TODAY is the feast day of Saint Severinus of Noricum who preached the gospel in Austria in the 5th century. He predicted that the vice-ridden inhabitants would be punished and shortly after the area was overrun by Huns. Impressed by this prescience the people of Faviana called on him to help them during a famine. His prayers melted the ice on the Danube, and despatched a plague of locusts. He frequently cured the sick and mitigated or averted public calamities. However, his prayers for his dear friend, Bonosus, who suffered from sore eyes, remained unanswered. His lifestyle was austere: he went barefoot, even on ice, and entertained kings and princes in a cell so low that none could stand upright.
8 January, 1642: Galileo Galilei (above) died, aged 77, on his estate at Arcetri near Florence, after eight years under house arrest there. A mathematician and experimental physicist, his great contribution to science was to gather the proof of the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun. This he did by the pioneering use of telescopes. The Catholic Church thought his views more dangerous "than Luther and Calvin put together", and he was tried as a heretic, convicted on evidence now thought to have been fabricated. Galileo's studies of motion paved the way for much of Newton's work, but the story that he experimented by dropping weights off the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a myth.Reuse content