Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Wednesday, March 21

418
In a letter to the North African bishops, Pope Zosimus declares that none dare dispute the judgment of the see of Rome, but in the same letter responds to their pleas by reversing his own earlier position and declaring Pelagius a heretic.
1146
King Louis VII of France took up the cause of the Second Crusade, in response to Bernard of Clairvaux's preaching, and became leader of the ill-fated mission.
1526
In Zurich, Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and George Blaurock escape from prison down a rope. Pacifist Anabaptists, they believed Christians should not hold power, but had been condemned to life imprisonment on concocted charges of fomenting revolution. Captured again that year, Manz and Blaurock will be again imprisoned, and Manz will be executed by drowning in 1527.
1556
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer is burned alive on orders of Mary Tudor, officially because of his "heresies" (he had been a leader in the English Reformation), but actually because of his role in providing King Henry VIII with a divorce from Mary's mother Catherine many years earlier.
1656
Death of the archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher. His Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti proposed a biblical chronology that placed the creation of the world in 4004 BC, and his dates will be incorporated into the notes of many Bible versions.
1747
[N.S.] On a slave ship bound for England, during a violent storm at sea, English sea captain John Newton, 22, was dramatically converted to a living faith. It was more than a "foxhole religion," as Newton soon abandoned the sea, and from 1764 until his death (43 years later), he devoted his life as a clergyman in the Anglican Church.
1806
Burial of David Dale, a Scottish manufacturer and philanthropist who sought to alleviate the condition of the poor by providing food, housing, and education at his mills. He had opened new mills to provide work for the unemployed. Strongly evangelical, he served as a lay preacher and headed many philanthropic endeavors, and was known as a lenient magistrate.
1863
Death of Davis Griffiths, a missionary to Madagascar, who had translated the Bible into the Malagasy language.
1965
Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr. leads more than three thousand civil rights demonstrators on a march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery. By the time they reach their destination four days later, the number of protesters will have swelled to twenty-five thousand.
2007
Teacher Christianah Oluwasesin of Nigeria is beaten to death by a mob on an accusation that she touched a student's handbag which had a Koran in it, thus defiling the Koran.

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