Along with Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary (Luke 1:26-38), her Visitation to Elizabeth (1:39-56), and Jesus' birth and infancy (2:7,16; Matthew 2:11), one other biblical scene depicting the mother of Jesus is especially prominent in the history of Christian ...
Only in the Holy Land can you celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection in the place where it happened. The fourth-century pilgrim Egeria described the Holy Week services in Jerusalem: "What I admire and value most is that all the hymns and antiphons and readings, and all the prayers that the bishops say, are always relevant to the day which is being observed and to the place in which they are used." Today, much like in Egeria's era, thousands of Christians observe Good Friday by following the "Via Dolorosa"—the traditional route Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion—from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The route and rituals have changed over the centuries, but the devotion has not. Jerusalem Christians' celebration of Easter influenced Christian worship around the world. The practice of following the "stations of the cross" is one example.
As Christians from all branches of the church today rediscover the ancient traditions of Christian spirituality, the literature of early Christian monasticism is a welcome voice in our conversation with the saints. Many sources are now available in accessible English translations, so enter into the world of men and women who forsook the expectations of their society to pray in the deserts of Palestine and Egypt. Primary sources predominate on the list below, but each translation is accompanied by useful introductions and commentaries by top scholars. Enjoy!
Take the quiz ... then explore the history. In addition to the Holidays section of our archives, you can find Easter-related content in several past issues of Christian History & Biography: Issue 97: The Holy Land, Issue 83: Mary in the Imagination of the Church, and Issue 59: The Life & Times of Jesus of Nazareth
September 2, 459 (traditional date): After spending 36 years on top of a pillar praying, fasting, and occasionally preaching, Simeon Stylites dies. At first he sat on a nine-foot pillar, but he gradually replaced it with higher and higher ones; the last was more than 50 feet tall. After his death, the Syrian ascetic—who had won the respect of both pope and emperor—inspired many imitators (see issue 64: Antony and the Desert Fathers).
September 2, 1192: The Third Crusade, which had the mission of retaking Jerusalem (it had fallen to Muslim general Saladin in 1187), ends with the signing of a treaty. Though Christians had not won back Jerusalem, Richard I (later king of England) negotiated access to the holy city (see issue 40: The Crusades).
September 2, 1784: John Wesley consecrates Thomas Coke as the first "bishop" of the Methodist church by John Wesley. An indefatigable itinerant minister, Coke crossed the Atlantic 18 times, all at his own expense (see issue 2: John Wesley and issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).
September 2, 1973: Scholar, novelist, and devout Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55), dies at age 81 (see issue 7: C.S. Lewis; issue 78: J. R. R. Tolkien).
Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
—John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople; sermon, ca. 400