March 2, 1415: At the Council of Constance, convened to end the Great Schism—during which three men had legitimate claims to the papacy—John XXIII (one of the men) abdicated. Ironically, John himself had convened the council the previous year convinced that he would emerge victorious. Now he feared for his life and fled the city in disguise. It didn't work: he was brought back, condemned, and deposed. The council eventually healed the schism. It also called for the execution of Bohemian reformer Jan Hus (see issue 68: Jan Hus).
March 2, 1791: Founder of Methodism John Wesley dies in London. Thanks to his organizational genius, we know exactly how many followers he had when he died: 71,668 British members, 294 preachers, 43,265 American members with 198 preachers and 19 missionaries. Today Methodists number about 30 million worldwide (see issue 2: John Wesley and issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).
March 2, 1930: The Catholic Hour, one of the oldest religious radio programs, is inaugurated.
March 2, 1938: Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, one of the founders of Germany's "Confessing Church," is sentenced to seven months in prison for opposing Hitler. "First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist," he said. "Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me" (see issue 32: Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
June 10, 1692: Bridget Bishop becomes the first of 19 suspected witches hanged during the "Salem Witch Trials" (see issue 41: American Puritans).
June 10, 1854: James Augustine Healy is ordained the first African-American priest in Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral. In 1875 he became the first African-American bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.