This Week in Christian History: Santa Claus, Paradise Lost, An Archbishop Consecrated

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(Photo: Reuters/Gary Hershorn)Santa Claus rides on his sleigh down Central Park West in New York November 22, 2012.

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, Dec. 3-9, in Church history. They include the death of Saint Nicholas, the birth of John Milton, and the consecration of a very influential Medieval archbishop.

Anselm Consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury - December 4, 1093

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)A late-16th century line engraving of Saint Anselm of Canterbury (circa 1033 - 1109).

This week marks the anniversary of when Medieval intellectual Saint Anselm was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury.

A native of Italy, Anselm was already an influential monk when he agreed to fill the church position that had been vacant since 1089.

"Anselm was one of the most important Christian thinkers of the eleventh century. He is most famous in philosophy for having discovered and articulated the so-called 'ontological argument;' and in theology for his doctrine of the atonement," noted the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

"However, his work extends to many other important philosophical and theological matters, among which are: understanding the aspects and the unity of the divine nature; the extent of our possible knowledge and understanding of the divine nature; the complex nature of the will and its involvement in free choice; the interworkings of human willing and action and divine grace; the natures of truth and justice; the natures and origins of virtues and vices; the nature of evil as negation or privation; and the condition and implications of original sin."

St. Nicholas Dies - December 6, 345

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(Photo: Screengrab/YouTube/Society)A ruined tomb that is part of the fourth-century church of St. Nicholas in Demre, in modern day Turkey.

This week marks the anniversary of the traditional date given for when the man who inspired the modern American Santa Claus passed away.

A fourth century bishop who lived under the Roman Empire, St. Nicholas was persecuted for his faith under Emperor Diocletian but lived to see Constantine come to power and legalize Christianity.

St. Nicholas was introduced into American popular culture toward the end of the 18th century when groups of Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

"The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas)," noted

So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus ... and he's been dead since the fourth century.

John Milton Born - December 9, 1608

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)The title page of the John Milton classic "Paradise Lost."

This week marks the anniversary of when the author of one of western civilization' most influential literary masterpieces was born.

John Milton, a Puritan writer and pamphleteer who authored the epic poem "Paradise Lost," was born in London to John and Sara Milton. He had many siblings, though most died young.

Milton's most famous work "Paradise Lost," has had a strong influence on the English speaking world, with a 2017 BBC column arguing that its influence was second only to the works of William Shakespeare.

"Paradise Lost inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, while Wordsworth began his famous sonnet London, 1802 with a plea: 'Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee,'" noted the column.

"Malcolm X read Paradise Lost in prison, sympathising with Satan, while AE Housman quipped that 'malt does more than Milton can / To reconcile God's ways to man.'"

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