History of the Church

by: William Kariampuzha

Background Chapter: The Roman Empire

Romans were a rough, polytheistic people. They would whip their children on pillars and if a child was undesirable at birth it could be left to die in the desert. This hardened mentality helped them create a powerful and great military empire that stretched from Rome to past the Holy Lands. Romans were an understanding people and they were tolerant of Judaism, thus Jesus was not born under persecution from Romans but they did sentence him to death by Cross.

Chapter 1: Jesus and the Founding of the Church

Jesus established his Church according to His Father's will. He left it in the hands and feet of the twelve Apostles to go out and evangelize after he had ascended. Many Apostles wrote letters, and went to evangelize on foot after Pentecost. Paul walked across the world, Peter established the Church in Rome, and St. Thomas established the Church in India.

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Chapter 2: The Early Christians

Early Christians were not even called Christians, they were followers of the Way. They were mostly Jewish but some Gentiles wanted to join. The First Ecumenical Council of Jerusalem was called to fix this problem. Overall, early Christians celebrated quietly in locked rooms, the formal Mass had not taken form yet but they broke the Bread and read from Scripture just as the Last Supper had taken place.
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Chapter 3: Persecution of "The Way"

Being a Christian is never easy, and it was only made harder when the secular peoples of Earth persecuted the Christians. Romans, although tolerant of Judaism in the Holy Land, were wary of the new Christians faith in Rome so they started persecuting its followers. Many Apostles were martyred by the Romans such as Peter and Paul. Many Christians were also sadly killed in the Coliseum, it was during this time that St. Peter famously stood up in the Coliseum and opposed the killing of these Christians.
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Chapter 4: Church Fathers and Heresies

In a rapidly expanding religion, people of many new cultures and ways of life are exposed to the religion and when they convert they bring their own ideas and interpretations to the religion. During this time of rapid expansion, many heresies cropped up such as Arianism, Manichaeism, and Gnosticism. From these theological battles rose new heroes that triumphed on the battlegrounds of morals, reason, and the Truth as revealed by God. Church Fathers such as St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Ambrose of Milan, and Pope St. Gregory the Great battled these heresies and left a trove of knowledge and doctrine. Many ecumenical councils were called throughout to battle these heresies as well.
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Chapter 5: Light in the Dark Ages

As Europe plunged into the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome, there were not many thing that could give the people hope. However hope resided in the Church and its Light of Christ. This light lit up the Dark Ages. Tangible evidence of this light are the monasteries that would care for people and educate them. The monks were also one of the key components for Europe's later rebirth because they had saved the ancient works by copying them.

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Chapter 7: The Great Schism

The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Catholic Church had a disagreement over icons. This disagreement was so severe that they split. Some other contributing factors to this split were the fact that the Churches were physically far apart. Also the Eastern Church did not recognize a single leader, as we do, who is the pope.
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Chapter 9: The Crusades

The Crusdaes were a series of Holy Wars fought against the Muslims for the Holy Land. Although ultimately a failure, they opened up key roads of trade as well as exposed Europe to the Knowledge and learning of the Islamic World. They were called by Pope Innocent III and lasted for many centuries
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Chapter 9: The Inquisition

The Inquisition was a period of "cleansing" of heretical behavior in Spain. Inquisitors would try people of heresy but the secular officials who were in charge of punishment gave the Inquisition a bad rap. The Albigensian heresy was quashed by this manner and during the Reconquista the Inquisition was also used to clean out Spain of all the Muslims in Granada.
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Chapter 10: The High Middle Ages

This was a time of great thinking and development of culture. Many topics flourished during this time such as Scholasticism, the number of Universities, and Mendicant Orders. St. Thomas Aquinas, the "dumb ox" lived during this time and produced a plethora of doctrinal and other theological works.
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Chapter 11: The Black Death

The bubonic plague traveled from the East. It wiped out much of Europe and caused much strife. However dark it might have been, Christ was always there as a light.
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Chapter 11: The Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War was a series of battles fought over the span of 100 years, not a full out war fought viciously for 100 straight years. It was fought over the fact that the English were in France, and taking up their land. Thus the Hundred Years War was fought in Europe and Joan of Arc was able to help the French win victory.

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Chapter 11: St. Joan of Arc

St. Joan of Arc was called by God at a very young age to lead the French into battle and to victory. She inspired many people and brought them back to the faith. Many miracles have been attributed to her and she is a role model for many women around the world.

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Chapter 12: The Renaissance

The Renaissance was a period of intense artistic achievement fostered by the richness of Italian city-states and their patrons. Many great works of the Church were produced during this time such as the Pieta, the Madonna, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
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Chapter 13: The Protestant Reformation

The selling of indulgence by the Church, as well as other corruptions, had been angering a certain German monk by the name of Martin Luther. Luther opposed selling indulgences and debated the matter. Eventually he broke apart from the Church saying that it was too corrupt and started the Protestant Reformation, basing the new branch of the religion solely on the Bible.
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Chapter 13: The English Reformation

In a completely different and quite selfish altercation, the King of England asked the Pope of Rome for an annulment on his perfectly fine marriage because he wanted another girl, Anne Boleyn. The Pope said no, the king was angry so he started his own Church of England, banned the Roman Church and got his annulment.
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Chapter 15: Exploration and Missionary Movements

Exploration opened many new doors, doors to trade, but most important to the Church was the opportunity to evangelize. The Church set up many missions around the world, especially in India where they found Christians already there, but also spread it even more.
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Chapter 16: Age of Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment was a period of great scientific discovery. Many new ideas and approaches to learning were formulated during this time. The scientific method, the reason of Descartes, and the our understanding of the Universe were all advances during this time. The Church took a controversial approach to this newness of thinking and denied much of what was being discovered in favor of their old approach of thinking based on the Genesis. This was a tumultuous time for the Church .
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Chapter 19: Rise of Soviet Communism

The Bolsheviks took over Russia, implemented Marxist Communism, and voila Europe and the whole world has a new problem. The Communist regime there persecuted Christians, Eastern and Western alike. The Church also saw Joseph Stalin as an immoral dictator.
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Chapter 19: Rise of Nazism

Hitler came to power in 1933, one of his first acts was seeking an agreement with the Church on the issue of Church independence in Germany. The Church made the agreement to secure the freedom of German Catholics. Nazism as a whole was a totalitarianistic ideal that targeted "lesser" races and groups. The Church frowned upon that and began fighting.
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Chapter 19: Pope Pius XII and World War II

Pius XII was elected pope while being the Vatican secretary of state, in a time of turmoil and crisis of the Second World War. He led tireless efforts to fight the Nazis and secretly resisted and hid the Jews and victims of the War.

Two Saints of The Nazi Persecution are St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and St. Maximilian Kolbe(pictured below).

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Chapter 20: Vatican II

This Ecumenical Council was convened to update the Church for the Modern World. Many doctrines made at Vatican Council two are still being released today and implemented such as the new translation for our creed and parts of the Mass. Four Constitutions were written there: The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.
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Chapter 20: Pope St. John Paul II

After the previous pope had died after only month in office, Pope St. John Paul II was elected as the unwilling pope but since he was called to by God he did his duty. John Paul was one of the most outstanding popes of all time and was the first non-Italian pope elected in over 450 years. He left behind a plethora of writings on doctrine notably Theology of the Body. He also traveled widely and my grandma even got to see him when he came to Kerala.
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Chapter 21: The Church of Immigrants (US)

The United States, as it was a hotbed for immigration, was a landing place for Catholics from Europe. Many Spaniards came to bring the faith to what is now Mexico and Florida. To Juan Diego, the Aztec, Mother Mary appeared and helped establish a church at Guadalupe. many other missions were founded in California and on the East Coast in places such as Pennsylvania.
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Chapter 21: Slavery

In 1839, Pope Gregory XVI condemned the slave trade across the world. However, in America the bishops said little. Once most were emancipated many became Catholics and were all welcome into the Church.
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