Today in Christian History

January 15

January 15, 345 (traditional date): Paul of Thebes, traditionally considered the first Christian hermit and an inspiration for Antony of Egypt and later Christian monasticism, dies (see issue 64: Antony and the Desert Fathers).

January 15, 1535: Henry VIII declares himself head of English Church (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

January 15, 1697: Massachusetts citizens observe a day of fasting and repentance for the Salem witch trials of 1692, in which 19 suspected witches were hanged and more than 150 imprisoned. The day was declared "That so all of God's people may offer up fervent supplications unto him, that all iniquity may be put away, which hath stirred God's holy jealousy against this land; that he would show us what we know not, and help us, wherein we have done amiss, to do so no more" (see issue 41: American Puritans).

January 15, 1844: The University of Notre Dame, America's premiere Roman Catholic institution of higher learning, is chartered in South Bend, Indiana.

January 15, 1929: Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr., America's most visible civil rights leader from 1955 until his assassination in 1968, is born in Atlanta.

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April 20, 1139: The Second Lateran Council, led by Pope Innocent II and attended by 1,000 church leaders, opens in Rome. The council focused on reforming the church in the wake of the East-West schism (1054) and preserving the temporal possessions of the clergy.

April 20, 1233 (some say 1232): Pope Gregory IX appoints full-time papal inquisitors and gives the Dominican order authority to carry out the Inquisition. For their vigilant and persistant work, the order won the moniker "Domini canes" or ...

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