Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Wednesday, January 17

Pope Gregory XI enters Rome from Avignon, hoping to put down an Italian revolt against him. He will send Robert of Geneva (later antipope Clement VII) with a company of ferocious Breton adventurers to crush the rebellion with atrocities, but it will continue. In about a year, Gregory will die, leaving the situation worse than it was.
Zurich City Council holds a public debate on infant baptism, which reformer Ulrich Zwingli has mandated as a covenantal act, but which Anabaptists such as Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz oppose, saying that baptism symbolizes a believer's commitment to Christ and therefore must be entered into by adults with understanding.
Edict of St. Germain is issued, allowing Huguenots to preach in France.
Trial of Ludovick Muggleton, a fanatic religious leader who had gathered many followers and annoyed London authorities by claiming to be one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 and publicly cursing opponents. He will be sentenced to stand in the pillory for three days in three sections of London, to pay a £500 fine (or go to jail), and to have his books publicly burned. The sect of Muggletonians had arisen under his teaching.
Death in Essex, England, of John Ray, a naturalist and theologian. He systematized botanical classification and developed a theology that sought to understand God's wisdom and power by studying created things. His system for classifying plants seems to have been the first to divide flowering plants into monocots and dicots.
Colonial missionary to the American Indians David Brainerd wrote in his journal: 'Oh, how comfortable and sweet it is, to feel the assistance of divine grace in the performance of the duties which God has enjoined on us!'
Death in London, England, of Charles Gore, founder of the Community of the Resurrection, an Anglican monastery. He had been an author, a bishop, and an advocate for social justice.
Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish Lutheran diplomat, is last seen alive by his friends after Soviets take him into custody. His resourcefulness had saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during Nazi occupation. He will be remembered with other Righteous Gentiles in the Episcopal Church calendar on July 19.
Death in Madagascar of Clara Clerget, French-born nun (Sister Anne-Marie of the Visitation), who had spent over fifty years as a missionary in Madagascar, most of it working with leprosy patients. Her radiant personality had attracted much attention and so she will be treated with high honors at her funeral.
The Supreme Court of India (Hindu) rules that the successful work of a Christian evangelist is a threat to the "freedom of conscience" guaranteed to all citizens of India.

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© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"