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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Friday, August 4

1538
At the order of King Henry VIII of England, the rich priory at Walsingham is surrendered to the royal commissioner William Petre to be dissolved. Dedicated to the Virgin, the place had been a favorite destination of pilgrims, including Erasmus (who later lampooned such pilgrimages). King Henry VIII himself had once made a pilgrimage there, supposedly walking barefoot from Bareham, with his first wife, Catherine.
1708
Death in Accomack, Virginia, of Francis Makemie, an Irish missionary who established the first Presbyterian church in America. His acquital in New York for preaching without a license, obtained with the help of leading New England Congregationalists, is viewed as a landmark in freedom of religion in America.
1713
Death in Windsor, Berkshire, England, of William Cave, an eminent scholar and churchman, who wrote Apostolici: or, The History of the Lives, Acts, Death, and Martyrdoms of Those Who Were Contemporary with or Immediately Succeeded the Apostles. As Also the Most Eminent of the Primitive Fathers for the First Three Hundred Years. To Which Is Added, a Chronology of the First Three Ages of the Church.
1789
In an attempt to appease the anger of French revolutionary masses, the clergy of France renounce their titles and many customary fees. Despite these concessions, France will soon begin to pass laws stripping religious institutions of privileges and property.
1821
Reverend William C. Blair, the first Sunday school missionary of the United States, begins his work. In his first year, he will travel twenty-five hundred miles, mostly on horseback, visiting six states, founding sixty-one Sunday schools, inspecting thirty-five others, establishing four adult schools and six tract societies. When later giving his report, he will apologize that illness hindered him from doing more. The Sunday and Adult School Union will be so impressed, however, that they will hire additional missionaries.
1874
Methodist clergyman John H. Vincent (1832-1920) and Ohio manufacturer Lewis Miller established the Chautauqua Assembly in northwest New York state a summer retreat center combining recreational activities with the training of Sunday School teachers and other church workers.
1879
Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical "Aeterni patris," which urged the study of "true" philosophy, especially that of Thomas Aquinas. The injunction led to a great revival of both Thomist studies and scholastic philosophy.
1884
Birth of Sigmund O.P. Mowinckel, Norwegian Old Testament scholar. Associated from 1917-54 with Oslo University, his most influential work was done in the Psalms. In 1951 he published "The Psalms in Israel's Worship" (1963).
1930
Nicholas Frolovich Blazhnov, a reader in the Russian Orthodox Church, is arrested by Communist authorities. Five months later, he will be sentenced to death and executed within a few weeks.
1959
Swedish Christian and U.N. Secretary General Dago Hammarskald observed in his journal (Markings): 'We encounter a world where each man is a cosmos, of whose riches we can only catch glimpses.'

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