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
May 25, 735: Bede ("The Venerable"), father of English history, dies. In addition to his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731), biographies of abbots, and Scripture commentaries, he wrote our primary source for the story of how Celtic and Roman Christianity clashed at the Synod of Whitby in 664 (see issue 60: How the Irish Were Saved and issue 72: How We Got Our History).
May 25, 1535: After holding Munster under siege for over a year, the army of the city's Roman Catholic bishop breaks in, capturing and killing the radical Anabaptists who had taken control. The Anabaptists had acted on the prophecy of Melchoir Hoffman (later modified by Jan Matthys) that Christ would soon return, and only Christians in Munster would survive. During the siege, Matthys and his followers became increasingly despotic and maniacal, enjoying excesses while the people starved and introducing wild innovations such as polygamy (see issue 61: The End of the World).
May 25, 1824: The SunDay and Adult SunDay School Union in Philadelphia establishes the American SunDay School Union. It purposed to use SunDay schools as a means to instill Christian and democratic values "wherever there is a population." In 1970 it changed its name to the American Missionary Society.
May 25, 1865: Evangelist and ecumenist John R. Mott is born in New York. He served 40 years with the Y.M.C.A. (while that organization was still aggressively evangelistic), chaired the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference, and was named honorary president of the World Council of Churches at its inaugural session (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century).
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