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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Friday, August 15

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.
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.
1579
Repose (death) of the venerable Gerasimus, a much-traveled ascetic, priest, and abbot of the Orthodox church.
1853
Death, from inflammation of the brain, of Frederick W. Robertson, a prominent Anglican clergyman. His ministry had been mainly among the working classes but his writings were widely read and especially cherished by evangelicals. He had been ordained bishop of Winchester in 1840.
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.)
1967
Latin American bishops issue the "Message of the Bishops of the Third World" denouncing structural oppression in society. It is part of the development of what is called "liberation theology."
1988
Pope John Paul II addresses the role and importance of women in an apostolic letter, but reaffirms the male-only priesthood for certain church rituals such as the mass.

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