DAILY CATHOLIC    CHRISTMAS ISSUE     December 23-27, 1998     vol. 9, no. 248


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Historical Events in Church Annals for December 23:

  • 619 A.D.
  • Election of Pope Boniface V, 69th successor of Peter. His pontificate would last six years and two days. Yet his pontificate would be delayed for eleven months and would be embittered by wars for the Crown of Italy. He would institute the privilege of sanctuary for those persecutedwho sought refuge in churches. It would also be during his papacy when the prophet Mohammed would begin preaching, giving vent to one of the greatest threats to Christianity the world had ever known and plunge Europe into centuries of war against Islamism.

  • 1193 A.D.
  • Death of Saint Thorlac Thorhallsson, Icelandic bishop and reformer who insisted on clerical celibacy and stricter discipline in his see as Bishop of Skalholt. Though a cult honoring him rose up it was never formally recognized by Rome. He is considered the patron saint of Iceland.

  • 1588 A.D.
  • Death of Hendrik de Guise, French leader of the Catholic League by the French Hugenots which would gain in power after his death, eventually declaring war against the French King Louis XIII on this same date in 1620. Hendrik's cousin was the Archbishop of Reims.

  • 1922 A.D.
  • Pope Pius XI issues his first encyclical Ubi arcano Dei consilio on the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ in a plea for world peace in the aftermath of World War I.

  • 1945 A.D.
  • Pope Pius XII publishes his ninth encyclical Orientales omnes Ecclesias commemorating the 350th anniversary of the reunion with Rome of the Ruthenian Church.

Historical Events in Church Annals for December 24:

  • 642 A.D.
  • Election of Pope John IV, 72nd successor of Peter. This Dalmatian-born pontiff's papacy would last just a few months shy of two years. During his pontificate he would try to bring the dissentients of Egypt to the way of Truth. He would also have the remains of the martyrs Venantius, Anastasius and Maurus transfered to the Lateran. He would personally ordain 28 priests and consecrate 18 bishops in order to be sure of their faith and allegiance to Rome.

  • 1046 A.D.
  • Election of Pope Clement II, 149th successor of Peter. His pontificate would last less than a year in which his great preoccupation would be with the arrogance of the Count-Bishops, the cause of much bitter fighting among their vassals. He would also succeed in overcoming the resistance of Bishop Aribert of Milan. It was Clement who would canonize the Hungarian martyr Saint Viborata.

  • 1294 A.D.
  • Cardinal Benedetto Gaetani becomes Pope Boniface VIII, 193rd successor of Peter. This pope of great stature but questionable measures, would celebrate the first Holy Year in 1300 and decree that every one hundred years it would be repeated. During his bitter fued with King Philip IV of France this former advisor to Popes would issue the famous Papal Bull Unam Sanctam.

  • 1997 A.D.
  • Pope John Paul II lights the first Channukah candle ever officially lit at the Vatican in a gesture of peace toward the Jews.

Historical Events in Church Annals for December 25:

  • 1 A.D.
  • Birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ of Nazareth in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. His arrival would ultimately change the world forever as well as all calendars regarding chronological time differentiating "BC" for "Before Christ" and "AD" for "Anno Domini" - In the year of Our Lord.

  • 795 A.D.
  • Death of Pope Hadrian I, 95th successor of Peter. This Roman-born pontiff had been elected on February 1, 772. During his 13-year papacy he restored the walls of Rome and the ancient aqueducts. The golden statue of the tomb of St. Peter and the silver pavement in front of the altar of the Confession are due to him. He convened the 7th Ecumenical Council in 787 at Nicea in which Iconoclasm was condemned.

  • 800 A.D.
  • Pope Saint Leo III crowns Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor at St. Peter's on Christmas night.

  • 1046 A.D.
  • Pope Clement VI crowns Henry III Holy Roman Emperor. Henry had accompanied this new Saxon Pope to Rome after Popes Sylvester III, Gregory VI and Benedict IX had been deposed.

  • 1223 A.D.
  • Saint Francis of Assisi displays the first Nativity creche scene in Greccio, Italy, beginning a lasting and venerable tradition that would remind all of the reason for the season.

  • 1775 A.D.
  • Pope Pius VI issues his first encyclical Inscrutabile which outlined the problems of the pontificate.

  • 1955 A.D.
  • Pope Pius XII releases his 32nd encyclical Musicae sacrae on sacred music and the use of popular music in the liturgy.

Historical Events in Church Annals for December 26:

  • 35 A.D.
  • Projected date of the death of the first martyr of the Church, Saint Stephen. For more on him, see LITURGY.

  • 268 A.D.
  • Death of Pope Saint Dionysius, 25th successor of Peter. Also known as Pope Saint Denis this Turio-born pontiff's papacy lasted nine years. At the time he was elected on July 22, 259 the Barbarians were storming the gates of the Roman Empire. He was actually elected a year after his successor Pope Saint Sixtus II because of persecutions. He reorganized the parishes of Rome and obtained liberty for the Christians from Gaul, which would eventually become France.

  • 418 A.D.
  • Death of Pope Saint Zosimus, 41st successor of Peter. Of Greek extraction, he was elected on March 18, 417. He had a strong personality and insisted on the rights of the Church against foreign interference. A holy man of very strict morals, he ordained that illegitimate children could not be raised to the priesthood. He sent apostolic vicars to the Franks.

  • 1948 A.D.
  • Cardinal Mindszenty is arrested by the Communists in Hungary after they had taken over "Caritas" and all the Catholic schools, universities and religious institutions the same year. The Cardinal was sentenced to life-imprisonmentin 1949. He was released in 1956 during the successful uprising in that country and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. He died in Vienna, Austria in 1975 a free man.

Historical Events in Church Annals for December 27:

  • 314 A.D.
  • Emperor Constantine the Great initiates the process of transforming a pagan temple into the great Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Constantinople.

  • 1983 A.D.
  • Pope John Paul II pardons Mehmet Ali Agca the man who shot the Holy Father on May 13, 1981 in St. Peter's Square.

December 23-27, 1998       volume 9, no. 248


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