Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Friday, June 2

304
Syrian Bishop St. Erasmus (also known as St. Elmo) is disemboweled in Formia, Italy, during the savage persecution of Diocletian.
553
The Second Council of Constantinople closed. Led by Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople, the council condemned the Nestorian writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyprus and Ibas of Edessa.
597
Augustine, missionary to England and first archbishop of Canterbury, baptized Saxon king Ethelbert. Afterward, the Christian faith spread rapidly among the Angles and Saxons.
828
(or 829) Death in Contantinople, of Nicephorus, formerly Patriarch of Constantinople. He had defended the use of icons in worship against Leo III, the icon-denying Emperor. Leo had removed Nicephorus from office and restricted him to a monastery.
1070
Hereward the Wake (ie: the wary) and his followers, a resistance movement against William the Conqueror, attack and loot Peterborough Abbey, supposedly to keep its wealth from passing under Norman control because a Norman abbot had been appointed.
1537
Pope Paul III issues the bull Sublimis Deus declaring that American Indians have souls and are to be treated with human dignity.
1738
Writing of his contemporary, English revivalist George Whitefield penned in his journal: 'The good which John Wesley has done in America, under God, is inexpressible. His name is very precious among the people; and he has laid such a foundation that I hope neither man nor devils will ever be able to shake.'
1811
Baptism of Abdool Musseeh (Sheikh Salih) who had been an ardent Muslim but had begun to seek Christ after seeing his Muslim military supervisor assassinate another Muslim while vowing friendship. Shortly afterward, Husseeh heard the missionary Henry Martyn speak and was drawn by his words. Then while binding copies of Martyn's Hindustani translation of the New Testament, he had read the contents and become convinced of the truth of Christianity. He will become a strong witness among Muslims and open a Christian school, becoming a catechist for new Christians and eventually an ordained Lutheran pastor. At one point he will have to flee to escape assassination by Muslims angry at his defection from their religion; but by the time of his death he will be respected wherever he goes.
1875
James A. Healy was consecrated bishop over the Diocese of Maine, making him the first African- American bishop in the history of American Catholicism.
1901
Death in Formosa (Taiwan) of Canadian Presbyterian missionary George Leslie Mackay from throat cancer. He had been the first foreign missionary commissioned by Canada's Presbyterian church. On Taiwan his close identification with the Taiwanese had prompted him to take the unusual step of marrying a Chinese woman. Over a century later, he would be the subject of an opera.

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