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, May 13-19, in Church history. They include the first showing of the musical Godspell, the birth of Pope John Paul II, and the first reported sighting of Our Lady of Fatima.
The First ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ Sighting Reported – May 13, 1917
This week marks the anniversary of when three children in Portugal claimed to have had their first encounter with an apparition of the Virgin Mary.
Lucia Santos, Francisco Marto, and Jacinta Marto explained that they were playing on a property located near Fatima named Cova da Iria when the Virgin Mary appeared to them, describing her as “a Lady dressed in white, more brilliant than the sun.”
The children claimed that during the visitations from Mary, the Virgin called for the world to repent and that they received three visions of death and destruction.
These “secret” visions have been the subject of many theories, with some claiming that they hold the keys to predicting the end of the world.
Later that year, the children encouraged a large crowd to come to the location of their visions, with many reporting that they saw a miracle in which the Sun “danced” in the sky.
‘Godspell’ Musical Holds First Off-Broadway Show – May 17, 1971
This week marks the anniversary of when “Godspell,” a musical largely based off of the words of the Gospel of Matthew, premiered off Broadway.
Originally conceived as a master’s thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University in 1970, the production opened at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City and eventually had 2,600 performances.
“In addition to many professional productions, amateur shows have been mounted in countless community theaters, high school auditoriums and church basements over four decades,” noted a 2011 Atlantic piece.
“In the last 10 years alone, according to dramatic performing rights agency Music Theatre International, there have been 5,000 licensed productions and more than 20,000 performances of Godspell and Godspell Jr., an abridged version of the musical designed for younger performers.”
Pope John Paul II Born – May 18, 1920
This week marks the anniversary of the birth of Karol Jozef Wojtyla, who later became head of the Roman Catholic Church and took the name Pope John Paul II.
A native of a small town near Krakow, Poland, by 1941 John Paul’s entire immediate family had passed away for various reasons. During the Nazi occupation, he worked in a stone quarry after the university where he was studying philosophy was closed down.
Ordained a priest in 1946 and appointed as a bishop in 1958, John Paul was elected pope in 1978 after seven rounds of voting by the College of Cardinals.
“A conservative pontiff, John Paul II’s papacy was marked by his firm and unwavering opposition to communism and war, as well as abortion, contraception, capital punishment, and homosexual sex,” noted history.com.
“Pope John Paul II is remembered for his successful efforts to end communism, as well as for building bridges with peoples of other faiths, and issuing the Catholic Church’s first apology for its actions during World War II.”