Religion: 11,011 Virgins

On the banks of the upper Rhine in the Swiss city of Basel, 400 schoolgirls named Ursula assembled one day last week to welcome home their patron saint. St. Ursula's diamond-studded gold and silver bust sailed royally up the river in a ceremonial barge, much as, centuries ago, the saint herself had sailed on her way to Rome with her 11,010 virgins.

Skeptical modern scholars suspect that this statistic represents a medieval copyist's error, and that there were only eleven of them, if any. But the legend of St. Ursula, patron saint of young girls and the martyr for whom the Ursuline...

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