August 6, 258: Emperor Valerian executes Bishop of Rome Sixtus II 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).
May 29, 1453: Constantinople, capital of Roman Empire (and late Byzantine Empire) since Constantine founded the city in 324, falls to the Turks under Mehmed II, ending the Byzantine Empire. Muslims later rename the city Istanbul. The lavish cathedral that crowned the city, Hagia Sophia, was also converted into a mosque (see issue 74: Christians & Muslims). Today it is a museum and restoration work is being done to preserve both the Muslim and Christian layers of religious history.