April 8, 1378: Bartolomeo Prignano is elected Pope Urban VI. Mired in political controversy even before his election (threats from masses of violent demonstrators helped drive his election), his violent demeanor did little to contradict rumors that he was insane. His electors conspired to leave Rome and name a new pope (Clement VII), starting the Great Western Schism.
April 8, 1546: At its fourth session, the Council of Trent adopts Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible (called the Vulgate), completed in 405, as the only authentic Latin text of the Scriptures. It became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church (see issue 43: How We Got Our Bible).
April 8, 1857: A small group of Dutch immigrants, meeting in Zeeland, Michigan, organize the Christian Reformed Church.
April 8, 1901: After nearly 30 years of successful church planting in New Guinea, Presbyterian missionary James Chalmers (accompanied by missionary Oliver Tomkins, who had just arrived in the field) sets out to explore a new part of the islands. No one ever saw the two again. A rescue party learned the men had been clubbed to death and eaten by cannibals. When London preacher Joseph Parker heard the news, he exclaimed, "I do not want to believe it! Such a mystery of Providence makes it hard for our strained faith to recover. Yet Jesus was murdered. Paul was murdered ... I cannot but feel that our honored and nobleminded friend has joined a great assembly.
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 ...