As a reminder of the long, rich, passionate and sometimes violent history of the Christian church, the Anglican Journal is publishing “Milestones,” a short feature that explores historical and intellectual events in the evolution of Christendom.
April 23, 303
The death of St. George, the dragon killer and patron saint of England, Germany, Portugal and Venice and a saint is venerated in Russia and Ethiopia. As tradition has it, George was a Roman tribune and member of Emperor Diocletian’s Imperial Guard, who was executed for refusing to make sacrifice to the pagan gods. Venerated as a Christian martyr, he is first credited with dragon killing in the Golden Legend, medieval bestseller on the lives of the saints published in 1260. During the Crusades, George became the patron saint of knighthood.
April 12, 1787
Outraged by racial discrimination against black congregants, Richard Allen, an ordained Methodist minister and former slave, broke away from St. George’s, the first Methodist church in America, built in Philadelphia in 1769. He formed the Free African Society (FAS), which, though not religiously affiliated, served as a de facto Christian church. The FAS extended aid to the widowed, sick and jobless, regulated marriages, taught thrift, censured drunkenness, condemned adultery and
attempted to improve morals.
April 5, 1809
The Birth of George Augustus Selwyn, the first Anglican bishop of New Zealand. Granted a vast area of pastoral jurisdiction, he also laid the foundations of the church in Melanesia and Polynesia. Having mastered the Maori language on the long voyage from England to New Zealand, he was able to preach to members of his new flock in their native tongue upon his arrival. In addition to collections of sermons, he wrote the tract, Verbal Analysis of the Holy Bible, intended to facilitate the Translation of the Holy Scriptures into Foreign Languages, 1855. Ω