April 7: Today in Christian History

April 7, 1321

Muslims near Bombay challenge Franciscan Thomas of Tolentino to say what he thinks of Muhammad. When he responds that “Muhammad is the son of perdition and has his place in hell with the devil his father...” they kill him and his companions, who will become known as the Four Martyrs of Tana. Jordanus of Severac survives to bury them and to conduct mission work in India for about ten years.

April 7, 1498

A trial by fire is arranged between Fra Domenico, one of Girolamo Savonarola’s followers, and another monk. When Savonarola will not allow Fra Domenico to undertake the ordeal, he loses his influence in Florence.

April 7, 1541

On his thirty-fifth birthday, Jesuit priest Francis Xavier preaches in Portugal while his ship prepares to sail for India. Word is brought him of a youth mortally wounded in a duel. Xavier hurries to the young man’s side and pleads with him to forgive his opponent. The dying duelist is unwilling. “Will you pardon him if God grants you life?” asks the priest. “Yes,” whispers the dying youth. “Then you will recover,” says Xavier, and the young man does.

April 7, 1546

Death in Gotha, Thuringia, Germany, of Friedrich Myconius, an associate of Martin Luther who had brought the Reformation to Thuringia and labored throughout Germany and Switzerland.

April 7, 1550

John Hooper declines the bishopric of Gloucester because he does not believe it is right for him to don the required vestments. He will be placed under house arrest and finally actually imprisoned, after which he will relent and accept consecration. During the persecutions under Mary Tudor, he will be burned to death as a heretic.

April 7, 1628

Arrival in what is now New York of Dominie Jonas Michaelius, the first Dutch Reform pastor in the New Nederlands.

April 7, 1779

James Hackman, curate of Wiverton, Norfolk, shoots and kills Martha Reay, mistress of the Earl of Sandwich, outside a London theater. Reay, considerably older than Hackman, seems to have encouraged his attentions because she desired the respectability of marriage which the earl would not give her. Hackman had studied to become a clergyman so that he could support her, but Reay, having borne the earl several children, in the end chose not to leave him. Hackman will be hanged shortly afterward, rejecting an offer of assistance from the earl.

April 7, 1818

Moravian missionaries and Hottentot converts arrive at the Witte Revier where they will soon clear land assigned them by South Africa’s colonial government and erect a mission-house, church, and other buildings. But local Africans will drive them from the place the following year—murdering several Hottentots, stealing the mission’s cattle, and burning the mission buildings to the ground. Within a few years a new and more successful station will be built nearby.

April 7, 1824

Premier of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (Solemn Mass) in St. Petersburg, Russia.

April 7, 1845

Death in Calcutta from cholera of Mahendra Lal Basak, a promising minister and educator who had given up caste, family, and friends to follow Christ.

April 7, 1872

Death of Abigail Bradley Hyde in Andover, Massachusetts. She had written a number of hymns including “Dear Savior, if These Lambs Should Stray.”

April 7, 1885

Deaconess Elizabeth Fedde, working in New York City, writes in her diary, “A terrible day. Board meeting, and I have been left in a powerless position. This is the hardest time I have had in America, and the appeal for help is in danger. God be merciful! I have the whole board against me and everything is wrong and I wish I were dead. God be merciful to me, a sinner!”

April 7, 1898

Giuseppi Verdi’s Te Deum is first performed, in a concert by the Paris Opera, with two other religious compositions from his Quattro pezzi sacri. Allegedly he will ask to be buried with this piece under his head.

April 7, 1924

Death in California of John Norton Loughborough, a leader in the early Seventh-day Adventist movement, and its first historian.

April 7, 1933

“German Christians” apply the Nazis’ Aryan clause to the church, effectively barring Jews (and individuals of Jewish descent) from holding church offices.

April 7, 1938

Japanese soldiers shoot Herman Liu in front of his home where he is waiting for a bus with his son. Liu, educated in the West, had become the first Chinese president of the Baptist University of Shanghai. After Japanese occupation, he had resisted them and helped war refugees. Urged by friends to flee he had replied, “I will not desert.”

April 7, 1942

Formation of the National Association of Evangelicals at Hotel Coronado in St. Louis Missouri. Rev. J. Elwin Wright delivers the opening address of a three-day conference. Evangelicals are there to find common ground to fight against evil forces, he says, and to seek ways to fight for Christ aggressively and unitedly.

April 7, 1947

Repose (death) of Savvas the New, patron saint of the Greek island Kalymnos. An ascetic, he had been priest and spiritual father of the nuns of the Convent of All Saints but was also known for painting icons.

April 7, 1948

The Episcopal Church consecrates three Filipino bishops, thus extending apostolic succession to the Philippine Independent Church.

April 7, 2007

Death in Nineveh, New York, of Johnny Hart, following a stroke. He had created the popular comic strip B.C. (featuring Stone Age characters) through which he sometimes expressed evangelical Christian beliefs after his conversion.

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