Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24: Amelia Earhart Day and lots of other stuff

A lot of the Usual Suspects proclaim today Amelia Earhart Day. Earhart was born on this day in 1897. She disappeared, of course, while attempting a round-the-world flight with Fred Noonan. Exactly where their Lockheed Electra 10E went down is not known; a lot of current speculation focuses on Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro) in the Phoenix group, roughly 350 miles southeast of Howland Island, where the plane was supposed to stop.

(Updating: In its July 24 editions, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery -- TIGHAR -- has concluded its most recent expedition to Nikumaroro without finding the conclusive proof that it sought. The Sun-Times quotes TIGHAR president Pat Thrasher as saying, "This is just sort of the way things are in this world. It's not like an Indiana Jones flick where you go through a door and there it is." TIGHAR's website is more optimistic. Although the current expedition's time on-site was cut from a planned 10 to a mere five days because of "equipment problems directly attributable to the severity of the underwater environment at Nikumaroro," the expedition did recover "volumes of sonar data and many hours of high-definition video [that must be reviewed] before we’ll know the results of this expedition definitively." In other words they didn't see anything for sure, but they sure may have seen something. Time will tell.)

Amelia Earhart was a pioneer of women's aviation, but today's celebration of Pioneer Day in Utah has nothing to do with her. In Utah, Pioneer Day honors the arrival of Brigham Young and the first group Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake Valley on this day in 1847.

You could celebrate Pioneer Day with a shot of tequila, I suppose, but observant Mormons won't. Nevertheless, today is also National Tequila Day.

On this day in 1985, Fr. Ezechiele Ramin was gunned down for standing up for farmers and the Suruí natives of the Rondônia area, against the local landowners. The Wikipedia article on Fr. Ramin notes that Pope John Paul II proclaimed the Italian missionary a "martyr of charity" only days after his murder. Fr. Ramin's order, the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, is promoting his cause for canonization.

Never officially canonized by the Catholic Church, but revered as a saint down the centuries, today is also the unofficial feast day of Christina the Astonishing. The Wikipedia article on Christina, sometimes referred to as Christina Mirabilis (1150-1224), relates how
she would throw herself into burning furnaces and there suffered great tortures for extended times, uttering frightful cries, yet coming forth with no sign of burns upon her. In winter she would plunge into the frozen Meuse River for hours and even days and weeks at a time, all the while praying to God and imploring God's mercy. She sometimes allowed herself to be carried by the currents downriver to a mill where the wheel "whirled her round in a manner frightful to behold," yet she never suffered any dislocations or broken bones. She was chased by dogs which bit and tore her flesh. She would run from them into thickets of thorns, and, though covered in blood, she would return with no wound or scar.
She actively sought out opportunities to suffer because of a vision she'd had after suffering a seizure in her early 20's. It was thought she had died, and that is indeed what she said had happened -- after she revived during her funeral Mass.

She described how, after she'd 'died' angels took her to a very gloomy place, filled with souls:
"I saw among them many of my acquaintances," [she said] and, touched deeply by their sad condition, asked if this was Hell, but was told that it was Purgatory. Her angel guides brought her to Hell where again she recognized those she had formerly known. Next she was transported to Heaven, "even to the Throne of Divine Majesty" where she was "regarded with a favorable eye" and she experienced extreme joy and these words were spoken to her, "Assuredly, My dear daughter, you will one day be with Me. Now, however, I allow you to choose, either to remain with Me henceforth from this time, or to return again to Earth to accomplish a mission of charity and suffering. In order to deliver from the flames of Purgatory those souls which have inspired you with so much compassion, you shall suffer for them upon Earth: you shall endure great torments, without however dying from their effects. And not only will you relieve the departed, but the example which you will give to the living, and your continual suffering, will lead sinners to be converted and to expiate their crimes. After having ended this new life, you shall return here laden with merits.
Despite her subjecting herself to all these various torments (sort of a medieval version of "Jackass"), the prioress at the abbey where Catherine resided said that Catherine was always completely obedient to the orders of the prioress.

Catherine the Astonishing is considered a patron saint of the mentally ill.


QPT said...

Google honoring Amelia Earhart an American aviation pioneer on her 115th Birthday with special doodle.

Motivational Quotes said...

Great article, very inspirational! nice post about Amelia Earhart. Thanks....

The Curmudgeon said...

A very cool doodle, indeed, QPT.

It's particularly sad that, on this Amelia Earhart day we mourn the passing of another pioneer of women's aviation, America's first female astronaut, Dr. Sally Ride.