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, Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, in Church history. They include the first visit of a pope to the United States, a meeting of Protestant Reformation leaders urging unity, and the first thanksgiving proclamation since the United States Constitution was ratified.
Colloquy of Marburg Ends – October 4, 1529
This week marks the anniversary of when a meeting was held between Protestant leaders Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, which tried but failed to unite the Reformation.
Held in Germany from Oct. 1-4, the goal of the Colloquy was to unite Swiss Protestants under Zwingli and German Protestants under Luther.
While the meeting found both sides agreeing on 14 points of belief, the two leaders ended up failing to reconcile their two camps due to differing views on Communion, specifically Jesus referring to bread and wine as His body.
Luther believed that the Lord’s Supper literally became the body and blood of Christ, whereas Zwingli believed that the terminology was only symbolic.
“Both men believed that they were right and the meeting only served to demonstrate that the Protestant world was a divided one especially over interpretation,” explained The History Learning Site.
“Luther refused to shake hands with Zwingli when he departed and he made his dislike of Zwingli very public. With Luther’s standing in northern Germany so high, it is easy to understand why the beliefs of Zwingli did not take root there.”
George Washington Issues Thanksgiving Proclamation – October 3, 1789
This week marks the anniversary of when President George Washington issued a proclamation naming November 26 as a day of prayer and thanksgiving, the first such proclamation since the Constitution had been ratified.
President Washington stated in his proclamation that “it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God” and to “obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
“… that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions,” continued the proclamation.
“To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.”
Pope Paul VI Becomes First Pope to Visit the United States – October 4, 1965
This week marks the anniversary of when Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit the United States of America, when he came to New York City to address the United Nations.
Coming at a time when the Vietnam War was escalating and Second Vatican Council was still meeting in Rome, the pontiff stressed a message of peace during his remarks to the international body.
“If you want to be brothers, let the arms fall from your hands. A person cannot love with offensive weapons in his hands,” stated Paul VI.
“Arms, and especially the terrible arms that modern science has provided you, engender bad dreams, feed evil sentiments, create nightmares, hostilities, and dark resolutions even before they cause any victims and ruins.”
In addition to the UN meeting, Paul VI also presided over a mass held at Yankee Stadium and visited then President Lyndon B. Johnson, where he urged him to halt the troop buildup in Vietnam.