Saint's Stolen Brain Secured

Fragments of the stolen brain of St John Bosco, a Catholic priest and founder of the Salesian religious order in the 1800s, have been found. His brain had been stored in a reliquary at the basilica of Castelnuova, near Turin in Italy. But both were stolen in early June of 2017. Fingerprints left nearby eventually led police to discover the brain's location, in August of 2017. The culprit had hoped to sell the reliquary, which he thought was made of gold. According to Italian police the brain, and the reliquary, had been hidden inside a copper kettle at the man's home, until they could be sold. The brain is now safely back at the basilica.

Dirty People, Not Rats and Fleas, May Have Been Why The Black Death Spread

A new study suggests that we should stop blaming rats for spreading the Black Plague. Instead, the findings suggest, we should look at ourselves. Dirty humans, not dirty rats, were the likely culprits in spreading the bubonic plague. Specifically, “ectoparasites,” such as body lice and fleas carried by people, are more likely to be the guilty party.

Using mortality data from nine plague outbreaks in Europe between the 1300s and 1800s, the teams in Norway and Italy tracked how pandemics developed. In seven of the cases there was a closer resemblance to the human model for outbreak spread compared with the alternatives. Which means that if humans were just a little cleaner, the plague would not have spread so easily, or killed so many.

The Cheesiest Bank In The World

In Italy there’s a special tier of Parmesan cheese called Parmigianino Reggiano that is considered to be so valuable that it has its own (privately-owned) bank. The bank, in one form or another, has been around since the Medici Era. Here's how things work: it can take more than 3 years for the cheese to cure. And during that time, cheesemakers still need to be paid, cheesemaking buildings still need their heating bills paid, et cetera. So while the cheese is curing, this special bank will hold it in a special, air-conditioned vault and the cheese’s owner can take out a loan against it. The loan can keep the cheese making going while the  Parmigianino Reggiano gets perfectly aged and ready for the big time. When the loan is paid off, the owner gets the cheese back and can sell it for a premium.

The cheese contained in the Parmesan vault is valued in excess of $100 million. Although there is top-notch security, the bank has been robbed three times in the past, because c’mon, their vault is both valuable and delicious!

Michael Farraday (1791 - 1867), an important scientist who made major contributions to electromagnetism and electrochemisty -- including electrolysis and electromagnetic fields -- also invented the balloon. Yes, the thing often found on the ceiling after parties.

This Romantic Writer Was Truly A Romantic

Mary Shelley -- writer of Frankenstein, wife of poet Percy Shelley, and daughter of women's rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft -- was also an lgbtqia+ supporter. Though she would never have used that term. In 1827, Shelley helped obtain false documents for her friends Isabel Robinson and Mary Diana Dods; the two were in love, and wanted to move to France as husband and wife. With Shelley's help they were successful, and Mary eventually visited them, at their new home in France.

The First Lady Who Wished To A Be Queen

Julia Gardiner Tyler, the twenty-four-year-old bride of John Tyler, the President of the United States, was notable for more than her age. Although she was the youngest First Lady up till then. Julia Tyler enjoyed flaunting her new status as the premier woman of the nation, riding around Washington in a four-horse carriage, refurbishing the White House with her family's money, and dressing the White House staff in garish new livery. And in a move that reminded too many of royalty, she had twelve ladies-in-waiting, who accompanied Julia everywhere she went. They were nicknamed the "Vestal Virgins" by a hostile press.


"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."

William Blake (1757 - 1827), an English poet, painter, and printmaker

An Unusual Record

James H. Snook is the only Olympic gold medalist who has been executed for murder. Who is known, of course. He was on the United States Pistol Team, which took gold at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. After the games, Snook seemed to be doing well. He became the head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University. He also invented the snook hook, a surgical instrument which is still used in spaying animals. Then it all came crashing down. He had a three-year affair with a medical student, Theora Hix, then he killed her. At his trial, Snook said he had killed Hix because she was threatening to kill Snook's wife and family, and that he feared she would shoot him. The jury convicted him after twenty-eight minutes deliberation. In 1930, the former Olympian was executed by electric chair.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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