The Catholic Church in 1517 had developed a most excellent fund-raising scheme. Sinners were permitted to purchase “indulgences” to buy their way out of Purgatory. The Pope used the funds to purchase lands and for the the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and Catholics were told that they had, in essence, purchased a “free pass” into heaven. Martin Luther, a Catholic scholar and priest, was unhappy with the practice of selling indulgences. Incensed, he wrote a long argument against the practice called Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-Five Theses to the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The population quickly spread the news and the Ninety-Five Theses found great acceptance, sparking the theological debate that eventually led to Martin Luther’s break with the Catholic Church and the formation of the Protestant movement.

Also on this day in 1926… Magician Harry Houdini died. Mystery still surrounds his death. Some believe he died from injuries he suffered after he was unexpectedly punched in the stomach. Others believe he was murdered.