April 23, 1073: Hildebrand is elected pope, taking the name Gregory VII. The first pope to excommunicate a ruler (Henry IV), Gregory was driven out of Rome in 1084. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity," were his last words, "therefore I died in exile.
April 23, 1538: John Calvin and William Farel (whom Calvin was assisting) are banished from Geneva. The day before, Easter Sunday, both had refused to administer communion, saying the city was too full of vice to partake. Three years later, Calvin returned to the city he would forever be associated with (see issue 12: John Calvin).
April 23, 1968: The Evangelical United Brethren Church joins with the much larger Methodist Church, forming the United Methodist Church, the largest Methodist group in the world and America's second-largest Protestant denomination (after the Southern Baptist Convention).
August 25, 1270: Louis IX, king of France since 1226, dies. Louis had been close to death 26 years earlier, and he vowed if he recovered from his bout with malaria, he would lead a crusade. In 1248 he kept his promise and led the Seventh Crusade in an unsuccessful attempt to crush the Muslim political center in Egypt. When he died, the holy king (who had spent much of his reign wearing hair shirts, collecting relics, and visiting hospitals—where he often emptied bedpans) was fighting in the ...