April 24, 387: On this day, Augustine of Hippo writes in his autobiographical Confessions, "We were baptized and all anxiety for our past life vanished away." The 33-year-old had been a teacher of rhetoric and pagan philosophies at some of the Roman Empire's finest schools, but after great influence by his mother, Monica, and the famous bishop Ambrose, he turned to Christianity. His baptism by Ambrose, on Easter Sunday, marked his entrance into the church (see issue 15: Augustine and issue 67: Augustine).
April 24, 1581: Vincent de Paul, founder of the Lazarist Fathers and the Sisters of Charity, is born in Pouy, France. The Roman Catholic Churchnamed him patron saint of all works of charity because of his charity work during the Wars of Religion.
April 24, 1944: In "United States v. Ballard," the Supreme Court ruled that no governmental agency can determine "the truth or falsity of the beliefs or doctrines" of anyone—even if the beliefs "may seem incredible, if not preposterous to most people." But the court also reiterated its position that while freedom of belief is absolute, the freedom to act on those beliefs is not.
March 18, 386: Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem from 315, dies. Best known for his series of discourses given during Lent for those to be baptized on Easter, he early on advocated the veneration of relics and argued for transubstantiation—the doctrine that the bread and wine of Communion become the actual body and blood of Christ.
March 18, 1123: The First Lateran Council opens in Rome. Convoked by Callistus II, it repeated and confirmed earlier decrees. The Western church, however, remembers its ...