Secret Vatican documents published

A collection of 105 documents, some dating back over 1,000 years, has been published in book form by the Vatican. The Vatican Secret Archives features a such diverse documents as a letter from the grandson of Genghis Khan to a 1550 note from Michelangelo demanding payment.

Was Shakespeare a "secret Catholic?"

What did Shakespeare do during the "lost years?" Father Andrew Headon, the vice-rector of the Venerable English College in Rome believes the playwright spent the years in the Eternal City and was a "secret Catholic."

13th century cross may have served as Christian advertisement

A 13th century stone cross, once thought to be a gatepost in Dartmoor, England, may have served as a signpost for parishoners to attend church, according to Win Scutt of City College Plymouth. The cross was constructed from a two-meter long block of granite.

Cross slabs discovered after church fire

The recent devastating fire at St. Brandon's Church in Brancepeth, near Durham City, England was a tragedy, but one with "a silver lining." what the fire revealed were 20 medieval tombstones dating to the 12th and 13th centuries. (video)

Saint Nicholas in Turkey

St. Nicholas, the 4th century Christian saint who influenced so many Christmas traditions, is thought to have lived and died in Myra, Turkey. His remains were removed to Bari in southern Italy in the 11th century. Now Turkish officials would like to see Nicholas' basilica restored.

The origins of December 25 as Christmas

An online article by Andrew McGowan, an associate professor of early Christian history at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the Biblical Archaeology Review discusses how December 25 came to be chosen as the date of Christ's birth.

Around the world with Father Christmas

Christmas traditions are cherished around the world. One that is nearly universal is the legend of a friendly spirit who delivers gifts during the Christmas season. offers their list of Top 10 Santa Legends From Around the World.

Happy Solstice from Jethro Tull, from 1976

It isn't exactly news, but it's appropriate to the day! YouTube has a video posting of a rare promotional video for Jethro Tull's "Ring Out Solstice Bells", from 1976. It's decidedly medieval in theme, and quite amusing.

Merry Christmas from Wales

A Christmas card, in the form of a wonderful rendition of the Gower Wassail by Welsh traditional folksinger Phil Tanner, accompanied by a museum-quality video of the Ewenny Wassail Bowl, is available on YouTube.

A survey of English cathedrals

In an extensive history article, which looks at major cathedrals in England, the BBC considers several grand houses of worship and their importance in British life.

The Holy Days of December

The Got Medieval website offers information on saints whose days fall in the month of December, including St. Nicholas, St. Lucia, and St. Stephen, all of whom have a place in Christmas tradition.

A short walk through England's cathedrals

Can't afford a ticket to Great Britain this winter? Take a minute to tour England's glorious cathedrals in a short slideshow from the BBC.

Jesus studied with the Druids, according to new film

Gordon Strachan, a minister for the Church of Scotland, believes Jesus may have visited England and studied with the Druids at Glastonbury. His research is featured in a new film, And Did Those Feet.

Medieval Jewish books focus of Bodleian Library exhibit

From December 8, 2009 to May 3, 2010, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University will host Crossing Borders: Hebrew Manuscripts as a Meeting-place of Cultures, "which tells the story of how Jews, Christians and Muslims have together contributed to the development of the book as an object of great cultural importance."

Same-sex marriage in the Middle Ages

Historians believe they have evidence of same-sex marriage in late antiquity and early Middle Ages. One piece of evidence is a monastic icon depicting the marriage of two male saints with Jesus officiating. (photo)

Legacy of Puritan vandals still challenges Canterbury Cathedral

In the 1640s, followers of Oliver Cromwell vandalized Canterbury Cathedral, especially stained glass windows overlooking the tomb of Edward, Prince of Wales, known as the Black Prince. The decay continues to this day, causing concern to those charged with maintaining the cathedral.

Medieval pilgrimage topic of the 2010 Sewanee Medieval Colloquium

Coordinators have announced that "Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages" will be the theme for the Sewanee Medieval Colloquium to be held April 9-10, 2010 at the university of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Experts look to art for new information on the Crusades

The discovery of two Crusader-era murals in a church in Syria may offer archaeologists insight into the history of Christianity during the Middle Ages. The murals are the first found in the Middle East which depict heaven and hell as subject matter.

Sewanee Medieval Colloquium

The Sewanee Medieval Colloquium is an annual, interdisciplinary conference attended by medievalists from throughout the United States.

Organic chemist claims to have reproduced the Shroud of Turin

An Italian scientist claims to have reproduced the image on the Shroud of Turin using only materials and techniques known in the Middle Ages. Luigi Garlaschelli, who will present his findings at a conference, said, "The result obtained clearly indicates that this could be done with the use of inexpensive materials and with a quite simple procedure."

Hear the Oxyrhynchus Hymn

Gregorio Paniagua and the Atrium Musicae de Madrid has recorded The Oxyrhynchus Hymn, "the earliest known manuscript of a Christian hymn - dating from the 3rd century AD - to contain both lyrics and musical notation." The re-creation has been posted on YouTube.

Minnesota professor to receive grant for medieval globalization research

University of Minnesota professor Susan Noakes has received a US$70,000 grant for two years for a project entitled “Globalization of the Middle Ages.” The research will be funded by the university's Imagine Fund.

Duct tape holding up Canterbury Cathedral

How can you tell when the economic crisis has reached epic proportions in great Britain? When the marble pillars of Canterbury Cathedral, the seat of the Anglican Church and site of the murder of St. Thomas a Becket, are being held together with duct tape.

Bones of unidentified saint found in Bulgarian cathedral

Archaeologists working at the site of a medieval church, part of the fortress of Perperikon in Bulgaria, have discovered a bronze cross bearing remains dating to the 5th-7th centuries C.E. "These are broken and decayed bones, most definitely of a saint," Professor Ovcharov said.

The St. Albans Psalter to be displayed in Germany

The St. Albans Psalter, one of the world's best examples of manuscripts from the Romanesque period, is a cherished possession of the the Dombibliothek Hildesheim in Hildesheim, Germany. The removal of its binding has enabled the Dom-Museum Hildesheim to display individual leaves from the book in a special exhibit which will run December 9, 2009 until January 24, 2010. (photos)

Genetic studies show crusaders influenced religion in Lebanon

A new study shows that some Lebanese men carry genes traceable to Western Europe, a heritage, say researchers, from Crusaders who established settlements and castles in the country in the 11th through 13th centuries.

5th century Byzantine cathedral and human remains found in Syria

An early Byzantine cathedral, complete with columns and stairs, has been discovered by the excavation team in Tal Al-Hasaka site in north eastern Syria. Also found was the "skeleton of a human who died of torture."

Fleamarket find might be Templar artifact

Christie's auction house in London is trying to verify claims that an ornately-decorated piece of wood, found at an English car boot sale, might be the door of a Templar tabernacle, dating from between 700 and 1200 C.E. (photo)

Byzantine angel revealed

Concealed for more than 100 years behind plaster, a mosaic angel dating to the 14th century has been revealed in the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul.

Nuns a-plenty

Obsessed with nuns? Looking for good research sources? Or just interested in a good read with ecclesiastical flair? The New Yorker Magaine's Book Bench looks at seven essential books about nuns.