Christian History

This Week in Christian History

June 11, 1799: Richard Allen is ordained a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

June 11, 1850: David C. Cook, a pioneer publisher of Sunday School materials, is born in East Worcester, New York. By his death in 1927, his company was the largest publisher of nondenominational Sunday school literature in the world.

 June 10, 1692: Bridget Bishop becomes the first of 19 suspected witches hanged during the “Salem Witch Trials”.

June 10, 1854: James Augustine Healy is ordained the first African-American priest in Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral. In 1875 he became the first African-American bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.

 June 9, 68: Nero Claudius Caesar, the ruler to whom the Apostle Paul appealed for justice (Acts 25:10) and who ordered the first imperial persecution of Christians, commits suicide.

June 9, 597: Columba, Irish missionary to Scotland and founder of a monastery on the island of Iona, dies at age 76. Though more monk than missionary, he established churches that went on, in time, to evangelize the Picts and the English.

June 9, 1549: England’s Act of Uniformity, passed by Parliament in January, takes effect. The act ordered that religious services be consistent throughout the country, using Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer.

June 9, 1784: Pope Pius VI names John Carroll, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States, as superior of the American mission.

June 9, 1834: William Carey, often called “the father of modern Protestant missions” dies, having spent 41 years in India without a furlough. His mission could count only about 700 converts, but he had laid a foundation of Bible translations, education, and social reform. He also inspired the missionary movement of the nineteenth century, especially with his cry, “Expect great things; attempt great things”.

 June 8, 793 (traditional date): Vikings attack the monastery at Lindisfarne, Scotland. The date is often considered the first event of the “Viking Age”.

June 8, 1536: Following Henry VIII’s Declaration of Supremacy, English clergy draw up the Ten Articles of Religion, the first articles of the Anglican Church since its break from Roman Catholicism.

June 8, 1794: French revolutionaries replace Christianity with a deistic religion honoring a trinity of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.” They renamed churches “Temples of Reason,” and a new calendar announced a 10-Day week and holiday s commemorating events of the revolution. The “reign of terror” followed, with some 1,400 people losing their heads. Napolean recognized the church again in 1804, then proceeded to imprison Pope Pius VII.

 June 7, 1099: The First Crusade reaches Jerusalem.

June 7, 1502: Ugo Buoncompagni is born in Bologna. As Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585), he issued the Gregorian calendar, supported the Inquisition, promoted the Counter-Reformation, and encouraged missions.

June 7, 1891: English Baptist Charles H. Spurgeon, who preached to (on average) 6,000 people at each of his services, delivers his last sermon at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle.

 June 6, 1654: Christina, Queen of Sweden, abdicates her throne and joins the Roman Catholic church. She spent the rest of her life engaged in religious thought.

June 6, 1844: English merchant George Williams founds the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) out of his London meetings for prayer and Bible reading.

 June 5, 754: English monk Boniface, missionary to Germany, dies with 50 other Christians in an attack by angry pagans. The missionary, famous for smashing pagan idols, also established a monastery at Fulda that is still the center of Roman Catholicism in Germany.

June 5, 988 (traditional date): Rus’s Grand Prince Vladimir orders his people to be baptized into the Orthodox Christian faith. He personally oversaw the baptism of the majority of the population of Kiev, the capital of his realm.

June 5, 1191: England’s Richard I (the Lion-hearted) of England sets sail for Muslim-controlled Acre in the Third Crusade. After helping Philip II, king of France, capture the city, Richard took Jaffa and negotiated Christian access to Jerusalem, also Muslim-controlled.

June 5, 1305: Bertrand de Got, who as Pope Clement V (1305-1314) moved the seat of papal power to Avignon, France, is born in Villandraut, France.

June 5, 1414: Bohemian reformer Jan Hus appears before the Council of Constance. Instead of allowing him to state his beliefs, the council only permitted him to answer trumped-up charges of heresy. Hus was condemned and burned the following July.

June 5, 1661: English mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton is admitted as a student to Trinity College, Cambridge. But the “greatest scientific genius the world has ever known” actually spent less of his life studying science than theology, writing 1.3 million words on biblical subjects.

 June 4, 1873: Charles F. Parham, founder of the Apostolic Faith movement and one of the founders of the modern Pentecostal movement, is born in Muscatine, Iowa. In 1900 he founded the Bethel Bible School, where speaking in tongues broke out—launching the Pentecostal movement.

June 4, 1948: The Far East Broadcasting Company, based in the Philippines and broadcasting across Asia, goes on-air with the staff singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.

 June 3, 1098: After a seven-month siege, the armies of the First Crusade recapture Antioch (now in Turkey) from the Muslims.

June 3, 1162: Thomas a Becket is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. Nominated by his friend, King Henry II (Becket had previously served as his chancellor), Becket underwent a radical change as archbishop. He became pious and devoted to the church, which Henry found annoying. When knights heard the king grumbling, they killed Becket as he prayed.

June 3, 1647: The Puritan British Parliament bans Christmas and other holidays.

June 3, 1905: Hudson Taylor, English missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, dies. “China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women,” he once said. “The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary”.

June 3, 1963: Pope John XXIII, convener of the Second Vatican Council, dies. Expected to be merely a “caretaker pope,” he ushered in some of the Roman Catholic Church’s most momentous changes in its history.

June 3, 1980: Catholic and Eastern Orthodox representatives meet officially for the first time since the Great Schism of 1054.

 June 2, 553: The Second Council of Constantinople closes, having condemned Nestorian teachings. Nestorianism teaches Jesus incarnate was two separate persons—one divine, the other human—rather than one person with two natures.

June 2, 597: Augustine, missionary to England and first archbishop of Canterbury, baptizes Saxon king Ethelbert, the first Christian English king. The missionary’s tomb in Canterbury bears this epitaph: “Here rests Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury, who being sent hither by Gregory, bishop of Rome, reduced King Ethelbert and his nation from the worship of idols to the faith of Christ”.

June 2, 1491: Henry VIII, the English king who went from being called “Defender of the Faith” by the pope (for attacking Martin Luther) to galvanizing the English Reformation, is born in Greenwich.

June 2, 1875: James Augustine Healy becomes the first African-American Roman Catholic bishop in the U.S. However, he never really identified himself with the black community.

June 2, 1979: Pope John Paul II makes a return trip to his home country of Poland, the first visit by a pope to a Communist country.

 June 1, 165 (traditional date): Justin, an early Christian apologist, is beheaded with his disciples for their faith. “If we are punished for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to be saved,” he said just before his death. Christians soon named him Justin Martyr.

June 1, 1841: Scottish missionary David Livingstone departs for Africa to become a missionary explorer. Livingstone ultimately penetrated the deepest reaches of the continent, where he proclaimed the Good News.

 June 1, 1843: Isabella Baumfree, having received a vision of God telling her to “travel up an’ down the land showin’ the people their sins an’ bein’ a sign unto them,” leaves New York and changes her name to Sojourner Truth. She became one of the most famous abolitionists and women’s rights lecturers in American history.