May 2, 373: Church father Athanasius, "the father of Orthodoxy," dies. He attended the Council of Nicea, and after becoming bishop of Alexandria, he fought Arianism and won. He was also the first to list the New Testament canonical books as we know them today (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church).
May 2, 1507: Martin Luther celebrates his first mass (delayed by a month so his father could attend) as an ordained priest. Luther was so nervous that he nearly dropped the bread and cup. He became so terrified of the presence of Christ in the sacrament that he tried to run from the altar. (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).
May 2, 1559: John Knox, having spent several years on the Continent studying and writing, returns to Scotland to help lead the Reformation there (see issue 46: John Knox).
May 2, 1821: Methodist missionary William Taylor is born in Virginia. He ministered to miners during the California gold rush and later became missionary Bishop of Africa (1884-1896). Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, named itself after him (see issue 66: How the West Was Really Won).
January 25, 98: Upon the sudden death of Emperor Nerva, Trajan takes the throne. In 110, he asked Pliny the Younger to investigate a new superstition, "Christianity." Pliny's report of a relatively harmless though widespread cult led to moderate persecution—and the first recognition that Christians were distinct from Jews (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).
January 25, 1627: Noted physicist and chemist Robert Boyle is born in Ireland. After a lifetime of writing about ...