from Madrid to Ferrol derailed and split apart late on Wednesday at Angrois, about 4km from the regional capital, Santiago de Compostela. Officials confirmed that the number of dead had risen from 78 to 80. Ninety-five injured people remained in hospital. Thirty-six of them, including four children, were in critical condition. The injured included several citizens of the US and the UK, the two countries’ embassies said.


  1. I knew all about medieval pilgrimage, the camino to Santiago Compostela and the botafumeiro for a long time before visiting. But the personal experience is far greater in person.

    Any place would be terrible for modern pilgrims to die en masse, but this city may well be well be the saddest.

  2. What a terrible thing to have happened. Even more horrific when one hears of the disturbed mind of the train driver, hooked on speed...

  3. These disasters are always horrific, but if the enginner ont he train admits it was his fault, it makes it all more hideous