Critical events on February 11 include the following, which have affected political movements, religious visions, leadership transitions, and geopolitical agreements:
1. Nelson Mandela Freed (1990):
On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison near Cape Town, South Africa, after spending 27 years behind bars. Mandela, a figure in the fight against apartheid and for racial equality, marked a pivotal moment in the country’s history with his release. This event symbolized the end of discrimination and segregation, paving the way for a new era of democracy.
Initially sentenced to five years for leaving the country and inciting a strike, Mandela’s imprisonment escalated to a life sentence in 1964 following his conviction for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government during the Rivonia Trial. Alongside ANC leader Mandela’s commitment to resisting the apartheid regime, his arrest in 1962.
Despite enduring conditions while incarcerated, Mandela steadfastly championed peace, reconciliation, and the dismantling of apartheid. He rejected offers of release that demanded he renounce violence and cease his activities. During his time in prison, Mandela became a symbol of resistance against apartheid, capturing the attention of people worldwide and gaining support for the movement against segregation.
With mounting pressure from both within South Africa and internationally, along with shifts in the arena—under President F.W. De Klerks leadership, who acknowledged the necessity for change—Mandela was set free in 1990. Upon his release, Mandela immediately advocated for peace and dialogue to dismantle apartheid and establish a democracy in South Africa.
In the years following Mandela’s release, apartheid was gradually dismantled, culminating in South Africa’s elections in 1994. Mandela emerged victorious as South Africa’s president during these historic elections. His tenure as president and subsequent years were dedicated to unifying the nation, fostering reconciliation, and crafting a constitution that enshrined rights for all South Africans, irrespective of their race.
2. St. Bernadette’s First Visions of Mary at Lourdes (1858):
On the 11th of February, in 1858, in the town of Lourdes, France, a girl named Bernadette Soubirous had a series of visions that profoundly impacted the history of this quaint Pyrenean village and left an enduring mark on Marian devotion within the Catholic Church. Bernadette, hailing from a background recognized for her devoutness, recounted encountering a ” lady” in a small cave known as Massabielle by the banks of the Gave de Pau river.
Over the course of February to July 1858, Bernadette beheld eighteen apparitions of the Virgin Mary. During their meeting, there was no exchange; Bernadette described the lady as adorned in white attire with a blue sash and holding a rosary but remaining silent. Through communication, the lady implored Bernadette to embrace penance, pray for sinners redemption, and construct a chapel where these divine encounters occurred.
A significant moment among these apparitions unfolded on February 25th when the lady directed Bernadette to drink from and cleanse herself in a concealed spring within the grotto. Initially unseen, upon digging as instructed by Mary’s apparition, water began to flow from this spot. This water soon gained renown for its healing properties, even though Mary did not explicitly declare any qualities about it.
Bernadette’s assertions initially faced doubt from the Catholic Church. In 1862, the Bishop of Tarbes officially acknowledged the visions after an investigation. The sincerity and consistency of Bernadette’s accounts and reported healings linked to the spring water played a role in this recognition.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, comprising landmarks like the Grotto of Massabielle, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and others, is a tribute to the impact of Bernadette Soubirous’s visions. The devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes grew rapidly, turning Lourdes into a pilgrimage and religious tourism destination. Every year, numerous. Visitors flock to Lourdes in search of both spiritual and physical solace.
3. Margaret Thatcher, Elected Conservative Party Leader (1975):
Margaret Thatcher’s rise to the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1975 marked a moment in politics by shattering gender norms and paving the way for her later role as the country’s first female prime minister in 1979. Her tenure as minister from 1979 to 1990, characterized by policies like tax reductions, economic deregulation, and privatization, earned her the nickname “Iron Lady” for her leadership and unwavering determination.
While Thatcherism emphasized reducing state intervention, promoting free market ideals, and diminishing union influence, it also stirred controversy and division during her office. Her bold economic and social reforms sparked debate and unrest, showcasing both support for her policies and opposition within society. Thatcher’s leadership was also known for her presence on the platform, especially her close relationship with President Ronald Reagan of the United States and her role in leading during the Falklands War in 1982. These experiences boosted her popularity. Established her as a decisive leader.
4. Lateran Treaty Signed (1929):
Benito Mussolini, the representative of the Kingdom of Italy, and Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, who acted on behalf of the Holy See, officially signed the Lateran Treaty on February 11, 1929. This significant agreement ended conflicts between the Vatican and Italy that had arisen since Rome was taken by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870 and led to the loss of the Papal States. The treaty acknowledged Vatican City’s sovereignty within Rome, effectively establishing it as an entity.
The Lateran Treaty consisted of three components: an agreement that compensated the Holy See for losing control over the Papal States; a political pact that recognized full sovereignty for the Holy See within Vatican City; and a concordat that outlined regulations for the Italian Catholic Church and its religious practices. It included provisions such as education in schools and acknowledging Roman Catholicism as Italy’s official religion.
This treaty ensured that the Holy See would remain neutral in affairs and be free from interference by nations seeking political or territorial gains. Establishing Vatican City as a state-granted temporal authority to the Pope over its territory encompasses key landmarks like St. Peter’s Basilica and adjacent properties.
The Lateran Treaty marked a turning point in the ties between the Vatican and the Italian government, ending decades of uncertainty known as the “Roman Question.” It defined the Vatican’s role within a context, shaping its global standing and influencing the Catholic Church’s place in Italian society and politics.
Over time, adjustments have been made to the Lateran Treaty to adapt to changes in relations between the Holy See and Italy. Notably, revisions following the 1984 Concordat update reflect secularism and religious freedom considerations aligning with evolving norms.
5. Hosni Mubarak Steps Down (2011):
After leading Egypt for three decades, President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011, following 18 days of demonstrations throughout the country, particularly in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square. The protests, where hundreds of thousands voiced their calls for increased liberties, political changes, and an end to his rule, culminated in Mubarak’s resignation. His departure reshaped Egypt’s landscape and stood as a crucial moment within the broader movement of pro-democracy revolts known as the Arab Spring.
During the Arab Spring uprising that began in 2010 and spread across Arab nations, social media played a crucial role in organizing and communicating. A strong desire for governance, economic opportunities, and an end to human rights violations and corruption resonated among the young population. The demonstrations witnessed in Egypt were part of this movement.
Following President Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981, Mubarak’s rule was characterized by freedoms, rampant corruption, police brutality, and political oppression, despite some changes. Dissatisfaction among the public escalated due to these issues; the successful revolution in Tunisia further fueled the protests that erupted in January 2011.
When the protests grew more intense and the military pressured Mubarak, he attempted to calm the public by pledging reforms and announcing that he would not seek re-election. However, these actions failed to quell the unrest. Eventually, on February 11, 2011, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak’s resignation. It was disclosed that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) would assume control of governing the nation.
The protesters rejoiced over Mubarak stepping down, seeing it as a victory for mobilization and peaceful demonstrations. Nonetheless, the ensuing transition period proved challenging, characterized by governance, political turmoil, and economic difficulties. Over time, Egypt witnessed President Mohamed Morsi’s election, followed by his removal from office. Subsequently, President Abdel Fattah el Sisi rose to power as discussions regarding Egypt’s democracy and governance persisted.