Haile Selassie graffiti

21 April

Today is Grounation Day, one of the most holy days for Rastafarians. It celebrates the visit to Jamaica in 1966 of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie (birth name: Ras Tafari Makonnen) , who stepped out of his plane at Kingston’s Palisadoes Airport to be hailed as Messiah by a crowd of 100,000 Rastafarians. Although Selassie was a committed Ethiopian Orthodox believer, he did not discourage Rastafarians in their worship of him.

Today in 2019, Easter Sunday, Islamist suicide bombers visited two churches in Sri Lanka, as well as a Catholic shrine, with terrible loss of life. It is estimated that 115 people died at the Catholic Church of St Sebastian in Negombo, 27 of them children. At the evangelical Zion Church in Batticaola, at least 30 were killed, including children from the Sunday School. More than 50 people died at the Shrine of St Anthony in Colombo.

‘We are hurt. We are angry, also. But still, as the senior pastor of Zion Church Batticaloa, the whole congregation and every family affected, we say to the suicide bomber, and also to the group that sent the suicide bomber, that we love you and we forgive you. No matter what you have done to us, we love you, because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Roshan Mahesen, senior pastor, Zion Church

Pope Alexander died today in 1073, and by coincidence, Alexander Pope was born today in 1688.

St Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, died today in 1109. Spearheading the rebirth of Western theology, he was the first to try to prove the existence of God by logic alone. He also came up with a new understanding of the atonement. While it was widely believed that Jesus’s death paid off the Devil, who had been holding the human race hostage, Anselm insisted that the Devil had no right over us. Instead, Jesus died to appease God, enduring the punishment God demanded for human sin.

‘As God owed nothing to the Devil but punishment, so man must only make amends by conquering the Devil as man had already been conquered by him. But whatever was demanded of man, he owed to God and not to the Devil.’ Anselm, Cur Deus Homo

The controversial theologian Peter Abelard also died today in 1142. Rubbishing Anselm’s idea that God demands innocent blood before he will forgive anyone, he explained the crucifixion as Christ’s act of love to kindle love in our hearts. Bored of being the greatest thinker in the known world, he then gave up lecturing to write love songs for his landlord’s niece, Heloise. But he was caught in his own act of love by the landlord, who arranged for him to be castrated. After a spell as a reforming abbot, Abelard returned to teaching, founding a school in Paris which became the first-ever university.

Image: Dave Lonsdale

Time-travel news is written by Steve Tomkins and Simon Jenkins

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