This is something I saw just now on Daily Rotten and found impossible not to share:
The government of the Swiss state of Glarus has exonerated convicted witch Anna Goeldi of all charges, finding that the Protestant Church council in the village of Mollis which tried Goeldi and found her guilty of using black magic to cause a young girl to vomit pins and convulse, had no authority to do so and decided on her guilt in advance of the trial. What a great day for justice, for science, for the struggle for reason over superstition.
That Anna Goeldi was beheaded for her "crimes" in 1782 kinda takes the piss out of it, but still . . .
She was known as the Last Witch, and she was — the last person in Europe to be executed for witchcraft. We tend to associate the persecution of witches with the dark ages, but poor Anna Goeldi got the chop right in the middle of the Enlightenment, when us colonists had just thrown off the heavy yoke of Britannia, when the French peasants were just getting psyched up to go cut some heads off in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity, when executing witches was, like, so last century.
Technically, she was convicted of murder, not witchcraft, so some historians wonder whether or not she should really be counted as a victim of a witch trial. But how else was she supposed to have gotten her victim to spit fucking pins? I ask you.
Anyway, it took long enough, but the Last Witch has been cleared of all charges and yet another grievous wrong committed by our ancestors has been put right so long after the fact that it really doesn't matter. At least Anna only had to sit moldering in her grave for 226 years — poor Galileo had to wait from 1642 to 1992 for the Pope to kinda, sorta, halfway admit that maybe the Catholic Church had been wrong about the whole geocentric universe thing. That courageous papal decree came just two years after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had given a speech defending the church's treatment of Galileo, and claiming that there was no reason he could see for the Vatican to alter the position it took back then. Ratzinger goes by Pope Benedict XVI these days.
The story linked at Daily Rotten is right here, and there's the BBC article linked in the previous paragraph, if'n you wanna read some more about it.