August 15, 1096: The First Crusade sets out from Europe to "rescue" Jerusalem from the Muslim Turks (see issue 40: The Crusades).
August 15, 1195: Anthony of Padua is born in Lisbon, Portugal. The most popular and effective preacher of his day (he had studied under Francis of Assisi), attracting crowds of up to 30,000, Anthony earned the title "hammer of the heretics" for converting so many of the dualistic Cathari. "He is truly the Ark of the Covenant and the treasury of Holy Scripture," said Pope Gregory, who added that if all the Bibles of the world were lost, Anthony could surely rewrite them.
August 15, 1534: Ignatius of Loyola founds "the company of Jesus," which he described as similar to a group of fur traders, only focused on God's will. In 1540 they gained the approval of the pope, who named them the Society of Jesus. The vision and disciplines of the "Jesuits," as they came to be called, caught the imagination of Europe. Soon Jesuits flocked to Europe's major cities as well as the new world: Goa, Mexico City, Quebec, Buenos Aires, and Bogota. They opened hospices for the dying, sought financial support for the poor, founded orphanages, and opened schools.
August 15, 1549: Spanish Jesuits led by Francis Xavier become the first Christian missionaries in Japan. Xavier went to Japan hoping to eventually reach China. He figured once he evangelized China, Japan's conversion would be much easier because, he believed, Japan looked to China for wisdom.
August 15, 1846: Addressing rumors that he mocked Christianity, Abraham Lincoln publishes a broadside on his religion: "That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular . . . " (see issue 33: Christianity and the Civil War).
September 20, 1224: On or about this date, on Italy's secluded Mount Alvernia, Francis of Assisi reportedly prayed, "O Lord, I beg of you two graces before I die—to experience in myself in all possible fullness the pains of your cruel passion, and to feel for you the same love that made you sacrifice yourself for us." Soon his heart was filled with both joy and pity, and wounds appeared on his hands, feet, and side. He reportedly carried these scars (called stigmata) until his death in 1226 ...