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 northern Africa city of Tunis during the Eighth Crusade. Lying on a bed of ashes, his last words lamented the city he never won: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" (see issue 40: The Crusades).
August 25, 1560: Led by John Knox, the reformed Church of Scotland is established on Protestant lines. The Scottish parliament accepts the Calvinistic Scots Confession, forbids the mass, and declares the pope has no jurisdiction in Scotland (see issue 46: John Knox).
February 24, 1208: Francis of Assisi experiences a vision in the church of Portunicula, Italy. Though not his first vision, it convinced him to begin a mission of preaching repentance, singing, caring for lepers, and aiding the peasants. Most notably, he and his followers renounced wealth and followed absolute poverty (see issue 42: Francis of Assisi).
February 24, 1582: Gregory XIII issues a bull requiring all Catholic countries to follow October 4 with October 15 and replace the Julian calendar ...