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Christian History

Today in Christian History

March 10

March 10, 1302: Pope Boniface VIII sentences Italian poet and politician Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, to be burned to death for political reasons. He avoided the fate by living in exile, but he never saw his wife again (see issue 70: Dante Alighieri).

March 10, 1528: Balthasar Hubmaier, called by his enemies "head and most important of the Anabaptists," is burned at the stake in Vienna after being deemed a heretic by a Roman Catholic court. In addition to his writings against Lutherans and Zwinglians, he penned one of the earliest arguments for religious toleration. Though other Anabaptist leaders rejected his pleas for a tolerant Christian government and judicious use of the sword, they adopted his arguments for adult baptism, tolerance, and free will (see issue 5: Anabaptists).

March 10, 1681: Charles II makes English Quaker William Penn sole proprietor of the colonial American territory known today as the state of Pennsylvania. Penn gave legal rights not only to Native Americans but also to persecuted Christians like the Mennonites.

March 10, 1748: John Newton, the captain of a slave ship, converts to Christianity during a huge storm at sea. He had been reading Thomas a Kempis's The Imitation of Christ, and was struck by a line about the "uncertain continuance of life." He eventually became an Anglican clergyman, the author of the famous hymn "Amazing Grace," and a zealous abolitionist (see issue 31: The Golden Age of Hymns).

March 10, 1880: Commissioner George S. Railton and seven women arrive in New York City to establish the Salvation Army in the United States (see issue 26: William and Catherine Booth).

March 10, 1898: George Mueller, English philanthropist and evangelist, dies. He, in his 93 years helped more than 10,000 English orphans.

March 10, 1913: Harriet Tubman, known as "Grandma Moses" for her work rescuing slaves and guiding them to the north on what was dubbed "the Underground Railroad," dies. Her 19 rescues (of about 300 slaves) were successful, she said, because God showed her the way. "'Twant me, 'twas the Lord," said the diminutive woman who herself escaped slavery. "I always told him, 'I trust to you. I don't know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,' and he always did" (see issue 62: Bound for Canaan).

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February 1, 1516: Desiderius Erasmus dedicates his "amendment" of Jerome's Latin (Vulgate) translation of the Bible to Pope Leo X. Perhaps because his work was so politically risky, he assured the pontiff, "We do not intend to tear up the old and commonly accepted edition [the Vulgate], but amend it where it is corrupt, and ...

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