Just some fun things to write about

Did you know….?

Christopher Columbus did not speak Italian.  He spoke a dialect of his native Genoa.  Even when writing, he did not write in Italian but in Spanish.

Likewise, as Columbus would not have regarded himself as Italian, Napoleon–when growing up–did not regard himself as French.  Napoleon grew up on the island of Corsica, which once belonged to Italy.  He was descended from Italians.  The island was conquered by the French.  Napoleon spoke French with a foreign accent!

So–Columbus was not Italian, Napoleon was not French–AND–perhaps most interesting of all–Patrick was not Irish. Patrick grew up in the southwest of England. As a youth, he was captured by pirates from Ireland, taken to the island and pressed into work as a shepherd.  He eventually escaped, made his way to France, became a priest, returned to his native England, and then went to Ireland as a missionary.


Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie and George Armstrong Custer–married Presbyterians.  They themselves were not of the denomination but they married women who were.


Bachelors’ Three

Some of the world’s most interesting bachelors:  Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo–and J. Edgar Hoover.


Did you ever wonder….?

About the cardinal.  Which came first?  Was the bird named for the religious official?  Or was the religious official named for the bird?

Neither.  The word “cardinal” is from the Latin word “cardo”, which means “hinge” (like the hinge of a door).  The word came to mean something “important,” as a door could not function without hinges.  For example, “Cardinal Virtues.”

Thus, the religious figures who were important advisors to the Pope were called “cardinals.”

Red was the color of garment that an important cleric would wear–thus the cardinals wear red.  And it’s from this red of their garb that the bird is named.


Speaking of cardinals, how about the St. Louis Cardinals?  Which “Louis”–of the many kings of France named Louis–was the one who was declared a saint, for whom the city and the baseball team are named?

There were 18 kings of France named Louis.  An easy way to remember which one was SAINT Louis is that a baseball team has nine players in the field, and the Cardinals are named after the Louis who was the ninth king so named (Louis IX).


The word “gossip” originally meant something good.  It’s from Old English.  They combined the words “God” and “sibb” (meaning “kinsman.”  “Sib” is also the root of “sibling.”)  The “kinsman” by way of God would have been one’s godparents.  Their interest in the life of the godchild led to talk which became corrupted into today’s meaning of “gossip.”


When you see a church named Westminster or Northminster or Eastminster or Southminster–what does “minster” mean?  It’s from the Latin word for “monastery.”  The Latin became corrupted into Old English as “mynster.”  A church would be connected to a monastery.  Today the church itself is called “minster.”  Interestingly, this word which was originally connected with Roman Catholicism is today used primarily for Protestant churches.



One thought on “Just some fun things to write about

  1. Cindi

    Funny you write about Columbus. Recently, Eric had to choose an explorer and create a prooject. He chose Ferdinand Magellan. What I did not know that Magellan never completed the circumnavigation, as he was killed in the Philippines by the natives, and only some of his crew completed the journey.



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