January 8, 1438: Mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and devout Roman Catholic Galileo Galilei dies in Arcetri, Italy, under house arrest by the Inquisition .
January 9, 1569: Philip of Moscow, primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, is murdered by Czar Ivan IV, also called Ivan the Terrible
January 10, 236: Fabian is elected pope. He served until 250, when he became the first martyr under Decius, the emperor who initiated Empire wide persecution of Christians. After Fabian's death, Decius is reported to have said, "I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome".
January 10, 1645: The controversial archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, William Laud, is beheaded. An enemy and persecutor of the Puritans and a staunch defender of the "divine right of kings", he found himself on the wrong side of history when the Puritan revolution began in the 1640s.
January 11, 1759: The first American life insurance company is incorporated in Philadelphia—the "Corporation of Poor and Distressed Presbyterian Ministers and of the Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers."
January 12, 1167: Aelred, the Anglo-Saxon abbot who became one of the Middle Ages' best-known devotional writers, dies.
|The Ordination of Saint Hilary. From a 14th century manuscript|
January 13, 1501: Christianity's first vernacular hymnal is printed in Prague, containing 89 hymns in Czech.
January 13, 1616: Flemish mystic Antoinette Bourignon is born. A mystical writer whose works were included by John Wesley in his Christian Library, she soon found herself estranged from mainstream Christianity, especially when she declared herself the "woman clothed with the sun" of Revelation 12. Still, her ideas were so influential that, for 178 years, ministers of the Church of Scotland had to make an explicit denial of Bouringnonism before they could be ordained.
January 14, 1529: Spanish diplomat and writer Juan de Valdes publishes his "Dialogue on Christian Doctrine," which paved the way for Protestant ideas in Spain.
January 14, 1875: Theologian, medical missionary, organist, musical historian, and winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize Albert Schweitzer is born. His Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906) is considered a foundational work on that subject (see issue 59: The Life and Times of Jesus).