TODAY is the feast day of Saint Paphnutius, an Egyptian bishop who successfully opposed clerical celibacy in the Eastern churches. He survived religious persecution under the Emperor Maximinus, but lost his right eye, was hamstrung in one leg and was sent to work in the mines. At the first general council of the church, held at Nicea AD325, he spoke passionately against a plan to insist married clerics separate from their wives. It was enough to ban marriage after ordination. He carried the council with him and to this day in the Eastern churches, Catholic or dissident, married men may receive all holy orders below Episcopate and continue to live with their wives.
11 September 1297: The English were defeated by the Scots under William Wallace at Stirling Bridge.
1700: James Thomson, the poet and playwright best remembered as the author of 'Rule, Britannia' (above), was born. His grand cycle, The Seasons, which appeared in 1726-30, is credited with bringing a new naturalism to English verse. Among those who later drew inspiration from it was the artist J M W Turner. Thomson was born in Roxburgh and educated at Edinburgh University, but quickly went south to London, where his verse and plays soon made him fashionable. 'Rule, Britannia' featured in a 1740 play, The Masque of Alfred, with music by Thomas Arne. Notoriously idle, in later life Thomson received a royal pension and was given a sinecure. He died in 1748 and is buried in Richmond, London.
1973: The government of Chile was overthrown in a CIA- backed military coup.
BIRTHDAYS: Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England, 56; Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 65.Reuse content