Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Wednesday, March 31

1515
Needing money to rebuild St. Peter's basilica, Pope Leo X announces a sale of indulgences to run for eight years beginning this day. Albert of Brandenberg, deeply in debt after purchasing his position as archbishop, is allowed to keep half the proceeds, but will not profit as greatly as he hopes because the indulgence will anger the friar Martin Luther, who will post his Ninety-Five Theses in response. The Reformation will result.
1748
Isaac Backus is called to be pastor to Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He will become a notable Baptist evangelist and an advocate of religious freedom.
1783
On Easter Sunday, Fra Junipero Serra founds San Buenaventura, the ninth Spanish mission in California.
1799
Missionary and physician Johannes Van Der Kemp reaches South Africa. He will study the Xhosa and Khoikhoi languages and outrage European opinion by marrying a young African woman.
1836
Death of Anglican bishop Henry Ryder, the first of the 19th-century evangelicals to become a bishop of the Church of England.
1879
Death of Russian Orthodox archbishop John Veniaminov (St. Innocent of Alaska), a missionary evangelist to Alaska and archbishop of the far western territories of Russia. He had also served as Metropolitan of Moscow.
1901
Death in Verona, Italy, of John Stainer, composer of much church music, including the cantata The Crucifixion.
1945
Mother Maria” Skobtsova is executed at the gas chamber in Ravensbrück. An unconventional nun of the Orthodox Church, she had been famous for helping “down and out” people, including Jews persecuted by Nazi conquerors in France. She will be declared a saint in 2004.
1950
American missionary and martyr Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: 'How the Savior suffered in the sinner's place! What tormented him in time menaces the sinner for eternity.'
2011
Death of Tanzanian evangelist Yohana Zebedayo who worked with the Africa Inland Church, preaching Christ-centered sermons.

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