This is the eve of All Saints’ known affectionately in our era as ‘Halloween’, even if many may not knows the derivative of this now-mostly-pagan holiday, with ghouls and ghosts and bloodied zombies. The solemnity of All Saints goes back to its official institution by Pope Gregory III (731 – 741), during what we know ironically as the ‘dark ages’, for during which many things of light occurred, such as this glorious feast, in an oratory in Saint Peter’s (not the glorious structure we now stands on that spot, constructed during the renaissance). Since then we have celebrated with great joy all the saints, known and especially those unknown, our own ancestors, grandparents, parents, relatives and friends, now enjoying heavenly bliss.

This is also, less felicitously, the 503rd anniversary of the restless Augustinian monk Martin Luther posting of his ’95 theses’ to the church door in Wittenburg. Its contents, about the nature of indulgences and such, would read rather picayune to our ears accustomed to far more vivid scandals. But that sheaf of paper set off the still-continuing conflagration and fragmentation known as the Protestant reformation. Small events may mean a lot more than their size may at first indicate. The butterfly effect and all that.

On that note, this October day is also the anniversary of the accession of Romulus Augustulus in 475, the last official Emperor of Rome, named after one of the two brothers who founded Rome in their legends. His real name was Augustus (a title first adopted by Caesar’s nephew, under whom Christ was born), but the lad was so pathetic and powerless that the moniker Augustulus, ‘little Augustus’, stuck. His deposition the next year in 476 by the barbarian general Odoacer on September 4th, is seen by some as the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire, even if others see this as more of an alteration, shall we say, from rule by descendants of nobility to rule by a more barbaric code – hence, the ‘dark ages’.

Praise the Lord

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