Monthly Archive: December 2015

Epiphany House Blessing – a Catholic Tradition

Austria Village Door with Epiphany House Blessing
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While visiting Austria and Germany in August of 2014, I noticed curious chalk markings, seen in the photo above, on many buildings in the small villages we passed through.  Given the prominence of churches in these villages, I immediately assumed the writing had a religious significance, but knew little else.  As it turns out the practice is a Catholic tradition called an Epiphany house blessing, with the numbers and letters having a specific meaning centered around the current year. 20 + C + M + B +14 The 20 and 14 represent the year in which the blessing occurred, 2014, while CMB apparently has two different meanings. In one interpretation, they represent the names of the three magi (kings or wise men), in the Biblical Gospel of Matthew that visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. In the second interpretation they are an abbreviation of the Latin wordsChristus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless…
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Top Pictograph/Petroglyph Sites in Utah

McConkie Ranch Petroglyph - Utah

For rock art hunters, Utah offers a veritable playground to explore, with hundreds, if not thousands of sites open to discovery. Some locations are well known, while others take a significant effort in both time and research to find. And I like many avid rock art enthusiats tend to keep the lesser known sites close to the vest. I do it for two reasons…half the fun is the research and discovery process. Nothing that is handed to you is as rewarding as finding it yourself. And second, there is little doubt that some among us hold this ancient art in less regard than others. Which has led to widespread vandalism of some of the more well known and easily accessible sites. With that, plenty can be said that will help those interested in exploring the wilds of Utah, and discovering a little bit of the history carved and painted on its…
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Best Preserved French Star Forts

Star Fort Illustration

The star fort was a type of military fortification that emerged in western Europe during the late Middle Ages.  It was the military engineers response to a century of improvements in cannon technology during the 13th and 14th centuries that rendered the medieval castle obsolete.  The star fort included lower, thicker sloping walls that limited the effectiveness of artillery. Also, the angular shape of the fort, the ravelins that surrounded it, and the deep trench-works in between made approaching the fortress, and using its walls as a shelter against defensive fire, difficult for attacking armies. Many of the forts found in France today can trace their origins directly or indirectly from the work of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. During his career as an military engineer (1667-1707) Vauban was responsible for building or upgrading the defensive fortifications of nearly 300 cities and military installations. These upgrades played a crucial role in conflicts such as the Thirty…
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