12 April 2020

12 April

NEWPope Julius I


Day of remembrance for pope who chose the date for Christmas

Pope Julius I died on this day in 352 AD in Rome and soon after his death he was made a saint. His feast day is celebrated on this day every year by Catholics all over the world.  Julius I is remembered for setting 25 December as the official date of birth of Jesus Christ, starting the tradition of celebrating Christmas on that date.  He also asserted his authority against Arianism, a heretical cult that insisted Christ was human and not divine.  Julius was born in Rome but the exact date of his birth is not known. He became pope in 337 AD, four months after his predecessor, Pope Mark, had died.  In 339 Julius gave refuge in Rome to Bishop St Athanasius the Great of Alexandria, who had been deposed and expelled by the Arians.  At the Council of Rome in 340, Julius reaffirmed the position of Athanasius.  He then tried to unite the Western bishops against Arianism with the Council of Sardica in 342. The council acknowledged the Pope’s supreme authority, enhancing his power in ecclesiastical affairs by granting him the right to judge cases of legal possession of Episcopal sees.  Read more…

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Flavio Briatore - entrepreneur


From clothing to luxury resorts via Formula One

The colourful and controversial entrepreneur Flavio Briatore was born on this day in 1950 in Verzuolo, a large village in the Italian Alps near Saluzzo in Piedmont.  Briatore is best known for his association with the Benetton clothing brand and, through their sponsorship, Formula One motor racing, but his business interests have extended well beyond the High Street and the race track.  His empire includes his exclusive Sardinian beach club Billionaire, Twiga beach clubs in Tuscany and Apulia, the Lion under the Sun spa resort in Kenya, the upmarket Sumosan, Twiga and Cipriani restaurants, and the Billionaire Couture menswear line.  Briatore was also for three years co-owner with former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal of the English football club Queen’s Park Rangers.  He is also the man to whom the contestants must answer in the Italian version of the hit British TV series The Apprentice.  With a fortune estimated at £120m (€140m; $150m), Briatore lives the lifestyle of the super-rich clients he entertains at his clubs and restaurants, owns a £68.2m (€80m; $85m) yacht and has enjoyed the company of a string of beautiful and famous women.  Read more…


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Caffarelli – opera singer


Tempestuous life of a talented male soprano

The castrato singer who performed under the stage name of Caffarelli was born Gaetano Maiorano on this day in 1710 in Bitonto in the province of Bari in Apulia.  Caffarelli had a reputation for being temperamental and for fighting duels with little provocation, but he was popular with audiences and was able to amass a large fortune for himself.  One theory is that his stage name, Caffarelli, was taken from his teacher, Caffaro, who gave him music lessons when he was a child, but another theory is that he took the name from a patron, Domenico Caffaro.  When Maiorano was ten years old he was given the income from two vineyards owned by his grandmother to enable him to study music. The legal document drawn up mentioned that the young boy wished to be castrated and become a eunuch. Maiorano became a pupil of Nicola Porpora, the composer and singing teacher, who is reputed to have kept him working from one sheet of exercises for years before telling him there was no more he could be taught because he was the greatest singer in Europe.  In 1726 Maiorano made his debut in Rome, aged 15, under the stage name Caffarellino.  Read more…


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Giorgio Cantarini - actor


Child star of Oscar-winning Life Is Beautiful

Giorgio Cantarini, who delivered an award-winning performance in the triple Oscar-winning movie Life Is Beautiful when he was just five years old, was born on this day in 1992 in Orvieto.  Cantarini was cast as Giosuè, the four-year-old son of Roberto Benigni’s character, Guido, in the 1997 film, which brought Academy Awards for Benigni as Best Actor and, as the director, for Best Foreign Film. For his own part, Cantarini was rewarded for a captivating performance in the poignant story with a Young Artist award.  Three years later, in Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning blockbuster Gladiator, Cantarini was given another coveted part as the son of Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus.  Born to parents who separated soon after his fifth birthday, Cantarini went to an audition for the part of Giosuè after an uncle read a description in a newspaper article of the kind of child Benigni wanted and told him he was a perfect match.  Cantarini recalled in an interview in 2018 that the audition consisted simply of a conversation with Benigni, with no acting involved. Once shooting began, he was told what to do on a scene-by-scene basis.  Read more…


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Marcello Lippi - World Cup winning coach


Former Juventus manager won Champions League and World Cup

Marcello Lippi, one of Italy's most successful football managers and a World Cup winner in 2006, was born on this day in 1948 in Viareggio on the Tuscan coast.  Lippi, who as Juventus coach won five Serie A titles and the Champions League before taking the reins of the national team, subsequently had a successful career in China, where his Guangzhou Evergrande team won three Chinese Super League championships and the Asian Champions League.  He is the only manager to have won both the European Champions League and the Asian Champions League.  Lippi, who still lives in Viareggio, spent much of his playing career in Genoa with Sampdoria, where he played as a central defender or sweeper.  He began his coaching career at the same club in 1982, looking after the youth team, before taking on his first senior team at Pontedera, a small club in Tuscany playing in the third tier.  It is in the Italian tradition for coaches to gain a grounding in the lower divisions and Lippi did not experience Serie A until Cesena became his fifth club in 1989.  His breakthrough came in 1994 when he achieved UEFA Cup qualification with Napoli, a club at that time in financial turmoil.  Read more…


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