September 14, 258: Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, is beheaded during the persecution under Roman Emperor Valerian (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).
September 14, 407: Early church father John Chrysostom, the greatest preacher of his age, dies in exile when, in poor health, he is forced to travel on foot in bad weather (see issue 44: John Chrysostom).
September 14, 1741: George Frederick Handel finishes composing "The Messiah," begun only 24 days earlier.
September 14, 1814: Francis Scott Key, Episcopal layman and cofounder of the American Sunday School Union, is inspired to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the war of 1812. The song didn't become the national anthem until 1931.
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 ...