Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

A to Z Index

The Restoration of the Icons
two-part story
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
By the early eighth century, sacred art was thriving in newly-Christian England, but in the East seeds of doubt and confusion had been sown.

WHEN St Augustine preached Christianity to King Ethelbert of Kent in 597, he carried a silver cross and a painted icon of Christ. A century later, icons were putting a human face to the spoken word up in Bede’s Northumbria, from church walls to the pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Continue reading ›
Five Posts
1
The Keeper of the Gate
Music: Elias Parish Alvars
A widow cast her precious icon into the sea rather than see it dishonoured by government agents, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

A WEALTHY widow from Nicaea near Constantinople kept an icon of Mary, a criminal offence at the time. Rather than see it harmed again - a soldier’s sword had already left a scar on its cheek - she set it afloat on the Aegean Sea.

Continue reading ›
St John Damascene
Music: Byzantine Chant
John’s enduring influence is evident today in the rich sights and sounds of Christian liturgy.

MANSUR Bin Sargun was a Christian in the Syrian court of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius the Great. After the Muslims took Syria from the Byzantines, Mansur’s son Sarjun served the new Caliph in the same capacity.

Continue reading ›
Stick and Carrot
Music: John Marsh
The Virgin Mary and her son team up to get the best out of some careless monks.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

THE Abbot of the Vatopedi monastery was in the chapel alone one morning, when suddenly he heard a voice.

After looking this way and that, he realised it had come from an icon of Mary, with her child Jesus on her lap.

Continue reading ›
Not a Scratch!
Music: Igor Stravinsky
Hapless extremists try to wipe out a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.

IN 1898, Russian anarchists planted a bomb in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in Kursk. It was timed to go off during the evening service for maximum casualties, and designed to destroy the miraculous icon of Mary kept there in a glass case. A shared belief in the icon’s miraculous powers drew peasant and Tsar closer together, which did not suit the anarchists at all.

Continue reading ›
The Voice of an Angel
two-part story
Music: Vassilis Tsabropoulos; Byzantine Chant
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

AT daybreak one Sunday morning in 982, a monk on Mount Athos could be heard chanting before an icon of Mary. At his side, taking it in turns to sing, was another monk – not his own elder, who had left him alone for a night and gone to nearby Karyes, but a visitor, a total stranger who had knocked on his door in the small hours and introduced himself as Monk Gabriel.

Continue reading ›
No more posts
AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
page 1
1 Taste and See
Wonder spread through a Tyneside monastery after Bishop Cuthbert asked for a drink of water.
2 The Battle of Nechtansmere
King Ecgfrith of Northumbria dismissed repeated warnings about his imperial ambitions.
3 Crayke Abbey
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.
4 St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.
5 Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.
6 Cuthbert and the Mystery Guest
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A young monk was rewarded for taking his duties as guest-master seriously.
page 2
7 Cuthbert and the Dun Cow
The magnificent cathedral at Durham owes its existence to a missing cow.
8 Cvthbertvs
Henry VIII’s experts declared that saints were nothing special, but St Cuthbert had a surprise for them.
9 Bread from Heaven
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Cuthbert trusted that keeping his promised fast would not do him any harm.
10 Cuthbert and the Expert Witness
Based on the account by Reginald of Durham
(12th century)
A hungry monk thought he had got away with the tastiest of crimes, but St Cuthbert kept his promise to his beloved birds.
11 St Cuthbert and the Otters
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
An inquisitive monk spied on a guest’s night-time walks.
12 King Alfred and the Beggar
Based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’
(11th century)
An everyday act of charity triggered off a series of extraordinary events.
page 3
13 Cuthbert and the Miracle of the Wind
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The young monk taught some hard-hearted pagans a lesson they’d never forget.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Confusables

Compose your own sentences to show the difference between these words:

Draw. Sketch.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Cut’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Do you know ‘cowardly’ (6 letters), and ‘historic Greek victory in 479 BC’ (7 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FULL and finish with STOP.
Do you know ‘warm covering’ (7 letters), and ‘2,240 lb’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘cup’ (6 letters), and ‘unit of resistance’ (3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: Longest Word (Letters Game) Games with Words

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Target Number (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic