October 28th, 2012 Headsman
This is the feast date (in Christianity’s western tradition) of Saint Jude.
Possibly one of the bit players among Jesus’s original 12 apostles — “Jude”/”Judah”/”Judas” was a common name among first-century Israelites, so there’s some confusion about the identities among various texts talking about various (?) Judes — St. Jude is aptly-for-this-blog considered the patron saint of “lost causes” or “situations despaired of”.
He’s traditionally supposed to have knocked around the eastern Mediterranean after the Nazarene‘s crucifixion, introducing Christianity (along with St. Bartholomew) to Armenia, which eventually became the first officially Christian kingdom. (Jude is also a patron saint of Armenia; his other patronage gigs include the Philippines, the Chicago Police Department, a a Brazilian football club, and countless hospitals.)
Despite making so many sad songs better, Jude was eventually martyred, possibly in Armenia, allegedly by halberd; as a consequence, that sinuous poleaxe is Jude’s iconographic symbol on the relatively rare occasions when he’s artistically depicted. It’s also something you can buy in pendant form: come on … embrace The Halberd. But again, there are different versions as to who martyred Jude and where, and considerable confusion over how many Judes those versions might be conflating.
At any rate, for those up against the executioner and despairing of any but the most improbable deliverance, St. Jude is your man.
There’s even St. Jude software which prevents execution … of rootkit exploits.
I, Francis Steinernherz, will be the first noble of my profession, where I shall have despatched one more knight of the Empire.”
“Thou hast been ever in my service, hast thou not?” demanded De Hagenbach.
“Under what other master,” replied the executioner, “could I have enjoyed such constant practice? I have executed your decrees on condemned sinners since I could swing a scourge, lift a crow-bar, or wield this trusty weapon; and who can say I even failed of my first blow, or needed to deal a second? The term of the Hospital, and his famous assistants, Petit Andre, and Trois Eschelles, are novices compared with me in the use of the noble and knightly sword. Marry, I should be ashamed to match myself with them in the field practice with bowstring and dagger, these are no feats worthy of a Christian man who would rise to honor and nobility.”
“Thou art a fellow of excellent address, and I do not deny it,” replied De Hagenbach. “But it cannot be — I trust it can — not be — that when noble blood is becoming scarce in the land, and proud churls are lording it over knights and barons, I myself should have caused so much to be spilled?”
“I will number the patients to your excellency by name and title,” said Francis, drawing out a scroll of parchment, and reading with a commentary as he went on, — ” There was Count William of Elvershoe — he was my assay-piece, a sweet youth, and died most like a Christian.”
“I remember — he was indeed a most smart youth, and courted my mistress,” said Sir Archibald.
“He died on St. Jude’s, in the year of grace 1455,” said the executioner.
-Sir Walter Scott, Anne of Geierstein
Also on this date
- 1628: John Felton, assassin of the Duke of Buckingham
- 1941: Twenty Red Army officers
- 2008: Michitoshi Kuma, "It can't be undone now"
- 1839: Sebastien-Benoit Peytel, notwithstanding Balzac