March 18, 386: Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem from 315, dies. Best known for his series of discourses given during Lent for those to be baptized on Easter, he early on advocated the veneration of relics and argued for transubstantiation—the doctrine that the bread and wine of Communion become the actual body and blood of Christ.
March 18, 1123: The First Lateran Council opens in Rome. Convoked by Callistus II, it repeated and confirmed earlier decrees. The Western church, however, remembers its importance as being the first "ecumenical council" held in the West.
March 18, 1314: Thirty-nine Knights Templar are burned at the stake in Paris. Though few others besides Dante championed the innocence of the oft-maligned military order, most scholars now agree with him. Created to protect pilgrims going to the Holy Land, had become wealthy after the crusades. Perhaps because of jealously, they were accused of sodomy, blasphemy, and heresy (see issue 40: The Crusades).
March 18, 1861: London's Metropolitan Tabernacle, the sanctuary of English Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, opens. Spurgeon had insisted that the enormous building employ Greek architecture because the New Testament was written in Greek—a decision that influenced church architecture throughout the world (see issue 29: Charles Spurgeon).
March 18, 1885: The "Cambridge Seven," young aristocrats who decided to become missionaries to China—and thus became celebrities back home—arrive in Shanghai (see issue 52: Hudson Taylor).
July 23, 1373: Saint Bridget (or Birgitta) of Sweden dies. The pious and charitable mystic and founder of the Bridgettine Order, greatly influenced the pope's decision to return to Rome.
July 23, 1583: Protestant printer John Day, who was responsible for publishing Hugh Latimer's sermons, Nicholas Ridley's "Friendly Farewell," and John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, dies (see issue 72: How We Got Our History).
July 23, 1742: Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles, dies. Born the twenty-fifth child in ...