TODAY is the feast day of Saint Abdon, 4th-century Persian barrel maker. Brought to Rome as a prisoner, he refused to acknowledge the Roman gods, spitting on their images and behaving rebelliously. He was thrown to the lions, who refused to eat him, whereupon he was attacked by gladiators who approached the task with more relish. Roman Christians smuggled out his remains and he was buried on the outskirts of Rome. Abdon is the patron saint of coopers.
30 July, 1863: Henry Ford (above), car manufacturer, billionaire, philanthropist, pacifist of sorts, amateur philosopher - "history is more or less bunk" - was born in Wayne County, Michigan, the son of Irish immigrants to the US. Ford left school at 15 but rose to be chief engineer of the Edison Company. In 1903 he launched the Ford Motor Company, pioneering mass production which enabled him to sell more than 15 million of his famous Model T ("any colour as long as it's black") in 19 years. But he was not a man of consistency: he paid his workers above average, but fiercely resisted unionisation; his company produced war materials in both world wars, even though in 1915 he chartered a "Peace Ship" and sailed for Europe to try to end the war. He died in 1947, two years after his grandson, Henry Ford II, had wrested control of the company from him.