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
March 2, 1415: At the Council of Constance, convened to end the Great Schism—during which three men claimed to be pope—John XXIII (one of the men) abdicated. Ironically, John himself had convened the council the previous year convinced that he would emerge victorious. Now he feared for his life and fled the city in disguise. It didn't work: he was brought back, condemned, and deposed. The council eventually healed the schism. It also called for the execution of Bohemian reformer Jan Hus (see issue 68: Jan Hus).
March 2, 1791: Founder of Methodism John Wesley dies in London. Thanks to his organizational genius, we know exactly how many followers he had when he died: 71,668 British members, 294 preachers, 43,265 American members with 198 preachers and 19 missionaries. Today Methodists number about 30 million worldwide (see issue 2: John Wesley and issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).
March 2, 1930: The Catholic Hour, one of the oldest religious radio programs, is inaugurated.
March 2, 1938: Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, one of the founders of Germany's "Confessing Church," is sentenced to seven months in prison for opposing Hitler. "First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist," he said. "Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. They they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me" (see issue 32: Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
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