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This week in Christian history: English pope dies, ‘Christ and Culture’ author born, early church baptism controversy

This week in Christian history: English pope dies, ‘Christ and Culture’ author born, early church baptism controversy

English Pope dies – Sept. 1, 1159

A fifteenth century image of Pope Adrian IV (circa 1100 - 1159), the only Englishman to serve as pontiff. | Public Domain

This week marks the anniversary of when Pope Adrian IV, the only Englishman in history to have been the head of the Roman Catholic Church, died after reigning for nearly five years.

Born circa and originally named Nicholas Breakspear, one report claimed he died due to choking on a fly that was in his wine, but it is more commonly believed that his cause of death was inflammation of the tonsils.

“He was mainly preoccupied with preserving papal authority against both Frederick Barbarossa, whom he crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1155, and the Norman king of Sicily,” wrote Richard Cavendish of History Today in 2009.

The Church experienced a brief schism over who was the rightful successor to Adrian IV, with the eventual winner of the power struggle being Alexander III, noted Cavendish.

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