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.
July 27, 1681: During a bitter battle between Scottish Episcopalians and Presbyterians, five Presbyterian preachers are martyred in Edinburgh. The Church of Scotland became Presbyterian permanently in 1690.