Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Wednesday, August 15

347
The proconsul of Africa proclaims unity of the African church under Gratus after years of conflict between the Catholic Church and the stricter Donatists. Donatus withdraws into exile.
718
Saracen leader Moslemah raises his siege of Constantinople, after a brilliant defense by Emperor Leo III, who thereby becomes the first Christian ruler to significantly thwart the advance of Islam. Because it is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Byzantines ascribe their victory to the mother of Christ. After forsaking the siege, many of the Arab ships involved will be destroyed by a storm and others will burn when ashes from the volcano of Santorini fall on them.
1038
Death in Esztergom, Hungary, of St. Stephen, first king of Hungary. Baptized and reared a Christian, he had founded many monasteries and churches and sent Christian missionaries throughout his realm.
1096
The armies of the First Crusade set out from Europe to deliver Jerusalem from the occupying forces of Islamic Turks. Championed by Peter the Hermit in 1093, Pope Urban II had sanctioned the crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095.
1534
Ignatius of Loyola founds "the company of Jesus," describing their organization as similar to that of fur traders but focused on God's will, not beaver skins. In 1540 it will gain the approval of the pope, who will name it the Society of Jesus. More often they will be known as "Jesuits."
1549
The first Christian missionaries to reach Japan landed at Kagoshima (on the coast of Kyushu, southernmost of the four main islands of Japan). They were a band of Spanish Jesuits, led by pioneer Catholic missionary Francis Xavier, 43.
1557
Agnes Prest is burned to death at Southern Hay by Queen Mary's government because of her rejection of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.
1613
Birth of Jeremy Taylor, Anglican clergyman and devotional writer. Two of his works became classic expressions of Anglican spirituality: "The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living" (1650) and "The Rule and Exercise of Holy Dying" (1651).
1917
An All-Russian Church Council convenes in Moscow. It will restore the Patriarchial form of church government abolished by Peter the Great almost two hundred years earlier in 1721.
1964
A truck-load of rebel soldiers takes over the hospital compound at Nobobongo, Congo, which they will occupy for five months. Among the women held by them is medical missionary Dr. Helen Roseveare who will live to tell a tale of severe abuse and terror. (For example, she will be repeatedly raped and a local chief will be found "guilty" by a "people's court" and flayed alive and eaten.)

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