THE VISIT OF MARY TO ELIZABETH
The feast of the Visitation lifts up Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth recorded in Luke 1:39 – 47. Mary’s song, the Magnificat, is one of the great hymns of the Church and is appointed for singing every Vespers.
JUSTIN, MARTYR, died 165
Justin (100 – 165) was born of pagan parents and after a long search for truth became a follower of Christ and taught the faith at Ephesus. His Dialogue with Trypho and Apology record his ideas. He was scourged and beheaded when he refused to participate in a pagan sacrifice.
JOHN XXIII, RENEWER OF THE CHURCH, died 1964
John XXIII (1881 – 1964) served as bishop of Rome (Pope) and convened Vatican II. This led to many reforms within the practices of the Roman Catholic Church and opened up dialogue with Lutherans and other Christians.
THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA, died 1886
On June 3, 1886, thirty-two young men were burned to death for refusing to renounce Christianity. The confident manner in which these Christians went to their deaths contributed to a much stronger Christian presence in Uganda.
BONIFACE, MISSIONARY AND MARTYR, died 754
Boniface (675 – 754) was educated, became a monk, and was ordained as a presbyter in England. He was deeply inspired by the example of others to become a missionary. Upon receiving a papal commission in 719 to work in Germany, Boniface devoted himself to planting, organizing, and reforming churches and monasteries in Hesse, Thuringia, and Bavaria. One of his first acts was to cut down a sacred oak tree of Thor in Hesse. When he was not harmed, many of the people came to Christ and the wood was used to build a church. He also did mission work in the Netherlands. On June 5, 754, while reading the Gospel to a group of converts, Boniface and his companions were murdered by a band of pagans. Boniface is known as the apostle and missionary to the Germans.
SEATTLE, CHIEF OF THE DUWAMISH CONFEDERACY, died 1866
Noah Seattle (1790 – 1866) led a coalition of tribes, and convinced them to live peacefully with encroaching white settlers. When he became a Roman Catholic Christian, he held morning and evening prayer with his tribe. The city of Seattle is named for him.
COLUMBA AND AIDAN, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH
Columba (521 – 597) was an abbot and missionary who founded the Christian community on Iona (still a vibrant point for pilgrimages and ecumenism) and spread the Gospel to the tribes of Irish, Picts, and Scots in his day. Aidan (600? – 651) was a monk of Iona who served as bishop and revived the church of his day. The Life of Columba and the Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede preserve many stories about these saints.
Barnabas, one of the earliest Christian disciples, was originally called Joseph. After Paul’s conversion, it was Barnabas who introduced the former enemy of Christians to the apostles. With Paul, he organized the first missionary journey and defended the “salvation by grace through faith” claims of the Gentile Christians. In the Eastern churches Barnabas is commemorated as one of the seventy commissioned by our Lord Jesus. Tradition asserts that he was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus in 61 AD.
THE ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF NICEA
The first Council of Nicea was convened in the early summer of 325 by the Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Isnuk, Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the Council. The Council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of his righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in 381.
Elisha, son of Shaphat of the tribe of Issachar, was the prophet of God to the northern kingdom of Israel ca. 849 – 786 B.C. Upon seeing his mentor Elijah taken up into heaven, Elisha assumed the prophetic office and took up the mantle of his predecessor. Like Elijah, Elisha played an active role in political affairs. He also performed many miracles, such as curing the Syrian army commander Naaman of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1 – 27) and restoring life to the son of a Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:8 – 37). A vocal opponent of Baal worship, Elisha lived up to his name, which means “my God is salvation.”
BASIL THE GREAT, BISHOP OF CAESAREA, died 379
GREGORY, BISHOP OF NYSSA, died around 385
GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE, died around 389
MACRINA, THEOLOGIAN, died around 379
The Cappadocian fathers, as the three men in this group are known, explored the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Basil’s monastic rule forms the Eastern monastic life. Gregory of Nazianzus defended orthodox Christianity in Constantinople. Gregory of Nyssa, Basil’s younger brother, wrote on the spiritual life. Macrina, older sister of Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, was the leader of a community dedicated to asceticism, meditation, and prayer.
ONESIMOS NESIB, TRANSLATOR, EVANGELIST, died 1931
Onesimos was born in Ethiopia. Captured and taken as a slave to Eritrea, he was there freed by Swedish missionaries. He translated the Bible into his native Oromo and returned to preach there.
NATIVITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
John the Baptist was highly revered by the early Christians as the forerunner of the Christ and the last of the Old Testament prophetic line. The celebration of his birthday is one of the earliest festivals in the calendar of the church and can be read in the Gospel according to Luke 1 – 2.
PRESENTATION OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION
The Augsburg Confession, the principal doctrinal statement of the theology of Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers, was written largely by Phillip Melanchthon. At its heart it confesses the justification of sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone. Signed by leaders of many German cities and regions, the confession was formally presented to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530. A few weeks later Roman Catholic authorities rejected the Confession, which Melanchthon defended in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531). In 1580 the Unaltered Augsburg Confession was included in the Book of Concord.
PHILIPP MELANCHTHON, RENEWER OF THE CHURCH, died 1560
Though he died on April 19, Philipp Melanchthon is commemorated today because of his connection with the Augsburg Confession. Colleague and co-reformer with Martin Luther, Melanchthon was a brilliant scholar, known as “the teacher of Germany.”
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, TEACHER, died 444AD
Cyril (376 – 444 AD) became archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt in 412. Throughout his career, he defended a number of orthodox doctrines, among them the teaching that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is rightly called Theotokos, the “God-bearer.” In 431 AD the Council of Ephesus affirmed this teaching that the Son of Mary is also true God. The writings of Cyril on the doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ, for example his On the Unity of Christ, are classic works of theology.
IRENAEUS, BISHOP AND TEACHER
This important early church leader tried very hard to hold to the faith handed down by the apostles. An opponent of the movement known as Gnosticism, Irenaeus was one of the first to speak of the church as catholic, or linked together.
PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES
These two strong willed apostles are the pillars of the church in the first generation after Christ. Peter was one of the Twelve, one who both offered a glorious confession of faith and later denied knowing Jesus. Paul once led the persecution of Christians, then was converted and helped bring the faith to non-Jewish people.