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.
June 18, 1464: Pope Pius II begins a crusade against the Turks. He died on the way to a rendezvous with his allies, and the crusading mentality died with him.
June 18, 1546: Protestant Anne Askew is condemned in England for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation (the idea that sacramental bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Christ). When asked by her accuser, "Sayest thou that priests cannot make the body of Christ?" she answered, "I have read that God made man; but that man can make ...