Today in Christian History

February 4

February 4, 856: Rabanus Maurus, a theologian and educator mentored by Alcuin, dies at age 80. His "retirement" from school administration at age 66 was followed by a career as archbishop of Mainz, Germany.

February 4, 1555: English reformer and theologian John Rogers becomes the first Protestant martyr under "Bloody" Mary I when he is burned at the stake for heresy (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

February 4, 1906: Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is born in Breslau, Germany. Author of The Cost of Discipleship (1937) and Letters from Prison (1944), he opposed the Nazis as one of Germany's Confessing Church leaders. Believing that Hitler was like a madman "driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders," he joined a plot to kill him, but the plot was discovered and Bonhoeffer was arrested and eventually hanged—just days before Allied troops liberated the concentration camp where he was held (see issue 32: Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

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September 29, 1413: Archbishop Arundel condemned Sir John Oldcastle, a follower of John Wycliffe, of heresy. He was given 40 days to recant, during which he escaped and hid in Wales. He remained hidden for a year, until the offer of a large reward prompted someone to betray him. He was then captured and roasted to death.

September 29, 1978: Three weeks after being elected, Pope John Paul I dies while reading a devotional in bed.

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