BENEDICT THE AFRICAN, CONFESSOR, died 1589
Born a slave on the island of Sicily, Benedict lived as a hermit until the Pope ordered all hermits to attach themselves to a monastery, at which time Benedict joined the Franciscans. Though illiterate, he was highly respected as a confessor and later superior of his community.
ALBRECHT DURER, ARTIST, died 1528
Durer (1471 – 1528), a painter and engraver, was the leader of the German Renaissance School who, after a period of travel, settled in his native Nuremburg. His work is a close examination of the splendor of creation – the human body, animals, and natural landscapes. Along with Lucas Cranach, Durer’s engravings were important works of art for teaching the faith. For example, a number of engravings by Cranach were used to illustrate Luther’s Small Catechism. His “Praying Hands” are a Protestant favorite.
DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, TEACHER AND MARTYR, died 1945
Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945) was a Lutheran pastor and teacher in Nazis Germany. He studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York but returned to Berlin in 1930 to resist the growing evil in his homeland. He directed a seminary in Pomeranian, Germany until he was arrested and imprisoned in 1943 for anti-war activities. His Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, and Ethics are powerful witnesses to Christ. After the Service on Sunday, April 8, 1945 in Flossenburg prison, Bonhoeffer was taken away to be hanged. His last words: “This is the end, but for me the beginning of life.”
MIKAEL AGRICOLA, BISHOP, died 1557
Agricola (1512 – 1557) was a student of Luther and Melanchthon at Wittenburg and returned to spread the Reformation to his native Finland. He became the bishop of Turku and devised an orthography which became the basis for modern Finnish spelling. He went on to provide an ABC book, a prayerbook, and translated the New Testament and liturgy for his people. He died on Palm Sunday after returning from a mission trying to negotiate peace between Russia and Sweden.
OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH
The Petri brothers (1490’s – 1570’s) were instrumental in spreading the ideas of the Reformation to Sweden. They translated the New Testament, the liturgy and many hymns into their native Swedish language so that their people could understand the good news of Jesus.
JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, PASTOR, died 1558
Johannes Bugenhagen (1485 – 1558), from Pomerania in northern Germany, was appointed pastor of Wittenberg in 1523 through the efforts of Martin Luther and thus served as Luther’s own pastor and confessor. One of the greatest scholars of the Reformation era, he helped translate the New Testament into Low German and wrote a commentary on the Psalms. He also worked to organize the Lutheran Church in northern Germany and Denmark, journeying to Copenhagen where he crowned both King and Queen and consecrated seven men to the offices of superintendent and bishop.
ANSELM, TEACHER, died 1109
Anselm (1033 – 1109) was one of the great theologians of the Western Church. He devised the ontological proof for the existence of God and developed ideas of the atonement explaining how Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the way of reconciliation between God and humankind. His major works include Why God Became Man and the Proslogion. Reconciling reason and faith, Anselm famously proclaimed, “I believe in order to understand.”
TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY, died 1960
Kagawa (1888 – 1960) was born into a wealthy Japanese family but was disinherited by them when be became a Christian. He helped people for several years in the slums of Shinkawa and was imprisoned because of his pacifist opposition to the empire of Japan during World War II. He became a leader in the democracy movement in Japan.
JOHANN WALTER, CANTOR, died 1570
Walter (1496 – 1570) began service at the age of 21 as a composer and bass singer in the court chapel of Frederick the Wise. In 1524, he published a collection of hymns arranged according to the church year. It was well received and served as the model for numerous subsequent hymnals. In addition to serving for 30 years as cantor (church musician) in the cities of Torgau and Dresden, he also assisted Martin Luther in the preparation of the Deutsche Messe (1526). Walter is remembered as the first Lutheran cantor and composer of church music.
MARK THE EVANGELIST
John Mark, after breaking an association with the Apostle Paul, became the companion of Peter and is traditionally considered the author of the Gospel according to Mark. According to tradition, he was martyred in Alexandria in 64AD for his preaching against idol worship.
CATHERINE OF SIENA, TEACHER, died 1380
Catherine (1346 – 1380) received visions of Christ as a child and took monastic vows. Her teaching in A Treatise on Divine Providence is a classic of the faith.