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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Sunday, December 18

1555
Martyrdom of John Philpot, archdeacon of Winchester. As he was going to the stake in Smithfield, the sheriff's men offered to carry him over a muddy spot, but Philpot declined, saying "I am content to go to my journey's end on foot." He knelt and kissed the stake, recited three psalms and then submitted to the flame. Years earlier he had been one of the religious leaders who condemned Joan of Kent to a similar fate.
1819
Birth of Isaac Thomas Hecker, American Roman Catholic leader. He entered the Redemptorist Order in 1845, and in 1858 founded the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle (the Paulist Fathers). He was superior general of the Paulist Society during his last 30 years (1858-88).
1821
Young George Müller is jailed at Wolfenbüttel Castle (in Germany) on theft charges and will remain imprisoned until 22 January the following year. After his conversion, he will become a faithful steward of contributions to Christian charities.
1834
Emory College was chartered in Oxford, GA, under Methodist auspices. In 1915 it changed its name to Emory University and in 1919 the campus was relocated in Atlanta, GA.
1919
Death of Wu Hongyu in Shanghai. He had been one of the first three priests ordained in the American Episcopal Church of China. He had used a medical ministry to gain access to souls.
1925
Death in England of Edith Warner, from pleursy and complications, after thirty-three years of service in the Niger.
1943
German theologian and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter from prison: 'The man who finds God in his earthly happiness...does not lack reminder that earthly things are transient...and...there will be times when he can say in all sincerity, "I wish I were home."'
1974
Death in India of Evelyn "Granny" Brand, who had been an extraordinary missionary in the hill country. She had wanted to complete the work begun by her husband and herself years earlier, but mission authorities would not let her. So upon her "retirement" she moved to the hills and worked there with great success for twenty-four years more until her death.
1975
Elder Seraphim (Romantsov) takes ill during a vigil, and is forced to go to bed, where he will die on the last day of the year. He had lived a life of ascetism, humility, and prayer, giving wise spiritual council to all who requested it. Under the Soviets, he had been sent with convicts to canal construction and afterward had been forced to hide for twelve years.
1979
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith withdraws Hans Küng's missio canonica, which had permitted him to teach in the name of the church. Küng had amassed evidence against the papal claim to speak infallibility (when pronouncing officially on matters of morals and doctrine) and had made statements repugnant to Catholic theology, as that in certain circumstances a lay person could consecrate the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

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