March 21: Today in Christian History

March 21, 418

In a letter to the North African bishops, Pope Zosimus declares that none dare dispute the judgment of the see of Rome, but in the same letter responds to their pleas by reversing his own earlier position and declaring Pelagius a heretic.

March 21, 547

Death at Monte Cassino of Benedict, an Italian monastic founder, author of the famous Benedictine rule.

March 21, 1098

Formation of the Cistercians, a strict monastic order, emphasizing physical labor, silence, and austerities.

March 21, 1526

In Zurich, Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and George Blaurock escape from prison down a rope. Pacifist Anabaptists, they believed Christians should not hold power, but had been condemned to life imprisonment on concocted charges of fomenting revolution. Captured again that year, Manz and Blaurock will be again imprisoned, and Manz will be executed by drowning in 1527.

March 21, 1556

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer is burned alive on orders of Mary Tudor, officially because of his “heresies” (he had been a leader in the English Reformation), but actually because of his role in providing King Henry VIII with a divorce from Mary’s mother Catherine many years earlier.

March 21, 1656

Death of the archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher. His Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti proposed a biblical chronology that placed the creation of the world in 4004 BC, and his dates will be incorporated into the notes of many Bible versions.

March 21, 1806

Burial of David Dale, a Scottish manufacturer and philanthropist who sought to alleviate the condition of the poor by providing food, housing, and education at his mills. He had opened new mills to provide work for the unemployed. Strongly evangelical, he served as a lay preacher and headed many philanthropic endeavors, and was known as a lenient magistrate.

March 21, 1843

Gungaram Mundel contracts cholera. He had been the first convert at Khari Baptist Church, Calcutta, and his profession of faith had eased the way for other Indians of the area to follow Christ.

March 21, 1863

Death of Davis Griffiths, a missionary to Madagascar, who had translated the Bible into the Malagasy language.

March 21, 1937

Pope Pius XI’s Mit brennender sorge against some Nazi policies is read in all Catholic churches in Germany.

March 21, 1965

Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr. leads more than three thousand civil rights demonstrators on a march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery. By the time they reach their destination four days later, the number of protesters will have swelled to twenty-five thousand.

March 21, 1979

Muslim militants burn down the fifth-century historical Coptic Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Old Cairo.

March 21, 1994

The people of Augusta, Georgia, dedicate a monument on Green Street to the memory of Christian philanthropist Emily Harvey Thomas Tubman.

March 21, 2007

Teacher Christianah Oluwasesin of Nigeria is beaten to death by a mob on an accusation that she touched a student’s handbag which had a Koran in it, thus defiling the Koran.

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