April 16, 1521: German reformer Martin Luther arrives at the Diet of Worms, convinced he would get the hearing he requested in 1517 to discuss the abuse of indulgences and his "95 Theses." He was astounded when he discovered it would not be a debate, but rather a judicial hearing to see if he wished to recant his words. In defending himself the next day, Luther said, "Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning . . . then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen!" When negotiations over the next few days failed to reach any compromise, Luther was condemned (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).
April 16, 1879: Bernadette Soubirous, who at age 14 became famous for her visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, dies in Nevers, France. In 1933 the Roman Catholic church declaired her a saint.
May 22, 337: Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, dies. Though known for calling the Council of Nicaea (which condemned the Arian heresy) and for beginning the process of Christianizing the empire, he waited until just before his death before he finally accepted baptism into the church (see issue 57: Converting the Empire).
May 22, 452: Leo, bishop of Rome, sends three angry letters to protest the Council of Chalcedon's recent elevation of Constantinople to the preeminent see in ...