July 16th, 1439: Kissing Banned in England
The Great Famine in Europe of 1438 soon led to the Great Pestilence of 1439. Since the Black Death, plagues continued to pop up throughout Europe, killing hundreds and thousands of people.
Though the study of germs didn’t begin until long after, it was widely believed that disease and pestilence was passed through “tiny specks” between people.
King Henry VI took the proactive approach of banning kissing in England, to help prevent the spread of diseases in the country.
Today, it’s known that kissing can spread herpes simplex, mononucleosis (the kissing disease) and even the HIV virus, if blood is exchanged during open mouth (French) kissing.
Makes you think about puckering up, doesn’t it?
July 16th, 1519: The Leipzig Debate
Martin Luther was raised in a time when religion was terrifying. Born into Roman Catholicism, the focus was on hell, sinners, purgatory and demons. It was taught that Jesus was unapproachable, and only true believers could call upon the Blessed Virgin and other saints for assistance.
While attending law school, Martin Luther was caught in a terrible thunderstorm, and cried out for St. Anne, patron saint of miners, “Help me and I’ll become a monk!”
He made it through the storm unharmed and within that month entered the monastery, true to his word. There, the confusion and fear he had wrestled with his whole life was intensified. While visiting Rome, he saw the Roman priests as immoral, ignorant and flippant. He began to have doubts about the Church’s teachings, especially on relics and merits. He returned to the monastery, confused and worried, where his superior Johann von Staupitz instructed him to attend the University of Wittenburg to earn a doctorate in theology. He hoped that the studying and learning would distract him from the constant worry over his soul.
This succeeded in bringing religious enlightenment to Martin Luther. He found peace in the story of Jesus on the cross, crying out and asking why God had forsaken him, and Romans 1:17 “The just will live by faith” a simple statement that had a profound effect on how he was to live his life. His new ideas became prominent at the University.
In 1517, Pope Leo X needed funds to build St. Peter’s Basilica and began to sell indulgences, claiming that those who purchased them would help protect the relics of St. Paul and St. Peter and would also receive religious merit to alleviate the penalty of sins in this life and the next.
A man named Tetzel began selling for the Pope. He used whatever ploy he could think of to get them sold (a modern day telemarketer), including promising not just the reduction of sin, but to take it away completely.
When Martin Luther learned his parishioners were buying these indulgences from Tetzel, he wrote 95 statements against the selling of indulgences. These were nailed to the door of the castle church for all to see.
Written in Latin, they were translated into German, and circulated throughout the area. One copy found it’s way to the Pope, who inquired as to who was the “drunken, German monk” who penned them. He directed the Augustinian order to handle the situation.
Luther was invited to the order’s meeting, and he went, while fearing his life. Heresy was punishable by death. Fortunately, most of the friars agreed with him.
Later, Luther was asked to recant his views. When he refused, unless shown in the scripture that he had made an error, he was ordered to recant, or be arrested. Luther escaped and went back to Wittenburg.
In July, John Eck challenged one of Luther’s colleagues, a convert to Luther’s thinking, in the hopes that Luther himself would end up debating with him.
He got his wish. While Luther had far more knowledge, Eck was skilled in debating. Though Luther was probably correct, Eck was considered the victor, because Luther had committed heresy.
In 1520, Luther received a papal bull, urging him to recant, or face excommunication. This brought Luther face to face with the threat of eternal damnation.
He threw the bull into a bonfire, and was excommunicated January 3rd, 1521.
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