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
April 19, 526: Justinian I is crowned Roman Emperor in Constantinople's magnificent cathedral, the Santa Sophia. Attempting to restore political and religious unity in the eastern and western empires, he ruthlessly attacked pagans and heretics and created the Code of Justinian, a massive restructuring of law (including much regarding the relationship of church and state) that would be the basis of legislation for nearly a millennium.
April 19, 1054: Pope Leo IX dies. Because Leo refused the title of Ecumenical Patriarch to Michael Cerularius (Patriarch of Constantinople) and demanded recognition of the filioque clause (the western addition to the Nicene creed that asserts "the Holy Ghost . . . proceeds from the Father and the Son), he is usually assigned responsibility for the final break between Eastern and Western Christianity, though the conventional date for the schism is July 16 (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).
April 19, 1529: At the Diet of Speyer (Germany), princes and 14 cities draft a formal protest of Charles V's attempt to crush Lutheranism, defending religious freedom for religious minorities, e.g. those involved in the Reformation movement. From then on, the Reformers were known as "Protestants.
April 19, 1560: German reformer Philip Melanchthon dies. The leader of the German reformation after the death of his friend, Martin Luther, Melanchthon composed the Augsburg Confession of 1530. Much more a peacemaker than Luther, he called for Lutherans and Zwinglians to put aside their differences for the sake of the reformation of the church. In addition, he led extensive efforts to develop the German educational system, for which he has been called "the teacher of Germany" (see issue 39: Luther's Later Years).
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