Today in Christian History

November 11

November 11, 397 (traditional date): Martin of Tours, a bishop responsible for the evangelization of Gaul, dies. He is France's patron saint.

November 11, 1215: The Fourth Lateran Council opens. It officially confirmed the doctrine of transubstantiation—that the substance of Eucharistic bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, with only the accidents (appearances of bread and wine) remaining. The council also prescribed annual confession for all Christians.

November 11, 1620: Forty-one Puritan separatists arrive in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They had hoped to settle further south, but as William Bradford wrote in his journal on December 19, "We could not now take much time for further search . . . our victuals being much spent, especially our beer" (see issue 41: The American Puritans).

November 11, 1793: English missionary William Carey arrives in Calcutta, India (see issue 36: William Carey).

November 11, 1821: Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose works (including Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamozov, and Notes from the Underground) reflect his deep Russian Orthodox faith, is born.

November 11, 1855: Danish Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, regarded as the founder of existentialism, dies at age 42. Trying to "reintroduce Christianity to Christendom," he believed that Christianity was far more radical and difficult than did his Danish contemporaries.

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December 13, 37: Nero, the Roman emperor who was the scourge of early Christians, is born. After his suicide in 68, many believed he would return, and "false Neros" appeared throughout the eastern provinces (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

December 13, 304: Lucy, one of the earliest Christian saints to achieve popularity, dies. According to legend, she renounced marriage out of devotion to Christ, but a spurned suitor convinced Roman authorities to force her into a life of prostitution. ...

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