Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Thursday, March 12

604
Death of Pope Gregory the Great, known for his Dialogues, his teachings, his revision of the worship service, and promulgation of Gregorian chant, as well as the evangelization of England.
1022
Death at Paloukiton (across the Bosphorus from Constantinople) of Symeon the New Theologian, of dysentery, after thirteen years of exile. He had emphasized the importance of experiencing directly the grace of God and described his own mystical experience with “Divine Light.” Although contemporary church authorities had condemned his teachings, later generations in the Eastern Orthodox Church will declare him a saint and honor him with the rare title “theologian.”
1607
Birth of Paul Gerhardt, German clergyman and hymnwriter. He lost four of his five children in childhood, yet also composed over 130 hymns, including "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded." (Gerhardt's music marks the transition in Lutheran hymnody from confessional and high-church hymns to hymns of devotional piety.)
1622
Gregory XV issues the bull "Decet Romanum Pontificem" which regulates the ceremonial for papal elections and introduces the secret vote. It is the second bull the pope has issued to bring order to - and break deadlocks in - papal elections. The same title had also been used for a bull excommunicating Luther.
1734
Protestant refugees from the Catholic city of Salzburg land in Georgia where five days later they will found the town of Ebenezer.
1826
Birth of Robert Lowery, American Baptist clergyman and hymnwriter. He is chiefly remembered today for writing and composing the hymns "Christ Arose," "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus," "We're Marching to Zion," "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" and "I Need Thee Every Hour."
1904
Raphael Hawaweeny was ordained Eastern Orthodox bishop of Brooklyn, NY, at St. Nicholas Church. As a vicar under the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia, Hawaweeny thus became the first Russian Orthodox bishop ordained in America.
1925
Death in Beijing of Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who had made some claim to be a Christian and who will be given a private Christian funeral.
1950
Pope Pius XII issues an encyclical "for combating atheistic propaganda throughout the world."
2000
Pope John Paul II asks God's forgiveness for the sins of Roman Catholics through the ages, including wrongs inflicted on Jews, women, and minorities.

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© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"