This Week in Christian History: Council of Trent, Pioneering Female Preacher, 'End of the Spear' Martyrdom

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)The reconstructed frame of Nate Saint's plane used in Operation Auca and other missionary work in Ecuador in the 1950s. Currently on display at the headquarters of the Mission Aviation Fellowship.

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, Jan. 7-13, in church history. They include the Council of Trent, the death of the first female Quaker preacher, and a famous twentieth century martyrdom.

Missionaries Martyred by Ecuadorean Tribe - January 8, 1956

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Mincayani, played by Louie Leonardo, finds freedom in forgiveness after seeing the gospel played out in Nate Saint's son, Steve Saint. (Photo: End of the Spear)

This week marks the anniversary of when five American missionaries were killed for their faith trying to evangelize the indigenous people of Ecuador.

Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint, and Pete Fleming were killed by a group of warriors from the Auca tribe after trying to make contact with the jungle-based community.

Later on, the families of the missionaries opted to live with the Auca and evangelized the tribe. The story of this mission work was popularized by Elliot's widow Elisabeth's book Through the Gates of Splendor and the 2005 movie "End of the Spear."

First Female Quaker Preacher Dies - January 8, 1672

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(Photo: Public Domain)Race Street Philadelphia Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, from HABS collection at the Library of Congress.

This week marks the anniversary of the death of the first female preacher of the Quaker movement, Elizabeth Hooton.

A contemporary of Quakerism founder George Fox, on multiple occasions Hooton was imprisoned and even physically attacked for being a preacher and a Quaker.

It was during a mission trip to Jamaica that the 71-year-old Hooton became suddenly ill and died soon after. For his part, Fox described Hooton as "a woman of great age, who had travelled much in Truth's service, and suffered much for it."

"She was well the day before she died, and departed in peace, like a lamb, bearing testimony to Truth at her departure," he added.

Council of Trent Releases Decree on Justification - January 13, 1547

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)A seventeenth century painting of the Council of Trent, located at Santa Maria Maggiore church, Museo Diocesano Tridentino, Trento, Italy.

This week marks the anniversary of when the Roman Catholic Church's Council of Trent released its official position on the Doctrine of Justification, denouncing the Protestant Reformation.

Called to order in December of 1545, the Council of Trent's decree on Justification labeled the Protestant idea of salvation through faith alone "the vain confidence of Heretics."

"Wherefore, no one ought to flatter himself up with faith alone, fancying that by faith alone he is made an heir, and will obtain the inheritance, even though he suffer not with Christ, that so he may be also glorified with him," stated the decree in part.

"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."

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