John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have Everlasting life. For God sent not the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”
Clarence E. Manion was dean of Notre Dame’s College of Law. He was appointed by President Eisenhower to help restore states’ powers that were usurped during FDR’s administration. Dean Clarence Manion, whose book “Keys to Peace” (1951) sold millions of copies, wrote regarding Christmas day: “The long march of measured time suddenly stopped. It then did an about-face and started to march in another direction and to a different drum straight through the ensuing centuries of Christ and Christendom. … B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, the year of our Lord) mark each one of the only reliable milestones along the path of world history. …”
Clarence Manion continued: “The end of the first time-chain, and the beginning of the second, came together on the night that Christ was born in Bethlehem. The first Christmas day thus stands as the Great Divide for the timing and recording of all people, things and Events that have lived or taken place upon this earth. … It is the one place where an inquiring mind can go in either direction without stopping; the one place on the long, long trail of time where the magnetic needle of history stands vertical and points up.”
As Clarence Manion referenced “the timing and recording of all people, things and events that have lived or taken place upon this earth,” let us review some of these events:
- On Christmas day, 496 A.D, Clovis, King of the Francs, was baptized with 3,000 of his soldiers at Rheims, France by Saint Remigius. The name Clovis evolved into Louis, which was the name of 22 French kings.
- On Christmas day, 597 A.D., 10,000 Anglo-Saxons were baptized in England on the banks of the Swale sea inlet between the isle of Sheppey and Kent by St. Augustine of Canterbury and his companions. St. Augustine had also baptized King Ethelbert of Kent.
- On Christmas day, 800 A.D., Charlemange was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in St. John Lateran Church, Rome, Italy. His grandfather was Charles Martel, who stopped the Muslims from invading France in 732 AD. In 846 A.D., 11,000 Muslims invaded Rome and desecrated the graves of St. Peter and St. Paul.
- On Christmas day, 1000 A.D., St. Stephen was crowned King of Hungary. His pious son, St. Emeric, whose name in Italian is Amerigo, was the namesake of Amerigo Vespucci, the explorer mapmaker after whom the continent of America was named.
- On Christmas day, 1025 A.D., Mieszko II Lambert was crowned King of Poland, as was Boleslaw II the Generous crowned on Christmas day in 1076.
- On Christmas day, 1066 A.D., William the Conqueror was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey, London. This same year a Muslim became “offended” at a Jewish administrator in Granada, Spain, and stirred Muslims to riot, killing nearly Every one of the 4,000 Jews in the city.
- On Christmas day, 1868 A.D., President Andrew Johnson issued a complete, unconditional pardon to all Confederate soldiers.
In 1869, Mark Twain published “Innocents Abroad,” telling of his visit to the Church of the Nativity in the Holy Land: “This spot where the very first ‘Merry Christmas!’ was uttered in all the world. … We called at … the hollow place under a rock where Paul hid during his flight till his pursuers gave him up; and to the mausoleum of the five thousand Christians who were massacred in Damascus in 1861 by the Turks.”
President John Quincy Adams stated in Newburyport, July 4, 1837: “In the chain of human Events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. … It forms a leading Event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation. …”
John Quincy Adams continued, asking: “Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before.”
President Herbert Hoover wrote in 1932: “Your Christmas Service held each year at the foot of a living tree which was alive at the time of the birth of Christ … should be continued as a further symbol of the unbroken chain of life leading back to this great moment in the spiritual life of mankind.”
President Harry S. Truman lit the national Christmas tree, Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1949, stating: “The first Christmas had its beginning in the coming of a Little Child. … Through that child love … the love of the Holy Family could be shared by the whole human family. … I have been reading again in our family Bible some of the passages which foretold this night. It was that grand old seer Isaiah who prophesied in the Old Testament the sublime Event which found fulfillment almost 2,000 years ago. Just as Isaiah foresaw the coming of Christ, so another battler for the Lord, St. Paul, summed up the law and the prophets in a glorification of love which he exalts Even above both faith and hope. We miss the spirit of Christmas if we consider the Incarnation … a far-off Event unrelated to our present problems.
“We miss the purpose of Christ’s birth if we do not accept it as a living link which joins us together in spirit as children of the Ever-living and true God. In love alone – the love of God and the love of man – will be found the solution of all the ills which afflict the world today. … With increasing purpose, emerges the great message of Christianity. … In the spirit of the Christ Child – as little children with joy in our hearts and peace in our souls – let us, as a nation, dedicate ourselves anew to the love of our fellowmen … the message of the Child of Bethlehem, the real meaning of Christmas.”
President Dwight Eisenhower remarked in 1960: “Through the ages men have felt the uplift of the spirit of Christmas. We commemorate the birth of the Christ Child by … giving expression to our gratitude for the great things that His coming has brought about in the world.”
President Jimmy Carter commented in 1977: “Christmas has a special meaning for those of us who are Christians, those of us who beliEve in Christ, those of us who know that almost 2,000 years ago, the Son of Peace was born.”
President Ronald Reagan stated in 1983: “Christmas is a time…to open our hearts to … millions forbidden the freedom to worship a God who so loved the world that He gave us the birth of the Christ Child so that we might learn to love. … The message of Jesus is one of hope and joy. I know there are those who recognize Christmas day as the birthday of a wise teacher … then there are others of us who beliEve that he was the Son of God, that he was divine.”
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