After 1800 years, Two Christian Martyrs’ remains from ancient Rome come to Louisville

St. Magnus and St. Bonosa lay in separate side altars at a Catholic Church in Louisville

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St. Magnus and Bonosa. Image source: Wikimedia Commons .
  • Two Saints’ remains are placed at side altars of a Catholic Church
  • The Catholic Church was once the scene of a vicious mob attack
  • Restoration of the Church was done in 2012

In a city where its residence are more concerned with basketball, and horse racing you can find the holy skeletons of two saints. In one church you can find the ancient remains of St. Magnus and St. Bonosa.

St. Martin of Tours is a Catholic parish; one of the oldest parishes that belongs to the oldest inland archdiocese in the United States. Dating back to 1853, the church sprang up in the town of Phoenix Hall. Phoenix Hall was predominantly an immigrant neighborhood, and now it is mostly African American, said the atlasobscura report.

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In its beginnings that church served as a place of worship for mainly German immigrants. The cathedral was usually over packed, so they began attending mass at St. Martin of Tours. Unfortunately, the Catholics were not left alone to worship in peace.

In 1855, on Election Day, armed mobs attacked the church. The attackers were anti-immigrant, “Know-Nothings.” These folks were recognized as a political group who believed in conspiracy theories that Catholics were going to take over the United States. The “Know-Nothings” believed that there were weapons being stored inside of the church, so they decided to burn it down. Roughly 20 lives were lost during the riots. Outside of the church it is believed that whole Catholic families were burnt to death inside of their homes.

St. Martin of Tours Church. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
St. Martin of Tours Church. Wikimedia Commons.

 According to the atlasobscura report, the riot became known as “Bloody Monday.” It caused thousands of Catholics to pack up and leave the city; potentially the reason Louisville’s efforts to become a well known city were thwarted.

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On New Year’s Eve in 1901 two packages showed up at Louisville’s U.S. Customs Office. Although fifty years later the two packages had people wondering about the persecution of Catholics. Sent from Italy, inside the boxes were the remains of Saint Magnus and Bonosa. These two Roman martyrs were killed when Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire.

Bonosa was a Roman virgin who was executed for her Catholic beliefs. It is uncertain whether she was executed during the 3rd century C.E. under Septimius Severus, or in the 4th century under Diocletian. Magnus, on the other hand, was a Roman centurion. Apparently, Magnus was so moved by Bonosa’s faith that he converted to Christianity, leading him to his own death. In another rendition of the story, Magnus jumped into the ring to save Bonosa and was killed on the spot. Even the Catholic Church struggles to identify Bonosa and Magnus, and the different stories do not help the matter, said the atlasobscura report.

How they ended up in Louisville is a more concrete story. In the 1800s Italy was going through turbulent times. Much of Italy was run by the papacy, and this caused an anti-clerical movement to spread across the country. This caused many monasteries to shut down, and people began fearing the remains of saints and other holy people as superstitious. The result was many of the remains being shipped to America.

In 1901, the bones were placed in side altars. Locals stitched regal garments for the remains, and crowns were placed on the skulls to represent the salvation of the two martyrs. The church underwent restoration in 2012, and so the remains were also spruced up. The old garments were now considered holy objects. As a form of respect, the rotting articles were burnt. A mass was said in Latin, and the bones were placed in new side altars on September 9, 2012.

-prepared by Abigail Andrea, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @abby_kono

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Author Maria Wirth Shares Her Opinions on The Idea of Hinduism

Author Maria Wirth speaks on Religion, Indian Culture, etc

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Maria Wirth
A picture of Author Maria Wirth. Facebook

By Muskan Bhantagar

Author Maria Wirth belongs to Germany and has been living in India from past 38 years.  She is the author of the book ‘Thank You India: A German Woman’s Journey to the Wisdom of Yoga’. Newsgram gets in a conversation with her over a telephonic interview. Here’s an excerpt:

Muskan Bhantagar: 38 years back when you came to visit india, what was the thing about indian culture or precisely hinduism that made you fall in love with it and stay back in India?

Maria Wirth: Actually, it was not too much India that attracted me. When I was in Germany still i had many questions like i was very much intrested in what is life and what is the meaning of life and I was reading on Buddhism at a time and I was not connecting Buddhism to India strangely, and i knew very little about India. So a friend convinced me to stop over in India and only when i bought a book by Swami Vivekananda, i discovered what great treasure is in India. I had no idea, anything about what Hinduism is about. it’s just what you hear usually in the west, is about caste systems,etc. So I didn’t associate India with anything positive actually and then by chance, I discovered there’s such a great treasure here and it is such a pity that we don’t know about it.

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Maria recalls how initially she could not relate India with anything positive. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: As we read in your articles that Islam and christianity have been promoting and propogating their religion for years now, but the hindus don’t do so. What do you think can be the reason behind this? 

Maria Wirth: Well I think, I was just writing an article I mean when you think how much Hindus have suffered over the last thousand years. So many were beheaded and tortured under the Muslims and then again under the British also. British were also very very brutual, especially after 1857 and etc. And hindus had no way to stand up for their religion. And I think this has gone very deep into the system of Hindus.

And then ofcourse after Independence, this secular education and even Hinduism is now put down even more than earlier. Earlier, education was not so under the Muslims, they had to lie low but they could still have gurukuls and their schools but not now.

So I think one reason is that you have been intimidated so much and also expect so much and like Arun Shourie, in his book he writes that 6th standard students learn in school, etc in Bengal that Islam and Christianity are the only religions which treat the human beings with dignity and equality. I mean such sentences. When you’re a child, it goes into you and then you just look down on it. And I think slowly slowly, even parents of these children say they have been brought up already like this.

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Maria says that Hindus were previously tortured under the Islamic Community. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: A large number of Indians are unaware about their own culture and heritage. What do you think can be a solution to this problem?

Maria Wirth: I mean it should get also in the schools. I was so shocked when I came to know that nothing is taught in Indian schools. Neither Mahabharata, Ramayana, Upanishad. Upanishad is philosophy, there is nothing to do with religion. It was very insidious that the British kind of bend or this stuff from being taught, because it doesn’t help them because it would make people strong. They wanted to destroy Indian sanskriti, Indian culture because it has lot of strength. Now like the young generation in India, they were brain-washed into believing that Hinduism is not worth anything. It’s so wrong, so wrong.

Author Maria Wirth spoke to us over various topics. We’re thankful to her for taking out time to talk to us and share her wise opinions. We hope to get more of her soon and help viewers know her better.

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Handwara Attack: The Tale of Bravery and Sacrifice

Remembering our heroes of Handwara Attack

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Indian glad

By Muskan Bhatnagar

How many of us remember the names of the army officers who lost their lives while serving the nation? How many of us remember the sacrifices made by our defense forces and their families to protect us? How many of us remember the horror tales of the terrorist attacks on national borders? Hardly a few of us. We tend to forget the sacrifices, the immense bravery, and the spirit of the officers who lay down their lives fighting for the country.

It’s not been long since we faced a terrorist attack. In the late hours of May 2, an Indian army colonel, a major, two soldiers, and a Jammu and Kashmir police sub-inspector carried out one of the deadliest operations in Handwara. A 12-hour long operation to avoid a hostage situation cost us the lives of the brave hearts of India. Two terrorists were also neutralized in the encounter as per a statement released by the Indian Army.

Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood, Jammu, and Kashmir police Sub-Inspector Sageer Ahmed Kazi, Lance NK Dinesh, and NK Rajesh lost their lives in a gunbattle with terrorists in North Kashmir. Just a few days have passed by and it seems like everyone has forgotten their sacrifice.

Why is it so, that we tend to normalize martyrdom of soldiers? It requires immense bravery and courage to serve the country without fearing death. Then why do we forget their sacrifice in a few seconds?
No, their job is not to die, but to fight for the nation and protect us. And when they lose their lives while protecting us, it is a great loss. The loss is as big as a celebrity death. When a legendary actor dies, the whole nation mourns. On the other hand, when a soldier is martyred, it is just a matter of a few minutes, and very quickly, we move on.

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Our Army deserves a lot more respect and appreciation than we give. Wikimedia Commons

Are real-life heroes not as important as reel life heroes? And if not, then why? The soldiers, standing on the borders, protecting us all including the reel life heroes are as important as any other celebrity. They are the pride of this nation. They undergo harsh living conditions and circumstances just to make sure that none of us suffers or dies. Like us, they too have families whom they have to leave back at home to protect us.

Many families lose their sons, fathers, and brothers. These families wait endlessly to meet their loved ones who serve the nation, they spend countless nights worrying, and then one sudden day they have to face their worst fear of losing that member of the family. Women are widowed, children and parents are devastated, but they all are proud. And so are we.

Terrorist attacks on the borders are not given any importance as compared to the terrorist attacks in cities. My question is why? Yes, in cities civilians are involved and a huge number of people die but the same happens when terrorist attacks take place on the borders of the nation. The soldiers are martyred. Then why do we overlook the news of terrorist attacks on the army?

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This shows how we have normalized martyrdom of soldiers in our lives. Their sacrifice is overlooked as we tend to think that it’s a part of their job, but it isn’t. They don’t stand on the borders to die. They stand there to fight till the end, to bravely face the enemy and to protect the nation and its citizens. It is their love and passion for the country and their bravery that makes them what they are. They deserve all the respect and appreciation, which we fail to deliver.

Appreciation is not something which our respected soldiers demand, it is something which they deserve.
The least we can do is to acknowledge their bravery, courage, and sacrifice, and pay homage to them and always remember the tale of their bravery.

My homage to the brave hearts and may God give strength to their families.

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Why don’t Hindus promote their Dharma and suggest Gharwapsi?

Know the religions

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Hindu Dharma
Over the last thousand years it was very dangerous to stand up for Hindu Dharma. Pixaabay

By Maria Wirth

Anchors at Indian TV channels are generally intelligent and capable. However, when the topic involves religion, they often lack common sense or courage.

Recently Rishab Gulati said on NewsX that he wants to explore how to bring the Indian Muslims, who had been brainwashed into hard Wahhabi Islam, back to a softer Sufi version. Rishab surely would know that all versions of Islam are based on Quran and he would also know that the stark division between believers, who are considered good, and unbelievers, who are considered bad, is fixed in this foundational text itself.

So why would he not rather explore how Muslims could be brought back to their ancient, benevolent Hindu Dharma? It would make far more sense. Why would he want a big part of Indians continue to believe blindly, albeit in a softer version, what the invaders violently enforced several centuries ago? Why is he so diffident about his own tradition which has contributed maximum knowledge to science and human civilisation in general?

The reason may be that over the last thousand years it was very dangerous to stand up for Hindu Dharma. So people tried to be diplomatic, made compromises, and did not mention and certainly not praise their Dharma, even if they greatly valued it. This attitude seems to have got deeply ingrained and is even in today’s generation present. The English education system also did its bit to cement this attitude and even made it worse, as it portrayed the indigenous tradition contrary to facts as inferior. Not wanting to be “controversial” is uppermost in the mind of many Hindus, when they deal with converts. They rather indulge them, than ask probing questions.

This attitude is however in our times not helpful but dangerous. We have a window now, where we can be truthful and talk about the great advantage that Hindu Dharma has over Christianity and Islam. If we don’t use it, it may close again and then probably for a long time.

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Both Christianity and Islam consider it as their divine duty to make their religion dominate the whole globe. Pixabay

Most Hindus know, and if some still don’t know, it is urgent that they come to know, that both Christianity and Islam consider it as their divine duty to make their religion dominate the whole globe. Only then their God/Allah will be happy and start the Judgement Day proceedings, when the good believers are allowed to enter heaven. It has however not yet been clarified whether the Christian or Muslim believers have this privilege, as naturally only one “true religion” can be true. For Hindus of course it will be hell, both agree on this.

Can any sane person believe that the Creator of this unimaginably vast universe will punish the majority of human beings ETERNALLY in hellfire because they did not accept that the truth about how we should live, was revealed only recently and only to one particular person on this earth which is already some billion years old?

There are other points which are not flattering for those two religions: Christianity and Islam are not based on reason, intuition or experience, but only on blind belief. One can never know if Jesus is really the son of God who was sent to earth to save us from the original sin and who declared that the way to the father goes only through him.

Or we can never know if Allah really communicated via Gabriel with Prophet Mohamed and declared that he is the last prophet and all must follow what Mohammed said.

These two religions make blind, unverifiable belief, which is not a healthy attitude, look like a virtue: ‘if you believe blindly what the padres or the mullahs tell you, you will be rewarded with eternal heaven after Judgment Day’, is promised. It is an effective method to keep people subdued on earth, waiting for heaven. And common people suspected this already in the dark ages. In Germany we have an old saying that the Pope makes people stupid (and the King makes them poor).

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Only members of Christianity and Islam go all out to spread their religion with full zest and especially in the case of Christianity, with lots of money and a detailed strategy. Pixabay

Unfortunately, only members of Christianity and Islam go all out to spread their religion with full zest and especially in the case of Christianity, with lots of money and a detailed strategy. Pious members of both religions do not hesitate to claim that their religion alone is true and all others are wrong and will not be accepted by the ‘true God’. They have nothing to support their claim, except that the founder of their religion allegedly said so. This claim of eternal damnation is meant to frighten people to fall in line. On the other hand, it makes them arrogant, believing “We are the chosen ones. We believe the right thing. Earth and heaven belong to us. All others are damned for eternity.”

Believing their clergy, they are on a mission to eradicate all other faiths. And how successful they have been! All ancient cultures were eradicated, except for the Indian culture.

In India those two religions have encountered the greatest resistance. Indian culture still stands but greatly diminished. Yet neither Christianity nor Islam has conceded defeat, on the contrary. They push harder than ever now by demonising Hindus to an unbelievable degree. Do they want the world to believe a false narrative that an “uprising of the oppressed Muslims against the demonic Hindus” is justified and must be supported?

There is however one great power on the side of Hindus. It is Truth, both on the relative level (Truth is that Muslims are not oppressed in India, on the contrary) and on the absolute, spiritual level (Truth is one).

Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity. Nobody is forced to believe anything that does not make sense or cannot be experienced. Hindu Dharma is not a fixed, unverifiable ‘belief-system’. It is based on reason, intuition and experience. Its claims make sense and can be verified, like the most basic claim that the essence in all is one and the same – ‘sat-chit-ananda’ – blissful awareness behind the names and forms.

But for people to know this, they need to be told, including those, whose forefathers have converted and who have been brainwashed into blind belief. If they knew and reflect on those insights, they might see that indeed Hindu Dharma is the best option. Therefore it would be so much better if Hindus went all out and informed others of the value of Hindu Dharma.

Compare the Indian reluctance to project its wisdom with China. China has only few sages, but makes full use of them. It established already 15 years ago hundreds of Confucius institutes all over the world which are affiliated to colleges and universities. They teach Chinese language and promote Chinese culture to the Western world.

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Indian Civilization has Sanskrit, the language which helps develop the brain. Pixabay

India is the cradle of civilization. It has so much knowledge, and millions of texts are not even translated into English. It has Sanskrit, the language which helps develop the brain, apart from being a perfect language; it has documentation of a number of great sages reaching back thousands of years, it has the deepest philosophy still expressed in a vibrant religion; a huge body of literature, amazing art, dance, music, sculpture, architecture, yoga, Ayurveda, delicious cuisine, incredible temples and yet Indians do little to propagate those treasures. “We are not like them”, many Hindus say, “we don’t advertise our religion and push them into accepting it, like the others”.

The insights of the Vedic Rishis need not be pushed; they only need to be known. They result in a very beneficial mind-set, definitely far more beneficial than the divisive, narrow mind-set of the new-comer religions. Knowing that God is within gives inner strength, and knowing that God is also in others, including in animals and nature, makes people kind. This broad mind-set needs to dominate in the world, and it is Hindus who can lead the way.

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Bad people would still exist; they are there in every age, but normal, good people would not be indoctrinated en masse by their clergy into despising and even killing ‘unbelievers’ because they worship the Supreme Intelligence by other names. Looking at Muslims and Christian countries, such attitude also does not seem to make for a happy society.

Meanwhile, especially in the West, many Christians and Muslims lost faith and say it openly. I am one of them and sometimes Hindus tell me: “It’s good that you write. You are an insider, you can do it. We can’t.” My reply is: “YOU need to speak up. Don’t wait for ex-Christians or ex-Muslims. Most of us, who lost faith, don’t bother about religion any longer. But YOU have been suffering for centuries, with millions killed, and the danger is real that it happens again. If someone is fully authorised to talk about those doctrines, and the harmful mind-set they produce, it is YOU, Indian Hindus. In fact you owe it to those millions who were massacred for being Hindus.”

Fortunately, in recent years more Hindus do speak up. Maybe soon a mainstream channel will have the courage to debate frankly what Muslims and Christians are taught about Hindu Kafirs and Heathen, and maybe more Christians and Muslims in India, who have lost faith in their religion, have the courage to say it openly. It surely would be a relief for them. Living a lie by pretending to be believers is painful. Hindus can help by being truthful, even if it means being “controversial”.