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The Independent Online
TODAY is the feast day of Saints Bonosus and Maximian, martyrs in the 4th century in Antioch. Emperor Julian the Apostate had decreed that the cross should be struck off his army's standard. His uncle, Count Julian, carried out the decree but Bonosus and Maximian refused to hand over the standard. They were whipped and racked, but did not renounce their Christianity. Julian then had them both beheaded. Early biographers record that Count Julian was then stricken 'with a disease as revolting as it is impossible', and that his Christian wife believed it served him right. He died in agony, finally converting to Christianity.

21 August, 1911: Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (above) was stolen from the Louvre by Vincenzo Perugia, an Italian waiter. The theft, in the middle of the night, embarrassed the Louvre, which believed it would never be stolen since it was too famous to be sold. The whereabouts of the painting remained a mystery for three- and-a-half years, until it was discovered in Florence. Perugia was sentenced to one year and 15 days in prison.

1939: Civil defence started in Britain.

1940: Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico on the orders of Joseph Stalin. Ramon Mercader went to his house pretending to be a supporter, and buried an ice pick in his skull.

1959: Hawaii became the 50th of the United States.

1968: Russian tanks entered Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring.