The Current Week in 2011:
May 29, 1453:
Constantinople, capital of Eastern Christianity since Constantine founded it in 324, falls to the Turks under Muhammad II, ending the Byzantine Empire. Muslims rename the city Istanbul and turn its lavish cathedral, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque (see issue 74: Christians & Muslims
May 29, 1546: In retaliation for the execution of Reformation preacher George Wishart, Scottish Protestants murder Cardinal David Beaton in St. Andrews. John Knox, who was not part of the assassination plot, went on to lead the Scottish Reformation (see issue 46: John Knox).
May 29, 1660: England’s King Charles II triumphantly enters London, marking the full restoration of the monarchy. Though he promised religious liberty, he cracked down on Dissenters (including John Bunyan) following a 1661 attempt by religous fanatics to overthrow him (see issue 11: John Bunyan).
May 29, 1874: English essayist, poet, and writer G.K. Chesterton is born in London. The 400-pound man was occasionally absent-minded, but brilliant. He loved paradoxes, which he called “supreme assertions of truth,” and used them often in his writing. Poet T.S. Eliot credited him with doing “more than any man in his time … to maintain the existence of the [Christian] minority in the modern world.” Chesterton converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1922 (see issue 75: G.K. Chesterton).
May 29, 1967:
Pope Paul VI names 27 new cardinals, including then-archbishop of Krakow, Poland, Karol Wojtyla, later to be Pope John Paul II (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century
May 30, 339:
Eusebius dies at age 74. Author of the 10-volume Ecclesiastical History
, he is called the father of church history. In his Day , though, he was as much a maker of history as a recorder. At the Council of Nicea, he argued for peace between the heretical Arians and Orthodox leaders like Athanasius. When Arianism became hugely popular after the Council, Eusebius was one of the people to depose Athanasius. Though he wasn’t an Arian himself, he strongly opposed anti-Arianism (see issue 72: How We Got Our History
May 30, 1416:
Jerome of Prague burns at the stake for heresy. When the Council of Constance arrested and tried his fellow Bohemian reformer Jan Hus, Jerome went to defend him, sealing his own fate (see issue 68: Jan Hus
May 30, 1431: French mystic and revolutionary Joan of Arc burns at the stake for heresy. Her last words were, “Jesus, Jesus” (see issue 30: Women in the Medieval Church).
May 30, 1672: The governor of Rhode Island cordially entertains Quaker founder George Fox. “Most of the pupils had never heard of Friends before,” Fox said, “but they were mightily affected with the meeting, and there is a great desire amongst them after the Truth.
May 30, 1822:
A slave betrays the plans of African Methodist (and former slave) Denmark Vesey to stage a massive slave uprising on July 14. Of the 131 African Americans arrested in the plot, 35 were executed (including Vesey) and 43 were deported. Vesey’s Charleston, South Carolina, church was closed until 1865 (see issue 62: Bound for Canaan
May 30, 1934: The first synod of the Confessing Church at Barmen ends. Influenced by Karl Barth, the synod resisted the teachings of the Nazi German Christians (see issue 32: Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
May 31, 1578: Italian archaeologist Antonio Bosio discovers the Christian catacombs in Rome. Some have mistaken them for places of refuge or worship, but Christians used them mainly as burial chambers.
May 31, 1638: Puritan pastor Thomas Hooker arrives in what is now Connecticut, after leaving Massachusetts because of a rivalry with Roger Williams. The minister also helped organize America’s first federal government, the United Colonies of New England (see issue 41: The American Puritans).
May 31, 1701: Alexander Cruden, whose biblical concordance is still the standard for the King James Version, is born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Prone to erratic behavior, he worked on the concordance between mental breakdowns.
June 1, 165 (traditional date): Justin, an early Christian apologist, is beheaded with his disciples for their faith. “If we are punished for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to be saved,” he said just before his death. Christians soon named him Justin Martyr (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).
June 1, 1843:
Isabella Baumfree, having received a vision of God telling her to “travel up an’ down the land showin’ the people their sins an’ bein’ a sign unto them,” leaves New York and changes her name to Sojourner Truth. She became one of the most famous abolitionists and women’s rights lecturers in American history (see issue 62: Bound for Canaan
June 2, 553:
The Second Council of Constantinople closes, having condemned Nestorian teachings. Nestorianism teaches Jesus incarnate was two separate persons—one divine, the other human—rather than one person with two natures (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church
June 2, 597: Augustine, missionary to England and first archbishop of Canterbury, baptizes Saxon king Ethelbert, the first Christian English king. The missionary’s tomb in Canterbury
bears this epitaph: “Here rests Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury, who being sent hither by Gregory, bishop of Rome, reduced King Ethelbert and his nation from the worship of idols to the faith of Christ” (see the article on Bede in issue 72: How We Got Our History).
June 2, 1491: Henry VIII, the English king who went from being called “Defender of the Faith” by the pope (for attacking Martin Luther) to galvanizing the English Reformation, is born in Greenwich (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).
June 2, 1875: JamesAugustine Healy becomes the first African-American Roman Catholic bishop in the U.S. However, he never really identified himself with the black community.
June 2, 1979:
Pope John Paul II makes a return trip to his home country of Poland, the first visit by a pope to a Communist country (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century
June 3, 1098: After a seven-month siege, the armies of the First Crusade recapture Antioch (now in Turkey) from the Muslims (see issue 40: The Crusades).
June 3, 1162: Thomas a Becket is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. Nominated by his friend, King Henry II (Becket had previously served as his chancellor), Becket underwent a radical change as archbishop. He became pious and devoted to the church, which Henry found annoying. When knights heard the king grumbling, they killed Becket as he prayed.
June 3, 1647: The Puritan British Parliament bans Christmas and other holiDay s.
June 3, 1905:
Hudson Taylor, English missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, dies. “China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women,” he once said. “The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary” (see issue 52: Hudson Taylor
June 3, 1963:
Pope John XXIII, convener of the Second Vatican Council, dies. Expected to be merely a “caretaker pope,” he ushered in some of the Roman Catholic Church’s most momentous changes in its history (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century
June 3, 1980:
Catholic and Eastern Orthodox representatives meet officially for the first time since the Great Schism of 1054 (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy
June 4, 1873:
Charles F. Parham, founder of the Apostolic Faith movement and one of the founders of the modern Pentecostal movement, is born in Muscatine, Iowa. In 1900 he founded the Bethel Bible School, where speaking in tongues broke out—launching the Pentecostal movement (see issue 58
June 4, 1948: The Far East Broadcasting Company, based in the Philippines and broadcasting across Asia, goes on-air with the staff singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.