-539 - (BC) The Persian armies of Cyrus the Great captured Babylon. (Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, was the former military scourge which had taken Judah into exile in 586 BC (see 2 Kings 25).
1670 - In Virginia, slavery was banned for Negroes who arrived in the American colonies as Christians. (The law was repealed in 1682.)
1843 - B'nai B'rith ("Sons of the Covenant") was established in New York City by a group of German Jews. It is both the oldest and the largest of the Jewish fraternal organizations.
1917 - The Virgin Mary last appeared to three shepherd children near Fatima, Portugal. Six visions had occurred between May and October, each on the 13th of the month. (This last vision was attended by over 50,000 pilgrims.)
1988 - The Bishop of Turin, Italy announced that the Shroud of Turin, long believed to be Christ's burial sheet, did not withstand scientific testing. It dated back only to 1280, and not to the time of Jesus' crucifixion (ca. AD 30-33).
© 1987-2008, William D. Blake. Used by permission of the author, from Almanac of the Christian Church