It is the 1st of September, 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1727.
1727 was the year that saw the last execution for witchcraft in Scotland. The ignominy belonged to Janet Horne, who, along with her daughter, was imprisoned by the sheriff of Loth (a county north of Inverness). Janet seems to have been dealing with the effects of early-onset dementia or mental malady that left her in a near-constant state of confusion. Furthermore, it was rumored that her daughter’s deformed hands were the remnant of being turned into a horse by her mother to travel across the Scottish Highlands at night. Diseased livestock and poor weather were blamed on Horne and her daughter, and they were arrested, tried, and condemned. Janet’s daughter was able to escape, but Janet herself was burned alive after being stripped, tarred, and feathered.
While a certain kind of superstition was rampant, so too was the development of medicine. In 1727, Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia christened the Charite Hospital in Berlin, a new building attached to an old plague hospital that would become one of the most famous and important medical centers in Europe. The hospital was initially set up by King Frederick I outside the city limits for victims of a coming plague. After the epidemic passed, it was used as a paupers hospital until the new King decided to build it out and help make it one of the premier medical research centers in Europe. Some 40 Nobel Laureates have worked at the German hospital with a French name. Last year Netflix released a six-part miniseries entitled Charite, based on the hospital founded in 1727.
1727 saw publications from Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and John Gay, all members of the famed Scriblerus club. In 1727 Isaac Newton died, as did King George I, first of the house of Hannover on the English throne. His son, George II, was crowned later in this same year. In 1727, Horatio Gates and Artemis Ward were both born. The two would become key revolutionaries with the American rebels later in the century.
And it was on this day, the 1st of September, in 1727, that Jean Baptiste Joseph Gobel was born. The fate of the one-time Archbishop of Paris would represent the vast swings in public opinion towards Catholicism during the French Revolution. Jean Baptiste was born in Switzerland and studied Theology at the German College in Rome. He was eventually made a priest in a French diocese heavily populated with Swiss folk. By 1789, he was elected as a deputy to the Estates-General and shocked many in the Catholic church for taking the Oath of the Civil Constitution in 1791. This call for popularly elected church officials benefited Gobel, who was soon elected to a series of positions, culminating in his election as the Archbishop of Paris (a position not recognized by the Catholic church at Rome). While remaining faithful to his calling, confession, and people, he resigned his episcopal duties in 1793. He was not leaving the church but instead sought to make it a more democratic institution.
The Hebertists. an anti-Christian sect in Revolutionary France, claimed that Gobel was on their side, and that gave Robespierre all the excuse he needed to remove another obstacle. Despite sharing none of the anti-Christian tenets of the Hebertists, Gobel was arrested and guillotined. A martyr of the French Revolution, Jean Baptiste Joseph Gobel, was murdered in 1794 and was born on this day in 1727. He was 66 years old.
The reading for today comes from Robert Herrick, a 17th century English poet and divine. This is his “Gods Keyes.”
God has four keys, which He reserves alone:
The first of rain; the key of hell next known;
With the third key He opes and shuts the womb;
And with the fourth key he unlocks the tomb.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 1st of September 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who weighs the same as a duck and is thus made of wood, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.