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Christian History

Today in Christian History

November 23

November 23, 101 (traditional date): Clement of Rome dies. According to spurious legend, he was tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. Considered "the first apostolic father," his letter to the church of Corinth was regarded as Scripture by many Christians in the third and fourth centuries. He was also credited with the Apostolic Constitutions, the largest collection of Christian ecclesiastical law (though scholars now consider them to have been written in Syria around 380).

November 23, 615: Irish scholar and missionary Columbanus dies in Bobbio, Italy. One of the greatest missionaries of the Middle Ages, he established monasteries in Anegray, Luxeuil, and Fontaines (see issue 60: How the Irish Were Saved).

November 23, 1621: Poet and cleric John Donne is elected Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

November 23, 1654: French scientist and mathematician Blaise Pascal experiences a mystical vision and converts to Christianity. The creator of the first wristwatch, the first bus route, the first workable calculating machine, and other inventions then turned his life to theology (see issue 76: Christian Face of the Scientific Revolution).

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December 1, 1170: Banished earlier by king Henry II because he sided with the church against the crown, archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket returns, electrifying all of England. Henry orders his former friend's execution, and Becket is slain by four knights while at vespers December 29. (T.S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral is a fascinating exploration of the event.)

December 1, 1521: Pope Leo X, enemy of Martin Luther (whom he excommunicated in 1520), dies. Though sincere in his faith ...

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