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Today in Christian History
Innocent VIII issued his famous "Witch Bull," ordering an inquisition to systematically discover, torture and execute witches throughout Europe. It led to the ease with which witchcraft was charged and punished, even in the American colonies two centuries later.
Anabaptist leader Hans Schlaffer is arrested by persecutors in Austria. Refusing to recant his opposition to infant baptism, he will subsequently be burned alive.
Death of Phillis Wheatley, the first published African American poet and a Christian. She had written brilliantly in English as a second language.
Missionary Wilhelm Tobias Ringeltaube lands at Tranquebar, India, serving under the auspices of the London Missionary Society, and will labor there and at Travencore with much success until 1816, when he will move on to Ceylon.
The first public performance of Hector Berlioz's Requiem takes place in a church in Paris in honor of General Damremont and other soldiers who had died during a siege in Algeria.
Death of Joseph Mohr, 56, Austrian Roman Catholic vicar and author in 1818 of the enduring Christmas hymn, "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night").
James C. Sheafe, African American pastor, organizes a new congregation of 51 members, mostly African American, into the People's SDA [Seventh-day Adventist] Church, in Washington, DC.
Death of Priscilla Jane Owens, who had been an American Methodist school teacher and author of several popular hymns, including "Jesus Saves" and "We Have an Anchor."
German theologian and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter: 'It is only when one loves life and the earth so much that without them everything seems to be over that one may believe in the resurrection and a new world.'
Televangelist Jim Bakker was charged by a federal grand jury with mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the public through the sale of thousands of lifetime memberships to PTL theme park, Heritage U.S.A. (Bakker was convicted the following year and sentenced to prison.)
© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"