After living almost all my life believing I was of mainly German and assorted other Northern European stock, I was recently surprised to discover that I had Italian ancestors--and that they were by far the most distinguished branch of my family.
One of them has a special day on the calendar, which I've searched for a way to honor appropriately.
This year, I've decided the best way is just to tell his story, in the hope that it might inspire someone else in the same way that it's inspired me.
My ancestor lived in 11th-century Milan, and he made a bold stand for what was right at roughly the same time that the Normans were conquering England.
The issue on which he felt compelled to take his stand involved the Archbishop of Milan. Today, we might envision an archbishop as not much more than a church administrator or politician—a guy who goes around in a dress-like garment attending to the niceties of how services are to be conducted, which priests will go to which parishes, and so forth. But during the eleventh century, religious, political, and military power were deeply intertwined, and whoever presided as archbishop was also recognized as the de facto Count of Milan—the dominant power in his part of the world.