History Of The Church



  • The religion of Rome directly comes from the Greeks and has been passed down through generations ever since.
  • As Rome grew and developed a large population, gods became more thought of as literary inventions rather than beings to pray to.
  • Roman pagan cult worship began to grow throughout the republic.
  • These cults began to blend with a number of foreign cults, these foreign cults were brought back to the republic mostly by soldiers. A prominent cult was the Mithraic cult, a cult designed for men that discussed virtues important for a solider.
  • The next big influence on Rome was Stoicism.
  • This philosophical school was the dominant moral philosophies and it dealt with the Roman sense of law, order and virtue.
  • The Roman republic had transferred to an empire and therefor the population continued to increase drastically.
  • This led to much economic uncertainty and many people did not know if they would have employment.
  • One of the main things Rome is known for is Slavery.
  • Many have said Rome would not be where is it today without the work of slaves, many worked as farm hands, manual laborers, and domestic servants.
  • One religion that is much tied to the ancient world is Judaism.
  • Much of Judaism was influenced by Greek thought and was believed by many Romans.
  • Although Jews took up most of the population, Roman law, not mosaic law continued to govern society and Jews were held as second class to Roman citizens.
  • The Jewish religion began with the covenant God made with Abraham and the worship began to develop as it filtered through the descendants of Abraham.
  • The two main groups of the Jewish religion were the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the Sadducees were the elite and wealthy and the Pharisees were more known as a political reforming group. Both groups continuously show up throuought the bible
  • The last group of Jews are the Essenes. This group left everything behind to go live a life of prayer in the desert. Their name means "healers' or "pious ones"
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  • Jesus has just been crucified by the Sanhedrin and the disciples have found themselves feeling very alone and afraid. Although they felt alone, God had not left them and ten days later his promise was fulfilled
  • On the Jewish feast of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on to the disciples and filled them with its power so that they may fear no more.
  • Those filled with the holy spirit were certain that the church of Christ would continue through eternity
  • Jesus's followers continued his ministry throughout his death
  • The last Apostle to die was St. John
  • The Apostles initiated the Tradition of the Church and throughout their lifetimes were able to spread the word of God through their episcopal power.
  • Throughout generations the Apostles have had the responsibility of protecting and spreading the word of God.
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  • The development of the Christian faith took many years. Christ had died and left the faith in his followers hands to develop
  • Early Christians began to develop the faith into their daily lives, this brought the formation of the faith
  • The Christian faith remained closely related to the Judaism, many traditions and practices came from Judaism, however much of this changed after the council of Jerusalem
  • Baptism was instituted by Jesus when he was baptised by St. John the baptised in the Jordan River
  • And as Christianity grew, so did so did the instruction of baptism evolve.
  • Usually those receiving baptism were older, this changed in the third century when the practice of baptising infants became universal
  • Although many disagreed with the practice of infant baptism, such as Tertullian, it remained popular.
  • It remained in use because of its ability to wipe away original sin and its incorporation of the child into the "Mystical Body of Christ."
  • Early forms of Eucharist were known as Agape or "love"
  • But to defer the Eucharist from being denigrated, the Agape became an evening celebration.
  • After this, the ritual of the Mass began to develop
  • Celebration of our Lord has always taken place, whether in homes, fields, or catacombs
  • But it was not until the Edict of Milan that the building of Churches began to be built in abundance
  • Apologetics or "defense" is a type of Theology used to defend and explain the Christian religion
  • Many Church Fathers were Apologists during the second and third centuries
  • Defense was mostly needed against Jewish and Pagan religion.
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  • Many Romans carried much miss trust for Christians and their beliefs
  • This resulted in many persecutions, and Martyrs.
  • Through out the early development of the Faith, Christianity was known as "the Way" this coming from Jesus being referred to as the the way, the truth, and the Light.
  • During these three hundred years of persecution under Nero's rule, thousands of Christians lost their lives
  • Christianity is a religion well known to brutality and death and it wouldn't be till after the rule of Diocletian that that Christians would stop being thought of as criminals and minorities
  • Despite this persecution, the Church flourished
  • The Roman's began to be questioned of their harsh treatment of the Christians by a man names Pliny
  • And in response only one harsh exception was made and that was only if the Christian denied their faith publicly would they be allowed to live
  • The next to take the throne would be Hadrian, who was a devote Hellenist and solely believed in debate, art and philosophy
  • Hadrian would began saving the Christians by declaring they could only be punished for violating a law
  • this began religious toleration in Rome
  • Despite its many set backs, with the help of emperor Constantine, the Church prevailed
  • Constantine was friendly with the Christians and although not one himself, still had a strong faith base
  • If it weren't for Constantine, the Edict of Milan, which restored property taken from the Church, would not have come to be and Christians would have been setback thousands of years
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  • Although the Church had just emerged from the battle of persecution, heresies began to knock them down once again
  • This immersion of heresies was the cause for the creation of the Athanasian Creed
  • A large heresy that took shape was Marcionism
  • The founder of this heresy was Marcion, the son of a bishop who had moved the Black Sea port known as Sinope
  • Marcionism was a mixture of Gnostic beliefs and the belief that the true God of Jesus Christ was supposed to bring demise to the Jewish God of law, the Demiurge
  • He also considered St. Paul a legitimate church authority because of his teachings of freedom from law
  • Although considered a heresy, Marcionism helped to develop the Catholic Church's cannon sacred scripture.
  • In order to face the many challenges set forth by heresies, the church held many councils
  • these were known as Ecumenical Councils
  • there were many different types of councils, these included: Diocesan - a meeting of the bishop, clergy and some laity, Provincial - meeting of the archbishop with all bishops of the word, and lastly Plenary- summons all bishops of a nation
  • Through out this battle came many leaders of the Church known as Church Fathers
  • The church fathers all shared the common beliefs in holiness, notoriety, and antiquity
  • Most famous of Church fathers includes: Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, St. Gregory the Great, St. Jerome, and St. Hilary of Poitiers
  • St. Ambrose of Milan was born in Trier, Germany and was a zealous defender of the Church's independence from the State
  • He is most well known for his stance against Emperor Theodosius
  • Despite many beliefs, the Apostles creed was in fact not written by the Apostles but in stead Ambrose
  • It is a profession of faith based on the new testament and is based upon a baptismal creed
  • Born in northern Africa, St. Jerome led a very interesting life
  • Spending almost five years in the desert, he led an ascentical life
  • He translated the New Testament from greek and his feast day is celebrated on september 30th
  • In the fourth and fifth centuries, the church experieced an age of no persecution and an immergance of amazing leaders
  • Along with heresies, many inaccurate interpretations of the Gospel came about
  • Depite that, two cities immerged with study and debate, these included Alexandria and Antioch
  • From this came an advance in studies and denying of heresies from many developed scholars
  • The Nicene creed came from the first ecuminical council in support of the Church against Arianism
  • It is recited as a profession of faith and is a great use of unity for the eastern and western church
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  • During the fifth century, the Roman empire began to collapse, and this brought a period of decline.
  • Throughout this decline, one thing stayed strong, the church
  • The church now had to disassociate it self with the failing empire
  • The sack of Rome brought a flood of new cultures and religions to the area of Rome
  • This sack also brought the downfall of education
  • With the absence of the empire, the Church had to establish itself
  • One group that took over was the Huns, a powerful people with unknown origins
  • These were powerful and scary people that devastated the empire
  • this also brought the rise of Monasticism, or a life of prayer and self denial
  • Monasticism started early with St. Paul and spread through out the west
  • This rise brought a new christian culture
  • It brought the rise of monasteries, and evangilization in rural areas
  • with the monasteries came monks who taught and kept tradition
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The Great Schisim

  • The final split between the east and the west happened in 1054 and is considered one of the saddest chapters of church history
  • the pope still however kept dual jurisdiction over both regions
  • The east tended to diminish the importance of the Pope
  • the east were split into two types of churches, the east was orthodox and the west was Catholic
  • In 589, the words "and the son" was added to the Nicene creed which a resulted in a standing dispute
  • The next battle was over the elevation of Photius to patriarch of Constantinople
  • the pope did not agree with this decision and therefor was denied any recognition
  • All of the above circumstances combined to end a millennium of peace between the east and west
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The Crusades & The Inquisition

The crusades refers to a series of eight military expeditions that was experienced by all Christians from 109 to 1270. The first crusade was considered most organized and inspired a string of crusades that would follow in its path. During the time of the first battle many Jewish communities were attacked for their faith and Jerusalem was under attack until 1291. Another span of events that occurred during the first crusade, was the attack of the christian kingdom of Palestine. The nest important crusade was the third. This crusade is most popularly known for its role in creating a background for robin hood. The last crusade was the fourth, lasting from 1201-1204. This being the most famous because of the sack of Constantinople. It could most definitely be argued that without the crusades that religious peace would not be where it is today.

The inquisition resulted from the church leaders wanting to defend the orthodoxy of the church. During the middle ages the Catholic faith became dominant in Europe, this also brought many heresies against it. One main heresy against it was the Albigensian heresy which appealed to a misunderstood sense of Christian piety. Rather than establish the inquisition as a distinct tribunal, the pope hired special judges to examine certain opinions and conducts of some individuals. From the inquisition came a defended Catholic faith and many put down for their incorrect beliefs.

The High Middle Ages

The high Middle ages was a time of growth and development for the church after a long period of discrimination. Christian philosophy and education saw a golden age through the development of universities. The fine arts also saw a time of great heighth. Without the spread of education from monasteries and cathedral schools, the scholastic development of the culture during the high middle ages would have been much further behind, therefor setting education back for futures to come.
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The Plague

The Plague:

  • The black death spread through and lasted in Europe from 1347-1351 and would be considered the greatest demographic catastrophe to hit western Europe.
  • Also known as the Bubonic plague, this illness spread through out Europe on flea ridden rats
  • This plague diminished numbers in political, intellectual, and economic leadership of the population. By the end of the plague, all of Europe was as black and bleak as the disease itself

Hundred years war:

  • The next major crisis to hit Europe was the Hundred years war was a series short battles between the English and French, lasting from 1337-1453.
  • This conflict had arose during fourteenth century resulting from years of problems of inheritance, and conflicting economic interest.
  • As a result of these wars the English left the french demoralized and subject to the English crown.

Joan of Arc

  • Joan of Arc was born in Champagne on January 6th, 1412 and early enough by the age of 13, Joan was hearing voices and seeing visions of many saints trying to give her a message, that with God's help she would make Charles's coronation possible.
  • By dressing in men's clothes, she was able to convince Charles of the sincerity of her mission, and she led many successful missions through out her leadership.
  • Through the services of Joan of Arc the war stared to turn towards the French's favor and even through her capture and death she has remained a symbol of french unity an nation spirit.

The Renaissance

The beginning of the fifteenth century had just begun and both the church and all of Europe was changing. The Renaissance had many high and low points through out its time through out Europe, it offered a perfect social time for Christianity, a rebirth of classical principals, and amazing developments in fine arts. The renaissance can also be thanked for giving thinkers an artists the confidence to explore human understanding outside religion. Many developments and creations made during the renaissance are still effecting our generation today, and will for generations to come.
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The Protestant Reformation & English Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was a 16th century movement that altered the course of European and world history in a number of different ways. This movement led to the eventual influence and demise of the previously powerful Catholic Church. Even though people were worshiping as they believed, the Protestant Reformation brought about a new set of problems. Catholicism refused to let go of its power and continued to fight hard to keep its rule over the people. Different protestant religions began to show up and were in conflict with other Christian sects about the matter of how to worship God. People all throughout Europe began to engage in bloody conflicts over their religious disagreements. Catholics fought against the Protestants and rulers fought against various Christian sects that did not affiliate with their particular beliefs. Despite these large disagreements, the Church continued to stay strong in its traditions.

English Reformation was a series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry, the English king declared in 1534 that he alone should be the final authority in matters relating to the English church. He became the official head of the Church of England, and remarried according to his new rules. After Henry’s death, England tilted toward Calvinist-infused Protestantism during Edward VI’s six-year reign and then endured five years of reactionary Catholicism under Mary I. In 1559 Elizabeth I took the throne and, during her 44-year reign, cast the Church of England as a “middle way” between Calvinism and Catholicism, with vernacular worship and a revised Book of Common Prayer. Along with the religious consequences of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation came deep and lasting political changes.

Exploration and Missionary Movements

While Europe was divided along religious and political lines in the 16th century, the Church embarked upon the greatest missionary expansion of her history, reaching out to millions of new faithful around the world. This remarkable period of evangelization came about through the efforts of a relatively small number of holy missionaries who truly believed that "God desires the salvation of everyone." Through their courageous travels the good news of Christ was being preached all over the world, in Asia, Africa, and the New World. These missionary expeditions followed in the wake of new explorations throughout the world. Before the 16th century, the predominant avenue of trade for Europe was the Mediterranean Sea. Attempts to traverse other seas to the west of the Mediterranean were hindered by disputes about the size of the earth, claims that the ocean southwest of Gibraltar was unnavigable, and fear of sea monsters and boiling waters. Prince Henry the Navigator helped advance the technical innovations needed to explore uncharted land at that time. He opened a school for navigation where students improved the quality of maps, charts, and navigational techniques. Henry's school helped develop an efficient sail ship called the caravel which allowed pilots to sail against the wind and high waves that seemed impossible before. Christopher Columbus also was accredited with the Spanish discovery of the New World. He was attempting to find a new route to India, and made his way onto American soil. He set up a civilization that led to conquering the Indian tribes there and expansion and trade flourished in the Americas and beyond. The discovery of the New World brought about a commercial revolution in Europe. Known by most as the Colombian Exchange, traders brought new goods and materials back to Europe that eventually helped secure a better standard of living. It brought about new foods such as potato, squash, and new species of beans into places that hadn't had them available before, and the increased supply of gold and silver from the Spanish lands would also help Spain become a world power. There were also many missionary friars and apostles that helped spread the Good News to lands that had never heard of it before. One such missionary, Fr. Bartolome de las Casas, was the first priest in the New World. He was a chaplain during Columbus' conquest of Cuba, so he received an encomienda or land with native Cuban slaves. He evangelized them, and taught them all about Christ so they could eventually convert to the faith. These became Spanish Missions, where faithless people could come and live and learn about God. Unlike Spaniards and the French, English Catholics came to the New World, and founded the Catholic colony of Maryland. They came in order to seek refuge from fierce persecution in their native countries and practice their faith. Maryland was a safe haven for Catholics in America, along with Pennsylvania.
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The Age of Enlightenment

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were times of difficulty for the church. Faced by both political and philosophical opposition it seemed just about everybody had turned against the catholic church. Despite this, many of the reforms made during the age of enlightenment would eventually agree with the church doctrine. While the rulers and thinkers turned against the church and religion, the church still found many ways of spreading the word despite persecution.
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The Rise of soviet Communism, The rise of Nazism, Pope Pius & World War II

Soviet communism
  • The twentieth century was the bloodiest known in history with an estimated total of 188 million people killed due to war and revolt. This led to a rise of many ruthless political powers
  • One of these being communism, Soviet Communism was one of the driving forces behind an international program of subversion, revolution, conquest, oppression, and religious and political persecution that cost millions of lives and threatened the peace and stability of the world for seven decades.
  • Upon seizing power, the country's new masters set about cruelly suppressing political opposition and managed to establish tight socialist control over the country. Religious persecution was a major element of the Communist program.

The rise of Nazism

  • One of the biggest challenges facing pope Pius was Adolf Hitler and his National socialist party in Germany
  • Nazism was a blend of nationalist, totalitarianism, and racism all aimed particularly towards specific religions that they felt apposed him
  • In 1933, Hitler became chancellor of Germany and his Nazi government soon assumed dictatorial powers. After Germany’s defeat in World War II, the Nazi Party was soon put down and many of its top leaders were convicted of crimes related to the murders of 6 million European Jews during the it's reign.
Pope Pius & world war two

  • Pope Pius Xll was a strong minded and determined pope who didn't foresee the end of war. He reigned in an era of crisis marked by global economic collapse, the spread of totalitarianism, and and increasing international conflict.
  • Pius knew that world war II was a different type of war, and so therefore the Vatican could not be satisfied by simply acting as a voice of peace.
  • Through out his papacy, Pius was able to use the church to fight against the Nazi's bu in a way that would also serve the lord, because of this many historians have given the Pius the name of "a righteous gentile"

Vatican II & Pope St. John Paul II

Vatican II

  • At the midpoint of the twentieth century, the catholic church was united in doctrine, worship, and loyalty to the pope and bishops, and the catholic population finally growing
  • At this point the church although strong, is facing different challenges, such as nuclear destruction from the cold war, also with the modern world, the church was now finding itself facing attitude changes towards matrimony, sexuality, and abortion
  • This led to the start of the second Vatican council to discuss these new challenges

St. John Paull II

  • Upon taking the position of pope, John Paul, experienced many challenges. Dissent and defections weakened catholic life, and resistance to papal and episcopal authority increased.
  • He was best at writing and teaching. through out his papacy, he wrote 14 encyclicals and many other writings.
  • An avid traveler, pop John Paul was one to get things done and also an amazing vocal advocate for human rights, John Paul often spoke out about suffering in the world. He held strong positions on many topics, including his opposition to capital punishment.

The Church of immigrants to the U.S, Slavery, The Church in the U.S. : Present and Future

  • Because of immigration and higher birth rates, the growth of American Catholicism was remarkably rapid. Church leaders made heroic efforts to provide personnel and parishes, schools, convents, and other instructions to keep up with the expansion.
  • Lay men became owners of parish property, administered parish affairs, and in some places began hiring their own pastors in defiance of the bishop.
  • Although the U.S. government is committed by its constitution to religious toleration, starting in the 1830s Catholic immigration and rapid Catholic population growth were greeted by the rise of anti-Catholic Nativism.
  • In 1844, 13 people were killed and two churches and a school were burned in Nativist riots in Philadelphia.
  • Although Pope Gregory XVI condemned the slave trade in 1839, he had little to say on the subject.
  • Of the four million slaves emancipated in 1863, an estimated 100,000 were Catholics, about 60,000 of those in New Orleans.
  • Recent events have reopened the debate about whether American culture as its roots is or is not compatible with Catholic beliefs and values.
  • The religious and secularist worldview's have both been part of the American experience from the time of the nation's founding.