The Pearl of Great Price

40 Episodes

By: Tim Byron

A short daily trip down the lane of Christian History. Looking at the fascinating people and events that have shaped a universal civilisation.

June 13 Downs Syndrome and Dr Lejeune
Today at 4:00 PM

Dr Jerome Lejeune was the first to identify the double chromosome that caused Downs Syndrome. When the medical profession starting using his discovery for pre-natal screening result in the routine abortions of Downs children it devastated him. He vigorously campaigned for their protection and became a close friend and advisor to Pope John Paul II. 

June 12 Reclaiming St Petersburg from the Communists
Yesterday at 4:00 PM

A decisive and democratic vote in  1991 returned the title of St Petersburg after it had been called Leningrad for 70 years. It was another clear indication that Christianity was more resilient than Communism.

June 11 Fulton Sheen the Emmy winning Bishop
Last Thursday at 4:00 PM

Fulton J Sheen was one of the first televangelists. A telegenic, gifted communicator, he had a very fruitful apostolate.  Was the victim of vicious inter-church politics but his cause for Sainthood is now open. 

June 10 Von Harnack and the Theology of Culture
Last Wednesday at 4:00 PM

Hugely influential Theologian and Historian, training generations of leaders and teachers in Liberal Protestantism and the Theology of Culture.  One of his key  pupils Karl Barth would spectacularly fall out with him before the two world wars. 

June 9 Terese of Liseux and the Story of a Soul
Last Tuesday at 4:00 PM

Terese Martin was a remarkable teenager - who at the age of 15 refused to leave the side of the Pope in a public audience as she wished to enter a Carmelite Convent.  Dying at the early age of 24, her spiritual memoirs of a hidden life have become a classic, translated into 35 languages and she has been declared a Saint and a Doctor of the Church

June 8 Gustavo Gutierrez and Liberation Theology
Last Monday at 4:00 PM

The Peruvian Dominican Gustavo Gutierrez is seen by many as being the father of Liberation Theology this is his story

June 7 Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia
Last Sunday at 4:00 PM

The life of the great Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi is intertwined with his magnus opus the Sagrada Familia. It changed him and he changed ecclesial architecture with his imagination and genius.

June 6 John Polkinghorne - Faith & Science

John Charlton Polkinghorne  was an English theoretical physicist, theologian, and Anglican priest. A prominent voice explaining the relationship between science and religion, he was Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1979, when he resigned his chair to study for the priesthood, becoming an ordained Anglican priest in 1982.

June 5 The Sermon that inspired the Riot Act

The Sacheverell riots were a series of outbreaks of public disorder, which spread across England during the spring, summer and autumn of 1710 in which supporters of the Tories attacked the homes and meeting-houses of dissenters particularly those of presbyterians, inspired by the Nov 5th Sermon of Rev Henry Sacheverell.

June 4 Silencing Prayer in Schools

We look at the First Amendment of the Constitution of the USA - and its double function of protecting the state from religious control and protecting religion from political control.  How can this be abused and was it abuse in Wallace v Jafree in Alabama? 

June 3 Hitler's Pope?

Pope Pius XII has long been smeared as being Hitlers Pope,  English historian John Cornwell has made a lot of money from it. Today we look at the defection of the head of the Romanian KGB who admitted it was a Russian disinformation campaign. 

June 2 Anthony DeMello

Indian Priest and psychotherapist Anthony De Mello sold over 2 million books on spirituality in his life time, fusing Christian Spirituality with Eastern traditions of Daoism and Buddhism. But after he died prematurely on June 2 1987 his work came under critical inspection by the Vatican. Why? 

June 1 The Dead Sea Scrolls

The most exciting discovery of modern Archaeology in a cave by the shore of the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea Scrolls is a huge discovery of nearly 900 manuscripts. Where did they come from and what do they tell us? 

May 31 Aparecida & the making of Pope Francis

The 5th conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) was in the Mexican shrine of Aparecida. Did this mark a decisive shift to Latin America as a Source Church for the Global Church.  An Argentinian Jesuit, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio oversaw the final report.  He would become Pope Francis 

May 30 Standing up to the Nazi's, the Confessing Church

On May 30 the confessing church in German finished its first synod and issued the Barmen Declaration. Bravely denouncing the Nazification of the Evangelical Church. They were inspired by Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoller

May 29 G.K.Chesterton

Described as the Prince of Paradox, great wordsmith and communicator Chesterton had an interesting spiritual journey.  Unitarianism > Occult > Anglicanism > Catholicism.  Some of his books are now considered to be classics of apologetics, and his Father Brown detective series is more popular than ever.  A process for beatification is open. 

May 28 William Colgate

How a young emigrant to USA had an experience of being born again, which prevented him from being bitter and gave him the resilience to build up one of Americas most famous companies.  His deep faith led him to share most of his wealth through tithing 

May 27 The Oldest Legal System in the World

Canon Law has developed over 2000 years and influence the development of many secular legal systems

May 26 Bernardos

William Bernardo wanted to be a missionary to China after his evangelical conversion.  Moving to London to study medicine he was shocked by how many children were orphaned and lived on the streets 

May 25 Ecumenism and Ut Unum Sint

This encyclical on Church Unity, marked a different papal tone, with John Paul II calling ecumenism an imperative 

May 24 John Wesley's Conversion

John Wesley went from spiritual despair to renewal after experiencing a strange warming of the heart in Aldersgate London 

May 23 Sam Sharpe and Jamaica's Baptist Rebellion

Today Sam Sharpe was executed for inciting a Slave Rebellion, he is now a national hero in Jamaica.  A slave himself and a Baptist Deacon, this is his story

May 22 The Trevi Fountain, Popes and Rome

Today we remember how Popes commissioned and Blessed the redesigned Trevi Fountain.  The City of Rome has closely been linked to the rise and fall of the Papacy. 

May 21 Attacking the Pieta

Michelangelo's Pieta is one of the greatest sculptures of all time, and today it was attacked by a Hungarian Geologist and seriously damaged. 

May 20 'We Believe....." The Council of Nicea

The first ecumenical (Global ) Church Council and the Creed that came from it 

May 19 Alcuin of York - Capital letters and miniscule script

The greatest mind of the 8th Century - changed how we read letters, and saved a lot of knowledge from Viking Destruction. Alcuin of York - a one man renaissance was the sun who shone over Europe 

May 18 The Original Megachurch - Drama and Kidnapping

Today we remember the disappearance of Aimee McPherson a remarkable and pioneering evangelist. And how she reappeared 5 weeks later in the Mexican Desert ... what happened? 

May 17 Mapping the Mississippi with Marquette

The Jesuit explorer Jacques Marquette and the Canadian Fur Trapper Louis Joillet were the first to explore and map the Mississipi - they embarked today and this is their story 

May 16 Brendan the Navigator

Did a Celtic Monk called Brendan cross the Atlantic 1000 years before Columbus? 

May 15 Rerum Novarum, the Pope and Revolution

Rerum Novarum was described as ground breaking - the foundational encyclical on Catholic Social Teaching. The only encyclical to spawn to follow up encyclicals as the Church tries to tread a middle line between Capitalism and Socialism 

May 14 Salem Witch Trials

The infamous Salem Witch trials are now understood to be a bout of Puritan Mass Hysteria - and some historians argue lead to the end of experimental theocracies in the USA 

May 13 Shooting in St Peters Square

Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca  came millimeters from killing John Paul II today by shooting him four times at close range in St Peters Square.  We look at the theories about why it happened and their relationship afterwards 

May 12 The Pope and Fatima's third secret

On a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Fatima Pope John Paul II was attacked by a ultra-conservative priest brandishing a bayonet. Why was the Pope there in the first place? What was he giving thanks for? 

May 11 Irish Monasticism

We look at the life of Comgall, his student Columbanus and the distinctive form of Christian Community that emerged in Ireland.  We also look at how that had shaped the universal church. 

May 10 Karl Barth

The greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th Century, today we look at the life and thought of Karl Barth 

May 9 An Assassination tests a Popes Faith

Today we remember the killing of Aldo Moro, former prime minister of Italy and how it tested the faith of an old friend Pope Paul VI 

May 8 Rebuilding in the ashes of a revolution, Jean Vianney

A story of the savage French Revolution - its attempt to de-Christianise France and how a humble priest rebuilt the spiritual lives of his parishioners after. Jean Vianney would become the patron saint of priests

May 7 John Paul II in Romania & the Orthodox

At the turn of the Millennium the first Slavic Pope, John Paul II made bug steps towards reconciliation with the Orthodox Church. This covers his visit to Romania

May 6 Ghent Altarpiece

Its been described as the most stolen piece of art, the first great oil painting of the Northern Renaissance. A complex multi-panelled painting laced with Catholic Theology. Recovered by the famous monuments men in the second world war after Hitler had hid it in a salt mine. 

May 5 Scopes Trial and Teaching Evolution

Today we look at infamous Scopes Monkey Trial and the attempt to overthrow the Butler Act which prohibited teaching evolution in schools.  Also how the anti-evolution movement evolved into a Christian Science movement