Today in Christian History

February 15

February 15, 1386: Jagiello, king of the Lithuanians, is baptized. His conversion, the condition of an alliance with Poland, marks the end of established paganism in Europe.

February 15, 1631: John Donne, the greatest love poet of the English language and dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, preaches his last sermon titled "Death's Duel." "We celebrate our own funeral with cries, even at our birth," preached the poet, who was seemingly obsessed with the subject for his entire life (32 of his 54 songs and sonnets are about death).

February 15, 1860: Wheaton College (formerly Illinois Institute), one of evangelicalism's top institutions of higher education, is chartered in Illinois.

February 15, 1905: Christian author Lew Wallace dies at age 77. Wallace famous Ben Hur (1880) conceived on a train ride while arguing about Christ's divinity with famous agnostic Robert Ingersoll. It sold more than 300,000 copies in a decade, making him one of the best-selling religious authors of the 1800s.

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November 17, 3 B.C.: According to early church father Clement of Alexandria (c.155-c.220), Jesus was born on this date (issue 59: Jesus of Nazareth).

November 17, 270 (traditional date): Gregory Thaumaturgus ("The Wonder Worker"), a well-loved bishop in Pontus and the author of the first Christian biography (on Origen) dies. A legend, from a generation later, about the Virgin Mary visiting him is the first account of a Marian apparition (see issue 57: Converting the Empire).

November 17, 1558: Elizabeth ...

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