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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Sunday, April 4

397
Death of Ambrose of Milan, a bishop of many talents. He will later be considered one of the four Latin fathers. He had been one of the "tools" God used to lead Augustine of Hippo to Christ.
636
Death of Isidore, archbishop of Seville, a Spanish scholar famous for his Etymologies, an encyclopedia of early medieval knowledge that used liberal arts and secular learning as the foundation of Christian education.
814
Death in Constantinople of Platon, an uncle of Theodore the Studite. The funeral oration Theodore composes for his uncle will become one of the most important sources for the history of Theodore’s family. (Theodore will be famous as a champion for the restoration of icons.)
896
Death of controversial Pope Formosus. His bones will be exhumed and his corpse tried by Pope Stephen VI but he will be reburied with full honors in St. Peter's the following year under Pope Romanus.
1081
Emperor Alexius Comnenus is crowned emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine). He will do much to restore its strength and his appeal to the West for military assistance will be a major factor in instituting the crusades.
1507
Future German reformer Martin Luther, at age 21, was ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic church.
1523
Leonard Kopp helps twelve nuns escape from their cloister at Nimschen in Saxony, hidden in his fish barrels. One of them, Katherina von Bora, will wed Martin Luther.
1541
Spanish ecclesiastic reformer and mystic Ignatius Loyola, 50, was elected the first General of the Jesuit Order, which he had helped establish the previous year.
1634
Death in Amsterdam of Episcopius, leading Arminian theologian.
1660
King Charles II of England, still in exile, issues the Breda Declaration, making promises that he will violate soon after his return to England, among them "We do declare a liberty to tender consciences; and that no man shall be disquieted, or called in question, for differences of opinion in matters of religion which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom." He will be a great persecutor of Presbyterians and of Independents such as John Bunyan.
1687
James II issued a Declaration of Indulgence allowing full liberty of worship in England. The document allowed peaceable meetings of nonconformists and forgave all penalties for ecclesiastical offenses.
1739
Handel's oratorio Israel in Egypt receives its first complete performance at the King's Theatre, London.
1742
Charles Wesley preaches his famous sermon, "Awake, thou that sleepest," to the University of Oxford. Printed, the sermon will became Methodism's most popular tract.
1840
Death of John Campbell, a Scottish businessman, missionary, preacher, and philanthropist. He had founded a tract society, numerous Sunday schools, societies for disgraced women, and a Bible society. At the request of the London Missionary Society he had even inspected mission work in South Africa. Among his charitable activities he brought Africans to Britain for training and advocated the abolition of the slave trade.
1889
Death from pneumonia of Asa Mahan, an American holiness leader and the first president of Oberlin College and of Adrian College. One of the last things he said to his wife Mary was, "Let us praise God, my dear, for all his goodness today before you go."
1944
German Holocaust victim Anne Frank, 14, wrote in her diary: 'I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift...of expressing all that is in me.'
1964
Brazil’s leading Catholics side with dictator General Castelo Branco against the social democrat João Goulart, issuing a manifesto entitled “Brazil Has Decided for Freedom” in which they denounce atheistic communism.
1965
German theologian Jurgen Moltmann revealed in a letter to Karl Barth: 'Polemics always makes one a little one-sided.'
1968
Assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, of Baptist minister the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., a vocal advocate of civil rights.
1995
Death of Sun Yanli, a hymn-writer and an eminent leader in the Three-Self Patriotic Church, the government-sanctioned church of China. Despite his associations, he was cruelly persecuted for several years during the Cultural Revolution.
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