The medieval church

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The medieval church

  1. 1.  By the end of the fourth century, Christianity had become supreme and as the Roman empire fell apart, the Church would play an increasing roll in the new emerging European civilization. Local Christian communities were called parishes. Each parish was led by priests and a group of parishes was headed by a bishop.
  2. 2.  In many towns, faith was shown in another way, as people built magnificent cathedrals, monuments to glorify God. In the early 1100s, these huge churches used a new style of architecture called Gothic. This style of architecture is perhaps one of the greatest achievements during the Middle Ages. These buildings were tall, reaching toward heaven. They had walls covered with large windows of colorful stained glass, which let in beautiful light. They featured pointed archways and many sculptures.
  3. 3.  Gargoyles were usually carved sculptures on a Gothic cathedral. Some had the specific function to direct rainwater off the building while others were grotesque creatures with the purpose of warding off evil spirits.
  4. 4.  Eventually, the bishop of Rome began to proclaim he was the leader of all the parishes and the Roman Catholic Church. According to Catholics, Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom of Heaven over to Peter, the first apostle and also considered the first bishop of Rome. Later, the bishops were seen as Peter’s successor. They came to be known as Popes. (from the Latin word Papa or “father”.)
  5. 5.  Pope Gregory I strengthened the papacy in and the Roman Catholic Church around the beginning of the 5th century. Under Pope Gregory, the Church becomes a secular (holds political power and influence) Popes organize the Christian faith much like a kingdom - Christendom The Church even starts to collect taxes (tithes) from all believers.  Thesetaxes went to care for the sick and help the poor but also was used to raise armies.
  6. 6.  During this time, the church also made it’s own body of laws known as canon law – or church law. Canon law oversaw many aspects of life including wills, marriage and morals. If you disobeyed canon law, you would face a wide range of penalties or punishments, the worst and most terrifying being excommunication. Church officials had the power to excommunicate which meant you were condemned to hell for eternity.
  7. 7.  The Church and the Pope became so powerful during this time, it was said that he was the utmost authority in Europe, stronger than the most powerful kings. Why do you think the pope held such great power over kings?
  8. 8.  Also under Pope Gregory I, the church is able to convert many non-Christians through the monastic movement. Monks are men who separate themselves from ordinary human society to pursue a life of total dedication to God. The practice of living as a monk is known as monasticism. St. Benedict founded a community and wrote a set of rules. These rules are the basis for monasticism in the Roman Catholic Church.
  9. 9.  Monks would become the new heroes of Christianity and important force in European civilization. Monasteries were seen as ideal Christian societies. They would provide a moral example to live by for which society could model themselves after.
  10. 10.  Monks are famously known for being brewers of beer. While beer was invented long before the monks, they were the first to truly brew it in mass and commercialize it. The Benedictine monastery of Weihenstephan Abbey in Germany is the oldest brewery in the world, founded in 1040 AD and still brewing today!
  11. 11.  Monks were the social workers of their communities, provided schools for the young, hospitality for travelers and hospitals for the sick. They also taught carpentry and weaving to peasants and also made improvements in agriculture that would be passed on. Monasteries became centers of learning wherever they were located.
  12. 12.  English and Irish monks were especially enthusiastic missionaries - people sent to carry out a religious message – who undertook the conversion of non-Christians. By 1050, most of Europe was Catholic.
  13. 13.  The knot shaped pretzels that we enjoy today were actually creations of Medieval Monks. The monks would give them as a reward to children for remembering their prayers. (the word pretiola in Latin means “small reward”.) The shape represents the folded arms of the children during prayer.
  14. 14.  Also during this time, new church groups arose such as the Franciscan and Dominican orders. Much like monks, men known as Friars vowed poverty and devoted their lives to travel and spreading the message of God. Many were very well educated and became scholars. Women also joined the spiritual revival by joining convents and becoming nuns.
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