DCLXVI

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is fear of the number 666, which is linked to Satan and the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation.

Unfortunately, it’s rather hard to avoid. 666 is the sum of the squares of the first seven primes:

666 = 22 + 32 + 52 + 72 + 112 + 132 + 172

Also:

666 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 567 + 89

= 123 + 456 + 78 + 9

= 9 + 87 + 6 + 543 + 21

= 13 + 23 + 33 + 43 + 53 + 63 + 53 + 43 + 33 + 23 + 13

In 1989, after his second term as president, Ronald and Nancy Reagan moved to a new home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles. They had the address, 666 St. Cloud Road, changed to 668 St. Cloud Road.

“Odd Bill for Repairs”

One meets with curious things in the old church registers of England. The subjoined, in the Record Office of Winchester Cathedral, dated 1182, is certainly unique. It is a bill for work done: —

To soldering and repairing St. Joseph, 0 l. 8 d.
To cleaning and ornamenting the Holy Ghost, 0 l. 6 d.
To repairing the Virgin Mary and cleaning the child, 4 l. 8 d.
To screwing a nose on the Devil, and putting in the hair on his head, and placing a new joint in his tail, 5 l. 6 d.

— Frank H. Stauffer, The Queer, the Quaint and the Quizzical (1882)

Holiday for Vowels

“In an old church in Westchester county, N.Y., the following consonants are written beside the altar, under the Ten Commandments. What vowel is to be placed between them, to make sense and rhyme of the couplet?”

P.R.S.V.R.Y.P.R.F.C.T.M.N.
V.R.K.P.T.H.S.P.R.C.P.T.S.T.N

— Charles Bombaugh, Facts and Fancies for the Curious From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1860

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“Earthquake Panic”

A panic terror of the end of the world seized the good people of Leeds and its neighborhood in the year 1806. It arose from the following circumstances. A hen, in a village close by, laid eggs, on which were inscribed the words, “Christ is coming.” Great numbers visited the spot, and examined these wondrous eggs, convinced that the day of judgment was near at hand. Like sailors in a storm, expecting every instant to go to the bottom, the believers suddenly became religious, prayed violently, and flattered themselves that they repented them of their evil courses. But a plain tale soon put them down, and quenched their religion entirely. Some gentlemen, hearing of the matter, went one fine morning and caught the poor hen in the act of laying one of her miraculous eggs. They soon ascertained beyond doubt that the egg had been inscribed with some corrosive ink, and cruelly forced up again into the bird’s body. At this explanation, those who had prayed, now laughed, and the world wagged as merrily as of yore.

— Edmund Fillingham King, Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, 1860

Wait a Minute …

Every May and December, thousands of Catholics gather in Naples to witness a miracle: The dried blood of Saint Januarius, which is kept in small capsules, liquefies when it’s brought near his body.

Januarius was martyred in 305, and the “miracle of the blood” has been happening since at least 1389, which is pretty impressive.

But investigator Joe Nickell notes that a thixotropic gel such as hydrated iron oxide remains highly viscous until it’s stirred or moved. And the same miracle is claimed for several other saints … all in the Naples area. Hmm.