March 24, 1208: After England's irreligious King John opposed his choice for Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Innocent III places Britain under an interdict. Innocent had all religious services canceled, churches closed, and the dead were not given Christian burials until John surrendered. Soon after, the king signed the Magna Carta, in which the first article affirms "That the Church of England shall be free . . .
March 24, 1816: Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury, age 71, preaches his last sermon. The sermon, delivered at the Old Methodist Church in Richmond, Virginia, lasted an hour—even though Asbury, weakened, spoke while lying on a table (see issue 45: Camp Meetings & Circuit Riders).
March 24, 1820: Blind hymnwriter Fanny Crosby, author of more than 9,000 hymns, is born. Her works include "Blessed Assurance," "All the Way My Savior Leads Me," "To God Be the Glory," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior," "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Rescue the Perishing," and "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.
March 24, 1980: Roman Catholic archbishop Oscar Romero, a vocal opponent of the San Salvador military, is assassinated while saying mass in his country. Several men, believed to be part of a death squad, were arrested for the murder but were later released.
May 29, 1453: Constantinople, capital of Roman Empire (and late Byzantine Empire) since Constantine founded the city in 324, falls to the Turks under Mehmed II, ending the Byzantine Empire. Muslims later rename the city Istanbul. The lavish cathedral that crowned the city, Hagia Sophia, was also converted into a mosque (see issue 74: Christians & Muslims).
May 29, 1546: In retaliation for the execution of Reformation preacher George Wishart, Scottish Protestants murder Cardinal David Beaton ...