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, April 15-21, in Church history. They include the interring of a famous missionary at Westminster Abbey, the death of a notable priest, and the arrival of Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms.
Father Damien Dies — April 15, 1889
This week marks the anniversary of the death of Father Damien, a Catholic priest who famously lived and ministered among a leper colony in Hawaii.
Born in Belgium as Joseph de Veuster in Tremelo, Father Damien traveled in 1873 to the leper colony in Molokai and proceeded to do various things for the community, from overseeing the construction of chapels and bandaging wounds.
In late 1884, Father Damien was found to have leprosy himself and five years later he passed away peacefully of the disease.
Exactly 80 years after his death, a bronze statue of Father Damien was unveiled at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC.
"The bronze statue is based on photographs taken of Father Damien near the end of his life, with the scars of his disease visible on his face and his right arm in a sling beneath his cloak. His broad-brimmed hat was traditionally worn by missionaries. His right hand holds a cane," explained the Architect of the Capitol website.
"Hawaii's Statuary Hall Commission received offers from 66 artists to create the statue of Father Damien for the Capitol and selected seven to submit models. New York sculptor Marisol Escobar's contemporary design was chosen over more classically styled representations."
Martin Luther Arrives for Diet of Worms — April 16, 1521
This week marks the anniversary of when Martin Luther, figurehead of the Protestant Reformation, arrived for the Diet of Worms.
Excommunicated earlier that year for his theological arguments, Luther was expected to recant his teachings at the Diet. However, Luther refused to do so.
"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason — I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other — my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe," stated Luther.
David Livingstone Interred at Westminster Abbey — April 18, 1874
This week marks the anniversary of when famed nineteenth-century Scottish missionary David Livingstone was officially interred at London's Westminster Abbey.
An explorer and abolitionist, Livingstone had died the previous year in Africa. A. P. Stanley, then Dean of Westminster was able to give him burial at the nave of the building, near James Rennell, founder of the Society for African Exploration.
"Before the ceremony a short service was performed by the Scottish Presbyterian minister Mr Hamilton. Dean Stanley conducted the funeral and Jacob Wainwright, who had escorted the body from Africa, threw a palm branch into the grave," noted the Abbey.
"Queen Victoria sent a wreath to be placed on the coffin and this was buried with him. The very large congregation mainly consisted of Nonconformist ministers, representatives of learned societies and the general public, with Livingstone's four children."