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Today in Christian History
In Paris, fifty-four Knights Templars are burned alive. The order had been established to protect Holy Land pilgrims from bandits, becoming the "bankers" of the Middle Ages. Philip the Fair of France, wanting to seize their vast wealth, likely had trumped up the charges of blasphemy and homosexuality against them to convince Pope Clement to disband the order.
At the insistence of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo begins work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. He writes this note to himself, "On this day, May 10, 1508, I Michelangelo, sculptor, have received on account from our Holy Lord Pope Julius II five hundred papal ducats toward the painting of the ceiling of the papal Sistine Chapel, on which I am beginning work today."
Birth of Frances Elizabeth Cox, English translator. She made 56 contributions to the 1841 publication, "Sacred Hymns from the German," including "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above."
English church leader John Henry Newman wrote in a letter: 'I wish it were possible for words to put down those indefinite, vague and withal subtle feelings which quite pierce the soul and make it sick. What a veil and curtain this world of sense is. Beautiful, but still a veil.'
Birth of Wilhelm Wrede, a German Bible scholar who contended that the gospels reflected the theology of the primitive Church rather than the true history of Jesus. Wrede thus contributed his name to the title of Albert Schweitzer's 1906 theological classic: "The Quest of the Historical Jesus: From Reimarus to Wrede."
At her urging, Ana M. Jarvis's church in Philadelphia holds one of the first Mothers' Day services. Ana supplies the church with white carnations, which had been her mom's favorite flower.
Death in Bristol, England, of hymnwriter Anna Laetitia Waring. Born Quaker, she had become an Anglican and was a social reformer active in prison visitation. Her best-known hymn was "In Heavenly Love Abiding."
Death in Hitchin, England, of Bible scholar Henry Barclay Swete, an Anglican who had stood firmly for the Bible when modern scholarship attacked it. He was a founder of the Journal of Theological Studies and wrote The Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint. He was described as a "pillar of Christian learning and a pattern of Christian life."
The Declaration of Union reunited the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S. after 109 years of division. (The Methodist Protestant Church had separated from the parent denomination in 1830, as had the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, later, in 1844.)
German bombers hit the Salvation Army's International Headquarters in London, destroying many documents of historic interest.
© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"