February 14, 270: According to tradition, Valentine, a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II, is beheaded along the Flaminian Way. One explanation for Valentine's subsequent relationship to the romantic holiday is this: Claudius, seeking to more easily recruit soldiers, removed family ties by forbidding marriage. Valentine ignored the order and performed secret marriages—an act that led to his arrest and execution.
February 14, 869: Cyril, "apostle to the Slavs," dies. Creator of the Cyrillic alphabet (still used in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and elsewhere), translator of the Scriptures into Slavonic, and bishop, he worked with his brother, Methodius, who carried on the missionary work for another 15 years (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).
February 14, 1760: Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is born. The first African-American ordained by the Methodist church, Allen also a co-founded the Free African Society, America's first organization founded by blacks for blacks (see issue 62: Bound For Canaan).
February 28, 1551: German Reformer Martin Bucer dies in England at age 60. One of the first Protestant ministers to take the radical step of marrying, he attempted to mediate between Martin Luther and Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli, but Luther would have none of it. "It is better for you to have your enemies than to set up a fictitious fellowship," Luther said (see issue 39: Luther's Later Years).
February 28, 1807: Robert Morrison sails from Britain to become the first Protestant missionary ...