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During the 12th century, when gargoyles appeared in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was growing stronger and converting many new people. Most of the population at this time was illiterate, and therefore images were very important to convey ideas. In the medieval world many creatures had mystical powers attributed to them. Also, human qualities were sometimes ascribed to specific animals—that is, the animals were anthropomorphized. This was especially common for pagans, and using these ideas helped conversion to Catholicism.