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TODAY is the feast day of Christina of Markyate (near Luton) who came from Huntingdon, and vowed to remain a virgin. In 1114, one bishop tried to seduce her while another was bribed to ensure her marriage to the man chosen by her parents. Despite being married, and imprisoned for a year, she maintained her vow. Her escape was aided by Eadwen, a hermit, and she found refuge with an elderly recluse called Roger at Markyate, where she attracted many disciples.

5 December, 1594: Gerardus Mercator (Gerhard Kremer), above, Flemish geographer and cartographer, died in Duisburg. His 'Mercator projection' of the earth's surface, which represented the earth as a cylinder with equally spaced meridians and parallel latitudes spaced farther apart as distance from the equator increases, was of great significance to mariners. Astonishingly, this ingenious, but totally distorted, representation has remained the basis of map- making, and our perception of the world, ever since.

1697: First Sunday service in new St Paul's Cathedral.

1791: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died of typhus.

1872: Mary Celeste found abandoned in the Atlantic on its way to Genoa with a cargo of alcohol.

1933: Repeal of alcohol prohibition in America.

1958: First motorway in Britain opened; first STD phonecall made.