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This week in Christian history: Pantheon converted, Jesuit missionary to China dies; Gregorian calendar pope elected

Pantheon converted into a church – May 13, 609

Pantheon
The Pantheon of Rome, Italy. Originally a pagan temple, in 609 it was converted into a Catholic Church. |

This week marks the anniversary of when Pope Boniface IV had the pantheon of Rome, a large and influential pagan temple, converted into a Catholic church.

Reportedly the first major pagan temple of Rome to be converted, the dedication was approved by Byzantine Emperor Phocas, with the building consecrated in honor of the Virgin Mary.

“Twenty-eight carriages brought the bones of martyrs in a solemn procession from various Roman cemeteries. The new church was consecrated to the Virgin Mary and to all the Martyrs,” noted Christian History Institute.

“Boniface inaugurated the Festival of All Saints and ordered an annual celebration. May 13 seems to have also been a pagan memorial for the dead. In the following century, Pope Gregory III moved the date of All Saints to November 1st.”

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