Today in Christian History

October 11

October 11, 1521: Leo X conferred the title "Fidei Defensor" (Defender of the Faith) upon England's Henry VIII for his tract "The Assertion of the Seven Sacraments," written against Martin Luther. Three popes and 13 years later, Henry severed all ties with Rome, making the Church of England a separate church body (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

October 11, 1531: Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli dies in the Battle of Kappel (see issue 4: Ulrich Zwingli).

October 11, 1551: The 13th Session of the Council of Trent opens to discuss the Eucharist. The Counter-Reformation Council affirmed the doctrine of transubstantiation and repudiated Lutheran, Calvinist, and Zwinglian eucharistic doctrines.

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February 23, 155 (traditional date): Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, is martyred. Reportedly a disciple of the Apostle John, at age 86 he was taken to be burned at the stake. "You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and forget the fire of hell that never burns out," he said. The flames, legend says, would not touch him, and when he was run through with a sword, his blood put the fire out (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

February 23, 303: Diocletian begins ...

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