Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Tuesday, May 12

254
St. Stephen I began his reign as the Catholic Church's 23rd pope. According to the "Liber Pontificalis," it was Stephen who instituted the rule that clerics should wear special clothes at their ministrations.
403
Burial of St. Epiphanius of Salamis in a new church he had built. An Orthodox bishop, he had opposed the use of icons that was creeping into the church, famously tearing down a curtain that depicted one. In his writings he had rejected Arianism and cataloged eighty other heresies. He also wrote directives for the translation of the Bible. The Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) while authorizing the use of icons, will name him a father and teacher of the Church.
1003
Death of Pope Sylvester II. Because of his interest in science, he had been accused of being in league with Satan. He had tutored the young Otto III, who upon ascending to power elevated Sylvester to the papacy - the first Frenchman to become pope. Sylvester's main political achievement had been to form an alliance that drove the Saracens out of Italy.
1310
Fifty-four Knights Templars were burned at the stake as heretics in France. Established during the Crusades to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, this military order came into increasing conflict with Rome until Clement V officially dissolved it in 1312 at the Council of Vienna.
1792
William Carey publishes An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.... The pamphlet forces many Protestants to rethink missions and becomes their manifesto.
1838
Death in Windsor, New South Wales [Victoria], of Samuel Marsden, missionary to New Zealand known as “Greatheart of the Maori.”
1891
The Presbytery of New York voted to put the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Briggs, the new professor of biblical theology at Union Theological Seminary, on trial for heresy.
1907
Birth of Sidney N. Correll, founder and first General Director (1946-1971) of United World Mission, Inc. This evangelical missions organization is involved worldwide in evangelism, church planting and Christian education.
1938
In Holland, the four-day convention at Utrecht ended, at which the Provisional Constitution for the World Council of Churches was adopted.
1982
Pope John Paul II is approached at Fatima by a bayonet-wielding priest.

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