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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July 21, 1773: Pope Clement XIV dissolves the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which was founded in 1534. Clement did not condemn the Society, but explained it was an administrative move for the peace of the church. Pius VII restored the society in 1814.

July 21, 1925: Biology teacher John T. Scopes is fined $100 for teaching evolution. He lost his trial, but because of it fundamentalists lost respect (see issue 55: The Monkey Trial and The Rise of Fundamentalism).

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