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Christian History

Today in Christian History

September 2

September 2, 459 (traditional date): After spending 36 years on top of a pillar praying, fasting, and occasionally preaching, Simeon Stylites dies. At first he sat on a nine-foot pillar, but he gradually replaced it with higher and higher ones; the last was more than 50 feet tall. After his death, the Syrian ascetic—who had won the respect of both pope and emperor—inspired many imitators (see issue 64: Antony and the Desert Fathers).

September 2, 1192: The Third Crusade, which had the mission of retaking Jerusalem (it had fallen to Muslim general Saladin in 1187), ends with the signing of a treaty. Though Christians had not won back Jerusalem, Richard I (later king of England) negotiated access to the holy city (see issue 40: The Crusades).

September 2, 1784: John Wesley consecrates Thomas Coke as the first "bishop" of the Methodist church by John Wesley. An indefatigable itinerant minister, Coke crossed the Atlantic 18 times, all at his own expense (see issue 2: John Wesley and issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).

September 3, 1833: Ohio's Oberlin College, the first coeducational college in the United States and one of the first to offer education to blacks, opens. Its unique character was formed as a result of the revival movement of Charles Finney, who later served as president of the school (see issue 20: Charles Finney).

September 2, 1973: Scholar, novelist, and devout Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55), dies at age 81 (see issue 7: C.S. Lewis; issue 78: J. R. R. Tolkien).

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July 30, 1718: William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania as a colony for Quakers to enjoy religious liberty, dies.

July 30, 1956: “In God We Trust” becomes the official motto of the United States by an act of Congress signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (see the U.S. Treasury website).

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