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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Thursday, February 21

1076
Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV sends a sneering letter to Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII) who is in council. The bishops scream for the messenger's death but Hildebrand shields the man with his own body.
1109
Death of Anselm of Canterbury, 76, priest and theologian. Best remembered for his 1099 classic, "Cur Deus Homo" ("Why God Became Man"), Anselm is regarded as the most original thinker in the Catholic Church since Augustine. His most often quoted saying was: 'I believe, in order that I may understand.'
1173
Pope Alexander III canonized Thomas Becket (1118-70). As Archbishop of Canterbury, Becket had been martyred three years earlier on orders of English King Henry II a former friend until Becket was elevated to Archbishop in 1162.
1595
Robert Southwell is hanged, drawn, and quartered. A Jesuit, he had lived secretly in London, providing priestly services for several years during the reign of Elizabeth I. After his capture he had undergone thirteen tortures.
1795
Freedom of worship was established in France under the constitution that came out of the French Revolution of 1789.
1831
Death in Bristol of the Baptist preacher Robert Hall. The depth of his ideas had been such that he is said to have held large audiences spellbound despite a weak voice. His mental breakdowns had occasionally resulted in stays in asylums.
1896
Walter Grand Taylor converts to Christianity in a hotel room. The conversion is brought on by his realization that his young wife, a Christian, who has just died, is already in heaven, while he is doomed. Twenty years later he will become head of the Pacific Garden Mission.
1945
Death of Eric Liddell, 43, Scottish Olympic champion runner. Later a missionary to China, Liddell was captured by the Japanese during WWII and died of a brain tumor while still imprisoned. (His college running days were portrayed in the 1981 British film, "Chariots of Fire.")
1954
Appointment of Bonaventure Dlamini, of the Franciscan Familiars of St. Joseph, as South Africa's first black Catholic bishop.
2009
The Vatican announces that Father Damien, famed for his work with lepers on Hawaii, will be canonized.

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