Welcome to Concordia Historical Institute, Department of Archives and History for the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

Today in History

April 20

Johannes Bugenhagen

1139 The Second Council of the Lateran, led by Pope Innocent II and attended by a thousand church leaders, opened in Rome. The main topics of discussion were reforming the church in the wake of the East-West schism (1054) and preserving the temporal possessions of the clergy.

1233 (some say 1232) Pope Gregory IX (ca. 11431241) appointed full-time papal inquisitors and gave the Dominican order authority to carry out the Inquisition.

1303 The University of Rome La Sapienza was instituted by Pope Boniface VIII (ca. 12351303).

1441 At the Council of Florence (Basel) Pope Eugenius IV issued the bull Etsi non dubitemus, declaring the pope to be superior to church councils.

1494 Johannes Agricola, Saxon theologian and reformer, was born (d. 22 September 1566).

1594 Matthaeus A. Loewenstern, hymnist, was born in Neustadt, Silesia (d. 11 April 1648, Breslau).

1657 Freedom of religion was granted to the Jews of New Amsterdam (later New York City).

1718 David Brainerd, missionary to the Algonquin Indians, was born in Haddam, Connecticut (d. 9 October 1747).

1826 Erastus Johnson, American hymn writer, was born in Lincoln, Maine (d. 16 June 1909, Waltham, Massachusetts).

1853 Fugitive slave Harriet Tubman (ca. 18201913), who had escaped from the eastern shore of Maryland four years earlier, made a return trip to the South to rescue other slaves. By the time slavery was abolished, she had made nineteen such trips, liberating at least three hundred fellow African Americans.

1855 Henry Lipowsky, a former lieutenant in the Austrian Army, opened the first Bohemian-American church in the U.S., Saint John Nepomuk Church of Saint Louis, Missouri.

1879 The first African Americans (7) were confirmed in New Orleans as part of the mission effort of the Lutheran Synodical Conference.

1884 Pope Leo XIII (18101903) published the encyclical, Humanum Genus, which denounced Freemasonry.

1899 The great Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, where Thomas Spurgeon (son of Charles Haddon Spurgeon) served as pastor from 1894 to 1908, burned to the ground.

1960 Henry W. Buck, Lutheran lay leader, Lutheran Laymen's League executive and member of the Missouri Synod Board of Directors, died (b. 28 February 1906).

2004 The Spanish Evangelical Lutheran Church received legal recognition by the Spanish government.