Thursday, 16 January 2014


“He that is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else.” - Benjamin Franklin

The anniversary of the birth of:
André Michelin
, French first tyre mass producer (1853);
Edward Gordon Craig
, theatre designer (1872);
Robert Service
, poet (1874);
Laura Riding
, poet (1901);
Diana Wynyard
, actress (1906);
Alexander Knox
, actor (1907);
Ethel Merman
(Zimmerman), actress/singer (1909);
William Kennedy
, writer (1930);
Susan Sontag
, writer (1933);
Marilyn Horne
, US opera singer (1934);
, singer (1960).

The plant for today’s birthdays is yarrow, Achillea millefolium.  The herb is named after Achilles, the ancient Greek hero who fought in the Trojan War.  When the Greeks landed near Troy, some Trojans, led by Telephus, one of King Priam’s sons-in-law tried to stop the Greeks.  Achilles wounded Telephus with his spear, helped by Dionysus, god of wine.  Telephus had been told by an oracle that Achilles would both wound and cure him. He promised Achilles to lead the Greeks to Troy if only he would cure his wound. Achilles scraped rust from his spear and applied it to Telephus’s wound. The filings from the spear fell to the ground and yarrow sprang from them.

Yarrow symbolises heartache and cure.  Astrologically, this is a herb of Venus.  An older name of the herb is Venus-tree and several love oracles are based on this plant.  It was said that if the stem was cut across the initials of one’s future husband would appear.  An ounce of yarrow wrapped in a piece of yellow flannel and placed under one’s pillow would enable one to dream of one’s future spouse.  Eating yarrow at a wedding feast, ensured that the bridal couple would love one another for seven years.

The Greek Orthodox Church today venerates the Chains of St Peter the Apostle. The Veneration of the Honourable Chains of the Holy and All-Praised Apostle Peter relates to the following: In about the year AD 42, on the orders of Herod Agrippa, the Apostle Peter was thrown into prison for preaching about Christ the Saviour. In prison he was held secure by two iron chains. During the night before his trial, an angel of the Lord removed these chains from the Apostle Peter and led him out from the prison (Acts 12:1-11).

Christians who learned of the miracle took the chains and kept them as precious keepsakes. For three centuries the chains were kept in Jerusalem, and those afflicted with illness and approached them with faith received healing. Patriarch Juvenal (July 2) presented the chains to Eudokia, wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, and she in turn transferred them from Jerusalem to Constantinople in either the year AD 437 or 439.

Eudokia sent one chain to Rome to her daughter Eudoxia (the wife of Valentinian), who built a church on the Esquiline hill dedicated to the Apostle Peter and placed the chain in it. There were other chains in Rome, with which the Apostle Peter was shackled before his martyrdom under the emperor Nero. These were also placed in the church. On January 16, the chains of St Peter are brought out for public veneration.

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