August 6, 258: Emperor Valerian executes Bishop of Rome Sixtus II for preaching a sermon in a cemetery. The emperor originally tolerated Christians, but switched to persecuting them because he believed they were responsible for the plagues, earthquakes, and other disasters that disturbed his reign (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).
August 6, 1221: Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (or Dominicans), dies, having just confessed his darkest sin—that, though he had always been chaste, he enjoyed talking with younger women more than older ones. He left this "inheritance" to his followers: "Have charity among you, hold to humility, possess voluntary poverty." A mere five years earlier, he had six followers. At his death, he had thousands (see issue 73: Thomas Aquinas).
August 6, 1651: Francois Fenelon, Roman Catholic priest and mystical theologian, is born in Perigord, France. His 1697 Explication des Maximes des Saintes is still in print under the title Christian Perfection.
August 6, 1774: Ann Lee and a small band of her followers arrive in New York from Liverpool, England. Though known as the "Shaking Quakers" and later the "Shakers," the millenarian communal society preferred to call itself the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming. They initially did not receive a warm welcome, as they were British and advocated pacifism and celibacy.
August 6, 1801: Revival hits a Presbyterian camp meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Within a week, 25,000 were attending the revival services. It was the largest and most famous camp meeting of the Second Great Awakening (see issue 45: Camp Meetings and Circuit Riders).
August 11, 1253: Clare of Assisi, a Benedictine nun known for her spiritual relationship with St. Francis and for founding the Poor Clares, dies. In 1958, citing a legend that Clare once saw and heard Mass being celebrated miles away, Pope Pius XII proclaimed her the patron saint of television (see issue 42: Francis of Assisi).
August 11, 1519: Johann Tetzel, the German Dominican priest whose peddling of indulgences inspired Martin Luther to write his 95 Theses, dies. Throughout Germany he infamously ...