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Christian History

Today in Christian History

February 4

February 4, 856: Rabanus Maurus, a theologian and educator mentored by Alcuin, dies at age 80. His "retirement" from school administration at age 66 was followed by a career as archbishop of Mainz, Germany.

February 4, 1555: English reformer and theologian John Rogers becomes the first Protestant martyr under "Bloody" Mary I when he is burned at the stake for heresy (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

February 4, 1906: Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is born in Breslau, Germany. Author of The Cost of Discipleship (1937) and Letters from Prison (1944), he opposed the Nazis as one of Germany's Confessing Church leaders. Believing that Hitler was like a madman "driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders," he was privy various a plots to kill the leader. A particular assassination attempt was discovered around the time Bonhoeffer was arrested, though it is unclear whether he was directly connected to it. Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and eventually hanged—just days before Allied troops liberated the concentration camp where he was held (see issue 32: Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

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April 22, 1418: The Council of Constance ends, having finally ended the Great Western Schism. When the schism began nearly 40 years earlier, three men had reasonable claims to the papacy. The council deposed all three and elected Martin V. (Martin then turned around and rejected further councils' right to depose a pope.) Though that part of the council is regarded as a triumph, the council also hastily condemned Jan Hus, a Bohemian preacher and forerunner of Protestantism, and sentenced him to execution ...

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