It is the 8th of August 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I'm Dan van Voorhis.

The year was 1909.

The art world was seeing a transition from the Realism and Romanticism of the previous century and the birth of Impressionism and post-Impressionism. It was in 1909 that Claude Monet began the exhibitions of his famous waterlilies' compositions.

In Austria, the symbolist Gustav Klimt produced many works, including his "The Tree of Life." Matisse, in a Fauvist mood, produced his "Dancing." Picasso was out of his blue period, but not quite yet the cubist or surrealist he would become. His "Fruit Dish" was painted in this year.

While Picasso left his blues behind, Wassily Kandinsky painted his "The Blue Mountain." This was inspired by his painting of the so-called blue rider, which inspired the movement known as Der Blaue Reiter.

The movement known as Futurism dates itself to 1909 with the publication of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's "Futurist Manifesto," published in a Parisian newspaper. Futurism sought to discard the older, slower ways of life in exchange for the fast-paced world of new industry and means of transportation. A famous example of this kind of art that defied convention and emphasized movement is Marcel Duchamp's' "Nude Descending a Staircase."

Futurism was a movement that excited many artists, from sculptors to playwrights and authors. Freedom of expression and a faith in progress mark the early futurist works. With the coming Great War, however, the old confidence was often replaced with iconoclasm.

Older forms of artistic mediums remained popular still. One of these was the production of serialized stories in monthly magazines. Works such as "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "Middlemarch," and "A Tale of Two Cities" were all released originally in serial format. In 1909, a French journalist produced a serial that was both poorly reviewed and unsuccessful commercially. The author was Gaston Leroux, and his failed serial was "The Phantom of the Opera." It became famous when Lon Cheney starred as the Phantom in the 1925 silent film adapted from the book.

If you were born in 1909, you would be 111 this year. There are indeed a handful of 110 and 111-year-olds today. But no one famous could make it that long. Notable births in 1909 include Vivian Vance, the actress who played Ethel Merman on “I Love Lucy,” drummer gene Krupa, bandleader Benny Goodman, and everyone's favorite singing snowman, the one and only Burl Ives.

In 1909, King Leopold of Belgium died, as did the indigenous American leader Geronimo. And it was on this, the 8th of August, in 1909, that Mary MacKillop died in North Sydney, Australia. MacKillop, also known as St. Mary of the Cross, has appeared on Australian coins and has had masses, hymns, movies and a musical written about her. She was the first Australian to be beatified and is the only Australian saint in the Catholic church.

MacKillop's parents were both from Scotland but moved independently to the newly colonized land once called the terra australis incognita (Latin for unknown southern land.) MacKillop started working as a governess for her wealthy aunt and uncle. Soon Mary was inviting neighborhood children to learn as well, and she soon found her calling as an educator for the poor. Father Julian Woods, Mary's priest, suggested that this was an excellent vocation by which to serve God and neighbor.

With the help of Woods, Mary founded Australia's first order of nuns, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. These nuns under Sister Mary would establish schools, orphanages, and centers for women recently released from jail. They were known affectionately as the Brown Joeys on account of their brown habits. They grew to over 100 and founded more than 40 schools across the island. As you might expect, a woman with significant authority and sway made some of the Catholic priests uncomfortable. She was also known to call out spiritual authorities. This eventually led to her excommunication. However, she was taken in by the Jesuits as the Sisters of St. Joseph continued. Later, the bishop who excommunicated her, on his deathbed, called for her to be reinstated. She would serve with the Josephites beginning again in 1885 until her death on this day, the 8th of August, in 1909.

The reading for today comes from the Australian poet Les Murray who died just last year. This is a stanza from his poem "Poetry and Religion."

Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;
like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete
with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 8th of August 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who takes his cheese curds smothered in Vegemite, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.