DUNSTAN, BISHOP, died 988
Dunstan (909 – 988) was born of a noble family near Glastonbury, England and served for a while at the court of King Athelstan. In 936, he took monastic vows and lived as a hermit working as a musician, an illuminator (artist) of texts, and metalworker. After being named Archbishop of Canterbury, he supported the cause of learning and almost single handedly revived monasticism in England in the tenth century.
CONSTANTINE AND HELENA, KING AND MOTHER
Constantine 1 served as Roman Emperor from AD 306 to 337. During his reign the persecution of Christians was forbidden by the Edict of Milan in 312, and ultimately the faith gained full imperial support. Constantine took an active interest in the life and teachings of the church and called the Council of Nicaea in 325 at which orthodox Christianity was defined and defended. His mother, Helena (ca. 255 – 329), strongly influenced Constantine. Her great interest in locating the holy sites of the Christian faith led her to become one of the first Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Her research led to the identification of Biblical locations in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and beyond, which are still maintained as places of worship today.
LUDWIG NOMMENSEN, MISSIONARY, died 1918
Nommensen (1834 – 1918) spread the gospel to Sumatra, founding the church there and completed a translation of the Bible.
Esther is the heroine of the biblical book that bears her name. Her Jewish name was Hadassah, which means “myrtle.” Her beauty, charm, and courage served her well as queen to King Ahasuerus. In that role she was able to save her people from the mass extermination that Haman, the king’s chief advisor, had planned (Esther 2:19 – 4:17). Esther’s efforts to uncover the plot resulted in the hanging of Haman on the very same gallows that he had built for Mordecai, her uncle and guardian. Then the king named Mordecai minister of state in Haman’s place. This story is an example of how God intervenes on behalf of His people to deliver them from evil, as here through Esther He preserved the Old Testament people through whom the Messiah would come.
NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST, died 1543
Copernicus (1473 – 1543) was a Polish priest who cared for the sick and helped the poor. He studied medicine, theology, classics and, most notably, astronomy where he proved that the Earth revolved around the sun in his On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.
THE VENERABLE BEDE, TEACHER, died 735
Bede (673 – 735) was the last of the early church fathers and the first to compile the history of the English church. Born in Northumbria, Bede was given by his parents to a monastery in Northern England at the age of seven. The most learned man of his time, he was a prolific writer of history, whose careful use of sources provided a model for historians in the Middle Ages. Known best for his book, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, he was also a profound interpreter of Scripture; his commentaries are still fresh today. His most famous disciple, Cuthbert, reported that Bede was working on a translation of John’s Gospel into English when death came, and that he died with the words of the Gloria Patri on his lips. He received the title “Venerable” within two generations of his death and is buried in Durham Cathedral as one of England’s greatest saints.
JOHN CALVIN, RENEWER OF THE CHURCH, died 1564
Calvin (1509 – 1564) was a reformer of the Church. He broke with Rome and set up a theocratic government in Geneva. His Institutes of the Christian Religion is a classic.