Today in Christian History

December 14

December 14, 872: Pope Adrian (or Hadrian) II dies. Adrian twice refused the papacy (in 855 and 858) before reluctantly accepting in 867. Weak and vacillating, he sought support from, of all people, the antipope Anastasius.

December 14, 1363: French ecclesiastical statesman and writer Jean Gerson is born. Eager to end the Great Schism of 1378-1414, he was influential in calling the Council of Pisa and the Council of Constance (which eventually ended the dual papacy). In defense of the Council of Pisa, Gerson wrote a tract promoting counciliar theory—the idea that a council can supersede the pope.

December 14, 1591: Spanish poet John of the Cross, one of the greatest Christian mystics, dies. His "Dark Night of the Soul" is one of the era's best known religious poems, and his treatises have profoundly influenced both Catholic and Protestant thought.

December 14, 1853: Illinois Institute is begun by Wesleyan abolitionists. The school became Wheaton College after its president, Jonathan Blanchard, asked local landowner Warren Wheaton for a large property donation, offering to name the school after him and "save [his] heirs the expense of a good monument.

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March 30, 1533: Thomas Cranmer is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury, England's highest religious post. Believing himself subject to the king, Henry VIII, he granted the monarch's annulment ending his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. This touched off the English Reformation, and Cranmer became its chief architect. He is also known for writing the first Book of Common Prayer(see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

March 30, 1820: The first Protestant missionaries arrive at the Sandwich Islands, now known ...

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