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Women in History: April 20th



1902 – Scientists Marie Curie and her husband Pierre refined radium chloride on this day. One-tenth of a gram of radium chloride was isolated from a ton of pitchblende (definition: a form of the mineral uraninite occurring in black and brown pitchlike masses).

2008 – Danica Patrick, an American professional stock car racing driver won the Indy Japan 300. She is the first woman in history to ever win an Indy car race.

Born on this day in…

1586 – Saint Rose of Lima (d. 1617) was a religious woman and a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic who lived in Lima, Peru. She was born as Isabel Flores de Olivia to her father, Gaspar Flores a Spanish-born harquebusier (belonging to the calvary) in the Imperial Spanish army and María de Oliva y Herrera, a Criolla (meaning she was mostly of Spanish descent but a native of the Americas) who came from Lima. It is said that when Rose grew older, she became a great beauty and men young men wanted to court her but she only had love for the Lord. In protest, she chopped off her hair and spread pepper all over her face. Throughout her life, she refused to eat meat, subjected herself to many penances, fasted three days a week, and spent much of her time engaging in charitable acts. Rose later entered a nunnery at the age of 21, where she spent the rest of her life, sleeping only two hours a night and praying ceaselessly. She died at the age of 31 and it is said that, when she died, roses rained from the heavens. She was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X.

Died on this day in…

1534 – Blessed Elizabeth Barton (b. 1506), known by the epithets of “Nun of Kent”, “the Holy Maid of London”, “the Holy Maid of Kent”, and “the Mad Maid of Kent”, was a religious woman and English Catholic nun who was executed for her prophecies about Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. It is said that Elizabeth began to have visions in 1525 while she was working as a servant and, when it was found that her visions were in accordance with Catholic teaching, she was accepted into the Benedictine St. Sepulchre’s Priory in Canterbury. During her lifetime, she met with great figures such as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and King Henry VIII himself. The tide of her popularity changed when she publicly protested the king setting aside his rightful wife, Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn. Her prediction was that the king would die in a number of months if he annulled his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In that time, predicting or prophesying the death of the king was a traitorous act. The king’s men started to spread lies and terrible rumors against Elizabeth, stating that she had carnal relations with men and that she was crazy. Elizabeth was later condemned by a Bill of Attainder to be hanged and beheaded, dying alongside her supporters: Hugh Rich, Richard Risby, John Dering, Henry Gold, and Edward Bocking (all men of the cloth). She was the only woman in English history to have her head placed on a spike on London Bridge.

Feast Days…

Saint Oda of Brabant (1134 – 1158) was a Belgian prioress who lived in the twelfth century and who is revered as a Roman Catholic Saint. Born into Belgian nobility, in the region of Brabant, she sought to avoid marriage. In order to do so, she disfigured her face when her family attempted to arrange a marriage for her. After she had done this, her family finally permitted her to enter a nunnery at Rivroelles where she became a Premonstratensian nun and worked her way up to prioress. There was a popular devotion to her in the Middle Ages.


Saint Agnes of Montepulciano (1268-1317) was a Dominican prioress and miracle worker who lived in thirteenth and fourteenth century Tuscany. Agnes, who had a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, witnessed several visions, some of which included the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Dominic Guzman. A miracle that is continually attributed to Agnes was the multiplying loaves, when she emulated Jesus Christ and performed that miracle. During her youth, she decided that she wanted to enter religious life and this was something that her parents encouraged. However, due to her young age, she needed to receive papal approval, which she did. Shortly thereafter, she entered an urban-based Franciscan Monastery where its followers were known as “the sisters of the sack.”  She eventually came to Montepulciano and worked her way up to Abbess. She was canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.


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