Today in Christian History

January 10

January 10, 236: Fabian is elected bishop of Rome. He served until 250, when he became the first martyr under Decius, the emperor who initiated Empire wide persecution of Christians. After Fabian's death, Decius is reported to have said, "I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome" (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

January 10, 1645: The controversial archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, William Laud, is beheaded. An enemy and persecutor of the Puritans and a staunch defender of the "divine right of kings", he found himself on the wrong side of history when the Puritan revolution began in the 1640s.

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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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