Today in Christian History

September 14

September 14, 258: Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, is beheaded during the persecution under Roman Emperor Valerian (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

September 14, 407: Early church father John Chrysostom, the greatest preacher of his age, dies in exile when, in poor health, he is forced to travel on foot in bad weather (see issue 44: John Chrysostom).

September 14, 1321: Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, dies (see issue 70: Dante Alighieri).

September 14, 1741: George Frederick Handel finishes composing "The Messiah," begun only 24 days earlier.

September 14, 1814: Francis Scott Key, Episcopal layman and cofounder of the American Sunday School Union, is inspired to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the war of 1812. The song didn't become the national anthem until 1931.

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February 24, 1208: Francis of Assisi experiences a vision in the church of Portunicula, Italy. Though not his first vision, it convinced him to begin a mission of preaching repentance, singing, caring for lepers, and aiding the peasants. Most notably, he and his followers renounced wealth and followed absolute poverty (see issue 42: Francis of Assisi).

February 24, 1582: Gregory XIII issues a bull requiring all Catholic countries to follow October 4 with October 15 and replace the Julian calendar ...

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