Click on the “r for Ripley’s” tag if you don’t know what this is.
- The Knights of Columbus own Yankee Stadium.
- During the second century three sisters were martyred. Their names were Pistis, Elpis, and Agape, which in Greek mean Faith, Hope, and Charity.
- Julian the Apostate wanted to disprove Christ’s prophecy that Jerusalem would not be rebuilt. When his workmen started construction, flames shot from the ground and halted the work.
- Evangelista Torricelli, a Catholic, invented the barometer.
- Pope John XXIII began his study for the priesthood at the age of 11.
- Since the time of St. Peter, about 25 nationalities have been represented among the Popes.
- Saint John Nepomucine is believed to be the first to have been martyred protecting the seal of the confessional. He refused to reveal to King Wenceslaus the confessional secrets of the queen. He was murdered by drowning, and, centuries later, when his remains were found, his tongue was still in living condition. We can recognize his portrait in religious art by the finger of silence, raised to his lips.
Number two has to be about the biggest non-fact I’ve come across yet. So a group of Christian girls had Christian names?! OMG!
The “Catholics do stuff” genre, represented here by fact number four, is kind of strange, don’t you think? I guess it’s like coming up with a list of celebrities who are from your hometown or something, but seriously. I don’t think I have ever thought about the guy who invented the barometer before. And he’s clearly Italian, so I tend to think of Catholicism being slightly less significant here. I don’t know.
And number seven provides further evidence that the boundaries of facthood are somewhat elastic. That feels like three full facts to me.
Since I started posting these, my feed stats tracker has not hit zero. In fact, it’s been up to unheard of levels — 20! So a big thank you to all the bots out there reading this blog, since I’m pretty sure no real people do. My finals are done but I’m a little burned out (ha) so more facts for the time being, anyway.
- There are 500 Catholic publications in the U.S. with 27,500,000 subscribers.
- St. Peter the Apostle, the first Pope, was a married man. Only two other Popes in the history of the Church are known definitely to have been married, St. Hormesdas and Adrian II.
- In Extreme Unction, all five senses are annoinnted [sic] because of the sins committed through them.
- St. Matthew is represented by a human head in religious paintings because his gospel begins with Our Lord’s human ancestry.
- St. John is represented as an eagle in religious art because his opening words in the gospel are so majestic they soar into the heavens.
- Father Martin Grajales was the first American parish priest, having been assigned to St. Augustine’s parish, Florida, in 1565.
- St. Catherine of Siena was the 25th child of her parents. During her life she was visited by the Blessed Mother and her Divine Son appearing together.
- St. John-Mary Vianney, a Frenchman, is the patron saint of parish priests.
I continue to be amused by the variety of facts in this book. Number seven makes me wonder what constitutes a “fact”; surely this is two? Also: “Hormesdas”. That is all.
More from a 1963 volume of fun facts for Kat’licks:
- The Blessed Mother’s tomb is believed to have been in the valley of the Cedron, near Jerusalem, the place where her body was assumed into Heaven.
- St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of the Church, was rewarded by being addressed by Christ on a crucifix. “Well hast thou written concerning Me, Thomas. What shall I give thee as a reward?” Thomas answered, “Naught save Thyself, O, Lord.”
- Out of respect for the first Pope no succeeding Pope has chosen the name of Peter.
- The first Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to a priest was presented to Father Dominique Pire, O.P., in 1958. The priest is famous for his work in aiding displaced persons.
- The superscription (INRI) above Christ’s head is preserved in the Church of St. Croce in Jerusalem.
- St. Gregory was the first monk to be elected Pope.
- The cross was used by the Romans to execute only slaves and degraded criminals. A more ancient practice was to tie or nail the victim to a tree.
- One Church tradition holds that the Blessed Mother lived 63 years, while another asserts that she lived to be 72.
- The word “Catholic” is formed from two Greek words which mean “through all.”
- In religious art, the ox is the symbol of St. Luke because his gospel begins with the account of Zachary, the priest, whose duty was to offer sacrifice.
Speaking of Thomas Aquinas, who is patron of students, I have exams out the wazoo tomorrow as well as a half-baked paper that needs to be done tonight.
It’s pouring outside, I’m exhausted, and I can’t seem to work up much urgency over the pending apocalypse that is Wednesday. So let’s have more facts. These come from a randomly selected two-page spread.
- Herod swore to grant anything to Salome if she would dance for him. When she asked for the head of St. John the Baptist, he gave it to her.
- Before the Communists took control of China there were more than 10,000 missionaries. The Catholic Church alone lost 3,932 schools, 216 hospitals, 781 dispensaries, 254 orphanages, and 29 printing presses.
- Church law forbids a Pope to nominate his successor.
- Only one Catholic Church has been permitted to remain open in the entire city of Moscow, the Church of St. Louis des Français.
- 571 Sisters of 12 different communities served as nurses during the Civil War.
- Since the earliest days of the Church, the Mass has been said in Latin because there was less chance of distorting the meaning. The essentials, the Offertory, Consecration, and Communion, will still be spoken in Latin even though the Second Ecumenical Council has now decreed that other parts may be said in modern languages.
- The League of the Sacred Heart was founded in France in 1884 by a French Jesuit, Rev. Henri Ramiere.
- The Church is composed of three memberships:
- Church Militant–living Catholics
- Church Suffering–the deceased suffering in Purgatory
- Church Triumphant–those who have been recieved into Heaven.
- St. Joseph’s College, Philadelphia, Pa., instituted the first college classes to combat Communism in 1935.
- The first Catholic Mass was celebrated in the United States June, 1526, by a Dominican priest in what is now the state of Virginia.
- St. John is represented in religious art with a chalice and a snake coming from it, referring to an unsuccessful attempt to poison the Host.
If you didn’t believe the 1963 publication date before, you might be convinced by the obsession with Communism that seems to have developed on these two pages. I particularly like number nine. I don’t even follow Harry Potter and I thought “defense against the dark arts” immediately. And number eleven makes no sense to me; I’ve never heard that before (or seen it for that matter) and I have no idea what they’re alluding to.
Another day, another batch of Catholic trivia as seen by Ripley’s Believe It or Not circa 1963. I wouldn’t object if some of these facts served to defend culture as a central arena within which people negotiate and experience historical change. That would be kind of convenient.
- The Weeping Madonna of Syracuse was a small statue of the Blessed Mother in a poor home in Sicily. In 1953 it began to shed tears. Today it is enshrined on a column in the town square.
- The first American-born Catholic priest was a Jesuit, Father Francis de Florencia. He joined the Jesuit Order in 1635.
- Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School in Brooklyn is served by a faculty of 75 nuns from five different religious orders.
- The Bible records 47 miracles performed by Christ. The first was the changing of water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. The last was His Ascension.
- Pope Celestine V resigned in 1294 because of his humility and his desire to lead the life of a hermit.
- Jose de Magdalena, a Carmelite, introduced vaccination in South American in 1730.
And with that, it’s back to exam prep and paper writing. Boo.
So here are some further Ripley’s facts, from four pages of the book.
- The Blessed Virgin has appeared at three places during the 20th Century. In 1917 she appeared several times at Fatima, Portugal, where she identified herself as “the Lady of the Rosary.” In 1933 she appeared 8 times at Banneux, Belgium, where she called herself “The Virgin of the Poor.”
- During 1932-33 she appeared 33 times at Beauraing, Belgium, where she called herself “Immaculate Virgin.” One of these apparitions was witnessed by 25,000 persons.
- St. Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer patients.
- Martin Waldseemuller, a Catholic cartographer, was the first to use the name “America,” in 1507.
- Demetrius Gallitzin, the “Apostle of the Alleghenies,” was a Russian prince converted to Catholicism in 1786.
- Father Paul Schulte was the first American priest to celebrate Mass in an airship. He said Mass on board the Zeppelin Hindenburg, August, 1936.
- The apostles James the Greater and James the Less were so named not because of spiritual comparison but because of physical stature.
- Upon the death of Pope Leo XIII in 1914, Cardinal Giovanni Sarto bought a round-trip ticket from Venice to Rome to join in the election of a new Pope. He never used the return portion of the ticket, as he himself was elected and became Pope Pius X.
- In the Archdiocese of New York alone, 250,000 youths benefit from the activities of Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O.).
- Catholicism spread to Ireland and Scotland in the early 400’s and thence to England.
- Haceldama means “field of blood” in Hebrew. A burial ground for the poor, it was purchased with Judas’s thirty pieces of silver.
- In the Civil War there were 50 Catholic generals with the Union and 20 with the Confederates.
- The early Christians occasionally wore a small wooden fish as a symbol of their Christian belief and devotion.
Number six is pretty awesome, you have to admit, even if I’m pretty much certain that number seven is wrong.
I said I would do it and so I shall. Here are the facts taken from one random set of pages in that wonder of the catechetical world, A Catholic’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! I’ve copied them as they appear, although they’re not numbered in the book. In case it needs clarification, I have no idea whether these are true; I did not write them, and I take no responsibility for their content or sentiment, blah blah blah.
- Nineteen members of baseball’s Hall of Fame are Catholics.
- On May 25, 1961, the Holy See donated $460,000 to the Program for Refugees, a committee of the United Nations. This amount was the highest contributed by any of the 76 participating nations and territories.
- The wearing of red hats by Cardinals was an official decree of the Council of Lyons held in 1245.
- The smallest of our states, Rhode Island, has the highest Catholic population percentage: 60.7%.
- Only with special permission are clerics allowed to give bail for anyone.
- Christian belief is that after Christ’s Resurrection He appeared first to His Blessed Mother.
- Greek was the official tongue for Christians for the first two or three years after the Apostles.
- Jean Fabre, the Homer of the Insect World, was a Catholic.
- In the early days of the Church, the term synagogue referred to a Christian Church.
- St John is represented in religious art as a lion, the beast of the desert, because he opens his narrative with “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”
Well, there you go. Now run off and bug your parents with your new-found knowledge.
Only two comments from me. First, number nine seems a bit backward. Second, Jean-Henri Fabre appears to have been a 19th century author of books about insects. He is quoted at Wiki as having said:
“Others again have reproached me with my style, which has not the solemnity, nay, better, the dryness of the schools. They fear lest a page that is read without fatigue should not always be the expression of the truth. Were I to take their word for it, we are profound only on condition of being obscure.”
In conclusion, I want the words “the Homer of the Insect World” on my tombstone.