May 13: Today in Christian History

May 13: Today in Christian History

May 13, 609

Pope Boniface IV dedicates the Pantheon as a Catholic church and introduces the Festival of All Saints. The bones of martyrs from various Roman cemeteries are brought in a solemn procession of twenty-eight carriages to the new church.

May 13, 1248

Sentence is pronounced against the Talmud in Paris. Following this decision, fourteen cartloads of books will be burned, followed by another six. The Inquisition had taken note of blasphemies of Christ in Jewish writings, prompting the pope in 1239 to order the rulers of several European nations to seize Jewish books. 

May 13, 1291

King Philip the Fair of France addresses a letter to the seneschal of Carcassonne in which he denounces the inquisitors for cruelly torturing innocent men, whereby the living and the dead are fraudulently convicted. Among abuses he particularly mentions are “tortures newly invented.” Ironically, he will use the same tactics sixteen years later against the Knights Templar.

May 13, 1607

Jamestown settlers attend their first prayer service in Virginia after their Anglican minister builds a makeshift church by “nailing a piece of timber between two trees,” and stretching “a square of sailcloth over it.”

May 13, 1619

Execution in the Hague of John Barneveld, Dutch statesman, at seventy one years of age. He had advocated free states and taken the Arminian side against the Calvinists.

May 13, 1643

An ordinance calling for the Westminster Assembly is introduced into the English House of Commons and will pass a month later.

May 13, 1685

Cotton Mather, who will be an influential pastor in New England, is ordained in Boston’s North Church.

May 13, 1704

Death in Paris of Louis Bourdaloue, one of the most famous French preachers of his day, “king of preachers and preacher of kings” (he was called to preach frequently at court).

May 13, 1828

Evangelist David Marks asks his audience what they want him to preach on. Someone shouts “nothing” and so Marks preaches on “nothing” to an Ancaster, Ontario, crowd, showing them that they would be nothing and have nothing without Christ.

May 13, 1831

A meeting in London for the proposed union of Congregational churches adjourns. It had authorized the creation of a plan for union to be amended by the affected British churches and submitted for adoption the following year.

May 13, 1838

Death in London of Zachary Macaulay, who had been one of the evangelical social-action group known as the Clapham Sect, a slavery abolitionist, and governor of Sierra Leone (1794–1799).

May 13, 1839

Death in Rome of Cardinal Joseph Fesch, uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte, influential figure in French religious politics and a collector of masterworks of art.

May 13, 1874

Pope Pius IX issues an encyclical “On the Greek-Ruthenian rite,” forbidding that any changes be made to Eastern Catholic liturgies, and in particular to the Ruthenian Rite.

May 13, 1917

Three children claim to have seen the Virgin Mary in the town of Fatima in Portugal.

May 13, 1940

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands arrives in England, fleeing the German invasion of the Netherlands. A Christian, she will rally her people through weekly radio broadcasts. Three years after the war, she will abdicate in favor of her daughter, taking the name Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.

May 13, 1981

A Turk named Mehmet Ali Agca, who belongs to the extremist group the “Gray Wolves,” shoots Pope John Paul II as he waves to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square. Bullets rip the pope’s abdomen, right arm, and left hand.

May 13, 2006

Death in Hamden, Connecticut, of Jaroslav Pelikan, a Christian scholar and church historian who had written nearly forty books and over a dozen reference works on numerous aspects of Christian history. Late in life he had joined the Eastern Orthodox Church.



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