24 February

Today in 1209, Francis of Assisi (pictured) heard the words of Jesus read out in a church service: ‘As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff…’ (Matthew 10). He took them as a call to serve the poor and to become poor himself.

Today in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued his bull Inter Gravissimas (‘Among our more serious duties’), resetting Europe’s clocks to the Julian Calendar. That calendar (named after Julius Caesar) had drifted backwards by 10 days since it was first calculated in 46 BCE, and the new Gregorian Calendar (named after the Pope), was intended as a more accurate way of reckoning time.

Today in 1616 the Catholic Church confirmed that the earth is the centre of the universe. A commission of theologians appointed by the Inquisition, which was investigating Galileo, dismissed any notion of the earth revolving around the sun as ‘foolishly absurd, and formally heretical, inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the teachings of many passages of Holy Scripture.’

John Milton married for a third time today in 1663, when he was 54. His bride was 24 year-old Betty Minshull.

Image: Wikimedia

Time-travel news is written by Steve Tomkins and Simon Jenkins

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