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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Friday, May 20

325
Council of Nicea opens to settle the issue between Arians and Catholics. This is the church's first ecumenical church council since the days of the apostles.
1277
Scholarly Pope John XXI is crushed to death at Viterbo, Italy, when his study ceiling collapses on him.
1506
Death of Christopher Columbus at Valladolid, Spain. The explorer had opened the Americas to colonization and considered it his mission to bring Christianity to the New World.
1521
A cannonball strikes Spanish soldier Iñez "Ignatio" Loyola, breaking his right leg. While recovering, he reads the lives of saints and determines to imitate them. He will write a famous guide to Christian meditation, the Spiritual Exercises, and found the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
1527
Austrian authorities torture and kill the Anabaptist leader Michael Sattler as an archheretic.
1530
German reformer Martin Luther wrote in a letter: 'God's friendship is a bigger comfort than that of the whole world.'
1535
Pope Paul III makes a cardinal of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Fisher has long opposed King Henry VIII and even invited Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to invade England. Henry declares that he will send Fisher's head to Rome to get his cardinal's hat - and soon will have him beheaded.
1560
The scholar John Feckenham is taken to the Tower of London in England for refusing to take the oath of supremacy. He will spend twenty-four years there.
1690
Death of John Eliot, 86, colonial missionary to the American Indians of Maryland. Eliot arrived in America from England in 1631; by 1663 he had translated the entire Bible into the Algonquin Indian language.
1732
Death at Ettrick, Scotland, of Thomas Boston, an influential Scottish minister and author of The Crook in the Lot.
1754
Columbia University in New York City was chartered as King's College, under sponsorship of the Episcopal Church. The institution adopted its present name in 1896.
1878
William R. Featherstone died at the age of 32. A Canadian Methodist who spent his life in Montreal, it was Featherstone who authored the hymn, "My Jesus, I Love Thee."
1930
Three days after sentencing him to death, Soviets shoot Mark Arsenyevich Dannik, warden of the Orthodox church in Ustyanka, Loktevsky Region. He is executed for anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation - that is, for speaking against the wickedness of the Soviet regime.
1937
Following a lifelong call to establish a worldwide evangelistic ministry to children, missions pioneer Jesse Overholtzer, 59, founded Child Evangelism Fellowship, in Chicago.
1943
Smith College awards Wu Yi-fang, first Chinese woman to head a Chinese college (Ginling Women's College), an honorary Doctor of Law degree.
1945
The Christian Airmen's Missionary Fellowship is officially born. Later it will change its name to Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF). Betty Greene, an American wartime pilot, had written an article in which she suggested using planes to help missionaries. Jim Truxton, a Navy pilot, saw it, contacted Betty and suggested organizing to implement her idea.
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