Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Give us back our eleven days! or ten days!

Thanks to the Gregorian calendar today, October 15th, as the feast of Satin Teresa of Avila(about whom I cannot say enough), rather than October 4, which is in fact the day she died, in 1582.

Pope Gregory XIII issued a Papal bull in 1582 decreeing the adoption of the new calendar in order to correct the drift in the Julian calendar which was causing the vernal equinox to move too far ahead. (And hence screw up the date of Easter. Another story. Yes, battles were fought over the date of Easter – can you imagine anyone fighting over such a minor religious issue?)
Initially, only 4 catholic countries (Spain among them) adopted the Gregory’s calendar. Thursday October 4th 1582 of the Julian calendar magically led to Friday October 15, 1582 of the Gregorian calendar. The rest of Europe followed suit gradually, though naturally many suspected it was a Papist plot.
So depending upon which country you lived in, you lost eleven days in 1582 or sometime thereafter. There is a 1755 painting by Hogarth which features a Tory campaign banner that reads: Give us back our eleven days! Although, by my advanced calculations that should be Ten days.

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