Today in Christian History

December 7

December 7, 374: Ambrose is consecrated bishop of Milan, Italy. The first bishop to stand up to the emperor and win (thus creating a church-state precedent that would influence the West for a millennium), he was also an influential theologian, especially regarding the Holy Spirit. His preaching led to the conversion ofAugustine (see issue 15:Augustine and issue 67:Augustine).

December 7, 430: December 7, 430: Cyril of Alexandria condemns the Antiochene monk Nestorius, who claimed Christ was two persons (divine and human) rather than one person with two natures (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church).

December 7, 521: Irish monk Columba, missionary to Scotland and founder of Iona and many other monastic communities, is born in Donegal (see issue 60: Celtic Christianity).

December 7, 1254: Innocent IV, who became pope in the middle of a tremendous controversy with Holy Roman emperor Frederick II, dies. As the controversy continued, both sides called each other the Antichrist. Frederick's supporters noted that the Roman numerals of "Innocencius papa" (if you count p, the 16th Greek letter as 16), adds up to 666. "There is no doubt that he is the true Antichrist," they concluded (see issue 61: The Second Coming).

December 7, 1598: Sculptor and architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, best known for "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa," is born in Naples.

December 7, 1965: Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lift mutual excommunications in place since the Great Schism of 1054 (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).

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January 24, 1076: Germany's Henry IV convenes the Synod of Worms to secure the deposition of Pope Gregory VII. The Synod charged the pope with serious crimes, called upon Rome to depose him, and issued other anti-papal statements. The pope quickly excommunicated Henry. One year later, Henry traveled to Canossa, Italy, and stood three days in the snow in an attempt to gain Gregory's forgiveness. Gregory granted it, but the two men soon fought again; Henry set up an antipope in Gregory's place.

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