<![CDATA[Today in Christian History]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/ Sun, 30 Apr 2017 22:38:10 GMT Sun, 30 Apr 2017 22:38:10 GMT LemonStand <![CDATA[Birth of Hannibal Goodwin, Christian Inventor - April 30]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/30/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/30/ Sun, 30 Apr 2017 22:38:10 GMT Birth of Hannibal Goodwin, Christian InventorHannibal Goodwin

HANNIBAL GOODWIN was born on this day 30 April, 1822 in Taughannock Falls, New York. Although raised a Methodist, he was delighted with the first Episcopal service he attended and left law school to become a minister in the Episcopal Church. After graduation, he married and served in New Jersey towns. While at Trenton, he developed lung problems and moved to California for a change of climate. There he founded the first Episcopal church in Napa Valley, pastored in Maryville, and established a girls school in San Francisco. 

Some years later, he returned to New Jersey, where he became the rector (clergyman) of the Episcopal House of Prayer in Newark. Teaching God’s word to children was his passion, and to that he owes his remembrance today. 

Children would learn better, he thought, if they could visualize Bible scenes. He determined to produce images for a stereopticon (a projector that combines two slightly different images to create a three dimensional effect). At that time, glass plates were used for photography and the process was slow. Goodwin felt that a light and flexible material would work better, and so he began experimenting. He invented celluloid film rolls for photography as a result. George Eastman was a member of his congregation at the time and imitated the process for the Eastman-Kodak company. 

At once people recognized the importance of Goodwin’s invention. However, Goodwin said, “Yes, my invention—but I don’t like to be called an inventor. A priest of the church is my title, and of that I am proud, and am glad to state that at the very time I happened to make this invention, I was exercising a certain feature of my ministerial profession.” 

Goodwin would see little profit himself from the process.  Indeed, he almost did not get credit for it, because for eleven years Eastman-Kodak blocked his patent while making large profits off the film themselves. The courts eventually ruled in Goodwin’s favor. Before he could go into production, however, he was injured in a street accident that fractured his leg and led to his death in 1900 through the complications that followed. His wife, Rebecca Allen Goodwin, received part of a $5 million settlement from the Eastman-Kodak company, but lived only one year to enjoy it. 

In 1914, friends and grateful photographers joined together to erect a tablet that read, “His experiments culminated in 1887 in the invention of the photographic film. As a memorial to the inventor of the device that has proved so potent for the instruction and entertainment of mankind this tablet is erected.” 

Among Goodwin’s other patents was a process for photographic printing. Although his film rolls led directly to an enormous photography business and to the rise of the movie industry, some major encyclopedias do not have entries for Hannibal Goodwin.

Other Notable Events


The Scriptures Visualized Institute moves two days before its old lease expires. Almost miraculously, its new building had been completed in time, despite steel shortages. It was one of the earliest gospel film companies to make a lasting impact in the field.


Nlemvo (Mantantu Dundulu) converts to Christianity, the first Protestant convert in the Congo. He will collaborate in translating the New Testament, Proverbs, and Psalms into the Kikongo language, with other Christian literature.


Death of Ignatius Bryanchaninov, who had been a bishop and theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church and the writer of many books on prayer and spiritual life, intended primarly for monks.


Missionary James Calvert experiences joy when a Fijiian chief on Viwa Island orders that the death drums, formerly used to announce human sacrifice, would now call everyone to the worship of God.


Death at Mount Sheffield, of James Montgomery, author of the Christmas carol “Angels from the Realms of Glory.”

Marguerite Bourgeoys establishes the first uncloistered Catholic misisonary community in the new world at Ville Marie, Canada.
Pope Urban sails from Avignon to Italy to restore the papacy to Rome.

Roman Emperor Honorius issues an imperial edict banishing Pelagians from Rome as a great threat to peace. They seemed to teach that people have a say in their own salvation apart from grace.

<![CDATA[Joan of Arc Entered Orleans - April 29]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/29/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/29/ Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Joan of Arc Entered OrleansJoan of Arc

IN 1429 things were going badly for France in what became known as “The Hundred Years War.” England’s king claimed the French throne, and his armies held everything north of the Loire River as well as the province of Burgundy. Now his forces were besieging Orleans, a key city on the Loire. Should it fall, everything south of the Loire would be open to invaders. 

Surprisingly, the tide turned thanks to a peasant girl. Joan tended sheep and spun thread like any other girl of her status. She lived in the Burgundian town of Domremey and was as deeply distressed by the French losses as any patriot. Simple and pious, she had heard voices from the age of thirteen. Now she declared that saints and angels had appeared to her, and declared that God would deliver France through her. 

Slipping away from her parents with the excuse that she wanted to visit an uncle in a neighboring town, she presented herself to local officials, announcing her mission and asking for help. 

Although Joan was unable to convince local authorities, a few people believed her and promised assistance. Soon she rode into Tours where the Dauphin (heir to the French throne) was frittering his days away in pleasure while the English gnawed at his kingdom. Joan picked the disguised Dauphin out of a crowd of courtiers. The Dauphin had theologians examine her faith and the women of his household examine her virginity. She passed both examinations. 

Joan declared that she was sent to save Orleans. It took the Dauphin and his soldiers some convincing, but eventually she was given an army, a banner, and a gorgeous suit of armor. She immediately rode to the relief of the besieged city. On this day, 29 April 1429, Joan arrived at Orleans. A storm raged and the wind was against her. She ordered a convoy loaded onto boats anyhow, promising the wind would change. It did. Under cover of a rainstorm and assisted by a sally from Orleans, Joan got supplies and troops into the city. She herself insisted on staying with two hundred men while army leaders returned for another convoy. 

Four days later, this second force also entered Orleans unharmed by the English. On 4 May the French began a battle without telling Joan. Things went badly for them but as soon as Joan suited up and reached the front line, she rallied the French around her banner. After three hours of furious fighting, they captured a bastille held by the English. 

In succeeding days, her resolution inspired the army to action when its leaders wanted to rest content with what they had just attained. French captains tried to prevent her from attacking the Bastille des Tournelles, the strongest of the English garrisons, but she insisted, and the people supported her. During the fighting, an arrow pierced her, stalling the French attack. Joan had the arrow pulled from her body and the wound bandaged, and she hurried back into the fight, to the consternation of the English, leading another charge. Tournelles fell. As she had predicted, she rode back by the bridge. The English raised their siege. Barely eight days had passed since her arrival in Orleans. 

In just a few more days, the English garrisons around Orleans were all captured, but the Dauphin still had to be coaxed into action. Joan convinced him to undertake a few moves, which he did, if only half-heartedly. After the French won a key victory at Pasay, the way was open to Rheims, the traditional location for the crowning of French kings. Still Joan had trouble convincing the Dauphin to have himself crowned. He finally did. 

Joan had completed the two tasks she believed God had laid upon her—relieving Orleans and crowning the king. However, frustration lay before her. The king lacked the heart and vision to pursue his present advantages, and he failed to retake Paris. 

Joan was captured by Burgundians and handed over to the English, who charged her with witchcraft. They tried her without allowing her legal counsel and confronted her with a panel of theologians determined to find some fault in her answers. 

The biased and unfair court convicted her. When brought to the stake to be burned, she asked that a crucifix be held before her face and she called upon Jesus as long as she could breathe. A second inquiry exonerated her and Pope Benedict XV officially canonized her as a saint in 1920.

Other Notable Events

Death of John Nelson Darby, a biblical scholar and founder of the Plymouth Brethren.
Imad-ud-din converts from Islam to Christianity and becomes a famed preacher, author, and translator.

Major Thomas Jackson confesses Christ by public baptism at St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church Fort Hamilton, New York, officiated by the Rev. Mr. Parks. As a general in the American Civil war, Jackson will exhibit great courage, earning the nickname “Stonewall” and showing deep concern for the spiritual condition of each man under his command.


John Newton is ordained a deacon in the Church of England. He had been a slaver at the time of his conversion to Christ.


Death of John Philip Boehm, founder of the German Reformed Church in the United States.

Reformers outlaw the mass in Basel, Switzerland.

Death in Rome of Catherine of Siena, Dominican tertiary and mystic. She had exerted a strong influence on world events through her correspondence with the notables of her day.

<![CDATA[Shaftesbury Born to Do Good - April 28]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/28/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/28/ Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Shaftesbury Born to Do GoodLord Shaftesbury

ASHLEY COOPER, the future Lord Shaftesbury, was born on this day, 28 April 1801. He endured a wretched childhood, for his father, an earl, and his mother, a socialite, believed the best way to manage him was to keep him in constant terror. In his old age, Shaftesbury described his mother as a fiend. When his father brought his son to a boarding school, he knocked him down at the door and advised the tutor to do the same. 

The parents placed Shaftesbury in Manor House, Chiswick, when he was seven. “The memory of that place makes me shudder,” he said later. “I think there never was such a wicked school before or since. The place was bad, wicked, filthy; and the treatment was starvation and cruelty.” Shaftesbury suffered depression all his life. 

However, that same year his family’s Christian housekeeper comforted him and taught him to trust in Christ. The only bright light in his childhood, she died soon after, but he faithfully read his Bible and prayed each day despite the mockery of fellow students. 

When he was twelve, his parents sent him to Harrow. This school was much better and he thrived. Later he excelled in classical studies at Oxford. 

Shaftesbury entered Parliament. When he inherited his father’s estate, he became known as the “Poor Man’s Lord” because he championed the poor and downtrodden. His determination to help the suffering stemmed from an incident he had witnessed when he was fifteen years old. Several drunken men had dropped the coffin of a pauper they were supposed to bury. Shocked that the dead were treated so cavalierly simply because they had no money or friends, he vowed in that moment, with the help of God, to plead the cause of the poor and friendless. 

“I think a man’s religion, if it is worth anything, should enter into every sphere of life and rule his conduct in every relation. I have always been, and, please God, always shall be, an Evangelical of the Evangelicals, and no biography can represent me that does not fully and emphatically represent my religious views,” he said a few years before his death. 

He began by investigating the treatment of those considered insane and personally touring asylums. The facts he presented to Parliament convinced fellow members to take action. Among other causes he championed were the reduction of children’s long working hours, establishment of Christian schools, improvement of sewage systems, betterment of mining conditions, the spread of Bible reading, an end to the practice of forcing boys to climb into chimneys to clean them and the prevalent practice of selling young girls into prostitution. 

When he became Lord Shaftesbury, he built cottages and improved the estate that his father had neglected for self-centered pursuits. In all these projects, his cheery wife, Lady Emily Caroline Catherine Frances Cowper, helped him, in whose love he basked for forty years. 

His many endeavors endeared him to the poor. At his funeral, hundreds of thousands stood without hats in pouring rain to show their love and respect for the man who had defended them.

Other Notable Events


Death at Toulouse of Jacques Maritain, a leading neo-Thomist philosopher.

Christian Missionary Alliance pilot Albert Lewis crashes his flying boat in a pass leading into Netherlands New Guinea’s Baliem Valley (now in Irian Jarat). Before his untimely death, ten thousand souls had been brought to Christ in part because of his supporting ministry.

Soviets arrest Natalya Ivanovna Sundukova, daughter of a priest, on grounds that she leads a counter-revolutionary church cell in Stalinabad. She will be imprisoned and eventually shot for counter-revolutionary activity, dissemination of Christian teaching among prisoners, and refusal to work for the atheist regime.


Death in New York City of Congregationalist clergymen and social gospel advocate Josiah Strong, who had sought to apply Protestant ideals to social problems. He had been a strong advocate of missions, believing that only redemption through Christ could change people’s behavior. His most influential book had been Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis.

Thousands of Genevans demonstrate for five hours against a religiously inspired ban on gambling. A shocked Karl Barth is appalled at their mindless slogans and comes out in support of the ban.

Frances Havergal, in Winterdyne, England, writes the words to the hymn “A Worker’s Prayer” aka “Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak.” One stanza reads, “O teach me, Lord, that I may teach /The precious things Thou dost impart; /And wing my words, that they may reach /The hidden depths of many a heart.”


Death of George Washington Bethune, hymn translator, Reformed church pastor, while preaching in Florence, Italy. He will be buried in September and his hymn “It Is Not Death to Die” will be sung at his funeral.

Death of Georg von Polentz. He had been the first Reformation bishop of Samland and Pomesania, a region in Prussia.
Work on Salisbury Cathedral begins under the auspices of Bishop Richard Poore.
<![CDATA[Milton Sold His Epic - April 27]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/27/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/27/ Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Milton Sold His EpicJohn Milton

JOHN MILTON was born in 1608 near the onset of the great power struggle between king and Parliament. His Puritan family had suffered losses for their faith, and it was natural that Milton should side with the Puritans and Parliament. He would one day advocate the separation of church and state and call for the kind of liberty that western nations came to enjoy in later centuries. 

As a young man, he wrote poems that revealed his genius. The most famous of these were “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” Although he had already conceived the idea of writing a great epic, for twenty years (1640-1660)  he wrote only political pamphlets, including a Latin defense of the English people’s execution of King Charles the First. He served as Latin secretary to Cromwell’s regime. 

When Cromwell died and Charles II was restored to the English throne, Milton had to go into hiding. Friends even faked a funeral to make it appear that he was dead. By then, Milton was blind and very poor, and so he finally applied himself to the epic he had dreamed of writing. The result was Paradise Lost, a poem in twelve books. To maintain its solemn tone, he wrote largely in blank verse using the sturdiest meter of English poetry—iambic pentameter. He also employed an unobtrusive alliteration throughout the work. 

The title refers to the fall of mankind when Eve plucked the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden and shared it with Adam, a moment Milton recreated with the lines:

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat.
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
That all was lost.

On this day, April 27, 1667, Milton sold his magnificent epic, conveying the rights for Paradise Lost to Samuel Simmons. Because of the cloud under which the poet lived, Simmons was uneasy to have it known that he was the publisher and did not include his name on the original title page when he printed thirteen hundred copies that August. Milton received only £5 from the transaction, with the promise of five more if a second printing of thirteen hundred was required. It was, and he earned a second £5, but was dead before a third printing was called for. 

Despite its slow start, the masterpiece eventually sold millions of copies and many readers ranked it as second only to the Bible for magnificence. The work ends with God’s promise of restoration through Jesus Christ. Next to God the Father, Christ is the most exalted being in the poem, described by Milton in this manner:

Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious; in him all his Father shone
Substantially express’d; and in his face
Divine compassion visibly appear’d,
Love without end, and without measure grace.

However, some critics complained that Milton’s view of Christ was Arian—that his Christ was a created being. Believers in the doctrine of predestination also objected that Adam and Eve were made free agents of their own sin.

“. . .they themselves decreed
their own revolt, not I. If I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault.”

Whatever its errors of theology, imagined or real, even Milton’s enemies admit his epic surpassed anything done in English on that scale. Indeed, in all of Christian literature, only Dante’s Divine Comedy is considered superior.

Other Notable Events


Police in Nowa Huta Poland try to remove a cross. Women protest and men join to protect the women from police brutality. Riots develop and the rioters burn the Communist headquarters . This is one of many religious protests that force the Communists to grant a measure of religious tolerance to Poland. Eventually Polish faith will be a factor in bringing down the Communist regime.


Wanda Fricke, a nurse, arrives in New Guinea to open a medical mission work for the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. She will also author children’s stories.


The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia unanimously elects Meliktu Welde Mariam to become a bishop. In 1971 he will become the first patriarch (Patriarch Tewoflos) ordained in Ethiopia. Previously patriarchs had been ordained in Egypt.


Soviets arrest Orthodox clergyman Elijah Fyodorovich Yemelyanov, serving in the village of Smolenskoye, Smolensk region, Altai district. A month later he will be sentenced to death and in June will be shot.


Soviets sentence Orthodox priest Gabriel Nazarovich Denisov to death as a counter-revolutionary. He had been serving in the village of Rakity, Mikhailovsky region, Altai district. He will soon be shot.


Soviets sentence Orthodox priest Daniel Grigoryevich Bykov to death and shoot him three days later.


Fénelon submits his book Explication des Maximes des Saints to the judgement of Rome after it is attacked by King Louis XIV and the bishops of France. Rome will eventually condemn its Quietist teachings, which, for example, say mature Christians should not seek reward from God.


A committee from Devon, England, recommends John Flavel as an assistant to an infirm rector at Diptford. The young man applies himself with much determination, becoming a notable Presbyterian clergyman and Puritan author, often persecuted by the government because his religious views do not conform to those of the Church of England.


Pope Pius V issues a bull against Queen Elizabeth of England, excommunicating her as “a heretic and favorer of heretics,” depriving her of her title to the crown, and forbidding all her subjects to obey her on threat of excommunication themselves. Elizabeth, however, will retain her throne and triumph over an attempted invasion by Catholic Spain, going down in history as one of England’s greatest monarchs.

Pollio is brought before a judge. When he declares he is a church reader, he is burned to death in Gibalea (later a city in Hungary).
<![CDATA[The Plot to Assassinate the Medici - April 26]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/26/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/26/ Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT The Plot to Assassinate the MediciLorenzo de Medici

IN 1478, the city of Florence witnessed a most terrible crime committed on cue at the most sacred moment of the Mass. At a cathedral filled with 10,000 worshippers, Giuliano Medici was murdered during the elevation of the host, causing one of the greatest political upheavals the city had ever seen. 

The assassination was over money and power. Pope Sixtus IV hated the Medici family, whose policies thwarted the extension of his power. He granted special concessions to his relations, the Pazzi family. With the pope’s connivance, they plotted to kill the Medici brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano, along with the nine members of the Signoria (the ruling council of the city). Among the conspirators was the Archbishop of Pisa and, when regular soldiers balked at murdering the Medici in the sacred building, priests were designated to accomplish the sacrilegious deed. 

At the raising of the host, on 26 April 1478*, Bernardo Bandini and Francesco dei Pazzi killed Giuliano, stabbing him eighteen times. Antonio Maffei struck at Lorenzo, but hesitated just long enough that Lorenzo escaped alive although wounded. Lorenzo, his loyal supporter Antonio Ridolfi, and the humanist Poliziano took refuge in a side room of the church. Poliziano barred the door while Ridolfi sucked Lorenzo’s wound, fearing the dagger had been poisoned. Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Pisa assaulted the Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall), but its defenders repelled him. 

The conspirators tried to rouse the city behind them, but the outraged people threw their support to the Medici. In their revenge, they hung Archbishop Salviati of Pisa. They dragged some captives through the streets and stabbed others. Bandini escaped and fled to Constantinople, but the Florentines asked Mohamet II to extradite him, which the Muslim ruler did. Bandini died in Florence, dangling at the end of a rope. 

After the failure of the plot, Pope Sixtus interdicted the city for killing the murderous archbishop and raised an army to crush Lorenzo. The war lasted two years and almost ruined Florence. However, Florence ultimately held its own with Lorenzo as its sole master. 


*Many sources state this was Easter Sunday, but Easter fell on March 22nd that year under the Julian calendar that was still in use.

Other Notable Events


Azmy Mokhtar Aziz, a Coptic Christian, is murdered in the city of Malawy, one of several Copts targeted there this year.


Emmanuel Oladele Agboola is unanimously elected to chair the 56th annual session of the Nigerian Baptist Convention in acknowledgment of his hard work and zeal for souls. His contemporaries recognize him as one of Nigeria’s greatest indigenous pastors and educators as well as a humble and kind man.

Residents of Minnesota observe a statewide day of prayer, set by Governor John Sargent Pillsbury, imploring deliverance from a plague of grasshoppers that has been ravaging their crops. Many families are on the verge of starvation. In the next two days warm weather will cause millions of larvae to wiggle to life and skeptics scoff; but a plunge in temperature on the fourth day will freeze and kill them. A chapel will be built at Cold Spring to commemorate the miracle.

Ernst Faber arrives in Hong Kong as a missionary where he will help create a Chinese-Christian literature by having Chinese associates write their own books in consultation with him. He also will work with Chinese officials to import and apply European technology in China.


(Uncertain date; April 24 is also often given.) Death of Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe and Journal of the Plague Year, works of fiction noted for their versimilitude, which he wrote from a Puritan non-conformist point of view. He had been hiding from creditors and was found dead, hence the uncertainty of the date of his death. Two centuries after Defoe’s death, Neesima Shimeta, a Japanese youth, will be converted to Christianity through reading Robinson Crusoe.


George Herbert is appointed by the Earl of Pembroke to the parishes of Fugglestone St Peter and Bemerton St Andrew, near Salisbury.


Queen Elizabeth I of England issues a special license allowing John Seconton to hold Sunday games because he has fallen on hard times and has four children to feed. She requires local authorities to send “four or five good substantial men” to keep the peace.

Death of Paschasius Radbertus, who wrote an influential book affirming that the Eucharist contains the true, historical body of Jesus Christ.
<![CDATA[Savonarola Applied at a Dominican Monastery - April 25]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/25/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/25/ Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Savonarola Applied at a Dominican MonasterySavonarola

WHEN Girolamo Savonarola was born in Ferrera, the moral landscape of Italy was as deplorable as it had been since the triumph of Christianity under Constantine. A series of degenerate popes set the tone by indulging in wastefulness, greed, murder, blasphemy, astrology, and sexual immorality. Princes and common folk followed suit. 

Savonarola would become one of the greatest men of his age because he pushed back against those prevailing vices. As a boy, he was serious but reclusive, eager to learn, sharp and skilled in debate but known for gentleness in his dealings with others. His parents designated him to become a doctor, and he entered his studies with enthusiasm, although he was more eager to master the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle than medicine. 

At the same time, the morose disposition for which he became known grew more pronounced. Horrified by the decadence around him, at twenty he wrote a poem titled “The Ruin of the World.” His unhappiness deepened when a girl he admired rejected him. When he was twenty-two, Savonarola heard a sermon that caused him to burn everything he had written on Plato. The tinsel of the rich and the enslavement of the poor caused him to quote lines from a play many times a day: “Ah! flee from this cruel land, flee from this covetous shore!” He prayed continually that Christ would deliver him from these prevailing sins and that God would lead him into the work he was to do. 

Dedicating himself completely to Christ, he resolved to become a monk. In order that his departure would not be detected, for he loved his parents and feared they would talk him out of his resolution, he left home during the city’s gaudy festival in honor of St. George, held on April 24th that year. In his hand, he carried the family Bible. This day 25 April, 1475 found him in Bologna, where he asked for admittance to the Dominican order. 

Savonarola became a monk, studied in Bologna, and then transferred to St. Mark’s in Florence. At first he preached messages that only the scholarly could understand, but gradually he developed a style that appealed to the masses. He uttered dark prophecies against Italy and earned the implacable hatred of Pope Alexander VI when he denounced his corruption and called upon Europe’s leaders to dethrone him. Huge audiences surged into his chapel. 

In time Savonarola helped establish a republic in Florence. Surrounded by Dominicans who bullied the citizens, Savonarola and his followers burned the “vanities” of the city—art works and books. Savonarola had once remarked, “It would be good for religion if many books that seem useful were destroyed. When there were not so many books and not so many arguments and disputes, religion grew more quickly than it has since.” His followers would not even allow people to keep portraits of the deceased whom they had loved. 

Poor policies led to shortages in Florence and the city ran out of money. Pope Alexander VI threatened an interdict. Some of Savonarola’s predictions failed. A Franciscan challenged Savonarola to an ordeal by fire and Domenico da Pescia accepted in Savonarola’s behalf. 

Crowds gathered, but the Franciscan backed out. Cheated of their spectacle, the people blamed Savonarola. The next day he was arrested. For two months he was interrogated and tortured. Finally on 23 May, 1498, he was hanged and burned. 

A curious event occurred at his execution. Scoffers had taunted him to work a miracle if he could. After he was dead, his hand flew up, two fingers extended, as if blessing the crowd. The superstitious onlookers panicked and turned to flee, trampling several children to death.

Other Notable Events


Ordination of Paul Sasaki as a priest in the Anglican Church in Japan. He will become bishop of Nippon Sei Ko Kei (an independent church organization within the Anglican Communion), and suffer imprisonment for his refusal to bring Nippon Sei Ko Kei under the authority of a government-ordered church coalition.


Death in Ghana, of Christian Abraham Ackah, at the age of about twenty-eight. He had been a major player in establishing Seventh Day Adventist work in Ghana, opening schools and churches.


Death at Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, of Anzentia Igene Perry Chapman. A member of the Free Methodist Church, she wrote a number of hymns, including, “Thou Shalt Rest at Eve,” and “We’ll Never Say Goodbye.”


Consecration of J. B. Lightfoot as Bishop of Durham. A renowned English New Testament scholar, he had left Cambridge and a life of scholarship to devote the remaining ten years of his life to church administration.


Consecration of Jean-Pierre Augustin Marcellin Verot as the first Roman Catholic bishop of Florida. He will become known as “the rebel bishop” for his support of the South during the American Civil War.

Death of English poet William Cowper. Despite lifelong depression, he had produced enduring hymns, including, “Oh For a Closer Walk with God” and “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” Dementia led him to believe he was damned.

Death from a fever in the convent of St. Onofrio of Italian poet Torquato Tasso. Ironically, he was supposed to receive a laurel from the pope on this day in recognition of his epic poems, among which Jerusalem Delivered had been the most acclaimed.


John Calvin dictates his last will and testament to notary Peter Chenalat.


Death of Sylvester of Obnorsk, a Russian Orthodox hermit who had lived off roots and bark. Eventually he had established a monastery.


The ineffectual Council of Basel ends. 


Death of Ratherius of Verona, a learned but abrasive man who had been deposed from one church position after another, often by his underlings, because of his controversial positions and inability to handle people.

Pope Leo III is attacked, his eyes stabbed, and his tongue torn. He recovers and later crowns Charlemagne as emperor.
<![CDATA[Samuel P. Tregelles Researched Bible Texts - April 24]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/24/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/24/ Mon, 24 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Samuel P. Tregelles Researched Bible TextsSamuel P. Tregelles

FOLLOWING the Renaissance, study of Bible manuscripts showed scholars that there were differences between texts. While some attacked the Bible on this ground, others sought to determine which of the texts was most reliable. One of the first men to undertake textual criticism in the modern sense of the word was Johann Albrecht Bengel. He believed the Bible was God’s word, but wanted to be sure he knew what that Word said, given the variations between manuscript traditions. 

Many more followed in his footsteps. In the nineteenth century, two of the most highly respected students of Bible texts were a German named Constantin Tischendorf, who would discover a very old manuscript that he named the Codex Sinaiticus, and Samuel P. Tregelles, an Englishman. 

Because Tregelles was born to Quaker parents, laws kept him from attending England’s most prestigious universities, Oxford and Cambridge—which were only open to Anglicans. This did not stop him from mastering Bible languages, largely on his own. By the time he was twenty-five, he had made up his mind that he would attempt to reconstruct the wording of the original New Testament books. His attitude toward biblical criticism is shown in a preface he wrote: “If Holy Scripture is valued as being the revelation of God concerning his way of salvation through faith in the atonement of Christ, then whatever is needed for wisely maintaining its authority, even though at first sight it may seem to bear on the subject indirectly, will be felt to be of real importance.” 

To accomplish this great work, he traveled throughout Europe, comparing all the manuscripts he could find. He even persuaded the Vatican to allow him to examine the jealously guarded Codex Vaticanus, one of the earliest manuscripts in the west. However, the Vatican placed two priests as guards to ensure that he did not make any notes. Tregelles’s memory was so excellent that he was able to go home each night and accurately write down what he had learned. 

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Piece by piece he issued a Greek New Testament by comparing the various readings of ancient manuscripts. This was considered the finest critical text available until Tischendorf issued his own, which included the fruits of his study of the Codex Sinaiticus

For many years, Tregelles was associated with the Plymouth Brethren. However, he believed that John Nelson Darby, one of the Brethren’s founders, had a theology of the second coming of Christ which was in error. Tregelles issued a refutation of it. Later he associated with a Presbyterian church, but he ended up in the Church of England, saying that his Bible studies had convinced him it was his most biblical choice. 

Tregelles also wrote several hymns that found their way into hymnbooks of the nineteenth century. Despite two strokes late in his life, he continued writing about the Bible, even after he became bedridden. He died on this day April 24, 1875. Although some of his findings have been superseded, his work was so precise that it is still consulted and held in high respect.

Other Notable Events


More than two hundred and fifty prominent Armenians—civic and political leaders, teachers, writers, and members of the clergy—are rounded up and imprisoned. Many will be tortured and killed, the beginning of the Turkish effort to eliminate all Armenian Christians. The day will be remembered by Armenians and others as Armenian Genocide Day.

Death of Asahel Grant, pioneer missionary to Persia.
Jean de Brebeuf sails for New France, where he will be one of the longest lasting Jesuit priests before his martyrdom in his early fifties.

Pope Sixtus V is elected. He administers stern justice, clearing the countryside of brigands that have flourished under his predecessors. He also founds the Vatican library and various colleges.


Election and consecration of Pope Nicholas I. He will demonstrate integrity, iron will, faith, and masterful defenses of marriage and the papacy, becoming one of the strongest medieval popes. He will support missions, exercise authority over remote churches and communicate Christian doctrine to Bulgaria. King Lothair II of Lotharingia (a portion of Charlemagne’s former empire) will advance against Nicholas with an army and pin him in St. Peters for two days without food after the pope demands he return to his lawful wife.

<![CDATA[James Brainerd Taylor Gave All to the Lord - April 23]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/23/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/23/ Sun, 23 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT James Brainerd Taylor Gave All to the LordJames Brainerd Taylor

EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD James Brainerd Taylor was deeply moved by the self-sacrifice of a man named John Scudder, who sailed from New York to India as a doctor in 1819. After saying goodbye to the missionary, Taylor went home and spent the day in prayer, pleading for God to show him his duty and to give him a heart to do it. Soon afterward he sensed that he should become a minister. However, he made no commitment until he had sought the opinion of people he trusted. When he was sure the Lord was opening the way for him, he entered preparatory school. 

Though finding Latin difficult, he stuck to it with all the more determination, believing it to be a path to usefulness. “I think we may be as happy now,” he said, “as at any future period of life, if we only use our present privileges with a right spirit.” He memorized Bible passages each day and held prayer meetings and Bible studies in neighboring towns. He spent one holiday visiting the families he had been teaching, and found several members suffering under deep conviction of sin. Early the following year, he could report twenty conversions. More would follow, including that of his own parents. 

Despite these tokens of spiritual success, he was dissatisfied. He felt that a more perfect love was possible, as well as a more complete dedication to holiness. He prayed for it and visited some Connecticut friends who were notable for their piety and happiness, hoping through their prayers to come closer to Christ: “I lifted up my heart in prayer that the blessings might be sent. I felt that I desired it not for my own benefit only but for that of the Church and the world.” 

On this day, 23 April 1822, while meditating on the hymn words “seal my soul forever Thine,” he found himself able to give up everything to God and to say, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Then, he recalled:

There ensued such emotions as I never before experienced. All was calm and tranquil, and a heaven of love pervaded my soul; I had the witness of God’s love to me, and of mine to Him. Shortly after, I was dissolved in tears of gratitude to our blessed Lord. The name of Jesus was precious to me. He came as King and took possession of my heart; and I was enabled to say, ‘I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ Let Him, as King of kings and Lord of lords, reign in me, and reign without a rival forever. 

His record of his experience was so striking that it was often cited as an example to aspire to in later holiness literature. 

Taylor finished preparatory school, graduated from Princeton, and entered Yale’s divinity school. With his strength failing (he often bled from the lungs), he was unable to complete all the requirements for his licensure. He therefore arranged a transfer to a Virginia seminary, hoping his health would improve in the warmer climate, and he considered becoming a ship’s chaplain so that he might enjoy the advantages of fresh sea air while serving Christ. Instead, his health declined rapidly. In 1829, not quite seven years after his remarkable sanctification experience, he died.

Other Notable Events

Death of Cameron Townsend while battling acute leukemia. He had been a missionary linguist and founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, one of the world’s largest mission agencies.
In Dallas, the ten-million-member Methodist and the seven hundred and fifty thousand-member Evangelical United Brethren churches join together to form the United Methodist Church, which thus becomes at that time the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States (after the Southern Baptists).

Death of Japanese Christian Socialist Toyohiko Kagawa.


Fyodor Dostoevsky is arrested, accused of plotting to overthrow the Russian government. After a staged appearance before a firing squad with a last minute reprieve, he will be sent to Siberia where he will take comfort in the Bible. Dostoevsky will include Christian themes in his writing but will suffer all of his life from an inability to control gambling and other impulses.


Death of English Quaker leader Margaret Fell Fox. Her last words were “I am in Peace.” She had been a founding member of the Religious Society of Friends and one of the society’s “Valiant Sixty” preachers and missionaries.


Martyrdom of Adalbert of Prague, Missionary to Prussia, at the hands of a heathen priest. As bishop of Prague, he had sought to extinguish heathen customs and institute moral reforms and, when repulsed, devoted himself to mission work in Germany and Poland. It was he who baptized Stephen of Hungary.


Dedication of a new church at the monastery of Jarrow. This monastery will be of interest because of its association with Biscop Baducing and the Venerable Bede. The building will still be functional, displaying its original dedication inscription fifteen centuries later.

<![CDATA[Bach Accepted a Post in Leipzig - April 22]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/22/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/22/ Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Bach Accepted a Post in LeipzigJohann Sebastian Bach

ON THIS DAY, April 22, 1723, the burgomasters of Leipzig elected Johann Sebastian Bach as cantor of St. Thomas. His primary responsibility was to educate boys in Latin and music, but he was also responsible for the music of the city’s four churches, where the boys performed in choirs. His singers were by no means professionals, which made his job difficult. 

At Leipzig, Bach wrote and directed an enormous amount of music and performed almost every day. His output included cantatas (some of them based on beloved hymns), motets, passions (including the famous St. Matthew Passion), the powerful Mass in B-minor (written when he was seeking a post with Poland’s Catholic king), violin concertos, keyboard music (including the famous Musical Offering for Frederick II of Prussia), and harpsichord pieces. He directed the local Collegium Musicum. For all this work, he received a middle class salary plus room and board. 

Although he poured emotion into his music, his work did not seem to have impressed his employers. They encroached on his right to appoint his own assistants and complained that his music was too artistic. Sometimes he did not get paid. As a consequence, he was involved in quarrels, shouting matches (even in church), and wrote many letters of protest. 

A devout Lutheran, Bach dedicated his religious manuscripts to Christ with the abbreviation “I. N. J.” (standing for In Nomine Jesu, that is, “In the Name of Jesus”). And although he often converted secular works for Christian use, he never converted Christian works for secular use. 

Leipzig proved to be the last of several posts Bach held. After his death in 1750, one of Leipzig’s burgomasters remarked during the search for a replacement, “We must not forget that we want a schoolmaster, not a musician.” With attitudes like that, most of Bach’s work lay neglected for three quarters of a century. Vendors wrapped fish in his manuscripts. About one third of the three hundred cantatas he wrote at Leipzig most likely have been permanently lost to us. 

Glory to God Alone documents the faith and work of J.S. Bach.

That his masterpieces fell into neglect was regrettable. However, they did not remain forever hidden. Beethoven recognized Bach’s worth and declared, “He should not be called Bach (brook) but Meer (sea).” Felix Mendelssohn revived and performed the St. Matthew Passion, beginning a revival of interest in Bach’s music that has lasted to this day. 

One thing that did not fall out of use was his keyboard technique. His Well-Tempered Clavier and Art of the Fugue trained later musicians such as Beethoven. Bach employed the five fingers of each hand where three had previously been the norm. 

Today many musicians consider Bach the greatest composer who ever lived. His works are available in print, on recordings, and on Internet sites such as YouTube. Popular music groups have even mined Bach for their songs.* 


*Examples: Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is based partly on Bach’s “Air on the G String;” an instrumental bridge in the Byrds’ “She Don’t Care About Time” uses a bit of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and The Nice quoted the opening of Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto in their Ars Longa Vita Brevis.

Other Notable Events


Death of J. Edwin Orr, revival historian. His research had showed him that all revivals had sprung from prayer meetings, and he preached and spoke throughout the world to share this vision.


At a constitutional convention in Minneapolis, three major Lutheran bodies in the U.S. merge to form the American Lutheran Church, with a combined membership of about two million.


Five thousand pastors and laypeople gather in Ulm where they  create the “Confessing Church,” relying on the Reformation confessions in interpreting Scripture, rather than Nazi racial theories and propaganda.


Baptist leader Olisemeke Samuel Wadei “Martin” opens the first of several schools. In his long and useful life, he will also establish a teacher training college and health centers for his Nigerian people.


Patriarch Tikhon raises Justin Lvovich Olshevksy to the rank of Archbishop of Omsk. He takes the name Sylvester. He opposes the Soviets and blesses the White Army that resists Soviet control. Eventually the Soviets will defeat the Whites and arrest and torture Archbishop Sylvester for two months before killing him.


King Charles II charters the Royal Society of London by that name, “for improving Natural Knowledge.” Most of its initial members are Christians and it will become a leading force for scientific inquiry.


John Calvin and William Farel are fired by the town council of Geneva and ordered to leave the city within three days. They had refused to administer the Lord’s Supper the day before in part because of notorious sins among the city’s folk, and in part because they did not want to follow the lead of Bern in serving unleavened bread.


Death of Agapetus I, bishop of Rome, while in Constantinople, where he had been sent on an embassy to avert war. He had used the occasion of his visit to depose Bishop Anthimus as a monophysite.

<![CDATA[Birth of Philanthropist Angela Burdett - April 21]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/21/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/4/21/ Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Birth of Philanthropist Angela BurdettAngela Burdett-Coutts

ANGELA BURDETT was born into riches and made the most of her opportunities. She was born on this day, 21 April 1814, in the home of Thomas Coutts, her mother’s father. Coutts was a banker with great wealth. He left his entire fortune to his second wife, Harriet Mellon, who had been an actress. Harriet took a liking to her step-granddaughter, and when she died, left virtually her entire estate to her. Burdett was only twenty-three. 

Burdett saw her sudden wealth as a God-sent opportunity for doing good. Deeply religious, she was strongly attached to the Church of England, and many of her charities were connected with it. In fact, two full pages would be needed to document the many missionary and philanthropic causes she funded. Among her proposals were the erection of churches in England and endowment of new dioceses in Britain’s colonies. 

Her main focus, however, was on helping the poor to help themselves:

To enable those who would otherwise be destitute to help themselves is more truly generous than to give alms. In the one case those in distress are made self-reliant, independent, and useful members of the community; in the other degradation and demoralization are too often the result.

Her efforts extended to the uneducated, to disaster victims, struggling artists, and young women who had gotten into trouble. She also invested funds in the relief of suffering animals, wounded veterans, scientific research, exploration, nursing, and church schools. She was a chief contributor to the founding of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. 

In 1871, when the queen elevated Burdett to the peerage, she became Baroness Burdett-Coutts. Ten years later, after turning down offers of marriage all her life, she finally wed an American less than half her age—when she was sixty-seven years old! She died of bronchitis twenty-five years later and was buried in Westminster Abbey. 

King Edward VII of England, son of Queen Victoria, is said to have declared that Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts was, “after my mother, the most remarkable woman in the kingdom.”

Other Notable Events


Egypt grants the Coptic Orthodox Church of Mayiet Bara a permit to repair its toilet, publishing the edict in a semi-official newspaper. This outrages Christians and moderate Muslims because it highlights their long-standing complaint that even the simple repair of a lavatory in a Christian house of worship cannot proceed without the written consent of the Minister of the Interior.


On his twenty-seventh birthday, while laying bricks, John Ajayi Agbona hears a voice calling him to ministry with the Christ Apostolic Mission Church of Nigera. He obeys and will be instrumental in founding eighty churches in five nations as well as schools in Nigeria. His work will often be accompanied by miraculous healings.


While rushing to assist a dying man, missionary-doctor Wilfred Grenfell is trapped on an ice-pan (a small flat sheet of ice) and almost loses his life when it floats into the ocean.


Thomas Huxley first publicly uses the word “agnostic” at a meeting of the London Metaphysical Society to describe intellectuals who, like himself, are unable to come to certain conclusions on big issues such as the existence of God.

Sunday school teacher Edward Kimball visits the Holton Shoe Store where Dwight L. Moody works, finds him in a stockroom, and speaks to him of the love of Christ. Shortly thereafter, Moody is converted and devotes his life to serving God, becoming a notable American evangelist.

Rev. Henry Lipowsky, a former lieutenant in the Austrian Army, opens the first Bohemian-American church in the United States, the St. John Nepomuk Church of St. Louis, Missouri.

Maryland Toleration Act is passed by the Maryland assembly, allowing freedom of worship for all Christians. It has the strong support of Lord Baltimore, the Roman Catholic proprietor of Maryland.

Maryland issues an act defining and forbidding blasphemy and making it an offense to rail publicly against another person’s faith. It promises toleration to anyone who professes Christ.


William Bradford is chosen governor of Plymouth Colony when his predecessor John Carver dies suddenly.


Twelve Jesuit priests, sent by Ignatius of Loyola, arrive in Prague to help Canisius found a college in the heart of Hussite country. They face jeers and threats until the Archduke of Bohemia deploys guards and threatens severe penalties against any injury done them.


A stroke leaves Roman Catholic mystic Catherine of Siena paralyzed from the waist down.


Death at Cluny of theologian Pierre Abelard, whose “conceptualism” changed the development of philosophy. He will be remembered for seducing his student Heloise. Although often accused of heresy, he remained a popular teacher.

Death of Anselm of Canterbury, English theologian, author of the ontological argument for the existence of God, and a father of medieval scholasticism.

Death of Otgar, archbishop of Mainz, an event made all the more memorable because Rabanus Maurus, a famous educator and scholar, will be unanimously elected as his successor.