October 26, 899: Alfred the Great, ruler of Wessex, England, from 871, dies. His defeat of the Danes ensured Christianity's survival in England, but he is also known for his ecclesiastical reforms and his desire to revive learning in his country.
October 26, 1466: According to some accounts, Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus was born on this date. His work greatly influenced the first-wave reformers. He edited new critical editions the Greek New Testament and also wrote In Praise of Folly (a satire of monastic and ecclesiastical corruption) and many other works (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years and issue 43: How We Got Our Bible).
October 26, 1529: Thomas More becomes Lord Chancellor of England. Though he defended religious freedom in his book Utopia, he strongly opposed the Reformation and wrote against Luther, Tyndale, and others. Because he also opposed Henry VIII's claim to be the supreme head of the English church, as well as the king's divorce, he was executed (see issue 16: William Tyndale and issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).
October 26, 1633: The Puritan congregation at Newton (now Cambridge), Massachusetts, chooses Thomas Hooker as its pastor. Hooker, like many Dissenters, had earlier fled persecution in England by traveling to Holland. He then sailed to America with preachers John Cotton and Samuel Stone, leading grateful Puritans in Boston to quip that they now had "Cotton for their clothing, Hooker for their fishing, and Stone for their building" (see issue 41: American Puritans).
October 26, 1950: Mother Teresa founds the first Mission of Charity in Calcutta, India (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century).
October 26, 1966: The first World Congress on Evangelism opens in West Berlin, attracting approximately 600 delegates from about 100 countries.
May 15, 1265: Poet and politician Dante Alighieri, author of "The Divine Comedy," is born in Florence, Italy. Dante finished the epic poem just before his death, and it was quickly recognized as brilliant. His epitaph begins: "Dante the theologian, skilled in every branch of knowledge that philosophy may cherish in her illustrious bosom" (see issue 70: Dante's Guide to Heaven and Hell).
May 15, 1525: Radical reformer Thomas Munzer is captured and many of his followers are ...