Today in Christian History

January 3

January 3, 1521: Pope Leo X creates a bull of excommunication for Martin Luther that would have deprived him of civil rights and protection, but before its execution, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V allows Luther the opportunity to recant his beliefs at the Diet of Worms. When Luther instead affirms his beliefs, the bull is carried out (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).

January 3, 1785: The Methodist "Christmas Conference" concludes at Baltimore, Maryland, having created the Methodist Episcopal Church in America and elected Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke its two first "general superintendents" (see issue 2: John Wesley and issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).

January 3, 1840: Joseph de Veuster, who, as Roman Catholic Missionary Father Damien gave his life ministering to lepers in Hawaii, is born in Tremelo, Belgium.

January 3, 1892: Literature professor J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and a devout Catholic, is born in Bloemfontein, South Africa (see issue 7: C.S. Lewis).

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March 27, 1536: Swiss Protestants sign the First Helvetic Confession, the first uniform confession of faith for all German-speaking Switzerland and an important Reformation document.

March 27, 1667: English poet John Milton publishes Paradise Lost, an epic of humankind's creation and fall.

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