33 CE — Jesus dies upon the Cross

It is the central event of Christianity: Jesus Christ surrendered to the Romans, was briefly tried by Pontius Pilate, and sent to be crucified. Once up on the cross, he died in an unusually short time (crucifixion is a slow and painful death). In his last words, he called on his heavenly father, saying “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” (in English “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (At least, he did according to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew – John and Luke each tell different stories.)

When the Romans came by to break the legs of the crucified (a measure that hastens death), they discovered that Jesus was already dead. He was taken down and buried, rising from the dead on the third day (somewhat undermining the “last words” thing, but he’s the Son of God. Different rules apply.)

Today, these events are commemorated by the eating of chocolate (not introduced to Europe, Asia and Africa until 14 centuries later) delivered by a rabbit (because… I have no idea why).

Referenced in:

Ah Yeah — Krs-One
Imperial Rome — Aska
For Love — Andy Prieboy
Done Too Soon — Neil Diamond
Tomorrow, Wendy — Andy Prieboy
The Post-War Dream — Pink Floyd
Tomorrow, Wendy — Concrete Blonde
The Mercy Seat — Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Jesus Walking On The Water — Violent Femmes

32 CE — The Sermon on the Mount

By any reasonable standard, the Sermon on the Mount is a confused mess. The best-known section of it, the Beautitudes, are a series of platitudes in which, as Monty Python pointed out, Jesus states that blessed is everyone with a vested interest in the status quo. It doesn’t help that the two Gospels that mention them – Luke and Matthew – disagree on how many of them there are, and what they say, either. The Sermon goes on to include several parables.

Nonetheless, the Sermon on the Mount is one of the best-known events in the entire ministry of Jesus, and the Beatitudes in particular have been a foundation of Christian ethics for centuries. Notably, Matthew states that it was in this Sermon that Jesus gave forth that most frequently ignored of all his teachings: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Referenced in:

Are You The One That I’ve Been Waiting For? – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

1935 – Elvis Presley born in Tupelo, Mississipi

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley, was born to Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love Presley in a two room house built by Vernon. He was preceded into the world by his stillborn brother, Jesse Garon Presley, some 35 minutes earlier.

Presley is one of the best known and most popular rock stars of all time, achieving a level of fame and success in his 42 years that remains the yardstick by which all celebrities must still be measured, and if you don’t already know who he was… well, you were probably born after 1977.

Also, although Guinness doesn’t keep records on it, he is also probably the most-frequently impersonated human being of all time.

Referenced in:
Porcelain Monkey — Warren Zevon
Tupelo — Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

1895 – “Stagger” Lee Shelton kills William Lyons

Lee Shelton (sometimes spelled Sheldon) killed William Lyons in a bar run by one Bill Curtis in St Louis, on Christmas Eve, 1895.

Shelton was a cab driver who moonlighted as a pimp – he was in fact a member of a group of fashion-conscious pimps called the Macks. Perhaps this explains his murder of Lyons, who, in the course of a lengthy argument with Shelton, grabbed the other man’s hat and refused to return it even when Shelton drew on him. So Shelton shot him.

He was convicted of the murder, and spent the rest of his life in prison, where he died of tuberculosis in 1912. He almost certainly heard at least one version of the multitude of variants that exist of the song about his crime.

Referenced in:

Stagger Lee – Lloyd Price
Stagolee – Mississippi John Hurt
Stagger Lee – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The above selection includes just a few of my favoourite versions – there are literally hundreds out there.

1224 — Saint Christina the Astonishing dies

Christina Mirabilis was a Catholic saint and visionary. Born into a poor peasant family, she was orphaned by age 15. A few years later (sources disagree as to whether she was 21 or 22), she started to experience visions, which were accompanied by violent seizures.

Legend has it that after one such vision, she was believed dead, and astonished the town of St. Trond (where she lived) by suddenly standing up during her funeral, and beginning to recount her visions. She had seen Heaven, Hell and Purgatory and met God, who charged her with a mission to help free the souls atoning in Purgatory.

She lived in extreme privation for her entire life, strictly adhering to her vow of poverty to such an extent that she would seek out sufferings if she adjudged her current lot insufficient.

Despite all this, she lived to the age of 74. July 24, traditionally the day of her death, is now considered her feast day by the Catholic Church.

Referenced in:

Christina the Astonishing – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds