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.
August 24, 410: Alaric and the Goths sack Rome. Pagans blamed pacifist Christians and their God for the defeat. Augustine, in his massive City of God, repudiated this claim and blamed Rome's corruption instead (see issue 67:Augustine).
August 24, 1456: The second volume of the Gutenberg Bible is bound in Mainz, Germany. This act completes a two-year project to create the first complete book printed with movable type.
August 24, 1759: William Wilberforce, philanthropist and vocal abolitionist, is born ...