In The Year 1294

The First Essential Scary Truth

Pope Benedict XVI resigned from his role as the leader of the Catholic Church effective February 28, 2013. I awoke to several news alerts on my iPad and iPhone and to a blogosphere in full speculation mode.  Why did Benedict resign?  Does he really have a Nazi past?  Was the Church molestation scandal too much to outlast? Perhaps ill health is the answer and frankly, why should anyone care in these enlightened, atheistic days anyway?

To understand why this particular bit of news is so huge lays in the act of Papal resignation itself; the last time the Pontiff resigned his post was in 1294 when Pope Celestine V abdicated to Pope Boniface VIII.  The where’s and why fore’s of Celestine’s resignation aren’t clear.  The commonly accepted story is he wanted to return to a life as an aesthetic religious hermit.  This rationale is undermined by Boniface VIII’s summary arrest and imprisonment of his predecessor.  (Celestine died 10 months later while in Papal Custody.)

Pope Benedict XVI’s once in a millennium act had me thinking about the year 1294 and what other ground breaking events happened that year.  According to the Wikipedia, these were the major events of the year of somebody’s lord 1294:

Pretty tame stuff for the Dark Ages, if you ask me.  So after a bit more digging, I was able to find one more piece of history the Wikipedia missed out on: 1294 was also the year the Jews were expelled from Berne, Switzerland.

Quick note to the Jimmy Wales and the other folks at the Wikipedia: when listing the history of 2nd Millennium Europe by year, if you have any doubt, make sure you throw in one genocidal act against/expulsion of the Jews.  You may not have the exact right location but you can pretty much guarantee it happened just a few miles down the road.




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