Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.
Each week brings the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, telling tribulations, inspirational progress, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week, August 12-18, in Church history. They include a notable missionary arriving in Japan, a pope ordering the destruction of the Talmud, and the first broadcast of a prominent Catholic television station.
EWTN Begins Broadcasting – August 15, 1981
This week marks the anniversary of when Eternal Word Television Network, one of the largest religious media entities in the world, was founded.
Founded by Mother Angelica, EWTN was first broadcast from a television studio that was originally a monastery garage for 4 hours a day to approximately 60,000 homes.
Reportedly the first Catholic satellite television station in the United States, EWTN often financially struggled in its early years, with Mother Angelica incurring millions of dollars of debt.
“You want to do something for the Lord … do it. Whatever you feel needs to be done, even though you’re shaking in your books, you’re scared to death – take the first step forward,” stated EWTN’s founder.
“The grace comes with that one step and you get the grace as you step. Being afraid is not a problem; it’s doing nothing when you’re afraid.”
In the present day, EWTN boasts 11 networks in multiple languages, broadcasting to approximately 268 million homes across the world.
Pope Orders Talmud Copies to be Burned – August 12, 1553
This week marks the anniversary of when Pope Julius III issued a decree ordering the confiscation and burning of all copies of the Talmud in Italy.
The decree came in reaction to a heated dispute between two Christian publishers of Hebrew literature in Venice, with charges being made by one publisher that the other was printing works against the Roman Catholic Church.
Julius III decreed that the Talmud and related works were blasphemous and should be destroyed. The following month, a large pyre was erected in Rome and used for destroying the texts.
“Subsequently the Inquisition ordered all rulers, bishops, and inquisitors throughout Italy to take similar action. The orders were obeyed in the Papal States, particularly in Bologna and Ravenna, and in Ferrara, Mantua, Urbino, Florence, and Venice, the center of Hebrew printing, and also in 1559 in Cremona” explained the Jewish Virtual Library.
“The ban against publication of the Talmud … was temporarily lifted (1564) by Pius IV. However, confiscation of Hebrew works continued in Italy, especially in the Papal States, down to the 18th century.”
St. Francis Xavier Arrives in Japan – August 15, 1549
This week marks the anniversary of when Saint Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit Order and known for his missionary work, arrived in Japan.
Believed to be the first Jesuit missionary to enter Japan, Xavier was already known for his extensive evangelism efforts in India, the land where he was eventually buried.
He landed in Kagoshima, bringing with him two small religious paintings which he used when proselytizing the native population, which according to scholar Grace A. H. Vlam, established a pattern for mission work.
“Their success was such that the amount of imported paintings and prints soon proved insufficient for the growing number of converts and churches,” wrote Vlam.