Prohibition agents destroying barrels of alcohol

17 January

The prohibition era (pictured above) in the United States began at midnight today in 1920, banning the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcohol for the next 13 years. The prohibition movement grew out of American evangelical attempts to reform the nation’s morals. Sacramental wine was excluded from the ban, and its sales rocketed.

Today is St Antony’s Day, the 3rd-4th century Egyptian hermit who is looked on as the founder of Christian monsaticism. When he was 20, he sold all his possessions, gave his money to the poor, and took himself off to live alone deep in the desert, praying, studying, and battling against temptation. When he became famous and attracted disciples, he moved even deeper into the wilderness.

‘So he was alone in the inner mountain, spending his time in prayer and discipline. And the brethren who served him asked that they might come every month and bring him olives, pulse and oil, for by now he was an old man. There then he passed his life, and endured such great wrestlings, “not against flesh and blood”, as it is written, but against opposing demons.’ St Athanasius, Life of St Antony

Today in 1525, Zürich council staged a public debate between Ulrich Zwingli, the Protestant reformer, and the Anabaptists. The council wanted to give both sides a fair hearing over the issue of infant baptism, proclaim Zwingli right, and kill all the Anabaptists.

Emperor Theodosius I died in 395. An early Christian Emperor of Rome, it was he who took Christianity from most favoured religion status to the only legal religion of the Roman Empire.

Today in 1612, Thomas Fairfax was born. He is famous as the Commander of the Puritan New Model Army which went on to defeat King Charles I in the English Civil War. Thanks to his policy of promoting soldiers of ability regardless of social rank, the army was not only victorious but also a hotbed of radical new political and religious ideas, such as democracy and toleration.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Time-travel news is written by Steve Tomkins and Simon Jenkins

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