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, telling tribulations, inspirational progress, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week, Sept. 16-22, in Church history. They include the death of an infamous inquisitor, a major battle between Protestants and Catholics, and the execution of the last 8 people accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials.
Battle of Breitenfeld — September 17, 1631
This week marks the anniversary of when a major battle in the Thirty Years' War, a large seventeenth-century European conflict between Catholics and Protestants, took place.
Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus II, who championed himself as the "Protector of Protestantism," successfully defeated a Catholic League army that had attempted to violently impose Catholicism in Northern Germany.
Adolphus' army was a combined Swedish-Saxon force of about 39,000, while the Catholic League force had approximately 35,000. The Catholics lost about 7,000 dead and nearly 10,000 captured to the Protestants' 5,100 dead.
"Breitenfeld, a victory of movement and firepower over weight of formation, has been called the first battle of the modern age, and Gustavus Adolphus has been hailed as the father of modern warfare," noted historynet.com.
"His tactics were still in use by John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, 70 years later. But in a war of unmatched brutality, Gustavus' conduct and noble purpose were his most lasting legacy."
Tomás de Torquemada Dies — September 16, 1498
This week marks the anniversary of when the infamous Spanish Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada passed away after a career which saw the execution of approximately 2,000 alleged heretics.
A native of Valladolid in modern day Spain, Torquemada became synonymous with the worst abuses of the Spanish Inquisition, overseeing extensive torture and execution over a wide range of religious and secular offenses.
Torquemada was appointed Grand Inquisitor for Castile and León, exerting influence on religious public policy as well as inquisition courts in other Spanish regions.
"In 1484 he promulgated 28 articles for the guidance of inquisitors, whose competence was extended to include not only crimes of heresy and apostasy but also sorcery, sodomy, polygamy, blasphemy, usury, and other offenses," noted Britannica.
"These articles were supplemented by others promulgated between 1484 and 1498. The number of burnings at the stake during Torquemada's tenure has been estimated at about 2,000."
The Last Accused Witches of Salem Executed — September 22, 1692
This week marks the anniversary of the final executions performed of those convicted of witchcraft in the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
Seven women and one man were executed, bringing the total number of colonial Massachusetts residents executed to 20 before the trials came to a close.
In a 2014 piece, Jennifer Latson of Time Magazine explained that there were dubious standards for determining the guilt of someone accused of witchcraft and whether they should be executed.
"In the absence of a devil's mark or neighborly mischief, anyone who stood up to authorities and publicly questioned their actions was likely to be Salem's next top suspect," wrote Latson.
"In the backwards justice of the trials, those who confessed were spared, while those who protested their innocence were often killed."