Posts by Simonetta Carr

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Margherita Datini – The Wisdom and Faith of an Ordinary Medieval Woman Church history books are beginning to devote more space to women. Treatments of Medieval Christian women, however, is usually limited to a few queens and nuns – those who could express themselves at a time when most women’s...
Estifanos of Gwendagwende – Reformer and Martyr Around the time when John Wyclif and Ian Hus shook the western church by challenging its authority and traditions, a lesser-known monk did something similar in Ethiopia. He was known as Abba Estifanos (in English, Father Stephen). Estifanos’s Early...
Boniface and Leoba Some have the impression that, after Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313, everyone in the Roman Empire became Christian (and lived happily ever after). At least, this is what we might get from a cursor reading of church history. In reality, as late as the ninth or tenth century,...
Marguerite d’Angoulême, an Influential Reformer Marguerite d’Angoulême, also known as Marguerite de Navarre, was one of the most influential figures in sixteenth-century Europe. Today, her memory in Reformed circles seems obscured by that of her more committed daughter, Jeane d’Albret. In reality,...
Gregory I’s Female Correspondents Some of our best sources of information about specific women in the early centuries of Christianity come from the correspondence of church fathers, particularly Jerome at the turn of the fifth century and Gregory I about two centuries later. Jerome’s letters were...
Krishna Pal – The First Baptist Convert in India On November 25, 1800, a 36-year-old Indian carpenter named Krishna Pal slipped into the tank where he was going to bathe, dislocating his shoulder. Having heard about a doctor at the Baptist mission at Serampore, not far from his house, he sent two...
Agnes and Margaret Smith and Their Crucial Discovery Agnes and Margaret Smith lived at a time when scholars were raising new and disturbing questions about the Bible. Is it reliable? Having being copied by hand, how do we know that it is not full of errors or even deliberate variations? And when...
Mary Sidney Herbert and the Poetic Depth of Her Psalter Mary Sidney was one of the most influential women of the Elizabethan age and received high praises for her writing skills. Forgotten for many centuries, she has recently been recognized and included in almost every anthology of English...
Mongol Leaders and Their Christian Wives While Europe was engaged in the Crusades, a new threat emerged from Asia: the Mongols, a fearsome population the talented warrior Genghis Khan organized into a powerful empire. At the time of his death, this empire stretched from Eastern Europe to the...
The East African Revival As many other events in global church history, the East African Revival is still fairly unknown in America. And yet, it spread rapidly through most of east Africa and lasted over 50 years, leaving a profound mark on the local churches. Eager to pinpoint dates, scholars...
Hannah Marshman – A Pillar of the Serampore Mission Did Hanna Marshman know, when she left England for India, how much the missionary community would depend on her for wisdom and strength? It’s hard to imagine what she expected to do or find. As one of the first female missionaries, she had few...
25 Inspiring Quotes from Women in Church History “I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.” [1] - Vibia Perpetua (c. 182-203) was arrested by imperial decree in Carthage, North Africa, together with her servant Felicitas and three other Christians. She was executed the...
Augustine of Hippo Against the Slave-Trade When we think of Christians who opposed the slave trade, William Wilberforce or John Newton may come to mind. But they were certainly not the first. Back in the fifth century, Augustine of Hippo reacted strongly to this widespread problem. Slavery is such...
Kayarnak, Greenland, and the Passion of Christ Kayarnak had seen a number of missionaries come to Greenland. Like the majority of his countrymen, he enjoyed making fun of them. His attitude changed when he heard for the first time how Christ suffered and died. Hans Egede The first known missionary...
Ramon Llull – The First Missionary to the Muslim World Eugene Stock, 19 th -century editorial secretary of the Church Missionary Society, called him “the first and perhaps the greatest missionary to the Mohammedans,” adding that “there is no more heroic figure in the history of Christendom.” [1] If...
Festo Kivengere and His Message of Forgiveness In 1977, the assassination of Anglican Archbishop Luwum shocked the world. Since his military coup in 1971, the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had been sowing terror around the country. Being a Muslim, he allowed three forms of Christianity in his country (...
Manche Masemola – An African Teenage Martyr The statue of Manche Masemola is one of the ten in the Modern Martyrs of the 20 th Century collection adorning Westminster Abbey’s Great West Door. The collection, designed by the renowned sculptor Tim Crawley, was unveiled in 1998. Masemola, together...
Antonius Hambroeck’s Sacrifice The moving story of Antonius Hambroeck is well-known in the Netherlands, where he is considered a national hero, and in Taiwan, where he was executed. It was popularized in the 1775 play Anthonius Hambroek, or the Siege of Formosa, by the Dutch author Joannes Nomsz...
Dorothy Carey and Her Struggle With Mental Illness When, in 1781, 25-year-old Dorothy (Dolly) Plackett married William Carey, five years her junior, she might have imagined the same type of quiet family life her parents and most people lived in her small town of Hackleton, West Northamptonshire...
Aidan of Lindisfarne – A Seventh-Century Door-to-Door Missionary Thanks to the literary mastery of the Venerable Bede, the history of the Christianization of England is filled with memorable stories of valiant kings, praying queens, and wonder-working saints. But it’s also studded with lesser-known...
Medieval Christian Brides The biblical rule of not marrying unbelievers wasn’t always binding in the first centuries of Christianity, especially when it came to the nobility. Priority was given to political concerns and family alliances. And, at a time when rulers determined the religion of their...
Mary Slessor – An Unconventional Missionary Mary Slessor became a legend in her time and continued to influence a generation of missionaries. Her name is still remembered in admiration both in her native Scotland (her image appeared on a 1997 Clydesdale Bank £10 note) and on her mission field of...
Egeria’s Travels One day in the fourth century, a woman with time and means left for a three-year tour of Biblical places. In her accurately detailed account, she says nothing about herself. We only know that her name was Egeria and that she was writing for her “revered sisters” at home. This...
Radegund of Thuringia – Giving Refuge to Women in Violent Times In 531, an army of Frankish soldiers invaded the Kingdom of Thuringia (in today’s France), sacked the palace, killed the royal family, and took the royal children back to the Frankish capital, Athies. Among these children was Radegund...
Ann Judson’s Missionary Work Ann Judson, one of the first two women to be sent as American foreign missionaries, is a familiar name for most Christians. She is particularly remembered as the sacrificial wife who hid her husband’s Bible translation inside a pillow and took it to the jail where he...
The Italian Village That Called the Protestants for Help Roman Catholic Bishop Pio Bagnoli couldn’t possibly have imagined the consequences of his decision when, in 1930, he removed a priest from his parish. Fr. Bernardino Mastroianni had been in Villa San Sebastiano, a small village by the...
Watson McMillan Hayes, Ding Limei, and the Battle for Christian Orthodoxy In late September 1919, eighteen students walked out of their classes at the Union theological faculty of Shandong Christian (Qilu) University. Based in Jinan, capital of Shandong, China, the university was a joint project of...
Alopen and the Missionary Monks of the Church of the East In 635, Emperor Taitsung (598–649) of China found Christianity so impressive that he wrote: “The meaning of the teaching has been carefully examined; it is mysterious, wonderful, calm; it fixes the essentials of life and perfection; it is...
Behari Lal Singh and His Vision for Missionary Training Only one representative from Asia appeared in 1860 at the overwhelmingly British Conference on Missions in Liverpool. It was Behari Lal Singh, who had become a Christian under the guidance of the Scottish missionary Alexander Duff. By then,...
Francesco and Rosa Madiai In 1853, John Hall Wilton, agent for the famous showman Phineas Taylor Barnum, wrote Lord Shaftesbury requesting the presence of an Italian Protestant couple who had been imprisoned and exiled because of their religion. The purpose of the trip was for “these interesting...
John Bulmer – Lessons Learned in Bringing Christ to Australia The name John Bulmer may not be familiar in the history of missions, especially outside of Australia, but he is a good representative of the sentiments and efforts of many Christians who witnessed, denounced, and tried to counteract the...
Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntington “And what if you save (under God) but one soul?” [1] This question, addressed to a still hesitant John Wesley, is a good summary of the life goal and drive of Selina Hastings, countess of Huntingdon. Selina’s Early Life Born in 1707 to an upper-class family...
When I told a friend in Italy that I was not familiar with the name Patrick Zaki, he was surprised. Zaki’s name has appeared frequently in the Italian news ever since his arrest in Cairo, Egypt, about nineteen months ago. And the news media continue to follow as his trial is repeatedly postponed...
Pablo Besson - For the Gospel and Religious Freedom When Pablo (then Paul) Besson received a request from Mathieu Floris, a Belgian emigrant to Argentina, to help him find an evangelist to spread the gospel in that country, he did his best to promote the cause. When no one answered, he understood...
From the earliest days of Protestant missions, foreign missionaries understood the need of training local pastors. The priorities given to this task varied. In many cases, circumstances helped to hasten the process. This is what happened in Manchuria, a historical region of northeast China, in 1941...
Gi Pung Yi – First Korean Martyr He was the first Korean Protestant missionary and the first Korean martyr, often remembered as the father of the Korean Protestant church. It all began through a rock and a bout of hot temper. A Paul-like Conversion Gi Pung Yi was only sixteen in 1885, when the...
Catherine Willoughby – An Outspoken Reformer When fourteen-year-old Catherine Willoughby married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, in 1533, she became one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in England. Thirty-five years her senior, Brandon had been married three times before. His latest wife...
No course of study or pastoral training prepared Rev. Mihai Corcea for the loneliness he experienced on the mission field of Romania‚ even though it's his native land. It’s not a lack of companionship (he has a lovely wife and a young, energetic son). Rather, Corcea described his loneliness as “...
The story of the flight of Katie von Bora from her convent and her arrival at Wittenberg, where she eventually married Martin Luther, is well-known. Few are acquainted with the person who engineered the flight, Ursula von Münsterberg, granddaughter of King George of Poděbrady of Bohemia and cousin...
Gerasim Kyrias – Zealous Evangelist and National Hero On 16 February 2000, eight months after the end of the Kosovo War, Rexhep Meidani, then President of Albania, gave a glowing accolade to the Evangelicals who had promptly banded together to help the huge number of Kosovar refugees. “In this they...
Bian Yunbo – A Poet for the Unknown Christian When, in 1943, Japanese soldiers occupied a rural area of the province of Hebei, China, eighteen-year-old Bian Yunbo walked over six hundred miles south-east to Yang County, where a high school accepted refugee students. There, he first heard the gospel...
Margaret Mure and the Love of Christ Today, James Durham is remembered as a faithful preacher, a moderate spirit at a time of great controversy, and an early advocate of the free offer of the gospel. But few people know that some of his celebrated commentaries were edited and published after his...
Tiyo Soga – The First Ordained Black South African Many things had changed in South Africa since Tiyo Soga had first traveled to Scotland in 1846. And he had changed as well. He had left a young seventeen-year-old graduate of the Lovedale Institution in South Africa, an outpost of the Glasgow...
On Sunday, May 30th, cries of terror filled the scattered homes that make up the rural community of Nwori Nduobashi, Nigeria. It was around 3 in the morning, and people were still asleep when an armed band broke into their homes, flashing light in their eyes to confuse them while they swung their...
Rebecca Protten and the First Black Protestant Church in the Americas When seven-year-old Rebecca Protten was kidnapped from her family home in Antigua, she couldn’t possibly imagine that her new life in the island of St. Thomas, a Danish sugar colony in the West Indies, would become a catalyst for...
Helene Kottanner – A Medieval Thriller Helene Kottanner had been a loyal friend and adviser to Queen Elisabeth of Hungary. But when the queen asked her to steal the royal crown, her devotion was severely tested. It all started in 1439, when King Albert II died after fighting against the Ottoman...
George Liele – First Baptist Missionary in Jamaica It has been said that the first American Baptist missionary was not Adoniram Judson, but George Liele, a former slave. Some have quibbled that Liele, although licensed to preach, was not specifically sent abroad by a church. In any case, his life...
Radegund of Thuringia – Giving Refuge to Women in Violent Times In 531, an army of Frankish soldiers invaded the Kingdom of Thuringia (in today’s France), sacked the palace, killed the royal family, and took the royal children back to the Frankish capital, Athies. Among these children was Radegund...
Solan Gidada – An Ethiopian Christian Hero His family name, Gidada, meant “one who weeps for his people.” But when Solan Gidada became blind at age five as a result of smallpox, his parents wept for him. But he was alive. Seven of his siblings had died from the same illness during an epidemic that...
John Hus’s Company of Women John Hus, the Bohemian Reformer who was condemned as heretic at the Council of Constance, was supported by a large number of women. This was, in some ways, unusual. The same couldn’t be said, for example, in the case of John Wycliffe, in England. One possible reason was...