Today in Christian History
Pope Honorius III formally approved the Franciscan religious order. Properly called the Order of the Friars Minor, this Catholic order was founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi.
Death of Sebastian Castellio at Basle, Switzerland. He will be remembered for his book Concerning Heretics, calling for religious tolerance.
The Christmas hymn by Edmund Sears, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," was first published in "The Christian Register." Sears' carol features the American emphasis in Christian living, that is, the social message of "peace on earth, good will toward men."
Death of hymnwriter P.P. Bliss in a fiery train wreck, when a bridge near Ashtabula, Ohio, fails and his train plunges into a ravine. He had written many notable hymns, including “Hallelujah, What a Savior!” and “Almost Persuaded.” It will be remarked that the night before his death he sang, “I'm going home Tomorrow.”
Sidney Brooks becomes the first victim of the Boxer Rebellion. Assaulted near Tai'an, China, he is beaten and pricked with knives, led about with a rope through his nose, forced to stand in his underwear in freezing conditions, and finally beheaded after he manages to flee to a nearby ravine. The following year, tens of thousands of Chinese Christians and foreign missionaries will perish in massacres by the Boxers.
Death in Vineland, New Jersey, of Thomas B. Welch. A fervent Methodist, he had entered the ministry at nineteen but left because of problems with his voice. He had then become a physician and a dentist who sold alloys on the side until that became his main business. A temperance man, he had promised a recovering alcoholic that he would find a way to make a non-alcoholic communion drink. He did so but didn't succeed in marketing the product. His son Charles will be more successful with Welch's grape juice.
Conversion of Allen Yuan, who will become a Chinese evangelist.
In Tambaram, South India, the second world meeting of the International Missionary Council closed at Madras Christian College (having opened Dec. 12th). It was afterward called the IMC's Tambaram Conference.
Argentina declares the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (said to be the oldest Protestant church building in South America) a National Historic and Artistic Monument. The declaration also establishes a Russian Orthodox church and a Jewish synagogue as historic and artistic monuments.
© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"