Today in Christian History

January 17

January 17, 356 (traditional date): Antony of Egypt, regarded as the founder of Christian monasticism, dies at age 105. Committed to a life of solitude and absolute poverty, he took two companions with him into the desert when he knew his death was near. They were ordered to bury him without a marker so that his body would never become an object of reverence (see issue 64: Antony and the Desert Fathers).

January 17, 1377: Gregory XI moves the papal see from Avignon (where it had been for 72 years) back to Rome. However, when he died the next year, two men (one in Rome, the other in Avignon) both claimed to succeed him, creating "The Great Schism." (The break between eastern and western churches in 1054 is also called "The Great Schism.")

January 17, 1525: The Zurich City Council arranges a public debate on the subject of infant baptism, which Ulrich Zwingli mandated but Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz (among others) opposed on the grounds that baptism symbolizes a believer's commitment to Christ. Grebel and Manz were defeated and eventually killed for their views (see issue 4: Ulrich Zwingli).

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October 20, 751: Pepin the Short, son of Frankish hero Charles Martel and father of Charlemagne, deposes the last of the Merovingian kings and becomes the first king of the Carolingian dynasty. He was crowned by Pope Stephen II, who later asked for his help when threatened by Lombards of northern Italy. Pepin defeated the Lombards, then ceded the territory he captured back to the pope, laying the foundation for the papal states.

October 20, 1349: Pope Clement VI condemns self-flagellation, speaking ...

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