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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August 31, 1535: Pope Paul II excommunicates English King Henry VIII, who had been declared by an earlier pope as "Most Christian King" and "Defender of the Faith" (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

August 31, 1688: English Puritan writer and preacher John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, dies at age 69. Though one of England's most famous authors even in his own day, he maintained his pastoral duties to his death, which was caused by a cold he caught while riding through the rain to reconcile ...

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