Vatican Menorah

Did the Vatican steal the ancient Menorah?

One of the strangest conspiracy theories circulating today is that the Vatican is in possession of the ancient Menorah fashioned by the prophet Moses at the direct command of God. This is the seven-branched candelabrum that the Israelites carried with them during the Exodus from Egypt and later installed in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Like all the temple treasures, including the Ark of the Covenant, it was looted by different invaders over the centuries. But why is it widely believed that it ended up deep inside the Vatican?

On Twitter and other social media, the Vatican stands accused of having grabbed the treasures of the Temple of Solomon at some point in history – and then hid them out of sight. The Holy see insists that it doesn’t have the golden Menorah or the Ark of the Covenant or the manna that fell from heaven nourishing the Jews during the Exodus. But the Vatican has a problem.

Because in the past – it claimed that it did have all these things. And even put them on display.

Below, I’ll look at how we arrived at a situation where in the 1990s, Israeli officials ended up demanding the right to inspect the secret archives of the Vatican to finally put to rest centuries old rumours that the Popes long ago stole the treasures of the Temple of Solomon.

God gives Moses the Menorah

Where does this intriguing story start? Well, a lot longer ago than you might imagine. First, we have to return to the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt as told in the Old Testament and Jewish scripture. Yahweh, the God of these people escaping Pharaoh’s bondage, has made the Jews his chosen people. And Moses is their prophet and leader. He must take them through the desert to the Promised Land.

On the way, God communes with Moses. He gives the prophet the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone – rules by which the people will live. These are housed in a gilded box called the Ark of the Covenant, which has the power to slay thousands of people merely by being looked at or touched. And then the Menorah – an ornate, golden, seven-branched candelabrum.

Like the Ark of the Covenant, it was made to specifications laid out by God to Moses. Formed by one piece of pure beaten gold weighing one hundred pounds. This impressive candelabrum had seven branches topped with lamps and was just over five feet high. Moses struggled to follow God’s very detail instructions and so a block of gold was thrown into the fire and in a flash of light, God made the sacred object himself.

The lamps of the Menorah were lit daily using olive oil though the central lamp never ran out of oil for many centuries. According to Christian tradition, the miracle of the Menorah stopped when Christ died and was resurrected as his light now shone in the world. Throughout the Exodus of the Jewish people, the Menorah was kept in the Tabernacle and then once the Temple of Solomon was built in Jerusalem – it was housed there with the Ark of the Covenant.

But disaster would strike the Temple in Jerusalem twice. In 587BC, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and sacked the temple. This was when the Ark of the Covenant disappeared. Either hidden by the prophet Jeremiah or melted down by the invaders – nobody really knows. As for the Menorah, it turns up again but there’s uncertainty over whether it was the original or a copy.

Five hundred years later, King Herod rebuilt the Temple of Jerusalem on the grandest scale ever. This hated, murderous monarch was trying to prove his religious credentials to a sceptical Jewish population. He was essentially a puppet of the Roman Empire – despised for his collaboration with an occupying force. Major building projects like the temple were intended to bolster his legitimacy as a Jewish ruler.

His new temple reportedly included the Menorah but the Ark of the Covenant remained lost. However, this new home for the Menorah would not last a century. In a few decades it would be consumed in flames.

The Menorah ends up in Rome

In 70CE, the Romans finally put down what had been a significant revolt by the Jewish population in its unruly province of Judaea. If there was something the Romans couldn’t tolerate, it was sedition. To punish the Jewish people, they utterly wrecked the temple built by Herod leaving only the platform on which it was built – which is the Temple Mount you see today.

All the temple treasures were looted and brought to Rome. The triumph was celebrated by the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus, who had commanded the legions that had crushed the Jewish revolt. Titus became emperor after his father but died after a short reign. An arch was erected to his memory in 81CE. This arch tells us what happened to the Menorah.

Because on it, we see carved a group of Roman soldiers carrying what is unmistakably the Menorah.

Jewish scholars like Shimon bar Yochai wrote in the second century AD that the temple treasures were used to fund public works including the Coliseum. They claimed that the Menorah along with the golden headband worn by the High Priest and the temple curtain were all kept at the Temple of Peace, a pagan ceremonial site built by the Roman emperor. That burned down in 191CE and accounts vary as to what happened to the Menorah next. Maybe it was destroyed. Or it was transferred to the imperial palace on the Palatine hill.

But another theory emerged in 1900 when a stone with an inscription was unearthed in the Jewish ghetto in Rome that related how three Jewish subjects had been beheaded by imperial order after attempting to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant and the Menorah from the river Tiber. This seemed to confirm an old story that Jews living in Rome had seized the Menorah during the 191CE fire at the Temple of Peace and hid it in the river.

Barbarians making off with the Menorah?

Having never seen an invading army for eight hundred years, the city of Rome would endure a rapid reversal of its fortunes from the year 410CE onwards. In that year, a disgruntled Visigoth leader, Alaric, who had been in the service of the Roman state, went on the rampage with his barbarian army through the city. Forty five years later, the Vandals led by Gaiseric trashed the eternal city again with even more devastating impact.

Take your pick on barbarian Menorah theories. One has Alaric stealing the Menorah along with wagon loads of treasure from Rome, bound for southern Italy. But then the Visigoth general falls fatally ill near the town of Cosenza. The nearby river Busento was temporarily diverted to bury Alaric along with some of his ill-gotten loot, which was then covered once more with water. So, did the Menorah end up under the Busento alongside the body of Alaric?

Alternatively, the Vandals under Gaiseric took the Menorah from Rome to their capital Carthage in modern Tunisia in 455CE. The Vandals had seized Carthage from the Romans half a century earlier, but in 533CE the Byzantine empire, which regarded itself as the continuation of the Roman empire, took the city back.

The Menorah then travelled eastwards across the Mediterranean to the Byzantine capital, Constantinople – modern Istanbul. But once there, the story runs that the Byzantine emperor Justinian was warned by a Jewish scholar that the Menorah was cursed. God was furious that it had been taken from his temple in Jerusalem. Look at what had happened of late to Rome and Carthage! Surely this was proof of divine wrath?

So, Justinian sent it back to Jerusalem. He was a devout Christian emperor who had no wish to see his capital laid waste because of the Menorah.

Well, so that story goes. But there is another view.

The Pope and the Menorah

Maybe it never left Rome. Benjamin of Tudela was a Jewish traveller from what is now Spain. He visited Rome in the 12th century and wrote in his journal that the Menorah was being kept at the basilica of St John Lateran. Built on the site of a Roman military fort, the Lateran palace was home to the popes up until the 14th century. It was in effect the global headquarters of the Roman Catholic church.

In the 13th century, an inscription that can still be seen catalogued the precious items that had been placed under the high altar of Saint John Lateran. These included all the main treasures from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem: the Ark of the Covenant; the staff of Moses and Aaron; a golden urn containing manna, the bread that fell from heaven during the Exodus; and crucially the golden Menorah.

There can be little doubt that the Popes understood the religious significance of being in possession of those temple treasures that had been given to Moses by God. The inscription makes the point that they had been brought to Rome by the Roman emperors Vespasian and his son Titus. And now, they were enshrined in a place from where the Popes ruled the Roman Catholic church.

The Lateran was the new temple. Judaism, in the Catholic view of the time, had to make way for the church established by the Son of God governed by his vicar on earth, the Pope. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed but this was the new temple for the one true faith.

This point was made with gusto by a 12th century writer called John the Deacon of the Lateran in a work called the Descriptio Lateranensis ecclesiae. In this book, he boasted about the Lateran’s ownership of the sacred temple goods because by now, rival deacons at St Peter’s in Rome – what would later become the Vatican residence of the popes – were seeking to undermine the supreme status of the Lateran church. One Vatican based cleric even referred to the Lateran sneeringly as a “synagogue” on account of the number of Jewish relics it housed.

Another medieval eye witness account of the Menorah being in Rome came from an Icelandic source. A 12th century pilgrim from this far off place on the edge of Europe journeying to the Holy Land who passed through Rome and noted many of its holy relics including the Menorah. The account is called the Leiöarvisir.

So – can one assume then that the Menorah and indeed the Ark of the Covenant were indeed in the hands of the Pope?

But hang on – what about the Crusades?

We have the medieval papal HQ where the popes lived and reigned making the strident claim that they owned all the treasures of the Temple of Solomon including the Ark of the Covenant and the Menorah – and had housed them under the high altar. Great. So, why were the Knights Templar and other crusaders claiming that these relics were to be found under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?

At exactly the same time that John the Deacon was telling us that the Menorah was in his church – crusaders were in charge of Jerusalem having conquered the city with much bloodshed in the year 1099. The Templars had based themselves in the Al Aqsa mosque renaming it the Temple of Solomon. The Dome of the Rock was rebranded the Templum Domini. Key to the crusader mission was the idea that Jerusalem and its holy relics had to be in Catholic hands.

Well, Saladin sorted out that conundrum by retaking Jerusalem for Islam in the year 1187. After that, the Lateran resumed its claim to own the Menorah and Ark without any pesky crusader counter-claims.

DISCOVER: Was Moses the Pharaoh Akhenaten?

The Menorah and Ark disappear from the Lateran – into the Vatican?

So convinced were the Popes that they had the Menorah and the Ark in the Lateran that every year on Maundy Thursday, the Pope would conduct a ritual close by the Ark that was believed to imitate what the Jewish High Priest would have done in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Solomon a thousand years before.

The Pope performed this rite on his own as it was written in scripture that only the High Priest could enter the room housing the Ark and lit by the Menorah. Death would come to anybody else entering the Holy of Holies. But once the papacy relocated from the Lateran to the Vatican – the theological love affair with the Menorah and the Ark diminished to nothing.

Fast forward to the year 1745 and Pope Benedict XIV paid a pastoral visit to Saint John Lateran. Like every pope since the 14th century, he lived in the Vatican as the popes do today. After a fire at the Lateran in 1308, the temple items that had been kept out of view under the high altar were put on display for the faithful. Some scholars believe that Benedict, ruling the church during the period of history dubbed the Enlightenment, found these garish relics embarrassing and not in tune with the ‘rationalist’ spirit of the time.

The Ark of the Covenant and other temple treasures including the Menorah had to be removed. Nevertheless, Benedict was happy with the table from the Last Supper retaining a very visible position at the high altar. So where did the temple artefacts go? Well, it’s a mystery. And into this gap in our knowledge has crept the conspiracy theories.

A mystery that still has the power to cause diplomatic rows in our time.

DISCOVER: The Pope alleged to be a woman!

Israel demands the Vatican return the Menorah

In 1996, Israel’s Religious Affairs Minister Shimon Shetreet was negotiating a papal visit by John Paul II to Israel planned for 1997. The papacy at the time was keen to repair relations with Jewish people. During the discussions with senior Vatican officials, Shetreet demanded to know if the Holy See possessed the Menorah. Handing it over, he declared, would be an act “of reconciliation between the Jewish people and the Catholic church”.

One report claims that the Israeli Antiquities Authority successfully got access to the Vatican archives but after a rummage around the basement of St Peter’s came away with no Menorah.

John Paul II’s papal successor Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel resulting in a bizarre court case to consider a demand that the leader of the Roman Catholic church should be seized and detained until the Menorah was returned. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the Pope enjoyed immunity as a head of state.

Still, despite the ongoing social media suspicion, the Vatican decided in 2017 to organise the first ever exhibition in collaboration with a Jewish museum. And the subject? The Menorah: Worship, History and Legend. You can either view this as a case of papal chutzpah or a desire by the Pope to finally kill off this persistent story.

metal detector

Metal detector treasure hunting comeback!

The metal detector is making a comeback with treasure hunting enthusiasts back out again looking for ancient loot. But in the United Kingdom, this has led the government to rethink the law on ancient artefacts dug up by amateur enthusiasts.

Changes are being made to the 1996 Treasure Act (yes, such a piece of legislation exists!) that will re-define metal detector finds as treasure. That’s if they are of major historical or cultural significance. Which means, you can’t make off with them so easily. Or at least, that’s the idea.

The normal definition is that a find has to be over 300 years old, made of gold or silver or found alongside artefacts made of precious metals. In 2014, a Roman figure of a man nearly left Britain for a private collector because it didn’t meet these criteria. The export was stopped at the last minute.

DISCOVER: My quest for Templar treasure with the History channel

Roman statues cast in bronze have slipped through the net and disappeared, which is very sad. New rules mean that will no longer happen. Or at least, if it does – it’ll be illegal.

I was given a metal detector back in the 1970s when I was about 11 years of age. Epping Forest was at the top of my road and I got hopelessly addicted. Those beeps and whines of the machine were great fun. Unfortunately, despite the huge amount of history in the area where I grew up – Roman, Saxon and medieval treasure eluded me.

In recent years, I’ve spent a lot of time visiting Paris with work. And I’m very aware that many metal detector enthusiasts make their way to the battlefields of the two World Wars looking for artefacts. I suppose because my father was alive during the last War I’m a bit queasy about this.

So are the French authorities. At the Gare du Nord rail station in Paris there are placards held up by employees warning Eurostar travellers that if they smuggle stuff out then there will be consequences.

Rob Riggle Global Investigator!

I am appearing as a contributor on the new Discovery channel history investigation series Rob Riggle Global Investigator presented by Mr Riggle – who you will have seen previously on Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show as well as several comedy movies.

Scottish Grail quest for Rob Riggle Global Investigator

He brings his comedic talents, military background and ability to connect with TV audiences to this new fun history series. I was honoured to be asked to appear with Rob on his special investigation into the Holy Grail.

We filmed at Kilwinning Abbey – a Scottish ruined medieval structure. Some believe that when the Templars fled the wrath of the King of France – they ended up in Scotland with their treasure.

So we went hunting to see what we could find!

Templars, Grail and off to Scotland!

The story behind this episode of Rob Riggle Global Investigator is that when the Knights Templar were crushed in 1307, they fled France with all their treasure. A very popular theory – though contested – has them boarding ships at the French port of La Rochelle and setting off for Scotland.

Once there, they helped Robert the Bruce defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. In gratitude, the Scottish kings let the Templars hole up with the monks at Kilwinning Abbey. Over time, they blended and merged with the monks and used their skills as masons to erect a beautiful place of worship.

One local historian claims that the Grail chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper was brought to the abbey by the Knights Templar and is hidden in a secret chamber. While another claim is that a wooden cross that once stood there included part of the True Cross – on which Jesus was crucified.

The Masonic connection

In Freemason lore, the Heredom of Kilwinning dates back to the 12th century while the Rosy Cross was a Masonic rite established after the Battle of Bannockburn. The two were merged and the clear inference is that the Templars were indeed the first Freemasons.

The Mother Lodge of Scotland – numbered as zero – is based at Kilwinning. It’s sometimes referred to as Mother Kilwinning.

There are reputedly secret tunnels under Kilwinning – one of them leading from my hotel. But for some curious reason, the hotel owner built a toilet over the tunnel entrance. She showed it to me with some trepidation. And claimed that a Catholic priest had warned her to block it (the tunnel not the toilet!) so nobody could go down. I suppose a toilet is an effective obstacle!

Anyway – enjoy!! And tune into Rob Riggle Global Investigator!

Murder of Jewish exiles in London – 700 years ago

This is a curious and terrible story I heard about years ago and found again in an old book on London history dating from the 1870s in my library. The story goes that when King Edward I of England expelled all the Jewish people from his kingdom, one ship captain deliberately murdered a group of Jews on the river Thames in London.

Under King Edward I in medieval London a terrible murder of a group of Jewish people took place on the river Thames as retold by historian Tony McMahon
Jewish people faced discrimination in medieval London

The book is called Old and New London and dates from about 1875. It details how Jewish people at that time still spoke in hushed terms about a terrible event that occurred near London Bridge in the 13th century.

After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, Jewish families were protected by the Norman kings and prospered. But things started to turn two hundred years later and then Edward I – famous as the king who executed Braveheart – decided to expel every Jew from England.

A group of Jewish Londoners hired a “mighty tall ship”, loaded all their possessions and sailed off down the Thames to an uncertain exile abroad. Accounts vary as to what happened next. One report claimed that at a place called Queenborough – near the mouth of the river Thames as it meets the sea – the captain set down the anchor.

FIND OUT MORE: Two men executed in London for being LGBT

They were on dry sands and the captain popped over the side to take a walk. Then he suggested that the Jewish exiles might want to join him and stretch their legs. And so they did. But without noticing that as the tide rose, the captain shot off back to the ship and was hauled up quickly by a rope.

This took the Jewish group by surprise. As the water rose rapidly, they cried out to him for help. And he gave them a sarcastic response. He told them that they ought to “cry rather unto Moses by whose conduct their fathers passed through the Red Sea”.

“Raging floods” then gradually engulfed them and the captain with his crew made off with their goods. In some accounts, the captain and his fellow mariners went to see King Edward I and were rewarded for their murderous cruelty. But another account claims they were hanged for their “fraudulent and mischievous dealing”.

In the 1875 book I have, it claims that “the spot in the river Thames where many of the poor exiles were drowned by the perfidy of a master-mariner is under the influence of a ceaseless rage”. That no matter how calm the Thames was elsewhere, this stretch of water was always “furiously boisterous”.

And some tellings of the tale had this unusual river current occurring under London Bridge, for some reason. Apparently it became a point of pilgrimage with young and old Jews rowing out to the supposed location to see if the river really did rage non-stop as a constant reminder of the killing.

Notre Dame – seizing an opportunity from a tragedy

I’ve spent a lot of time in Paris this year and made two visits to Notre Dame in February and March. It made me sick to my stomach to see the cathedral in flames yesterday. But almost immediately, having immersed myself in the history of Notre Dame, I recognised an opportunity that could arise from this tragedy.

Getting rid of 19th century “improvements”

It may be too soon to say this, but I’ll stick my neck out and take the risk. Notre Dame has been subject to some major changes in its 800 year history.  In the 17th century, classical pillars were added to the nave and stained glass replaced by plain glass. But it was the 19th century and a revival of interest in the medieval Gothic that led some to some very controversial changes to buildings like Notre Dame.

Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) was an architect who set out to tart up medieval buildings in France that had either fallen into disrepair or been damaged during the French Revolution of 1789. He came under fire from critics at the time for removing the 17th century classical elements put up under Louis XIV, re-introducing (as he saw it) loads of grotesque gargoyles and re-building the central spire – removed as unsafe in the 18th century.



It was this spire that collapsed during the fire yesterday. Also destroyed would have been stained glass put in by Viollet-le-Duc and other “restorations”.  The question that should now be reviewed again is whether his changes were in keeping with the original cathedral or a 19th century Romantic era idea of the Middle Ages.

The English Gothic revivalist architect Augustus Pugin seems to have despised Viollet-le-Duc calling him a “monster of architectural depravity”.  He has been rehabilitated to a degree in recent decades, particularly as his intervention stopped some medieval churches from literally toppling over.

But it’s worth considering whether everything he did to Notre Dame – some of which may now have been reduced to ashes – needs to be reconstructed as before. Might this be an opportunity to take the cathedral back to its real medieval appearance – and not Viollet-le-Duc’s imagining?

My visits to Notre Dame this year

I visited Notre Dame twice this year and here are some of my photos from inside the building – sad to look at them now. More interestingly, a digital mapping of Notre Dame was conducted recently and it revealed the need for major repairs. Wired magazine has just run a timely article on this you can read HERE.


The Green Children of Wulpet

Medieval England saw many strange incidents. Unexplained visitations that creeped out villagers who knew nothing about science or reason. One such incident was the sudden arrival of two children with green skin at the village of Wulpet. Who and what were they? The mystery is one well worth revisiting.

The strange green children of Wulpet

This is one of those stories that confirms the view of folk in the Middle Ages being…well…not the sharpest pencils in the box.  It’s a strange tale.  We must go back to the stormy reign of King Stephen, a Norman king who sat precariously on his throne fighting an insurgency from a rival claimant to his crown – the Empress Matilda.  The Anglo-Saxon chronicle claims these were miserable times for England when God himself had turned his face away from the country.

It’s in troubled periods like this that odd events seem to happen – mysterious occurrences with no rational explanation.  Maybe a product of mass hysteria – people driven out of their wits by daily strife.  And what happened in the village of Wulpit in Suffolk was, frankly, out of the ordinary. It was recorded by one William of Newburgh in 1150.  He adopts a cynical tone but says so many witnesses claimed what they saw was true that he feels compelled to repeat it.

Green children emerge from the “wolf pits” – known as Wulpet

Four or five miles from Bury St Edmunds – the shrine to a Saxon king shot through with arrows – was Wulpit….named after “ancient cavities” called Wolfpittes or ‘pits for wolves’.  While the reapers were in the fields working, two children emerged from these holes in the ground.  A boy and a girl.  Nothing untoward about that – except for their appearance.  William of Newburgh explains:

“…a boy and girl, completely green in their persons, and clad in garments of a strange colour, and unknown materials, emerged from these excavations…”

Their skin was completely green!  Well, the reapers were startled and grabbed the kids taking them to Wulpit.  The villagers gawped at them for ages, trying to feed them but the children would not take what they were offered – until somebody offered them beans from their pods.  And they gobbled them down.

Their green skin of the children of Wulpet fades!

Over time, they were taught to eat bread and learned English and then something unexpected happened – their green colour started to fade.  With this development, it was decided to baptise the boy and girl.  This proved fatal with the boy who subsequently died.  The girl survived and “differed not in the least from the women of our own country”.  She even got married.

All of which begs the question – who were these children?  This was their own explanation recorded by William of Newburgh:

‘…we only remember this, that on a certain day, when we were feeding our father’s flocks in the fields, we heard a great sound, such as we are now accustomed to hear at St Edmund’s when the bells are chiming; and whilst listening to the sound in admiration, we became on a sudden, as it were entranced, and found ourselves among you in the fields, where you were reaping’.

Wulpet green children: from the ‘land of St Martin’

They claimed to be from the ‘land of St Martin’ – a place where this saint was hugely venerated.  Did they believe in Christ in their homeland? Yes. Did the sun rise like it did in Wulpit? No.

‘The sun does not rise upon our countrymen; our land is little cheered by its beams; we are contented with that twilight, which, among you, precedes the sunrise, or, follows the sunset.’

So they lived in a permanently dark realm though, bizarrely, they could see in the distance a ‘certain luminous country’.  But they couldn’t get to it because there was a great river in between.

DISCOVER: Secrets of the Lost Gospels of Jesus

There are a large number of theories as to what or who these children were – ranging from aliens to fairies to Flemish refugees, etc, etc.  It’s not atypical of other stories in the Middle Ages detailing strange visitations to isolated villages.

One such story I like is of the villagers in a church who heard a great thump in the graveyard and found a massive anchor had dropped from the sky…and up above was a floating ship…and down the anchor chain came a sailor.  In one version of this story he was grabbed by the villagers and ‘drowned’, exploding like a being made of water.

Sounds like something from X Men!

Filming with the History Channel in Templar Tomar

I’ve been busy filming with the History channel in the Portuguese town of Tomar for a thrilling new documentary series about the Knights Templar. It’s called Buried: Knights Templar and the Holy Grail and is presented by Mikey Kay and Garth Baldwin.

This will accompany the new Templar drama Knightfall about to grace your TV screens.

DISCOVER: What links the Freemasons and the Knights Templar?

Buried follows the Templar quest for the Holy Grail and I caught up with the team in Tomar, the headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal.

Tomar, in central Portugal, was on the frontier between the Christian crusader kingdoms of northern Spain and Portugal and the Islamic caliphate to the south. This is when cities like Lisbon, Seville and Cordoba were ruled by emirs. But slowly, the crusaders and Templars conquered the whole Iberian peninsula.

One Muslim army tried to storm Tomar and the cost of much blood, the Knights Templar held the city and pushed them back. One gate where a very vicious struggle took place between Knights Templar and Muslims is still called the Gate of Blood.

I’ve visited this town many times, dominated by its Templar fortress. It’s a hugely atmospheric and enigmatic place. Nowhere I’ve been to in the world captures the essence of the Templars like Tomar.

After the Knights Templar were crushed in 1307, the Portuguese simply rebranded them as the Order of Christ. And this is why we wondered in the programme whether Tomar could have been a safe haven for Templars worldwide? And could their treasure have been buried there?

Together with the team, we set out to unearth some Templar secrets and you can find out how we got on later in the autumn – or Fall for my American followers!