February 20: Today in Christian History

February 20: Today in Christian History

February 20, 536

Pope Agapetus, sent as ambassador to the eastern emperor by Theodahad, king of the Ostrogoths, enters Constantinople. He will die there two months later.

February 20, 1620

Death of Rasmus Jensen, first Lutheran pastor in North America, at Port Churchill, Hudson Bay, Canada.

February 20, 1737

Death at Frome in Somerset, England, from apoplexy of author Elizabeth Singer Rowe. Her poems and fiction were Christian-themed, and she will be considered a pivotal figure in the development of the English novel, to which she contributed the figure of the chaste heroine.

February 20, 1864

Charles Cardwell McCabe, the Methodist chaplain whose singing made Julia Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” famous, sings it for President Abraham Lincoln in the White House. Lincoln cries, “Sing it again.” Afterward, the president remarks, “Take it all in all, the song and the singing, that was the best I ever heard.” McCabe will later be elected a Methodist bishop.

February 20, 1878

Election of Pope Leo XIII. He will be one of the longest-reigning popes, promoting the rosary, embracing the concept of Mary as mediatrix, issuing a famous encyclical on modernism, and much more.

February 20, 1919

Led by Lucy Peabody and Helen Montgomery, women unite for a day of prayer for missions. This develops into an annual worldwide prayer event.

February 20, 1942

Death of Barlaam, Archbishop of Perm, who had been restricted and imprisoned at various times by Soviet authorities for his religious activities. In August 1941 he had been condemned to be shot, but the sentence was commuted to ten years in prison camps.

February 20, 1960

Death on a railroad train of William M. Strong, founder of the Gospel Mission of South America.

February 20, 1960

Death in London of Sir Leonard Woolley, an outstanding archaeologist who leaves behind him groundbreaking work on biblical peoples and places—the Hittites, ancient Sumeria, Sinai, and Ur of the Chaldees.

February 20, 1962

Cuban authorities detain Seventh-day Adventist pastor Noble Alexander who spends the next twenty-two years in prison.

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