22 December 2009


Whilst thinking about, and looking into, the date 22 December I happened upon the website This Day In History which carries many interesting facts about events in history. I suppose, as I often say, the clue is in the name! It reminds us that on this day in 1989 the Romanian Government fell. It says:

The Romanian army defects to the cause of anti-communist demonstrators, and the government of Nicolae Ceausescu is overthrown. The end of 42 years of communist rule came three days after Ceausescu’s security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Timisoara. After the army’s defection, Ceausescu and his wife fled from Bucharest in a helicopter, but were captured and convicted of mass murder in a hasty military trial. On 25th December, they were executed by a firing squad. Ceausescu, ruler of Romania since 1965, had resisted the liberalisation of the USSR and other Soviet bloc countries in the late 1980s. By the time of his government’s downfall in 1989, Romania was the most repressive and economically backward country in Europe.

This, in turn, reminded me of a very happy month spent in Romania teaching English as part of my pastoral placement about seven years back. We were teaching English to some really poor children who, to be honest, were there for a holiday and break as much as learning a new language. Their poverty was really bad and the old cliche of materially poor but spiritually wealthy was very apparent in their approach to life. It left a deep and impressive mark on my psyche as to the universality of the Church.

Another interesting memory which this brings to the fore is the horror of Ceausescu's execution on Christmas Day. I recall the shock of the event: a little like Saddam Hussein's some seventeen years later. Surely these events can only lead us to recognise the barbaric and futile efforts of using the death penalty as a 'punishment'. Terrible, just terrible.

It is an interesting resource. Have a look on the website and see if you don't do exactly what I ended up doing. I checked out my own birthday and discovered that Billy the Kid was arrested for the first time on this day in 1875. What interesting event in history coincides with your birthday?


  1. My birthday is the anniversary of the ending of the Iranian hostage crisis that overshadowed the end of Jimmy Carter's presidential term in America (which I was too young to really notice)... Also it was the day, in 1987, that Terry Waite was kidnapped - that one I do remember. And, in 1961, JFK was inaugurated - the youngest ever president of America and first Catholic to hold the office.

  2. Kylie Minogue shares the same birthday as me(not same year, I'm older). Wow! I'm fayyyyyyyymus. Amnesty Int started on that date too.

    And Augustine of Canterbury has his feast day on my birthday.
    That's me covered, celebrity wise, politically and spiritually!

  3. We'll remember you on the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury since our second church is under his patronage!



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