Today in Christian History

February 14

February 14, 270: According to tradition, Valentine, a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II, is beheaded along the Flaminian Way. One explanation for Valentine's subsequent relationship to the romantic holiday is this: Claudius, seeking to more easily recruit soldiers, removed family ties by forbidding marriage. Valentine ignored the order and performed secret marriages—an act that led to his arrest and execution.

February 14, 869: Cyril, "apostle to the Slavs," dies. Creator of the Cyrillic alphabet (still used in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and elsewhere), translator of the Scriptures into Slavonic, and bishop, he worked with his brother, Methodius, who carried on the missionary work for another 15 years (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).

February 14, 1760: Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is born. The first African-American ordained by the Methodist church, Allen also a co-founded the Free African Society, America's first organization founded by blacks for blacks (see issue 62: Bound For Canaan).

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January 24, 1076: Germany's Henry IV convenes the Synod of Worms to secure the deposition of Pope Gregory VII. The Synod charged the pope with serious crimes, called upon Rome to depose him, and issued other anti-papal statements. The pope quickly excommunicated Henry. One year later, Henry traveled to Canossa, Italy, and stood three days in the snow in an attempt to gain Gregory's forgiveness. Gregory granted it, but the two men soon fought again; Henry set up an antipope in Gregory's place.

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