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Christian History

Today in Christian History

May 3

May 3, 1512: The Fifth Lateran Council, the last attempt at papal reform before the Lutheran revolt, opens in Rome.

May 3, 1675: A Massachusetts law goes into effect requiring church doors to be locked during services. Officials enacted the law because too many people were leaving before sermons were over.

May 3, 1738: English preacher George Whitefield, the most famous religious figure of the 1700s, arrives in America for his first of seven visits. In his lifetime, Whitefield preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million hearers (see issue 38: George Whitefield).

May 3, 1814: Thomas Coke, the first English bishop of the Methodist Church, dies. John Wesley sent him to oversee the American branch of Methodism in 1784; he later handed that responsibility to Francis Asbury (see issue 45: Camp Meetings and Circuit Riders, issue 2: John Wesley, and issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).

May 3, 1861: The Southern Congress approves a bill installing chaplains in Confederate armies. The American military did not normally employ chaplains, but they became a permanent fixture during and after the Civil War. Between 100,000 and 200,000 Union soldiers and approximately 150,000 Confederate troops converted to christianity during wartime revivals (see issue 33: Christianity & the Civil War).

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August 15, 1096: The First Crusade sets out from Europe to "rescue" Jerusalem from the Muslim Turks (see issue 40: The Crusades).

August 15, 1195: Anthony of Padua is born in Lisbon, Portugal. The most popular and effective preacher of his day (he had studied under Francis of Assisi), attracting crowds of up to 30,000, Anthony earned the title "hammer of the heretics" for converting so many of the dualistic Cathari. "He is truly the Ark of the Covenant and the treasury of ...

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