547 The Italian monk Benedict of Nursia (b. ca. 480), author of the Benedictine rule (which established the pattern for European monastic life through the Middle Ages), died at Monte Cassino.
1098 The monastery in Citeaux, France, was founded by Saint Robert, abbot of Molesme and a Benedictine monk. This was the origin of the Roman Catholic religious order known as the Cistercians.
1146 Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), one of the most famous theologians and monks of his day, had been preaching for a second crusade, and King Louis VII of France took up the cause and led the ill-fated mission to regain the crusader capital of Edessa. When he failed two years later, Christians were devastated that a crusade preached by a moral exemplar and led by royalty could fail.
1201 Absalon of Lund, a principal figure in Scandinavian medieval history, died (b. ca. 1128).
1529 Martin Luther finished writing the “German” or “Large” Catechism.
1541 Nikolaus Decius, hymnist and composer, died at Stettin, Germany (b. ca. 1485).
1556 Thomas Cranmer, Anglican archbishop of Canterbury and English reformer, was burned at the stake (b. 2 July 1489).
1656 Archbishop James Ussher (b. 4 January 1581), Irish priest and scholar, died. He is most well known for his identification of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch and his chronology to establish the date of the creation.
1685 Johann Sebastian Bach, famed German Lutheran musician and composer, was born in Eisenach, Germany (d. 28 July 1750).
1699 Johann F. Hertzog, hymnist, died at Dresden, Germany (b. 6 June 1647, Dresden).
1745 Johan Nordahl Brun, hymnist and poet, was born in Bynesset, Norway (d. 26 July 1816).
1747 Twenty-two-year-old sea captain John Newton (1725–1807), on a slave ship bound for England, was dramatically converted to the Christian faith during a violent storm at sea. He eventually gave up slave-trading and the sea (1755). From 1764 until his death, he devoted his life to the work of the clergy in the Anglican Church. He is best known for penning the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
1813 Johann Michael Nikolaus Schwarz, missionary to India, was born in Hagenbuechach, near Langenzenn, Bavaria, Germany (d. 21 June 1887).
1813 Johann Heinrich Karl Cordes, Lutheran missionary to India, was born in Betzendorf, near Lueneburg (d. 9 March 1892).
1860 George Alfred Taylor Rygh, hymn translator, was born in Chicago (d. 16 July 1942).
1863 Davis Griffiths, missionary to Madagascar who translated the Bible into the Malagasy language, died (b. 20 December 1792).
1867 Carl Døving, hymn translator, was born at Norddalen, Norway (d. 2 October 1937, Chicago, Illinois).
1873 Luther Dotterer Reed, president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and a noted liturgical scholar, was born at North Walls, Pennsylvania (d. 3 April 1972).
1884 Ezra Abbot, Unitarian professor of New Testament criticism at Harvard, died (b. 28 April 1819).
1900 Christian J. Broders (1867–1932) arrived in Brazil to survey mission prospects for the Missouri Synod.
1900 After the death of its founder, evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899), the Bible Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago changed its name to the Moody Bible Institute.
1901 Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg Jr., professor at various Lutheran colleges, died (b. 25 August 1818, Lancaster, Pennsylvania).
1903 Frederick Lange Grundtvig, Danish Lutheran pastor, died (b. May 1854, the son of N. F. S. Grundtvig, in Denmark).
1926 Eduard Pardieck, professor at Concordia Seminary (Saint Louis), died at Madison, Indiana (b. 29 April 1867).
1929 Peter Sorenson Vig, president of Trinity Seminary, Blair, Nebraska, died (b. 7 November 1854).
1965 Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) led more than 3,000 civil rights demonstrators on a march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery. By the time they reached their destination four days later, the group had reached 25,000.