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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August 25, 1270: Louis IX, king of France since 1226, dies. Louis had been close to death 26 years earlier, and he vowed if he recovered from his bout with malaria, he would lead a crusade. In 1248 he kept his promise and led the Seventh Crusade in an unsuccessful attempt to crush the Muslim political center in Egypt. When he died, the holy king (who had spent much of his reign wearing hair shirts, collecting relics, and visiting hospitals—where he often emptied bedpans) was fighting in the ...

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