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Christian History Home > This Week in Christian History

The Current Week in 2015:

August 2

August 2, 1100: William the Conqueror's son and successor Rufus, a wicked king who delighted in torture, seizing church property, and blasphemy, is mysteriously killed while hunting by an arrow that flew out of nowhere. No one mourned, and England took his eternal damnation for granted.




August 3

August 3, 1492: Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain for the "Indies." Though the explorer was in part driven by a quest for gold and glory, he also saw himself as a missionary. He thought, if there were a shortcut to the East by sea, missionaries could be sent there faster, thus enabling Christians to meet the provision for world evangelization before the Lord could return (see issue 35: Christopher Columbus).




August 4

August 4, 1792: By order of revolutionaries, all houses of worship close in France.

August 4, 1892: English medical missionary Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell arrives in Labrador, Newfoundland. He labored as a physician and missionary for 42 years and was instrumental in building orphanages, hospitals, cooperative stores, and other community organizations.




August 5

August 5, 642: Oswald, the king of Northumbria who first began the official establishment of Christianity in England, is "martyred" in battle against the pagan Penda of Mercia. Converted at Iona, Scotland, Oswald erected a wooden cross before one of his earliest battles and commanded his soldiers to pray. When he defeated the English king in that battle, Oswald commissioned the Irish monk Aidan to begain establishing Christianity(see issue 60: How the Irish Were Saved).

August 5, 1570: Spanish Jesuits, intent on converting the Native Americans, arrive in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Six months later, Native Americans massacred the group, and the Jesuits ended their work in the region.

August 5, 1604: John Eliot, the "Apostle to American Indians," is baptized. He succeeded in converting over 3,600 Native American, publishing the Bay Psalm Book (the first book printed in America), and forming the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

August 5, 1656: Eight Quakers from England arrive in Boston, where Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony immediately imprisoned them without trial. They were held until the ships that brought them were ready to take them back to England (see issue 41: The American Puritans).




August 6

August 6, 258: Emperor Valerian executes Bishop of Rome Sixtus II preaching a sermon in a cemetery. The emperor originally tolerated Christians, but switched to persecuting them because he believed they were responsible for the plagues, earthquakes, and other disasters that disturbed his reign (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

August 6, 1221: Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (or Dominicans), dies, having just confessed his darkest sin—that, though he had always been chaste, he enjoyed talking with younger women more than older ones. He left this "inheritance" to his followers: "Have charity among you, hold to humility, possess voluntary poverty." A mere five years earlier, he had six followers. At his death, he had thousands (see issue 73: Thomas Aquinas).

August 6, 1651: Francois Fenelon, Roman Catholic priest and mystical theologian, is born in Perigord, France. His 1697 Explication des Maximes des Saintes is still in print under the title Christian Perfection.

August 6, 1774: Ann Lee and a small band of her followers arrive in New York from Liverpool, England. Though known as the "Shaking Quakers" and later the "Shakers," the millenarian communal society preferred to call itself the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming. They initially did not receive a warm welcome, as they were British and advocated pacifism and celibacy.

August 6, 1801: Revival hits a Presbyterian camp meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Within a week, 25,000 were attending the revival services. It was the largest and most famous camp meeting of the Second Great Awakening (see issue 45: Camp Meetings and Circuit Riders).




August 7

August 7, 317: Constantius II, Son of Constantine the Great and Roman emperor from 337 to 361, is born. During his lifetime, he outlawed pagan sacrifice (see "The Emperor Strikes Back" in issue 57: The Conversion of Rome). But Constantius was also a devout Arian (a heresy his father had condemned at the Council of Nicea) and strongly opposed Athanasius (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church).

August 7, 1409: The Council of Pisa, convened by the cardinals to end the Great Schism that had divided Western Christendom since 1378, closes. The council deposed both warring popes as schismatics and heretics, and elected Alexander V. It didn't end the schism (as there were now three warring popes), but it paved the way toward a solution at the Council of Constance in 1417 (see issue 68: Jan Hus).

August 7, 1560: The Scottish Parliament ratifies the Calvinistic "Scottish Confession," which had been drawn up in four days principally by John Knox. The document remained the confessional standard until superseded by the Westminster Confession in 1647 (see issue 46: John Knox

August 7, 1771: Francis Asbury answers John Wesley's call for volunteers to go to America as missionaries; he would become the father of American Methodism (see issue 45: Camp Meetings & Circuit Riders).




August 8

August 8, 1471: Thomas a Kempis, Dutch mystic and devotional author of The Imitation of Christ, dies at age 91. In his classic, Thomas wrote, "We must imitate Christ's life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ.

August 8, 1492: Albrecht Durer's art is published for the first time when one of his woodcuts serves as the title page for St. Jerome's letters. In a few years, he became one of the most famous painters and engravers in Germany.






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