March 30: Today in Christian History

March 30, 606

Death on Mount Sinai of John Climacus, an Eastern hermit, author, and abbot. He had authored the popular book Scala Paradisi (The Ladder of Divine Ascent). Twelve centuries later, Danish philosopher-theologian Søren Kierkegaard, writing under the pseudonyms Climacus and Anti-Climacus, will parody this work, loathing any suggestion that humans can ascend to the divine under their own power.

March 30, 794

Repose (death) of Stephen of Mar Saba, who had been something of a hermit and counseled compassion for nature. The Orthodox Church will recognize him as a saint.

March 30, 1533

 Thomas Cranmer is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury with papal approval.

March 30, 1555

Bishop Ferrar is burned at St. David’s at Carmarthen, the chief town of his former diocese, condemned for violating his vow of chastity. After preaching against Roman Church forms he had been imprisoned by Mary and refused to be reconciled with Rome, saying that he had taken an oath both to Henry VIII and Edward VI never to admit the papal supremacy. 

March 30, 1735

The impious Howell Harris changes course, becoming a leading Welsh revivalist.

March 30, 1771

Repose (Death) of Bishop Sophronius of Irkutsk, who will be recognized by the Orthodox Church as a saint because of his personal asceticism, wise counsel, championship of women’s rights, and labors to uplift the spiritual life of his remote diocese.

March 30, 1851

Vietnamese Emperor Tú Dúc issues a severe edict against Christianity; it orders drowning for European priests, and says Vietnamese priests must be cut in half, even if they agree to trample the cross underfoot.

March 30, 1858

Dudley Tyng speaks to a noon rally of five thousand in Philadelphia, taking as his text, “Go now ye that are men and serve the Lord.” He declares that he would rather lose his right arm than fail to deliver God’s message to his listeners. Deeply moved, one thousand men respond to his solemn words. Two weeks later one of his arms is yanked from its socket in an accident, infection will develop, and it will have to be amputated. These measures will not save him and in a few days more he will die. His last words will be “Stand up for Jesus, father, and tell my brethren of the ministry to stand up for Jesus.” This dying exhortation will inspire the hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

March 30, 1876

Death, in California, of James L. Breck, a successful Episcopal frontier missionary and educator.

March 30, 1899

The steamship Stella strikes some rocks in a fog while sailing to Guernsey. Mary Rogers, a cheerful, kind, and hard-working stewardess, supervises the escape of a large number of women and relinquishes her own lifebelt to the last of them, giving up her place in the lifeboat. Raising her hands to heaven she cries, “Lord, have me!” as the ship sinks beneath her.

March 30, 1942

Death in Burbank, California, of Anne S. Murphy, author of the hymn “Constantly Abiding.”

March 30, 2004

Burial of Wilson Rajil Sabiya, a Lutheran defender of Christians and of oppressed tribes. Among his chief opponents were Islamists who sought to incorporate Sharia law into the Nigerian constitution and to control the government, medical, and educational facilities.

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