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 with the Gregorian (which we still use today). By 1582, the Julian calendar had drifted from the equinoxes by a full ten days.
February 24, 1633: English poet and cleric George Herbert dies. His devotional poems, most of which are collected in The Temple, exemplify the metaphysical tradition (as do the poems of his contemporary John Donne).
October 17, 108: According to tradition, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, was martyred on this date. The Apostolic Father closest in thought to the New Testament writers, Ignatius wrote seven letters under armed guard on his way to Rome—some asking that the church not interfere with his "true sacrifice" (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).
October 17, 1480: The Spanish Inquisition is activated.
October 17, 1979: October 17, 1979: Mother Teresa is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (see issue ...