This Week in Christian History: June 18-24

(Photo: Public Domain)A 1636 portrait of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) by Justus Sustermans.

Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.

Each week bring the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, and everything in between.

Here are just a few things that have happened this week in the history of the Church. They include the founding of a national holiday, the start of a construction project, and the sentencing of an alleged heretic.

June 19, 1910 — The First Father's Day Service

(Photo: Public Domain)Sonora Louise Smart Dodd (1882-1978), credited as the founder of Father's Day.

This week marks the anniversary of the first official observance of Father's Day in the United States, held in Washington state on June 19, 1910.

Sonora Smart Dodd was inspired to create the holiday after listening to a Mother's Day sermon at Central Methodist Episcopal Church.

"Dodd's own mother had died 11 years earlier, and her father had raised their six children alone. Dodd felt moved to honor her father, and fathers everywhere, with a special day as well," noted an entry on the United Methodist Church's website.

"She proposed her idea to local religious leaders, and gained wide acceptance. June 19, 1910, was designated as the first Father's Day, and sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city."

June 21, 1675 — Construction Begins on St. Paul's Cathedral

(Photo: Public Domain)An 1896 photo of St. Paul's Cathedral of London, England.

This week marks the anniversary of when construction began on the St. Paul's Cathedral, an enduring iconic feature of London's skyline.

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and the fourth cathedral building to occupy the space, St. Paul's foundation stone was laid on June 21, 1675. Work was completed in 1710.

"Most of the cathedral, apart from the dome, is constructed in Portland stone. Stones for the centre of the building were recycled from the rubble of Old St Paul's," noted Engineering Timelines.

"The cost of constructing 'new' St Paul's — £738,845 according to cathedral accounts — was met by taxes levied on coal arriving at the Port of London, which also paid for the rebuilding the City of London after the Great Fire of September 1666."

June 22, 1633 — Galileo Convicted of Heresy

(Photo: Public Domain)A 1636 portrait of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) by Justus Sustermans.

This week marks the anniversary of the rendering of the final verdict in one of the most controversial court cases in the history of western civilization.

On June 22, 1633, astronomer Galileo Galilei was found guilty of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church for advancing the idea that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

"This was the second time that Galileo was in the hot seat for refusing to accept Church orthodoxy that the Earth was the immovable center of the universe: In 1616, he had been forbidden from holding or defending his beliefs," reports.

"In the 1633 interrogation, Galileo denied that he 'held' belief in the Copernican view but continued to write about the issue and evidence as a means of 'discussion' rather than belief ... Galileo's technical argument didn't win the day."

Galileo's punishment included a three-year prison sentence, spiritual acts of penance, and a house arrest that continued until his death in 1642.

While eventually the Church seemed triumphant at the time, as the book Light to the Nations, Part II: The Making of the Modern World put it, the public relations damage persists to the present day.

"The story of Galileo's trial thus came to symbolize for many the rebellion of the 'modern,' scientific mind against what they saw as the ignorance and superstition of the Catholic Church and all traditional religion," noted the textbook.

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