This Week in Christian History: Dante Exiled, Pastor Murdered, Martin Luther's Birthday
Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.
Each week brings the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week, Nov. 5–11, in Church history. They include the murder of an abolitionist minister, the exile of the mind behind the Divine Comedy, and the birth of the man who started the Protestant Reformation.
Dante Exiled — November 6, 1315
This week marks the anniversary of when famed Italian poet Dante Alighieri fled from Florence after being sentenced to death by his political enemies.
The author of the popular and culturally influential Divine Comedy, Dante was deeply involved in Florentine politics, which included opposition to Pope Boniface VIII having too much power over the city.
"Checkmated by the cunning Pope Boniface VIII, he was put on trial in Florence for taking bribes, and when he failed to show up to answer the charges he was condemned to be burned at the stake. He went into exile and never saw his native city again," noted the Independent.
Reconciliation took a while. About 700 years later, in 2008, the city of Florence's cultural committee voted 19–5 to revoke the exile and to grant a local honor for Dante.
Abolitionist Minister Murdered — November 7, 1837
This week marks the anniversary of when Presbyterian minister Elijah Parish Lovejoy was murdered for running an abolitionist printing press.
A native of Maine, Lovejoy moved to slave state Missouri and ran a publication that often expressed anti-slavery sentiments. Eventually threats against him and his family led him to move to nearby Illinois.
When a new printing press for his anti-slavery work was delivered, a mob attacked the press and through the chaos an individual shot Lovejoy dead.
"Throughout the North and West, more people joined anti-slavery societies following Lovejoy's death," noted America's Library.
"Officials in Illinois said almost nothing about the incident, with the exception of a young state representative named Abraham Lincoln, who spoke out against the crime."
Martin Luther Is Born — November 10, 1483
This week marks the anniversary of the birth of the Augustinian monk whose 95 theses would impact world history and theology in ways few documents have.
Martin Luther was born to Hans and Margarette Luther, a peasant family. His father was a miner who wanted Martin to become a lawyer and was disappointed when Martin opted to become a monk instead.
When assessing Luther's influence, Ligonier Ministries scholar Derek Thomas declared that the Reformer "gave us back the Gospel."
"He rediscovered it. And rediscovered it in such a dramatic and personal way. Almost reflecting the very way the Apostle Paul had discovered the Gospel," said Thomas at a Reformation anniversary celebration event on Oct. 30.