This week in Christian history: Papal interdict, Hawaii missionaries, Churches of God founder

Pope places an ‘interdict’ on England – March 24, 1208

A thirteenth century image of Pope Innocent III (circa 1161 - 1216).
A thirteenth century image of Pope Innocent III (circa 1161 - 1216). | Wikimedia Commons

This week marks the anniversary of when Pope Innocent III placed an interdict, a punishment in which a region is deprived of church services and sacraments, upon the entire nation of England.

Innocent III issued the interdict the previous August, but it did not take effect until March. It came partly in response to King John’s treatment of the Church.

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“The interdict was a much dreaded penalty, suspending some of the most desired offices of religion, and, while not certainly dooming all the dying to be lost in the world to come, at least rendering their state to the pious mind somewhat doubtful,” wrote historian George Burton Adams.

Eventually, John relented to Innocent and the interdict was lifted in 1214. Innocent would use the interdict punishment on others in Medieval Catholic Europe.

“Using similar methods, Innocent forced Alonso IX, King of Leon in Spain, to break off his illegitimate marriage with his niece. In like manner, the pope forced Sancho I, King of Portugal, to pay the annual tribute promised by his father,” noted in a 2010 article.

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