Entries in Anniversary (3)


Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Paintings Turn 500 

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Five hundred years ago, Michelangelo put down his brush -- his masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel completed. The great master had toiled for years and years, and to this day, his efforts are still on display up on the ceiling.

Wednesday marked the 500th anniversary of the Michelangelo's completion of the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. On Oct. 31, 1512, the "Warrior Pope" Julius II held a simple vespers prayer service for 17 cardinals to mark the completion of the masterpiece.

"The Sistine chapel is one of the world's great artistic treasures because of Michelangelo's frescoes. But it's always been one of the pope's personal chapels," said Vatican communications advisor Greg Burke.

"He just lets a few million people in to look at it every year," he added. Five-million per year to be precise. Some critics say that's too many, but efforts to try to limit the number of visitors have so far been rebuffed.  

Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the anniversary Wednesday by repeating Julius II's vespers service beneath the famous frescoes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Stands Still to Mark Earthquake, Tsunami a Year Later

Chris McGrath/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A moment of silence on Sunday marked one year since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami battered Japan’s northeast coast, and triggered the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Sirens blared across Japan at 2:46 p.m. as the nation stood still, the moment disaster struck. The magnitude-9.0 earthquake unleashed a powerful tsunami that towered more than 120 feet in some areas. The catastrophic waves flattened entire communities in the Tohoku region and killed nearly 20,000 people, though more than 3,000 bodies are still missing.

At a memorial service in Tokyo’s National Theater, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko bowed their heads in silence, along with hundreds of others attending the ceremony.

“I ask that you keep the victims in your thoughts,” he said. “If we all work hard, I am hopeful the situation will improve in the devastated regions.”

Mourners gathered early to honor victims in the hardest hit regions.

In the ravaged city of Ishinomaki, where more than 3,000 people died, residents offered prayers at a Buddhist temple, before dawn. They began ringing the bell—19,000 times –for every life lost.

In Rikuzentakata, a fishing town that lost more than 1,500 people, survivors gathered at the “tree of hope” to reflect on the horrors from one year ago.

Others marked the anniversary alone, quietly kneeling down on barren land where their homes once stood. “I wanted to save people but I couldn’t,” said Naomi Fujino, who lost her father to the tsunami. “I couldn’t even help my father. What can I do but keep going.”

While much of the debris has been swept aside into large piles, reconstruction has yet to begin in many towns.

About 325,000 people remain homeless, living in temporary housing units while the local and central government debate where and how to rebuild. In many communities, the opinions are split. Longtime residents, many of them elderly, want to return to the same areas the tsunami wiped out. Others want to build on higher ground, even if the process takes longer.

In areas around the Fukushima plant, hope for any homecoming is fading fast. About 80,000 people living within a 12-mile radius were evacuated, when the tsunami knocked out vital cooling systems, and triggered three reactors meltdowns that spewed radiation into the air.

Today, that nuclear exclusion zone remains off limits because of high radiation levels. Residents have only been allowed back home for a handful of temporary, supervised visits, and might not be able to return permanently for decades.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Friday Marks First Anniversary of Chilean Mine Collapse

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Friday marks the one year anniversary of the Chilean mine collapse that left 33 men trapped underground for 69 days before a dramatic hours-long rescue that was broadcast live to television audiences around the world.

For more than two weeks the miners sat and waited 2,000 ft. below the earth's surface, enduring sweltering heat and cramped conditions, unsure whether the world knew they were alive. Rescuers eventually made contact with the men, but the group had to wait until October before crews were able to drill their way down to them.

Thirty-one of the miners have since filed a lawsuit against Chile's National Geology and Mining Service for the accident.

A special exhibit addressing the ground-breaking rescue effort is opening at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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