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).

Free Newsletters
More Newsletters

Read These Next

Free Newsletters
More Newsletters

February 23, 155 (traditional date): Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, is martyred. Reportedly a disciple of the Apostle John, at age 86 he was taken to be burned at the stake. "You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and forget the fire of hell that never burns out," he said. The flames, legend says, would not touch him, and when he was run through with a sword, his blood put the fire out (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

February 23, 303: Diocletian begins ...

More from February 23