TODAY is the feast day of Saint Barnabus, first century apostle, born in Cyprus. Though not one of the original 12, he was an early convert to the teachings of Jesus and enlisted Saul of Tarsus (newly converted on the road to Damascus) to the task of creating "Christians". With Paul (as Saul became), Barnabus embarked on a crusade of conversion. Their mission covered both Jew and Gentile and they faced hostility from all. The two ultimately fell out and separated, Barnabus making his way to Cyprus. History follows Paul's story rather than that of Barnabus who is said to have been stoned to death for his beliefs. He remains the patron of Cyprus. His feast day, under the old calendar, was the longest day of the year, and therefore represents sunshine and plenty.
11 June 1903: King Alexander and Queen Draga (above) of Serbia were murdered at dead of night in their Belgrade palace and their bodies thrown through the window into the gardens below. Through the 19th century Peter's Obrenovic forebears steered their country on a difficult course through Balkan politics and were rewarded with hostility - one was expelled, one murdered, one forced to abdicate. Alexander was well-meaning, but his pro-Austrian stance was unpopular. Even more so was his choice of queen. It was a love match, but Draga was of lowly birth, barren and seen as a bad influence. They were murdered by a clique of army officers, most of whom were said to have spent the previous evening getting drunk. The queen's brothers and 44 others were killed for good measure. Alexander was succeeded by Peter Karageorgevic, who followed a pro-Russian policy more in tune with Serbian popular sentiment.