Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

I. The Late Middle Ages (1303-1517

II. The Reformation (1517-1563)

III. The Catholic Reform and Counter Reformation (1563-1617).


I. The Late Middle Ages

1. The Avignon Papacy

2. The Western schism and the councils

3. The Byzentine Church: The age of Palamism (Renaissance)


II. The Reformation

1. Martin Luther and the coming of the Reformation

2. The Struggle over the concept of Christian freedom

3. The reform in the German principalities

4. Europe under the sign of confessional pluralism

III. Catholic Reform and counter Reformation

1. Origin, arid breakthrough of the catholic reform

2. The papacy and the implementation of the council of Trent

3. Religious forces and intellectual content of the catholic renewal

4. The springtime of the missions in the early modern period

5. European Counter Reformation and confessional absolutism

I. The late Middle Ages

On 13 December 1294 Pope Celestine V, a Beneditine monk (Peter of Murrone elected Pope on 5 July 1294, over 80) abdicated. On 23 December of the same year Boniface VIII (1294-1303) – Benedict Gaetani – was unanimously chosen as Pope. He was related to Popes Alexander IV and Nicholas III. He was also connected with Orsini and Colonna, the two papal rival families. He was born at Anagrii around 1240. He was created cardinal by Martin IV (1281-1285). He was harsh and intemperate, but had trained intellect, knowledge of the world, experience of cusiness, intrepid boldness, an iron will and amazing energy.

Boniface was the last great medieval pope, but his nine year reign unmistakably marked the beginning of the decline of papal prestige in European affairs. He, embodying perfectly the medieval concept of papal power, was fated to clash with his political contemporaries, Edward I of England and Philip IV of France.

Reasons for decline:

1. Pope’s desire to enhance his family’s fortune. His scheme to make his family, Gaetani, great landholders in the vicinity of Home brought into conflict with the rival family, Colonna. He degraded two cardinals of this family.

2. The clash with the kings. The kings wanted to eliminate the numerous tax exemptions enjoyed by the church. When kings went to war, they demanded subsidies from the clergy from their exempt possessions. In France the abbot of Citeaux refused to pay and appealed to the pope. Boniface replied with the bull Clericos laicos (Feb. 1296) reiterating the canon law of no taxation without the papal consent. Healso decreed automatic excommunication for anyone demanding or paying unauthorized levies. Edward outlawed the clergy who refused to pay; Philip forbade the export of money outside his realm to strike at the papal purse. Healso approached the University of Paris for opinions on the legality of Celestine’s abdiction, hoping to contest Boniface’s election.

3. The exsumption of the clergy from the trial in secular courts. In 1301 Philip IV’s agents arrested and imprisoned Bernard Saisset, bishop of Pamiers. Boniface published two bulls, i.Salvator mundi, revoking all privileges granted to Philip IV and reinstating Clericos laicos, and ii. Auscmlta fili, a personal letter to the king enumerating the pope’s grievances. He then summoned the French bishops to Rome for a synodal examination of the state of the French church. The statements in Ausculta fill transferred the issue from the religious to the political field.

The French chancellor Peter Flotte denounced Boniface for attempting to infringe on the royal authority. He also procured from the French Estates General a solid demonstration of support for Philip.

On 18 November 1302 Boniface published the bull Unam Sanetarn assenting the papal claims to domination over the temporal power. The bull enuntiates two principles; the distinction between temporal and spiritual power in St. Bernard’s two swords metaphor the innate superiority of the spiritual in Gelasian terminology. She pope declared: “We declare, state, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary for salvation that every human creature to subject to the Roman Pontiff“.

The official reply to Unam Sanctam was an emotional campaign of personal denigration against Boniface. Philip’s legists charged the pope with simony, heresy, murder, sorcery, idolatry and sacrilege. At ameeting of the royal council in June 1382 in the presence of 26 bishops and 11 abbots, the charges were presented and appeal made to a general council to judge the pope. In all France only the abbot of Citeaux and the bishop of Autin protested; they were arrested at once.

Boniface prepared to excommunicate Philip. It was known to Philip’s agent in Italy, William Morgaret who attacked Anagni, Boniface’s native town where he was then staying, and took the pope prisoner on 7 Sept. 1303. They wanted to carry the pope back to France to place him on trial there, but after two days, papal supporters rallied and expelled Mogaret. Boniface broken in Wind and body, returned to Rome where he died three weeks lateri 12 October 1303).

Boniface’s political meassures turned out for the most part unsuccessful. But his activity within the church was to survive his pontificate: first, the publication of the Liber sextus, a supplement to Gregory IX’s collection of decretals, then the introduction of order into the chaotic state affairs in the curial administrative system, the decision in the question of the relations between the mendicant orders and the diocesan clergy in the bull Super Cathedram of 18 Feb.1300. In June 1303 he founded a university at Rome, the later Sapienza, as a studium gerierale. He bestowed careful attention on the library and archives of the Vatican.

The Avignon Papacy


The situation after the death of Boniface VIII: Benedict XI and Clement V.


Benedict XI (1303-1394)

After the death of Boniface VIII, the supporters of the dead pope succeeded in opening the conclave despite the serious difficulties due to the existence of two factions of equal strength led by colonna and Gaetani families. The two deposed cardinals Janes and Peter Colonna were not allowed to take part in the election. On the first ballot itself the Cardinal bishop of Ostia, Kicholas Bocassini of Treviso, former master general of the Dominicans, was chosen Pope. He took the name Benedict XI. He had to face external as well as internal difficulties: the excessive influence of the French throughout Italy and of the agitation in the papal state, the quarrel between the two groups in the College of Cardinals. Boniface VIII’s new style had altered the papacy as an institution and evoked opposition. To please the French he sent notice of his election arid absolved king Philip IV from all censures he might have incurred and freed the Colonna Cardinals from the ecclesiastical penalties imposed by Boniface VIII.

As a cardinal and legate, he had been a success, but was not quite equal to the demands of his new, burdensome office. His narrowness is evident in the fact that the three cardinals created by him were Dominicans. When Arnald of Villanaova, the physician of Boniface VIII and an ardent Spiritual, sent him admonitions and threats in apocalypse dress, he had him imprisoned without trial. On 7th July 1304 after eight months’ pontificate, Benedict died at Perugia and was buried there in the church of his order.

Clement V C1305-1314)

Ten days after the death of Benedict XI, the cardinals entered the conclave in Perugia. When it opened it comprised nineteen cardinals, eight of whom were religious. In the course of its eleven months four cardinals left because of sickness. Fifteen took part in the actual election. The two Colonna cardinals were denied entry. Two Orsinis, cardinal dean Mathew Rosso Orsini and his nephew the cardinal deacon Napoleone Orsini, were the leaders of the opposite groups and there were violent, between them. Finally on 5 June 1305, the archbishop of Bordeaux Befrtrand de Got, was elected pope.

The newly elected pope accepted the notification made to him at the end of June, styled himself Clement V, and prepared for the Journey to Rome via Provence. But then he ordered six cardinals to attend his coronation at Lyons on All Saints. During the solemn coronation procession on 14 Movember a wall collapsed, killing several persons of high rank; the pope fell from his horse, and the most expensive Jewel in the tiara was lost. People read these happenings as an evil omen.

Clement did intend to go to Rome. His weakness, the increasing pressure of the French king and the insecurity of Rome and of all Italy made him postponing the journey to Rome. In his first creation of cardinals in December 1305, nine including four nephews, were French, and one was English, he was more confined to his homeland. Moreover he was not familiar with the curial procedure.

After the coronation Clement stayed quite a long time in his native place, in Poitiers alone for sixteen months. In 1309 he went to Avignon, but it was hot his permanent residence. From 1309 till his death he spent most of his time outside the city din the Rhone. He can neither be a Roman Pope nor an Avignon Pope. A sick man, he sought a place most advantageous to his health.

In his relations with France the Pope’s dependence was especially clear in two matters:

1. The process against Boniface VIII

2. The process against the Templars

1. The process against Boniface VIII

After the election of element it was discussed that,

i. all measures of Boniface against France against his assailants at Anagni be annulled,

ii. Full compensation be made to the Colonna,

iii. The corpse of the pope be disinterred,

iv. The sentences issued by Benedict XI be recalled (excommu­nication of Nogaret). Precise directions were even given for the formulating of the bull to be issued by the pope. At the curia the demands caused consternation. A committee of six cardi­nals was set up and after much deliberation a bull was sketched but at was not actually drawn up.

Again, a year later, the king and the pope discussed the following matters:

  • permanent settling of the curia in France
  • condemnation of the Templars
  • holding of a general council in France
  • canonization of Gelestine V
  • condemnation of Boniface VIII and burning of his remains
  • absolution of Mogaret.

 The process against Boniface started in 1310 and the case was discussed in many consistories. Several committees were concerned with hearing witnesses. The pope was accused of heresy. The trial was discontinued when the pope in the bull Rex Gloriae of 27April 1311, had acknowledged the king’s praiseworthy real in his proceedings against Boniface and had absolved Nogaret ad cautelam. The cancellation in the official register of the bulls issued by Boniface VIII against France was a serious humiliation.

2. Process against the Templars; the Council of Vienne

In the Middle ages the Christians were seeking the Holy Land and wanted to be taken care of there. From the effort to supply them with aid emerged the Templars.

Hugh of Payens (+1136), a knight from Champagne, Joined with eight companions In 1119 in a religious community obliged to poverty, chastity, and obedience, with added duty of providing armed protection to pilgrims en route from Jaffa to Jerusalern. Since Baldwin II of Jerusalem housed them in the royal palace, the so-called Temple of Solomon, the game came to be applied to them. The circumstances procured for the Templars rich gifts in all countries of the West and made them a powerful international society, conversant with finance, independent of the king of Jerusalem and of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Even before Clement V, the king of France had planned the merging of all military orders, with himself as grand master, and in Lyons, at the time of Pope’s coronation; he had brought his complaints against the Templars. The real motive for their prosecution and destruction were the independence of these military orders and their great wealth in landed property and money. They were defamed and damaging reports were also carried to the pope. On 13 October 1307 all French Templars were arrested at the king’s order and then subjected to strict interrogations by royal officials, who made abundant torture. By extorted confessions they admitted rejection of and spitting on the cross, indecent kissing and exhortations to commit sodomy, and even the adoration of an idol in the ceremony of admission to the order. These avowals (confessions) were handed to the pope. Impressed by them he ordered the arrest of the Templars in all countries. But when he had been apprised (aware) of the nature of the proceedings and of the repudiation of many of the confessions, he suspended the delegated authority of the bishops and inquisitors in Feb.1308. Nevertheless, the imprisoned Templars remained under the custody of the king and his officials.

In summer 1308, the pope and the king met at Poitiers. A few carefully selected Templars repeated their previous confessions in the presence of the pope and curia. The king did not allow the grand master arid the chief officials of the order to come to Poitiers; they were questioned elsewhere. At Poitiers pope had to agree to hold a council in France, to open the process against the memory of Boniface VIII and to lift the suspension of the authority of bishops and inquisitors in regard to the Templars. The pope appointed two investigating committee, a papal commission to deal with the entire order. The king nomi­nated its members for the investigations not in France alone, but also abroad. The Templars were to be interrogated individually in every diocese by means of the episcopal commissions. The king also influenced the local commissions. Its goal was this: to extort confessions and prevent the repudiation of previous avowals by threat of the stake for the relapsed. When especially outside France, confessions were slow in coining, the pope ordered the universal application of torture. There were heroic scenes; many imprisoned Templars publicly declared their

innocence and that of the order. Thereupon, the Archbishop of Sens in May 1310 sent 54 of them to the stake on a single day and later several small groups.

Council of Vienne – 16 October 1311

The main purpose of the council was the affair of the Templars. The total number of the participants was around 300, of whom 120 were patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and mitred abbots. At pope’s suggestion the council selected from among its members a large committee to which the records and summaries were submitted for examination. After the discussion of the subject, out of regard for the king and pressure, the pope announced the suppression of the order by an apostolic decree on 3 April 1312.

After the council there began struggle for the Templars’ property. On 2May shortly before the close of the council, the transfer of the Templars, property to the Hospitallers was published. But the execution of this regulation proceeded very slowly and was dragged out for decades. In France the greatest part of it apparently landed in the King’s hands, since he claimed an adequate compensation for having brought the case to a conclusion. When the grand master and grand preceptor of Normandy were asked to repeat their confession of guilt in front of Notre-Dame de Paris and accept their sentences if life imprisonment, they publicly repudiated all confessions and swore to the order’s innocence. On the same day both were burned without regard for the Pope.

Today it is generally agreed that the order as a whole was guiltless of the crimes attributed to it. It was mainly the machinations of Philip the Fair and he bears the personal responsibility for the ruin and death of the Templars.


John XXII C1316-1334)

About two years after the death of Clement V, on 7 August 1316, the Cardinal bishop of Ostia, James Dues e of Cahors the bishop of Avignon (from 1310, cardinal from 1312)  was elected pope. he took the name John XXII. His coronation was performed at Lyons on 5 September and he arrived in Avignon in October.

This period is qualified as political papacy because the priority was given to politics, though John expressed his desire to return to Rome, he postponed it. The longer the delay lasted, the more serious became the psychological difficulties confront­ing a transfer of the Holy See.

John XXII and the Franciscans: In the Franciscan Order two groups had taken shape, the Spirituals and the Conventuals, differing on the question of a more or less rigid interpretation of the rule of poverty. St. Beneventure and Nicholas III had attempted unsuccessfully to resolve the difficulty in the last |century. There was a radical group called Fraticelli among the Spirituals, who resorted to force to overcome their more liberal brethren. John threatened them with excommunication and a temporary lull set in.

In 1322 the friars’ general chapter declared in vindication of the Spirituals’ views that it had always been a matter of faith that Christ and the Apostles had lived in absolute poverty. Pope condemned this opinion as heretical and imprisoned Bonagratia of Bergamo, the Franciscan representative at Avignon. Most of the friars accepted John’s declaration, but some like Michael of Cesena, William of Ockam opposed it.


John XXII and the empire: A double election occurred in 1314 between Frederick of Austria and Louis of Bavaria and it was not settled until Louis defeated his rival after eight years of civil war. John remained neutral but when Loius showed an interest in the affairs of northern Italy John declared him a usurper on the ground that no man might exercise the rights of emperor without papal approbation. When Loius refused to countenance such a claim, the pope excommunicated him. The emperor received support from the disaffected Franciscan Minority whom Louis sheltered at his court. They accused him of heresy because of his refusal to accept the Spirituals’ ideas on the poverty of Christ and his strange views on Beatific Vision which pope preached in a private sermon. – the souls of the just do not enjoy the full vision of God immediately after the death but only after the general judgment. On a visit to Rome in 1328, Louis set up a Franciscan friar as antipope but it collapsed quickly. There was discussion over this matter and in Faris the government opposed the pope and threatened to prosecute him for heresy. On the eve of his death the pope is said to have abandon­ed his peculiar opinion.

Pope John was an attentive reader and preacher. Healso deserved the label of politician. He died in 1334.

Benedict XII (1334-1342).

On 20 December 1334 James Fourner, bishop of Mire poix, was elected pope; he took the name Benedict XII. It seems that Benedict had no intention to returning to Rome as he built the great papal palace at Avignon. He also had to depend on France. The French church was again and again burdened for the political needs of the government. Throughout his pontificate he was unable to free himself from the strong bonds linking him to French policy.

Benedict started a comprehensive reform activity. A few days after his coronation he sent back to their benefices all ecclesiastics who could not satisfactorily justify their sojourn at the curia, se avoided many abused that had crept in. He was a Cistercian and the religious orders were his special concern. He issued special Dulls for their reform. “Fulgens sicut stella” for the Cistercians; Summi magistri for the Benedictines; Redemptor noster for the Franciscans.

Estimates of Benedict’s personality vary. So one denies that he was inspired by lofty motives. Petrarch Judges him quite severely, characterizing him as a totally unfit, drowsy, and drunken helmsman of the ship of the church, very likely these reproaches emanated from hostile Franciscan circles. In regard to theology he was rightly considered scholarly but of inquisi­torial harshness. He was a spiritual autocrat but a firm preserv­er of legality. Benedict died in 1342.

Clement VI (1342-1352) Fierre Roger from Limousin

On 7 May 1342 Clement VI was elected pope, he was known for his oratorical gifts. He was entrusted by the government with numerous tasks, he was also the spokesman of the episcopate in the nomination and taxations of benefices, official preacher of the crusade. He was created cardinal in 1338 and soon occupied an important position at the curia.

Clement was highly intelligent, a hard worker and a man of wide culture, he was the most magnificent of the Avignon popes. He used to say: “my predecessors did not know how to live as popes should do”. He abandoned all hope to return to Rome. &e resolved to complete and improve the palace. In 1348 Avignon was purchased from Queen Joanna I of Maples. This and the magnificent construction of the palace disappointed the Italian hope of a return of the curia.

In this pontificate occurred an important event. A few months after his election, Cola di Riengo the tribune of the people visited the pope to ask the reduction of the jubilee from every one hundredth to every fiftieth year, the pope granted it and proclaimed 1310 as jubilee year in a consistory in 1343. Cola di Rienzo took over the administration of the city in 1347 and planned to have the sovereignty of the Roman people after the suppression of barons and foreign mercenaries, independence of pope and emperor, unification of all inhabitants of the peninsula under a ruler of Italian blood. In spite of this the jubilee 1350 could be celebrated.

Clement ranks as the most splendid representative of the Avignon regime – grand scale expenditures, a court of princely luxury. It unbridled favouritism of relatives and countrymen. Under him the curia was scarcely to be distinguished from a secular court. His pontificate bore a worldly character. Clement died in 1352.

Innocent VI (1352-1362)

Cardinal Steaphen Aubert as Innocent VI was elected pope on the second day of the conclave in 1352. Before the election the cardinals resolved that the pope could not create no more cardinals until their number had dropped to sixteen and there could be no more than twenty of them. The pope is bound to get the consent of the cardinals – at least two third – for any procedure against individual cardinals and for the alienation of any part of the papal state. The consent of the cardinals was to be obtained in filling the higher administrative posts, in granting tithes and subsidies to kings and princes, and in demanding tithes for the benefit of the Camera Apostolica. The pope was not to hinder the cardinals’ free expression of opinion. But after the election the pope declared this capitulation null.

Innocent fortified Avignon with strong walls in 1357. He entrusted the reconstruction of the patrimonium papal state to Cardinal Gil de Albornoz who stayed in Italy thirteen years from 1353. Innocent could no longer realize his often expressed desire to go to Rome. He died at Avignon on 12 September 1362.

Bl. Urban V (1368-1370)

After the conclave of five days the cardinals elected one from outside the College of Cardinals, William Grimoard, the abbot of St. Vietor de Marseille. He took the name Urban V. He was a canonist. Se retained his monastic habit and monastic life le promoted studies by founding colleges and burses. He took strong steps against luxury of the court and sent many curialists packing. As a monk he was a stranger to the life of Curia. A man of interior life and somewhat ignorant of the world, he did not always see through the diplomatic game and fell prey to the allurement of political power.

In spite of the objections from France and the college of the cardinals, Urban left Avignon for Home on 30 April 1367 and landed at Corneto in the papal state on 4 June. After a brief rest he proceeded to the security of Viterbo in preparation for entering Rome, with a strong military escort, on 16 October.

In Rome the pope devoted special attention to the repair and adornment of the Roman churches, especially the Vatican and Lateran basilicas. In 1368, he created seven cardinals, five Frenchmen, one English and one Italian. There were disorders in Rome and Viterbo and political disturbances and opposition. Urban thought of going back to Avignon. In vain did Catherine of Siena, Bridgit of Sweden, Peter of Aragon advised against it. The French influences, above all that of the cardinals, were stronger, and the miscarriage of the Pope’s political plans was the chief motive for his giving in. He said “the Holy Spirit led me here, and now he is leading me back for the honour of the church”, Urban left Italy on 5 September 1370 and on 17th of the month he reentered Avignon. On 19 Dec. 1370 he died. Later he was beatified.

Gregory XI (1370-1379)

The conclave which began on 29 December 1370 with 17 cardinals, ended the following morning with the election of Cardinal Peter Rogery nephew of Clement VI. Gregory XI was crowned on 5 January 1371 and appeared on horseback in a colour­ful procession in Avignon. When only nineteen, he was made cardinal by his uncle in 1348. He was elected pope at the age of forty-two. As pope he too remained strongly attached to family and homeland. Of the 21 cardinals he created, eight were from his own land; there were eight other Frenchmen, two Italians, and one each from Geneva, Castile and Aragon.

Gregory was a weak and easily influenced man. He had also the traits of tenacity, energy and unrelenting severity. He understood the necessity of pope’s return to Home. He postponed it due to the unfavourable political situation in Italy and the pressure from France.

Despite the difficulties and pressures Gregory left Avignon on 13 September 1376. The influence of St. Catherine of Siena on Gregoryes return to Home is important. It is said that she spent three months -from the middle of June 1376 at Avignon to confer with the pope. On 17 January 1371 Gregory with 13 cardinals made his solemn entry into Rome. He died on 27 March 1378.

The Curia at Avignon

For almost seventy years Avignon was the papal residence, though the seat of the papacy was never transferred there. Avignon occasioned the expression “Babylonian Exile”. This term refers to the desolation of Rome and implies an accusation. In 1348 Clement VI purchased the city and the surrounding territory. Benedict XII started the construction of the papal palace and it was completed by Clement VI.

The papal curia at Avignon was like a princely court. The style of the officials of the curia strongly resembled that of the French royal court. The management of the apostolic palace was done by a large group of clergy and laity. Everywhere the French orientation was very clear especially in creating the cardinals. The College of Cardinals had great influence. Some­times pope’s freedom of action was restricted by the College of Cardinals. She written election capitulation of 1352 was a typical example. Most of them lived a luxurious life with enormous wealth. The French popes had an imprudent over-development of the financial system and an excessive affection for their country.

The Black Death (1348-50) lasted for thirty months. It was extremely contagious. Europe it destroyed some forty million people in Western Europe.

The Western Schism and the Councils

The premature death of Gregory XI on 27 March 1378 placed the church in a difficult situation. Thousands of Romans demanded a pope from Rome or at least a native of Italy. The sixteen cardinals then in Rome – 11 French, 4 Italians, 1 Spanish entered the conclave on 7 April. Next morning they decided to vote for Bartholomeo Frignano, archbishop of Sari. In the afternoon the mob invaded the conclave. It was calmed for the moment when it was declared that the aged Roman Cardinal Tebaldeschi had been elected. Despite his resistance he was enthroned before the altar of the chapel by the mob. The other cardinals profited by the break to flee, six to Castel Sant’ Angelo, the others to their residences or outside Rome. On the next after noon 12 cardinals returned voluntarily or were called to the Vatican to complete the election procedure. Cardinal Fiagnano took the name Urban VI. The cardinals ratified the election and acknowledged Urban as pope. They informed the absent cardinals of Urban’s election.

Once seated upon the pontifical throne, Urban alienated the cardinals by his tactless and tyrannous manner. His method to reform the church was at fault. His language was very offensive. St. Catherine of Siena wrote him: “For the love of Jesus crucified, Holy Father, soften a little the sudden movements of your temper”.

On 13 August 1378 the cardinals declared the election of Urban to have taken place under pressure and therefore to be null and void. On 20 September they -13 cardinals – elected Cardinal Robert of Geneva who called himself Clement VII at Fondi. The election was proclaimed on 21 and on 31 October he was crowned as Clement VII (1378-1394).

Clement’s election was an unhappy one. Canonically his election was entirely unacceptable. St. Catherine of Siena supported Urban, despite his notorious failings, and dubbed the cardinals of Anagni ‘devils in human form’. After trying in vain to establish his authority in Home, Clement went to Avignon in May 1381. The pope in Rome retained the obedience of England, almost all Germany, Scandinavia and northern, and central Italy; while Clement at Avignon was recognised by France, Scotland, Spain and the kingdom of Naples. The two rivals excommunicated one another, and each talked of nothing less than burning the other alive. The Great Schism had begun and it was to last for forty years.

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almost as many acolytes at heaven’s altar: St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Colette, the celebrated reformer of the Poor Clares, Bl. Peter of luxenburg. There was no universally recognized pope, no papa indubitatus. The archbishop Peter Tenorio of Toledo replaced in the canon of the Mass the name of the pope with the phrase “pro illo qui est verus papa”. The spiritual anguish thus generated increased stay from day to day; desolation over­whelmed the souls of men, and it was widely believed that no one had gained entry to Paradise since the beginning of schism. Many believed that the end of the world is 1400.

Urban VI died in 1389. The cardinals owing obedience to him elected a Neapolitan cardinal Peter Thomacelli pope who took the name Boniface IX (1389-1404). The Avignon pope Clement VII died on 16 September 1394. The Avignon college of cardinals elected a successor on 2S September 1394 – Peter de Luna, who styled himself Benedict XIII (1394-1423). With most of his colleagues in the conclave he had signed under oath a statement that he would devote himself to union with all real and would even abdicate in the event that the cardinals should regard this as necessary.

Various solutions were proposed to end the schism. In 1394 the University of Paris, after much consultation suggested three possibilities:

(1) via cessionis – joint surrender

(2) via compromissi – compromise, a committe of arbitration should be appointed and its decision bind both obediences,

(3) via concilii – a general council to pronounce the judgment.

France had an extraordinary attempt to end the schism, in 1398 the French clergy proclaimed the complete and immediate withdrawal of its obedience from Benedict XIII, hoping thereby to compel his immediate abdication. But Benedict absolutely refused to abdicate alone or to be the first to do so. After four years of vacillation they renewed allegiance to him. Until 1403 .Benedict was isolated in the palace. On 12 March 1403 he made a fantastic escape from the papal palace down the Rhone to the Chateau-Renard in the territory of the count of Provence.

Soon after the reconciliation of the clergy and his liberation Benedict sent important proposals to Rome:

(1) for a meeting of the two rivals on the borders of the respective obediences or in Italy, for e.g. in the territory of Genova.

2. for negotiations by plenipotentiaries in the event that the claimants could not meet personally;

3. for resignation.

Boniface rejected all of this. His death, occuring while the Avignon Embassy were in Rome, interrupted the contact, and the new pope Innocent VII did not take part in discussions.

The death of Innocent VII in 1406 seemed to open up another solution when Benedict asked the Roman cardinals not to proceed to an election. But before the envoys arrived, the new pope had been elected: the Venetian Angelus Correr, who became Gregory XII (1406-1415). In the event of his election each cardinal is had bound himself to resign if the same thing were to happen on the opposing side; specific regulations concerned the naming of new cardinals in order to maintain both colleges at numerical equality.

The third way was to convene a council to depose both popes. In March 1409, 24 cardinals – 14Romans, 10 Avignonese – accompanied by some 300 leading prelates held a meeting at Pisa. Since no pope had convened this council, their meeting was illegal. It lasted from March until August. They deposed both rival popes holding each guilty of the double offence of schism and heresy. They chose in their stead a Greek, Petros Philarges, cardinal of Milan, who became Alexander V (1409-1410). The University of Paris declared: Oh, happy choice! Peace had been restored! Oh, pacific union! But both popes refused to abdicate at the council’s order. Instead of two contested and questionable popes, there were henceforth three Alexander V died in 1410 and was replaced by John XXIII – Balthazar Cossa, the cardinal deacon of Ostia.

The council of Constance (1414-1418)

The council of Pisa could not achieve union. Therefore a new council was proposed to restore Christian unity. The place chosen was Constance. On 9 December 1313, Pope John XXIII issued the bull convoking the council to Constance. The German king Sigismund sided with the pope. John entered Constance on 28 October 1414 and on 5 November solemnly opened the council. He was accompanied by a retinue of six hundred. The other two popes did not attend in person, but both sent delegates. At first the number of the participants was slight, because many wanted to see whether the council would meet at all. Sigismund arrived on Christmas, and with the new year, 1415, the attendance rapidly grew. Thirty-three cardinals nearly five hundred bishops, two thousand representatives of the universities and some five thousand priests, ambassadors from every secular court, forty dukes, five hundred knights, every single one escorted by a train of gervants- some one hundred thousand souls! Ulrich of Richethal shadier side – seven hundred prostitutes to reform men’ s morals !

The council had a triple end in view:

1. to put an end to the scandal of Great Schism

2. to enact measures to suppress the abuses

3. to crush certain heresies

Of these three, the first one was seriously pursued. It was manifestly impossible to choose between the three popes. John came to Constance with the intention of having the Pisan decrees against Gregory and Benedict confirmed and then dissolving, the council. Although the legitimacy of the council of Pisa and of the election of John was recognised almost unanimously, only the resignation of the Pisan pope also and of the two deposed at Pisa seemed to give hope of success. This was also Sigismund’s plan and that of most of the nations. The council pressed for John’s resignation with menacing accusations. John finally yielded to the pressure and held out the prospect of abandoning his claims, but he bargained for a week about the proper formulation. Then, in the night of 20-21 March 1415, he left the city secretly and in disguise. He hoped that his flight would disrupt the council. But the council continued. The fugitive pope was brought back as a prisoner and deposed on 29 May being accused of simony, plurality, incest, sodomy, fornication and of being his predecessor’s murderer. He signed his own condemnation inscribing it with his Christian name alone: Balthazar. Five years later Martin V readmitted him to the College of Cardinals.

Gregory sent envoys to the council. After the flight of John XXIII, he reconvoked the council and announced his resignation. The council appointed him cardinal bishop of Porto and lagate of the Marsches of Aricona. Benedict XIII did not want to resign. He took refuge on the rocky pinnacle of Peniscola, a kind of Spanish Mont-St-Michel and proclaimed his profound faith in the justice of his cause; the whole Christendom was with him on this mountain top, just as all humanity had been with Noah in the Ark! On 26 July 1417 the council deposed him. Till his death in 1423 he regarded himself as the only legitimate pope.

The Great schism had been terminated and there remained the task of choosing a lawful pope. But it was not easy. Various factions were at work in Constance. It was finally decided to that the new should be elected by the College of Cardinals and six representatives of each of five nations (30). The elected should get two-thirds not only from the cardinals but also from the representatives of each individual nations. On the eight day of the conclave, 6 Novemebr 1417, Cardinal Oddo Colanna was elected under the name Martin V. He was crowned on 21 Nov. From now on the council was under his direction.

The German emperor Sigismand urged Martin to settle in Germany, the French king urged him to return to Avignon. But Martin courageously preferred the eternal city, Rome. He entered Rome on 28th September 1420.

The council restored peace in the church, but it could not solve all her problems. It advocated the conciliar supremacy. It decreed: ‘the general council, representing the Catholic Church, and deriving its power directly from Christ, must be obeyed by everyone, whatever their conditions or rank, even toy the pope! Another decree ‘frequens’ established the council as the normal and regular authority in the church, fixing the interval at which it must be convened (five years initially then seven and ten).

According to the Frequens, Martin, after five years, summoned a council at Pavia, but it was transferred to Siena due to plague. After a year of fruitless discussions it was disintegrated and it commanded to hold a council at Basel seven years later. Martin assented, and appointed Cardinal Cesarini as president with authority to dissolve it. On 20th Feb.1431 Martin died of apoplexy. Martin was a politician. He was able to restore peace in the church. He was also a man of very simple life. He reestablished the papal state, can be called the third founder of papal state. The inscription on his tomb reads: “temporum suorum felicitas”. When he died he left a state in relatively good order in the church.

Eugene IV (1431-1447)

The conclave met in the convent of Minerva, and chose Gaoriel Condulinero, a Venetian patrician and nephew of Gregory XII. The new pope took the name of Eugene IV. He was an Augustinian, pleasant, distinguished, reserved, continued the monastic life, against nepotism, interested to govern the church in the best interests of the church. But he lacked the flexibility and shrewdness of a diplomat.

At the conclave Eugene had been obliged with his fellow cardinals to sign a kind of capitulation which would subject the pope to the College of Cardinals. It entitled the college

–          to receive oath of loyalty from vassals and officials

–          to make alliances

–          to declare war

–          to control the reform in the church

–          to reform of the curia in head and members

–          general reform at a general council

–          to transfer of the curia

–          observance of the rules issued at Constance in regard to the nomination of cardinals.

–          sharing by the college in the income and in the govern­ment of the papal state.

–          no proceeding against the person and property of a cardi­nal without the consent of the majority.

–          whenever the formula ‘de fratrum nostrorum consilio’ was in a decree, the listing by name of the consenting cardinals.

Eugene was not a politician. His rash- proceedings against the Colonna family produced long lasting troubles in ail parts of the papal state. In 1434 the pope had to flee from Rome; he found refuge at Florence and then at Bologna. He was not able to return to Rome until 1443.

According to the decision of Constance, a council was opened at Basel on 23 July 1431. Eugene opposed the council from the start, lie dissolved it by the bull ‘Quoniam alto’ of 12 Nov. 1431 signed only by ten cardinals. Then he summoned a new synod, which was supposed to meet in Bologna eighteen months later. But Cardinal Cesarini and others were against dissolving the council. So the pope changed his tactics. He issued a bull which authorized the holding of the council at Basle and commanded the largest number of priests to attend it. Then he published two bulls which were intended to annul all the conciliar decisions. This was too much and Christendom feared a rebirth of the schism. Everybody begged Eugenius to yield. At last the pope by a new bull “Dudum sacrum” proclaimed his submission. When it was learned in Basle on Christmas 1433 that the pope had capitulated, one German prelate asserted: ‘the world had not received so great a benefit since the Incarnation’.

Shortly afterwards another event took place in Rome. Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, invaded the Papal States. The pope felt unsafe in Rome that he decided to flee. Eugene left the city on the night of 4 June 1434, disguised as a Benedictine and accompanied by only one faithful servant. After a very dangerous journey the pope reached Florence and had established himself there. Several cardinals rallied around him in Florence and the republic assured him of her protection, Eugene then ordered the closure of the council of Basle, which was now a state of utter chaos and had been abandoned by the legate, and summoned a new council at Ferrara.

The council of Ferrara was also intended for the reunion of the Greeks and has tern churches. The emperor with the patriarch and others arrived in Ferrara. But an epidemic raging in the neighbourhood of Ferrara forced to the council to adjourn to Florence. After much discussion the East and the West, in June 1439, agreed to a solemn declaration which proclaimed “the Roman pontiff to be the authentic successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, the vicar of Christ, Father and Doctor of all Christians”. The act of union was signed a month later.

Meanwhile the atmosphere at Basle was becoming both ponderous and frenzied. There was an antipapal campaign under the direction of a fanatic, cardinal Louis Aleman. The men of Basle consummated the rupture with Rome by electing an antipope the person of a layman, prince Amadeus of Savoy. He took the name Felix V. (He wass a widower and father of nine children).

On 18 September 1437 Eugene-transferred the council to Ferrara which was opened in January 1438. The Greeks arrived at Ferrara at the beginning of March. In June began the theolo­gical discussions. The forms of the discussions were quite varied. There were few general sessions; for the most part the work is done in committee discussions, in which prepared cedulae were debated by experts of both groups, often in a very sharp fashion. Joseph II, patriarch of Constantinople, was favourable to union but he died before the publication of the union decree at Florence.

Because of an alleged danger of pestilence, but really for financial reasons, the synod was transferred to Florence in January 1439. The expenses of the conciliar meetings were a burden on the curia. After long and fruitful discussions, con­versations between emperor and pope, and repeated threats of departure by the Greeks, there finally took place on 6 July 1439 the promulgation of in both languages and signing of theunion decree “Laetentur coeli”. Soon after the Greeks left, and on the very return voyage many of these among them who had taken part in the council withdrew their consent. The union was scarcely acknowledged in the East, even though other smaller groups of Oriental Christians – Armenians, Copts, Syrians, Chaldeans, and Maronites – reached an understanding with the curia. On pope its return to home in 1443 the council was transferred to the Lateran; it quickly declined in importance^ and was never officially con­cluded.

The points of theological controversy:

–          Filioque

–          Purgatory

–          the matter arid form of the Eucharist

–          the interpretation of the papal primacy

The doctrine of purgatory was discussed at Ferrara and Florence and stated: the souls in question had to undergo a cleaning penalty after death.

For the Greeks Filioque was the most important and really decisive point. The debate began at Ferrara in September and were prolonged until December without success. Then they were resumed in Florence at the beginning of March 1439 and were concluded in June, the Greeks argued that according to the decree of Ephesus the creed was not to be altered by additions. There were long and bitter discussions; no solution came out, but produced an axiom – “between the Western and Eastern Fathers if here can be no contradiction since they are all illumined by the Holy Spirit. In the decree of union the accord and the per­missibility of the accepting of the Filioque into the creed were defined with many words but it was not said who could law­fully make such an addition, and the Greeks were not obliged to insert the Western addition.

On the Eucharist they agreed to the essentials and recognized unleavened and leavened breed as the matter but there was no decision relevant to the form, that is, to the words of consecration and the epiclesis.

There was also heated discussions on the papal primacy. The Greeks regarded as the highest tribunal in the constitution of the church the pentarchy. They were fully prepared to concede to Rome the privileges he had enjoyed before the outbreak of the schism. There could no question of a primacy of jurisdiction. But in barely three weeks the Greeks were compelled to yield on a broad front.

 On political ground the emperor and the pope needed union. The emperor wanted the military assistance of the West in exchange for the slightest possible dogmatic concessions; the pope wanted aid against Basel arid hence demanded recognition of the primacy. Finally a satisfactory accord was reached and on 6 July 1439 the reunion of the churches was solemnly proclaimed. Pat. Joseph II of Constantinople, Bishop Bessrion of Nicea, and Isidore of Kiev sincerely laboured for reunion – pope Eugene even promoted the two latter to the rank of cardinal – but the motives of other Greeks were dubious. The factious Greek, popula­tion repudiated the work of their hierarchy. Constantinople fell in 1483 to the Turks.

Pope Eugene died on 23 February 1447. His successor was Nicholas V (1447-1455).

Renaissance and

Renaissance is a return to the study of classical literature and a rediscovery of Gracco-Roman art. As a result of this new phenomenon all Italy was enveloped in a golden hate of luxury and glory, of creative passion and sheer beauty. Renaissance man’s interests centered on the present rather than on the next world.

Michelet (History of France – 1&55) was the first to use theword to designate a chapter in the history of civilization. This was a break, a sudden change. It is said that after the sepulchral| darkness of the Middle Ages humanity broke from the tomb and underwent a glorious revival. This is an attractive picture, but not the complete picture. This brilliant scene contains great areas of shadow. It is also noted for its abject sins, depravities and violence. Horror mingled so intimately with beauty that it eventually came to seem perfectly natural. The very same people who embellished the churches became murderers, buried people alive and kept their enemies’ heads in urns and pickled in salt. The intrigue, debauchery, poisoning and incest were taking place on the fringes of the Holy See itself. This epoch, bore much prolific fruits simply because it was both voluptous and delicate and terrible, scholarly and barbarian. This period was abounded in unusual people. The renaissance period is also traditionally associated with a number “of inventions and discoveries: Gutenburg press, Mavigattiirs – Henry the navigator, Christopher Columbus, Bartholomew iat, Vasco da Gama etc. for their geographical discoveries.

The Renaissance was, substantially as well as chronologi­cally, an Italian srigia phenomenon. The movement was born in the Italian peninsula, and received its most powerful impulse from there. While the reminder of the West was still the scene of the death struggle of medieval civilization, a new culture had already come into Deing at Florence, Siena, Venice and Rome. There is a striking time lag between the Italian Renaissance and the phenomenaHa similarly named in France and Germany. West of the Alps men were thinking and building in G-othig while Brunelleschi was designing the cupola of Florence cathedral; on the banks of Loire and the Seine artists and writers were only Just starting to develop their kind of classicism, at a time whti, those wi on the Arno and the Tiber werealready well committed to baroque.

Why Italy assumed the leadership of the Western civilization? Because iff or two hundred years Italy experienced one^ of these upsurges of creative vigour, one of those prolific developments of_genius and talent which can be observed in Periclean Athens, twelth century France or the age of Louis XIV. The whole social political situation in Italy conditinoed a psychological and moral climate in which a number of j^owerf ul personalities were indeed enabled to assert themselves» This climate and the decadence and disintegrattjon during the final one hundred and fifty years of Middle Ages caused the emergence of this new state of mind: philosophy tended towards emancipation; the human personality grew tired of the moral and social ruJt^lTto which it was subject, and basic disciplines cnumbled;/the very meaning of life itself seemed about to be called in question.

The popes of early Renaissance


Micholas V (1447-1115).

In 145CKHlcholas celebrated the Jubilee year. Rome wjs over­crowded with pilgrims. On one occasion an enormous crusk on the bridge of Sant’angelo resulted in two or three hundred pilgrims being thrown into the Tiber, fie canonoiy.ed St. £ernardino_of Siena, a great preacher and Franciscan. Nicholas was a theologian . and skilled in fireelc Me played an important role in the reunion council of 143f. Sis short pontificate is immortal by his patronage to scholars and artists. Ie placed papacy in better position. France returned to the bosom of the church. Emperor Frede­rick mIII came to Rome to celebrate his marriage to Eleanor of Portugal and his coronation. Piccolomini observed: ‘It usedjto be the emperor_ who chose the pope, but riowthe pope is master’. In Germany a Concordat (of Vienna) wag signed in 144i which became a model of the agreements between the papacy and the_states. The right of the Holy See was recognised; but the electiqn_j>f the bishops was permitted to the secular authority, thepapacy__merely reserving’it self the right to sanction the choice. %elii V (f abdicated and he was admitted to the college of tfardinals.

le summoned artists to Some and transformed the face of the eternal city. The papal__city was surrounded by impregnable walls and the finest painters in Europe under Fra Angelico covered them with masterpieces. Se was also a patron of literature. ordered the scho’lars to translate liomer, Plato Aristotle etc.

e started the collection f__jjre_cious manuscripts and rare books whjch were to constitute the Vatican library, fie sent numerous messengers far and wide to obtain the copies of the precious books. At his death the Vat. library boasted nearly fifteen hundred books of which eight hundred and eighty were Latin manu­scripts. The money received during the Jubilee year was mostly spent for this purpose.

Nicholas had two tragic worrings. There was a plot under tefano rorcaro, once a close friend to the pope, to set fire to the Vatican during the High Mass and arresting, the pope. The plan was discovered and Porcaro was hanged. A fow months later in. Pfay 1455__Goristantinople |3ilirrto_jbhe_ hands of the Turks. Nicholas was greatly hindered in the last year of his pontificate by a chronic illness. With him died thefirst Renaissance pope, but he was a Renaissance pope in the best senee.

Calixtus III U45S-145S).

Nicholas died during the night of 24-25 March 1455. The next conclave was overshadowed by the rivalry of £ollonna and Orsini families, but it could be held in the Vatican. The 77 year Cardinal Alfonso Borgia was elected; he called himself Galixtus__LII. He was an eminentjurist and had contributed decisively to the settling of the Western schism, fie became cardinal in 1444.

‘i’he chief dtaty _activity of the pope was devoted to the crusade. jj>ut it was not successful. He favoured nepotism T made two nephews cardinals

Pius II U 458-1464)

On 1cj August 1458 Aeneas oilvius Piccoloraini, cardinal of Sinna was elected’pope who took the name Pius II. In an election capitulation he had sworn: to continue the Turkish war and the reform of the Roman curia; There followed decrees on the share of the_cardinals in important ecclesiastical measures and in the iaiifill ing of the higher benefices, a sort of coregency in the administration of the gapal state, and an adequate maintaining and observing of the Constance decrees on the namii-g of   J new cardinals. Once a year the college was to meet and to examine whether the pope had observed the election capitulation and if necessary to admonish him, iefore the proclamation of the election the newly chosen pope had to confirm the election capitulation and later have a bull issued on this matter. All of this Pius did.

Pius was a humanist and had connections with all the great intellectuals of the age. Jie invited raaay of his own stamp to the Vatican, but unlike Nicholas, never reposed excessive con-fidence in any of them, lie encouraged artssts. fie also continued his li t e rary endeavours . When he was reminded that his early writings were not exemplary, he answered the courageously, repudiating the sins of his youth: ‘Aeneam rejicite, Pium ac^ipite ‘

?ius sought_td> revive _^jjg_J^ga Q? a crusade to unite the whole of chris tend om^against the Turks, fie appealed for a crusade in October 1463 and appointed Ancona. as the placje_of gathering in the next summer. Despite his poor health he said that he would take part, fiis appeal found a response among the lower classes throughout .e-urope. They set out for Ancona in bers but soon had tm turn There was response from the princes. On 1& June 1464 the seriously ill pope left Rome and with many cardinals and curialists, made his way to Anconas To his great disappointicent he found there only a few crusaders and eagerly awaited the arrival of the Venetian galleys. As they came in sight he died on 14 August’and the great enterprise was ruined.

The so-called letter of Pius to Mohammed II ia an extremely important document for an explanation of the personality__of liusll.  fie is regarded as_a reform pope. Right after his ele­ction he began comprehe_ngiy_e_prepa.rations for general reform and f orthe jref orrn__of the Romancuria. He worked hard on the drawing up of a greet reform bull, but he could not^promulgate in his_ i lifetime. As pope he did not defend the conciliar theory, but defended 1KB his prmatial prerogative^. To safeguard his position he was forced to admit several relatives to the college of card_-irials and to confide important posts to Sienese fellow countrymen.

Paul II (1464-1471)

The j^yenetiancarditial Feter B^rbo wa.s elected as Pope Paul II. The election was ded by a capitulation with more detailed regulations. J-ts content/Ls as follows: c on t inua t ion._of Turkish war and use of jtiie__^reat alum mines discovered near Tolfa under Pius II for the expenses of the crusade, reform__of thg_ curia within three months of the assumption of the papacy and continuation of reform, keeping the chanceryfees in line with the prescriptions of the chancery rules j^f instead ofmoving about.from palce  to

place, no-nomination of cardinals because ‘of requests from outside| respect the number qf_24 cardiriajjg as laid down at Constance, observance of other decrees of Constance, the summoning of a council within the next three years, the paying of 100 florins monthly to the cardinals who did not have an annual income of 4000 florins, filling of the higher benefices only in consistory the granting of presentations or nominations to benefices only with the consent of a majority of the Sacred College, the pro­secuting of the cardinals only with the consent of a majority, obligatory consultation in regard to enfeoffments in the papal state, renunciation of the exercise of jus spolii at the deaths of the cardinals, express consent of the college for military enterprises, no changing of the amount of taxes and no deals with the princes on the taxation of tne clergy, the taking of an oath by officials of the papal state to relinquish their posts sede vacante, and the prohibiting of relatives of the pope from governing atrongholds in the papal state: Civitavecchia, Tivoli, Kami, Spoleto, Soriano, Viterbo, itoccocontrada, and Fano. Jjo bull contradicting these regulations was to be drawn up. These chapters were to be read in the first consistory of every month and the cardinals were to investigate twice a year how they were being observed. After the election the pope declined to acknojtf-ledge the election capitulation.

Paul II had been admitted to the college by his uncle, Eugene IV, when he was 23 and was still lacking in personal merit, fie tried to get his way by force and hence was feared rather than loved.On the other hand he exerted himself to win people by splendid entertainments. As a cardinal he had used his immense wealth to constuct the huge Palag.zo Vener.ia and planned great collections, fie issued a ^eries_of practical rules and for the administration of andcare of Kome and the papal state.

In 1470 the pope issued a new summons to the crusade aga_inst the_Turjcs and sent invitations-to a congress at Eome. But it was not heard. The pope died in July 1471 at the age of fifty-three.

Sixtus IV iU71-14>4).

After the conclave of three days, Francis della Rovere, a Franciscan and mutstanding theologian, wss elected asypope Sixtus IV, on 9 April 1471. With him the high Renaissance had begun. &c favoured nepotism; he made two of his nephews cardi­nals, one later became as pope Julius II, the other was very notorious and/was dead within three years. The thirty.four card­inals – six pf’__them_jwe•re__his__nepheiws.-* were for the most part hardly worthy men.

with thejhajiie of Sixtus IV is foreever connected the t r an s fo rina $ ion of mediaeval Rome into a Renaissance city. This includes the 2£w__j3^rjej2te, the ponteSisto over Tiber, the churches of Sr;nta Maria del Fopolo, Santa Maria della Pace, the new hospital of Santo Spirito, numerous palaces of cardinals and other high prelates, and especially the great new palace chapel in the Vatican, the Sistine chapel. The pope’s bronze monui^nt now in the crypts under Sairt Peter’s is one of the finest o* papal graves.

When the Turks reached Italy the pope managed to i^nd out a fleet to expel the Moslems. In 147& a terrible trn4/^7 shocked the whole Italy. Giulio de wedici was assainated in the cathedral of Ilorencc during the High Mass, his brother Lorenzp escaped and having established himself in power, butchered every conspi-ratofc together with their friends. It very soon became known that a nephew of the pope had organized the plot and that the pope himself was aware of it.

The stressing of the personal goodness and piety of Sixtus IV cannot prevent our seeing in him the one who upset _the Italian balance of power by his unfortunate politicaljgnterpri-ses. And he be;.-rs the chief guilt for the further progress of the Roman curia into unbridled nepotism and worldliness.

Innocence VIII (14*4-1492)


The death, of Sixtus was followed in Rome by a storm against the”Grenoesey who, so the Romans and the inhabitans of the papal state thought, had occupied all the good positions under the Ligurian Pope (Sixtus). There was_ln security, unre st , the plu-and street fighting. The conclave started on 26 August 14*4. Twenty-five cardinals took part, and they were split into two f actions. On 29^!ajrdinal John Baptist Cibo, bishop of Mol-fetta, was elected as Innocent VIII. fie was a creation°cardinal Julius ^novere . Before his election, Innocent agreed to grant the cardinals whatever they might ask. It can be regarded as bribery and simony . He also was known to have two natural chil-j|r e n . One of them Franceschetto married Maddalena, daughter of Lawrence de’ Medici, which brought about temporary reconciliation with Florence. Because of the opposition of the Maples in 14§9, the pope imposed ecclesiast ijg_al censures on tne king and his territory. Only shortly before the deaH;h of the pope peace with fiaples was reached. in 1492.

Innocent was highly influenced by Julian delle Rovere. Vatican administration was increasingly controlled byonworthy men. The sacred college was filled wih__w^r]^ly cardinals. Among them was a thirteen year old boy G-iovanni de’Medici, who hed received the purple in token of the Pope’s gratitude to his father, Lawrence. In 1490 there was a move for crusadg_^.£aini the Turks, butjwas_without results^ innocent’s reign was almost constantly filled with disturbances in Rome. On the whole it was an unfortunate and we^kponti.f_icate_ in an age whlch._n_eeded^_£i strong, reform mindedpersonality.

Alexander VI (1492-1303)

(The temptation of the Flesh: Alexander VI, Borgia i*enri-Daniel Rops,The’ Prpt.Kef .p.300.) Alexander VI was born around 1430 at Jativa near Valencia.! He studied at Bologna. When his uncle had become pope Galixtus II” h» was admitted to the sacred college and became the vice chancellor of the Roman Ohurch. He was the richest cardinal of his time next to the French cardinal d’Estouteville. In the years 1462-1471 were born to him Peter Louis, Jjeronina and Isabella the names of whose mothers have not come down to us. Best known are those born of his liaison with Cottaneis, Cj^e sar , ,. , , John,. Geoffery and Lucre tia. They alter his election to the papacy, were at once provided for in the mariner of princes and claimed an excessive share of pope’s interests. John, born in 1476, became ,after the early death of Peter Louis, Duke of Gandia in Spain and then was given the honorary posts in Rome, made captain general of the pap&l sia±ss troops in the stuggle against the Orsini. He was assasinated in 1497. Suspicion was directed against Cardinal Ascanasus Sforza, the Orsini, and later even Caesar .Borgia.

Caesar’s influence on the pope was pernicious. He was richly endowed with benefices under Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII. After his father’s election as pope he obtained at theageof_1_t several bishoprics, including the wealthy see of Valencia, and in 1493 he was made cardinal. On the death of his brother John he resigned the cardinalate. He then became the duke of Valen-tinois and married a French princess, and was given the title of the duke of Komagna. The opoe’ s death caused his star to fade rapidly and died in 1507.

Lucretia_was corn in 14*0 and was favourite. In 1493 she was married to the Count of Pesaro I3frza family), but w^s declared null because 01 the husband’s alleged impotence in 1497. Then she married Alfonso, the duke of Msceglie. In 1500 he was murdered by Caesar’s minions iri the Vatican palace during the Holy Year 1500. In 1501 was her third marriage to Alfonso d’iiste of ierrara. Lihe died in 1510.

Geoffrey was born in 14*2. In 1494 he married Sancia of Aragon, a bastard daughter of Alfonso II of iiaples and became prince of Squillace. —e died in 1517.

Pope Alexander’s relationship^with Julia Farnese, sister of cardinal Alexander Farnese(Paul III) is debated. As cardinal he blessed her marriage. The two boys born during Alexander’s pontificate, ‘(John, the infans Komanus, in 1498 and liodr_i£O in 1503, very prooably had the pope for their fatherT open question, lackes clarity.

If the administration of the papal state was regarded as standard for evaluating a pontificate – it was so – Alexander’s pontificate was shrewd and important. Me could preserve the balance of power and react very sensitive&y to outside inter-ference. There were difficulties in the papal state caused by the quarrels of petty lords and the rivalries of the Roman families, Colonna, Orsini, Savelli. ^uite often th>. pope had to seek shelter in iaant’ Ang-“O o, and to proceed with sever? eccle-siatical.penalties against the disturbers of peace. In all th*ce he conformed to the style other princely courts.

Alexander VI and Savanarola

Jerome Savonarola was born in Ferrara in 1452, entered the Dominican Order at 23, an exemplary novice, a brilliant scholar, most rigorous in fasting and asceticism. In the beginning he confined to teaching and then began to preach. He became convin­ced that ha Christ had chosen him to be the_repositor3r of_fiis divine^me_s_sage. He said in a prophetical tone: The church will b eref_orme_d, but Italy will first be sgourged, and her chastise­ment ia imminent!”.

Savonarola was made the prior of Sanjfereo, Florence. At that time the monastery’s numbers rose to over 200. His sermons attracted huge crowds, fie h«d inherited the very fire and style from the OT prophets, fie claimed a supernatural power and was convinced that he had been invested with the giftof_T)rojihe_cy. iie spoke of his extraordinary ecstacies and of the apparition of Christ and Bl.Virgin Mary to him. The theme of his sermon: “the bride of Christ was tainted with sin and must be purified, she nust regain her faith. Alexander V.I on Peter’s throne must be the abomination’of desolation fortold by the scriptures.

The political involvement of Savonarola slowly made him unpopular. &e played a direct part in overthrowing the rule of Pietro de’Medici and in establishing a new democratic situation by a council elected by the middle class. He then imposed a dictatorship upon Florence.

fiis clash with the pope had political rather than theologi­cal cuuses, namely his support of the refusal by the Florentine Signoria to join the great Italian league against France. For the king of France was intended, in ajtotal misunderstanding of reality, the task of reforming the church arid curia by the con­voking of a general council and of replacing Alexander by a. more worthy pope. After long and patient waiting the curi?-* tqgk action by excommunicating Savonarola and threatening Florence with interdict, ^e disregarded the eccl. censure, fte was impri­soned, tortured, tried by eccl. court and hadcitaeen condemned as H a heretic.He was executed (in May 1491. respite all the evil, Alexander VI did splendid things in   , the gxternal eccl. sphere. The Jubilee year 1500 was celebrated with many eccl. rites in which he usually took part. The «ssasi- | nation of his son John, the collapsing d>£ the ceiling in the Vatican palace during a severe storin persuaded him to take up reform of the church, fte appointed a reform comnisioRof worthy and learned cardinals and competent theologians. It worked hard and drew up an admirable program for reform of head and members also but the reform bull that was ^prepared was never issued . encouraged expeditions and discoveries.

Alexander died in August 1 303 following a severe fever. there is a rumour that a mix-up in a poisoned drink destined for the host at a garden party is said to have resulted in the Pope’s death.

The e.i33aD6aac climax__in__ the remarkable personality of Alexander VI» for &vil practices that had been hitherto customary were now present in abundance and were toler-  f ated Dy the cardinals: a failure to observe^celibacy evgn_fey as  J pope, dissolution of marriages from purely polj/tijiaJL_it’Otives^. granting of high eccl. office, including the cardinalate, in return for considerable sums, extremes of nepotism in the pro-viding for children/ to the detriment of the papal state, the administering of the apostolic palace by the pope*s_^ajj^?hjte_rlju-cretin, who was also regent of Spoleto for_a_jrear – and yet Rod-  j rigo Borgia refused to be bk&sx&s outdone by anyone in the firm-  t ness of his faith.

Pius III (1503)

The unexpecjted_death of Alexander VI caused much cofusion in Rome and tlie papalistate. Caeaar Borgia, though ill, exerci­sed great influence, ^e was induced to leave Rome and the concl­ave started on 16 September. The election capitulation of 1484 was adopted with the express injunction that a general council had to be convoked within two 3*ears, and then one was to meet every five years, especially for the reform of the church. The two candidates, Julian della fiovere and George d’Araboise (Fr.) could not get the required number of votes. So .Pius IISs nephew Fra.ncis__Too.estchirii-i’iccQlomini, who was seriously ill, was elected as a caretaker pope. Mis pontificate lasted only 26 days. Contemporaries and posterity regarded his pontificate as a great misfortune, since the convoking of a general council and serious reform could have been expected from him.

otf_Raphael__in the stansa of Vatican palace are great. Julius spoke of his plans: 1 should like to see the_JJoroan poritiflLjthe one and the only permanent .master of Italy, ou^__c_graTon_jao_ther, but I am distressed to think that time may prevent me froc bringning my schemes to fruition, No 1 shall not be bble to do for Italy all that iny heart desires. Ah, if only I_were twenty years younger.  This was his and his predecessors dream. Jie strove to give it reality in a few years at his disposal. Though not all agree, Pastor styles Julius II as the saviour’ oftne papacy. It is true if pa pace’s tusks lies in politics, but it should lie in an intellectual and spiritual ministry that follows_the example of Christ.


Leo X (1313-1521)

‘^he__temptation_of_art’ Julius II left a conflicting legacy: on the one hand a cosolidating papal state and a considerable treasure in the Pastel oant’Angelo; on the other, the_enemity of France and ecclesiastical opposition; besides a demand for reform from all sides.

25 cardinals took part in the election which began dir 4 March 1513,; As customary an election capitulation w&s first decided and swo rn to by all cardinals. On 11 Karen the 37 year old John de’Medici was elected. Me was sick and was carried into Conclave and at once he had to undergo an operation. £is illness made easier to get the assent of the old cardinals. His zealous secretary also worked hardfor it. fie had great political experience as ruler of Florence.

i»eo was from Florence, son of Lawrence il Magnifico. Me received tonsure at/the age of seven, soon obtained a series of lucrative benefices, including the abbey of Kontecassino. At thirteen he was secretly named cardinal by Innocent VIII« and in his seventeenth yearhe entered the sacred college.

Protestant Reformation

Reformation was not the work of one man – Martin Luther. It did not first begin with the 95 theses on 31 Oct. 151 7. Causes far reformation. Qy Devotio moderna^ the modern way of serving God, a spiri­tual revival within the catholic church, which strongly empha­sized both personal devotion and social involvement especially in education. It began in the late 14th cent.

Its sower was Geert Groote (1340-1384) from Holland . After a luxurious life he changed his life with a total commitment to Christ in 1374. Then he devoted himself to practical piety in the service of God and man. le Joined the Carthusians. After three years in 1379 he left the order and undertook a mission of preaching, le had an_ exalted view of the priesthood and never advanced beyond the rank^of deacon, lie licence to preach wa» revoked in 1383 because of his sharp criticism against the clerical abuses. He gathered a community ofjleyout women in his house to live the common life together without taking the vows of a convent. Ruysbroeck(l 293-1 38f) ana Radewijns (1350-1400) were associated with him.

Later a community of men – Brethren of the Common life  was formed . They have^observe the threefold rule of poverty, chas and obedi1eiice> but bound by no formal vow. In 1387 a house was founded at Windesheim. Here they became the Augustinian

canons and their constitutions were apporoved by pope Boniface IX in 1395. A few years later they formed the Congregation of Windesheim. They devoted to education and printing. They set up communities in Germany and Switzerland. Nicholas Cusa, Eramas were the members of this community.

Thomas a Kempis (Thomas Haemerken) 1380-1471 , was the man who best sums up the faith of the devotio moderna. His imitation of Christ is the choicest  evot_ional_handbook of the Middle Ages . In 1406 he became an Augustinian canon.

Imitation of Christ: 4 parts

1. some thoughts to help with the spiritual life.

2. -some advice on the inner life.

3. provides ‘spiritual comfort1.

4. a reverent recommendation to Holy communion. It was first printed in 1471 at Augsburg and has appeared in thousands of editions.

Imitation of Christ fiias influenced the lives of millions because it is searching, scriptural and utterly centred on Christ.

Devotion Moderna conditioned Many hearts and mindseto receive the teaching of the Reformers. No great revolution happens with­out rumblings and warnings. Luther had his heralds and prophets; before him came many lesser Luthers. Four of them deserve mention because their writings either anticipated the Reformer or helped i* form his views.

1. Meister Bckhart (1260-1327), a ^erman Dominican mystic. His teaching was condemned after his death.

2. Johann_Tauler (1300-136$), German Dominican mystic, poerful preacher, in the presence pf_God.

3. John of Wesel (140C-1481, German, rejected many of the distinctive doctrines and practices of the medieval catholic church, declared that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority in matters of faith. He wrote against indulgencesin 1475, was tried by the Inquisition in 1479 and condemned to a lifetime’s confinement in the Augustinian monastery at Mains.

4. Wessel Gransfort (1419-1489), Duthh theologian, wrote against indulgences.

5. Erasmus of Rotterdaai (1467-1536), greatest humanist, made reformation almost inevitable, he laid the egg which Luther Jiatc-hed. He became an Augustinian canon in 1487, priest in 1492, left monastery, went to Paris in 1495, among the humanists, then to England 1499-1500. Back to Holland he published a series of best selling satires^which ridiculed monasticism and scholasti-cism.

^) The medieval system of pilgrimage and relics. Reformation had no intention of a division. Its aim was the reform of the one Chmrch, common to all. The causes must not be restricted to so-called abuses and bad popes. Reformation means an adaptation to new circumstances and an awakening of self to the needs of the hour, not merely a return to the original and the removal of abuses.

(2) pglitical^ involvement of the popes and ecclesiastics^, authority. This led to to the rejection of religious guidance along with its political leadership.

– Boniface VTII’s theory – He replaced the traditional two powers theory.

– The Avignon papacy and popes‘ far reaching dependence.

on Trance, the interests of the universal church were no longer be considered.

The Great schism destroyed the unity of the Church.

– Coneiliarism – only escape from the damnable trinity of popes.

– Concordates after Constance – the fate of the church had been handed entirely to secular powers. Its result was the territorial Church – dependence of the church on the secular power.

– Popes became more and more princes among the princes.

ffiClericalism of the Middle Ages.

monopoply of education by clerics privileges of the clerical state.

– German idea: The church had to transmit not only the revelation of Christ but also the cultural treasures of antiquity. The church nad to distinguish between the treasures of faith and culture. A peaceful change is required, but the laity strived for independence and the church claimed outdated idea , i.e. the world had to extort its autonomy. This led to the protest of secularisation against the church under the standards of sub­jectivism, nationalism and laicism.

-^.   (g)The traditional attitude of the church created an anti-clerical, anti-loman and^ ant-scholastic atmosphgre

(jAAbuses among clergy and people Immediate cause, esp. examples of bad popes.

– The reign of Leo X was more gangerous his schoking negligence irresponsible frivolity prodigal j love of pleasure

unawareness of his duty and of responsiblity of the supreme shepherd.

His installation was a great festive display, a grand exhibition of the pope and his court. On a great placard could be read: ‘Once Venus reigned (Al«x.VI)» then Mars (Julius II) and now Pallas Athens takes the scepter1.

“Depravity has become so taken for granted that those soiled by it no longer notice the stench of sin”

‘Adrian VI)

(7) Situajtion_of__thejclergy was n© better clerical concubinage scandalous life negligence

– Tjie_church_apj)eared as the property of the_jcJLei;gy__tQ bging” econojaaic a^vantg-ge jjid profit. Its result: several bisho­prics or other pastoral offices could be united in one person. It was detririental to the care of souls. Eg.     ? C_aL_rdin_a_l_Al e xand e r farnese, grandson of Paul III possessed* 10 episcopal sees, 26 monasteries and 133 other benefices.

– In Cermany episcopal sees and abbacies open to nobility/only

– Most pasters were naaed by secular patrons.

– No religious spirit and zeal for the care of souls.

– Worldly papal court.

® great_jexpense of^ war  for_aione^ that j.ed to the trade of indulgence.

The Jjgrmari grieYances_aga.inst ^apacj, 1455 by Dietrich VonTErbach, abp. of Mainz.

To the chritian nobility of the German nations, by Martin Luther.

call for_ reform and _ oppogitiejLJfeg “th® church . Precisely waat were the strong and weak points of _the_church as it entered the era of reformation? To what extent was the external religious activity a facade or reality? – veneration of saints, pilgrimage, procession etc are they genuine? Was the external practice_ba,aed on a sound theological doctrine? ^ Those who attacked the church thought that they are still in the Church, eg. Martin Luther.

During the great schism people were unable to ascertain the true pope. And__they even accustomed to getting along without a pope.

Lateran_y (1512-17) had only meager effectiveness with regard t® reform. Because “theory and practice were__in j3uch_ glaring contradiction^1 . eg. In 1514 together with the papal bull on the reform of the church read at the 9th session thece was sent t© -archbishop” of Magdebarg and Mainz the curia’s offer, which pro­vided the immediate occasion for the reformation, for a fee of 10,000 ducates the archbishop would be allowed to hold the two sees simultaneously, and for the financial* of the fee* half of the indulgence offerings for St. Peter’s would be made over to__him.

– The far_reaiching deterioration^^ religious amd moral strentt

– The want of precision in centralquestions of faith.

– the so many lost opportunities foV- reform.

Martin Luther.

Reformation depended to a great extent on Martin Luther himseli Lorte characterizes him as ” sea of energies, of impuls_es__and perceptions and experiences” . On one side Luther was_the_jiero of faith , on the other the arch-heretic , the destroyer of Church^s_unity;. He was born at Bisleben on 1 0 _Noy ._ 1 483 • His father : Hans Luther, a miner. He had a harsh upbringing at home and at school. He says: “from childhood I was so trainedjtha^t I could not but turn pale and__becQmejterrified if I merely heaotd the_naae_ of Christ mentioned, for I was_jtaught only to regard him sis a stern and angry judge” . ‘

1 501 – entered the university of Erfurt

1 502 – Bach&lor of arts

1505 Masterof arts, at his fathers wish he began to study law.

1505 July 2 – lightening-striking, thrown to the ground and he cried out: ” Saint Anne, help me and I will become a monk”.

1505 July 17 – e_ntjBreji_Augustinian Monastery.

1506 Sept. – profession

1507 April 3 – Qrdination to priesthood^ anxiety during the first mass, ertte||£t_jLQ_f_lee from the altar. He was taught: “to expect forgiveness of sins and salvation through our works”.

1508 – lecturer at Wittenburg university.

1510 – visit to Rome. The main purpose of my journey to Rome was to fulfill my desire of making a complete -confess ion from my youth and to become devout. He was disapp­ointed , he found uneducated and unsympathetic confessors

– became doctor of theology, began to teach Bible.

– after a long spiritual crisis he finally came to under­stand the nature of the righteousness of God. He reje­cted all theology based solely on tradition and empha­sized personal understanding and experience of God’s Word.He oelieved that all our action^ stem from God. We are justified nflit by our deeds, but by faith alone. October 31. posted 95 theses on the door of the cathedral of Wittenburg.

December – The archbishop of Mains complained to Rome about Luther. Luther refused to come to Rome. July- during a disputation with Eck, K Luther denied the supremacy of poEg__a.nd. the infallibility of general councils,,. He_burned_ the papa.l_bull which threatened his 1521 January 3 – Luther was excommunicated.

Medieval Church History

Medieval Church History

Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel


1 The papacy‘s alienation from Byzantium and rapprochement with the Franks.

 1)      Christendom at the beginning of the Eighth century

Eugen Ewig says: “Dark clouds hung over the Christian world as the seventh century gave way to the eighth”. The reasons are the following:

 i) The loss of the two ancient and highly civilized Christian lands, Africa and Spain to Islam. Carthage fell in 658 and by the first years of the eighth century Africa withdrew from the Christian cultural community. What was left of the Chri­stian minority grew smaller and lost all historical significance.

By the second decade of the eighth century the Muslims conquered Spain. It was mainly the work of Musa, Muslim governor of Africa, The church continued to exist in Muslim Spain, but more and more lost contact with free Christendom.

The Arabs assaulted the walls of Constantinople in 717 and 718, but emperor Leo III defended the city and became the saviour of Christendom. In 733 Charles Mertel brought the Arabs’ advance to an end in the west also. Though the church lost Africa and Spain, central and Eastern Europe was protected from Islam.

 2. The dissociation of Rome from the ancient Empire whose Center was Constantinople. There was unity in the empire. The empire was not only a political but also a spiritual reality in which the popes lived no less than emperors, despite the conflicts constantly breaking out since the Henotikon of 482. These conflicts were chiefly religious and ecclesiastical in nature, even though an Italian-Greek opposition was distinct in them. The popes became Italy’s spokesman, but at the same time they spoke for a religious and ecclesiastical group, which still saw the empire as a unity. It should not cause surprise that Greek and oriental influence reached its zenith at Rome with the restoration of peace in the church in 681. Of the 13 popes between 678 and 752, 11 were Sicilians, Greeks, or Syrians. Under eastern influence the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and the four great Marian feasts, Purification, Annunciation, Assumption, and Birthday, were introduced in Rome; they are 2 first attested under pope Sergius I (687-701). The monasteria diaconiae, founded in sixth and seventh centuries, displayed Greek and oriental liturgical practices. They gathered around the ancient palatium of the emperors, which had become the Roman residence of the Byzantine exarch. There were Greek colonies, churches and monasteries in Rome.

     The monasteria diaconiae’s directors played a role in the group of papal advisers, although they had not been admitted to the circle of deacons. The college of deacons, which had consti­tuted the papal council up to Gregory the Great, was nolonger the only influential body. Steaphen III (768-72) regulated the duties of the seven later cardinal bishops in the liturgical celebrations in the Roman basilicas. The number of the titular churches has been raised from 25 to 28. Thus the circle of the future cardinals became gradually more distinct in the early years of the 8th c.

      In addition to the clergy, the high bureaucracy of the indices became much more prominent in the latter part of the seventh century.

  • Those who managed the chancery
  • The head of the church’s attorneys
  • Income expenditure
  • Care of the poor and the pilgrims
  • Those directed the papal household
  • Treasury and wardrobe
  • In charge of library and archives
  • Director of city notaries

The Greek and oriental popes were loyal to the emperor, but in ecclesiastical questions they represented the Roman viewpoint. The Syrian Sergius I rejected the Quinisext council of 692, which attached ecumenical validity to such Greek customs as clerical marriage, and various details of fasting and liturgy.

3. The formation of the papal state.

          From 754 to 1870 the bishop of Rome was both the head of the universal church and secular ruler of the territory of central Italy, known as the papal state or the patrimony of St. Peter. Four factors contributed to the formation of the papal state:

      1. The Lombard wars

      2. The weakness of Byzantine Empire.

      3. Various religious disputes especially iconoclasm.

4. The alliance between the papacy and the Pranks.

Papal state: It is a term to designate the private property in the form of landed estates owned by the Church as its endowment. These estates had accumulated over centuries since Constantine’s decree on 321 permitting the church to own property. Constantine’s own generosity and the donations of the wealthy Romans built the patrimony into considerable holdings in the vicinity of Rome, in northern Italy, Dalamatia, Southern Italy and Sicily. The popes drew revenues from them for ecclesiastical administration, construction and maintenance of buildings, charity etc.

1. The Lombards wars. The invasion of the Lombards in 563had two results: 1) it disrupted the unity of Italy 2) it brought the pope to the fore as the most prominent figure in Italian affairs. When the Lombards invaded Italy, the Byzantine emperor was not in a position to defend Italy against them. He was occupied with the Persians and Muslims. At this time the Pope emerged as the man to whom all turned for leadership. Pope Gregory had made a treaty with the Lombards and through his missionary endeavors Catholicism had become the official Lombard religion as early as 650.

Pope Gregory II (715-731) was a Roman pope. During his time the Lombard king Liutprand (712-744) invaded Italy. Emperor Leo failed to defend Italy. Besides he levied heavy taxes. Rebellions broke out and the Byzantine exarch was assassinated. The new exarch Eutychius tried unsuccessfully to procure Gregory’s assassination because of the pope’s stand against the emperor’s law concerning iconoclasm and taxation. Then the exarch allied with Liutprand in 729 to capture Rome. But the king withdrew at the entreaties of Gregory. . Again the pope helped the exarch to suppress a revolt against the emperor. All these increased the papal prestige.

4. During the time of Gregory III (731-741) there was an invasion from the part of Lombards. Then he turned to Charles Martel (716-741), the king of the Franks. But Martel respectfully declined to come to the aid of the Romans because his good relations with Liutprand.

     Pope Zacharyi (741-752) improved the situation by inducing Liutprand to retire from Rome. He accepted the proposal and rest­ored the four towns and concluded a treaty promising peace for twenty years. Zachary’s intervention to protect Ravenna from the hands of the Lombards was successful. Ratchis (744-749), successor of Liutprand became a monk at Monte Cassino.

In 741 Pepin the short became the king of the Franks. Some believe that St. Boniface in his capacity as papal vicar anointed Pepin in a religious ceremony at the coronation, in 751.

   During the time of pope Stephen III (752-757) again there was invasion of the Lombards under their king Aistulf. Then he secretly contacted Pepin requesting an escort for a journey Into France. Pepin sent ambassadors to accompany the pope, but just before their departure legates from Constantinople arrived ordering pope to visit Aistulf personally to try again to win back the exarchate. It was failed. So Stephen went to Gaul and met Pepin in January 754. He was the first pope to venture over the Alps.

       Stephen was respectfully received and an agreement was signed at Quierzy. They demanded Aistulf to surrender the ands taken from the empire. Stephen bestowed on Pepin the Byzantine honorary title of Patrician and reanointed him Frankish king. He also consecrated Pepin’s sons and forbade the Franks under penalty of excommunication to recognize any king outside of Pepin’s family.

   Since Aistulf refused to relinquish his conquests, Pepin invaded Lombardy. After a short campaign the Lombard king yiel­ded and promised to restore Rave ring, and other areas, but the restoration was not to be to Byzantium but to the pope. All the events of 754 indicate that pope severed his allegiance to Constantinople and made a new alliance with the Franks.

Donation of Pepin

Aistulf did not fulfill his promises and he even advanced on Rome in January 756 and put the city under siege. At the request of the pope, Pepin overwhelmed the Lombards. This time a document was prepared repeating Pepin’ s promises at Quierzy and enumerating specific cities to be turned over by the Lombards to the pope. This charter is known as ‘Donation of Pepin ‘. Thus the ‘papal state’ did become a reality. It comprised the duchy of Rome and the exarchate of Ravenna with the Pentapolis. Officials and people took an oath to the pope, and a papal administration was set up. Abbot Fulrad visited each city and collected the keys to their gates and presented them to the pope.

    Aistulf died in 756 December. His successor Desiderius did not fulfill his promises to cede certain cities to the pope. Pope Paul I (757-767) sought help of Pepin who declined to intervene and make another expedition to Italy.

     Paul I died on 2b June 767. It was followed by a reaction on the part of the Roman military aristocracy. They grouped around Duke Toto of Nepi. Toto had his brother Constantine acclaimed as pope by his friends and dependants. On 5 July 767 Constantine mounted the throne of Peter. He was elevated under doubtful circumstances and worked zealously but vainly to_ obtain recognition by the king of the Franks. Meanwhile he was the unchallenged master of Rome for more than a year. His opponent Christopher, friend of Paul left Rome and against his promise went to the duke of Spoleto and to the king Desiderius asking their help. They entered the city and murdered Toto. Constantine interned in the monastery of San Saba was blinded by a gang. Meanwhile the Lombards declared a very old monk Philip as pope. But Christopher intervened and sent Philip back to the monastery. Both elections of Constantine and Philip were declared invalid.

    On 1 August a regular election meeting was held and the priest of Santa Cecilia, Stephen was unanimously elected Pope. On 7 August Stephen IV was consecrated bishop of Rome. Pope sent an envoy to France but they could not meet Pepin who died on 24 September 768.

Iconoclasm. = Breaking of Images.

1) The first phase of iconoclasm (730-775).

It was in the sixth and seventh centuries that icons entered on their victorious progress as cult images, which was powerfully accelerated by rampant popular credulity, legends and miracles. Numerous miraculous icons appeared, images of not made by human hands, of Mary by the painter-evangelist Luke, icons which had fallen from heaven, which bled, which resisted the enemies of the cult, which guarded cities, cured the sick, brought back the dead.

The initiator of iconoclasm was the emperor Leo III the Syrian (717-741). He was already subject to Islamic or Jewish influences and hence he was predisposed to hostility to images, and his closest advisers had been recruited from among iconoclasts. These are conjectures without any proper historical proof.

There is another opinion that the initiative lay not with the emperor but with ecclesiastical circles – the bishops of Asia Minor. Early 720s they went to Constantinople in order to induce the Patriarch Germanus to take steps against the cult of images. Germanus refused but did not attribute any particular significance to the matter. Perhaps on this occasion the bishops also called on the emperor and found a more sympathetic ear. Back in their dioceses they began to remove cult images on their own responsibility and forbid their veneration, apparently with­out encountering any great opposition. In 726 an imperial announcement was made consisting of an exhortation to the people no longer to honour icons but rather to get rid of them. Then the emperor removed the famous icon of Christ at the Chalke Gate of the palace. It followed a riot; some of the soldiers directed to remove the image were killed. The culprits were either banished or fined. Patriarch Germanus opposed the move but continued in office, despite his discreet opposition.

     On 17 January 730 the emperor published an edict against the cult of images. Germanus had to abdicate but was able to end his days in peace on an estate. Anastasius his successor supported the imperial policy. From this edict started the persecution by the iconoclasts. Many clerics, monks and devout laypersons obtained martyr’s crown. Though iconoclasm was a religious issue, it entered upon an acute and politically dangerous stage. The emperor’s intransigent attitude contributed essentially to alienate Italy from the empire, and to promote rapprochement with the Franks. Leo died in 741. Constantine v (741- 775) succeeded.

The intellectual basis for the dispute over the cult image very quickly appeared. The Syrian monk John Damascene provided the iconodules with the christological and soteriological arguments on behalf of icons. The icon theology of this period did not confine itself to reasons drawn from liturgy and morality but immediately lifted the subject to the highest dogmatic plane. It fought the war by means of arguments from the theology of creation and from Christology against Manichaeism and Monophysitism respectively. The opponents were unable to remain content with pointing to the danger of idolatry. A general council appeared as a necessity to decide the matter.

A general council met on 10 February 754at Hiereia, an imperial palace on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus. Whether the pope and the oriental patriarchs were invited is unknown. They were not represented and it constituted the argument against the ecumenicity of this synod. Metropolitan Theodore of Ephesus, one of the first champions of iconoclasm presided. There were 338 fathers, the sessions continued till 8 August. Both making and honouring of icons were condemned. Like the emperor the synod also discovered in the Eucharist alone an adequate image of Christ.

 The strong opposition to iconoclasm was from the monastic circles. There is a conjecture that the monastic world attacked the decree on economic reasons – because they ruined its lucrative icon market. Another reason may be that the monks were closer to popular devotion, more attached to icons, than were the bishops. The emperor persecuted the monks, confiscated their monasteries, transformed into barracks and enrolled the monks in the army. An imperial governor went even further, forcing monk and nuns to abandon celibacy. The monks were also tortured and banished.

The leader of the opposition was Abbot Stephen the younger of Mount Auxentius in Bithynia. He met death by being handed over to the rage of a mob. The monasteries of Bithynia were depopulated, because the monks were either in exile or in prison. Churches were wrecked or profaned, and the monastic way of life was exposed to ridicule. The monastic circles from their part proceeded with violent pamphlets against the emperor, such as, the treatise Ad Constantinum Caballinum, incorrectly attributed to John Damascene. The number of the martyrs of this period was not very great. Constantine died in 775.

The restoration of the icons

Leo IV (775-780) did not envisage any restoration of the cult of images, but he seems to have abolished his father’s excessive measures of persecution. Following his death, his widow Irene came to power for her minor son, Constantine VI. She was in favour of the images; she reopened the monasteries. Since Synod of Hiereia was regarded as ecumenical and its decrees were in force, restoration could be effected only by another council. It required the consent of the patriarch. Patriarch Paul, though not an iconoclast of any great importance, had once sworn to obey the decrees of Hiereia. Paul resigned on the ground of sickness. Irene selected a layman as the head of the church.  Tarasius was consecrated bishop of Constantinople on 25 December 784.

  In the spring of 785 Tarasius sent the Holy See the noti­fication of his elevation in the so-called synodical. The letter included a profession of faith, which contained the orthodox doctrine of the images, mentioned his demand for an ecumen­ical council and asked the pope to send two representatives. Irene also made known to the pope of her plans to convoke a council and the election of Taracius. Pope Hadrian recognized the election of Tarasius and hailed the empress’s plan for a council. He also appointed two representatives and expressly emphasized his right to confirm the decrees of the council. The Oriental patriarchs were invited but they could not parti­cipate because of the hindrance from the Islamic authorities.

The proposed council met in the church of the Apostles on 1 or 17 August 787. The imperial guards invaded the building during the very opening session and put an end to the meeting. Then the site of the council was changed to Nicea and was solemnly opened on 28 September 787. The council declared the veneration of icons to be the orthodox doctrine, condemned iconoclasm as a heresy and ordered the destruction of iconoclast writings. This veneration was sharply distinguished from real adoration. Veneration itself was justified by its relation to the person represented by the image. The moral value of the cult was properly stressed, but no distinction was made between the Cross, images of Christ and the image of the saints.

The closing session was at Constantinople on 23 October 787. Some 22 disciplinary laws were passed. Peace seen to have been restored in the Orthodox Church. But Iconoclasm was not yet dead.

Since Irene would not ct retire, Constantine VI with the help of the military and the iconoclasts made a plot against her. But it was discovered and the empress took vigorous action. She demanded of the army an oath that guaranteed her position as co ruler. In 790 the army proclaimed Constantine as so1e ruler, and Irene yielded and withdrew. But after two years she had re-established her position as co ruler. Constantine lost the support of the troops and he was so isolated himself. Then the troops sought to raise his uncles, brothers of Leo, to the throne. The attempt was suppressed in blood. Now Constantine lost the support of the troops and of his mother.

Irene forced Constantine to marry Mary the Paphlagonian. Afterwards Constantine wanted to divorce Mary and marry Theodora. The marriage was blessed by a certain priest Joseph. The patri­arch Tarasius did not impose ecclesiastical censures on the emperor but only on Joseph. The monks branded the remarriage as adultery accused the patriarch of laxity and withdrew from his communion. The emperor failed to bring the monks over to his side. In 797 Irene had her son blinded – he lived only a few more years – and assumed the government as sole ruler of the empire. Tarasius was compelled to excommunicate Joseph. Theodora was branded an adulteress and her child was disinherited.

Tarasius died in 806 and Nicephorus, another layman, succ­eeded him. Nicephorus (806-815) belonged to a family that had supplied defenders of the cult images under Constantine V. Irene died in 802 and Nicephorus I (802-811) assumed the power.

The emperor induced the patriarch to call a synod to restore Jos­eph to the communion of the church. The patriarch obeyed the imp­erial order the synod in 806 condemned the principles of the studites.

The emperor Michael (811-813) was influenced by the studities. The patriarch sent his synodical to the Pope Leo III.

The Second Phase of Iconoclasm (815-843)

Emperor Michael I (811-13) was defeated by the Bulgars and he sought refuge behind the walls of the capital. Following this event Leo V (813-820) rose to power. He made a treaty with the Bulgars in 814.

Leo V favoured iconoclasm. He ordered the patriarch to remove the icons from direct veneration by the people; hence no general destruction of images was ordered. The patriarch refused it. He said that the veneration of images was an ancient church tradition and so needed no express order in the Bible. The theological approach that was assumed held that the cult of images was permissible only if it was ordered by the Bible. The patriarch also refused to have the question again discussed by a synod or an episcopal conference. The monks joined the patriarch and swore to maintain their unity and to withstand the iconoclasts even at the cost of their lives. Leo minimized his demands; tie required the patriarch to remove from the immediate contact of the faithful the low-hanging icons in the church. Nicephorus refused to agree even to this. He was deported to Asia Minor where he resigned his office.

On 1 April 815 the emperor appointed as the new patriarch Theodotos of Kassiteras (815-821). In the same month there met at Hagia Sophia a synod, which renewed the decrees of the synod of 754, sharply criticized Nicaea and again forbade the manufacture of images of Christ and the saints. But no special declarations of submission nor even an oath to the synod was demanded; it was enough to maintain communion with the patriarch. It was ordered to remove the low-hanging images. The time the opposition was from the part of the bishops. There was persecution, and a few got martyrdom. More common penalties were flogging and banishment. Patriarch Nicephorus was exiled.

Emperor Leo V was assassinated during the Christmas festi­val of 820. He was succeeded on the throne by Michael II the Amoria (820-829). He was not a friend of the cult of icons, but, nor a persecutor of Iconodules. The exiles could return. The emperor issued athespisma ordering everyone to follow his own conscience. Meanwhile there was a revolt. Thomas a Slave by birth, had himself crowned emperor by the patriarch of Antioch, laid siege to Constantinople. In 823 it was suppressed, but the Muslim power with which Thomas had allied, had again become fully active and did serious damage to the empire.

Michael’s son, Theophilus (829-842) was a more severe persecutor of the iconodules than his father. He appointed John the Grammarian – John VII (837-843) as the patriarch. John was an iconoclast. On the instruction of the patriarch the persecution of the monks was intensified. The emperor was not consistent; his wife Theodora practised the cult of images.

When Theophilus died iconoclasm crumbled. The reasons for this collapse are _complex. i) The political failures of the emperors were thoroughly exploited against iconoclasm. In addition the iconoclasts of the second phase did not follow any strict   line, ii) certain foreign elements were sensed in iconoclasm – Jewish, Paulicians, Amorian etc. iii) the_iconodules were more united and strong and the monks had esteem of the people.

At his death Theophilus was succeeded by his three-year-old son Michael III (842-867). The direction of the regency was assumed by Theodora, a long-time devotee of icons. Patriarch John was induced to abdicate, and his place was taken by Methodius (843-847). Then in March 843 solemn synod was held which re-established the cult of icons. Thus was ended the battle on the cult of images. But iconoclasm became one of the great milestones on the road leading to the separation of the churches – not on the read of dogmatic controversy, but the road of a slow transformation and re-formation of rite and worship, leading to new emphases, to a new contrasting effects, which no longer allowed the maintaining of the ancient East-West koine in civilization and Church. The Orthodox churches today still celebrate the first Sunday in Lent each year as the feast of Orthodoxy1, to commemorate the end of the iconoclastic controversy

The iconoclastic controversy had some grave consequences.

1. Political – it strengened Bysentine Caesaro-papism. The church now became more obedient to the emperors who restored the pure doctrine to its place of honour.

2. It influenced the spiritual development of the Eastern Christianity. From century to century the Bysentine icons remain absolutely identical with one another, stiff, stylised, glowing with gold and jewelled settings. The naive spontaneity and fresh realism of Italian or Flemish paintings are not seen there.

3. It prepared the way for the great division of Christendom, the rupture of Rome and Bysantium, the Greek schism.

Theology and monasticism in the age of Iconoclasm

In the darkest moments of the religious and civil wars there were brilliant spiritual leaders in the Greek Church. Many of them spent their lives in monasteries leading the life of extreme asceticism. They believed: “the more the exterior man suffers the more the inner man blooms”. The book of John Moschus “spiritual meadow” is excellent. lt contained short profound sentences. “Brethren, pray simply that the inner man within me shall not become dropsical also”.

John Climacus -John of the Ladder- was another popular monk. In his book “the ladder of perfection” he explained in thirty steps how one could mount heavenwards, just as the angels climbed to paradise upon Jacob’s ladder, by conquering vice and practising virtue, and how the superior mystical graces could flower in the peace and calm of a soul that had been released from all human passions.

John Damascene was the champion of the cult of images. For him the image became revelation and means of grace. His work “Sources of knowledge” is a compendium of dialectics and of a compact exposition of the content of the orthodox faith.

The Age of Charles the Great (768-814)

At Pepin’s death in 768, his older son Charles obtained the Atlantic Provinces from Gascony to Frisia, the younger Carloman the central and mediterranean territories. Carloman died on 4 December 771 and his widow Gerberga fled with her two sons to the king of Lombards.

While Charles was reuniting the Frankish kingdom, at Rome Hardrian (772-795) was      chosen as pope. When the Lombards besieged Rome in the winter of 772-773, the pope decided to appeal to Charles. Charles desired a peaceful settlement and he offered the Lombard king financial compensation in return for restitution. Desiderius refused the offer. So Charles demanded an unconditional surrender from the Lombards. In September 773 he prepared for a long siege of the Lombard capital. Lombard resistance soon collapsed. At Verona Gerberga and her children fell into Charles’s hands and were sent_to a monastery, Corbie.

At the end of March 774 Charles made a pilgrimage to Rome. The pope received him with a special mark of honour proper to the king. After entering St.Peter’s and praying before the confessio Sancti Petri, the king requested permission to enter the city of Rome. After Franks and Romans had sworn oaths of security to each other before the tomb of Peter, pope and king proceeded to the Lateran, where the pope administered the sacrament of baptism. The king then went to St.Peter’s and took his lodgings not in the imperial palace, but near St.Peter’s. On Easter Sunday, Monday, Tuesday the king participated in the solemn papal liturgy.

On Easter Wednesday certain decisive political agreements were reached. The pope asked the king to implement the promise of Quierzy – a promise of donation. It was read and received Charles’s approval. His chancellor drew up a similar promise of  donation. In this the king promised to St.Peter and to his vicar besides the Dutchy of Rome, the island of Corsica the exarchate of Ravenna, the provinces of Venetia and Istria, and also the dutchies of Spoleto and Benevento. The king’s promise was depo­sited in St.Peter’s in two copies. A third was taken along by Charles when he returned to Pavia.

There was a significant change. Until the expedition of Charles, the popes had dated their charters according to the emperor’s regnal years. Now the imperial regnal years disappeared from papal documents, and the emperor’s name_and image from Roman coins. The years of the pontificate and pope’s name and replaced them. The papal state seceded from the empire, the pope became a sovereign.

 Charles assumed the title: Rex francorurn et Langobardorum atque Patricius Romanorum which expresses the constitutional structure of Charles’ expanded realm. Before his return to Frankland, he fulfilled Desiderius’s promise of restitution, but his own promission donationis. Because of trouble in Italy, a second time Charles proceeded to Italy in December 775 and remained there till July 776. He now instituted a reorganization of the Lombard kingdom along Frankish lines, but still did nothing in regard to carrying out his promissio. Hadrian waited in vain for him to visit Rome.

Hadrian was disappointed and annoyed. There were troubles in the Papal States. He finally decided on a new embassy to Charles who promised to visit him at Easter of 778. The bapti­sm of the king’s son Carloman was to take place on this visit. But the Spanish campaign rendered a new postponement necessary. In may 778 the pope tried a last time to bind the king to his promission by holding up to him the example of Constantine. With this letter the pope enclosed charters in regard to the property of the Roman church.

The so-called donation of Constantine was a goes back to ca 500. According to this Constantine the great handed over to St. Peter and his vicars, whose universal primacy he sanctioned by imperial law, the imperial palace of the Lateran, the insignia of imperial sovereignty, and Romae urbis et omnes Italicae seu occidentalium regionum provincias, loca et civitas. The Roman clergy obtained the dignities and prerogatives of the senate. The emperor transferred his residence to Byzan­tium and abandoned Rome and the West to the Roman church, quoniam, ubi principatus sacerdotum et christianae religionis caput ab iinperatore celeste constitutum est, iustum non est, ut ille imperator terrenus habeat potestatem”. The Constitution emphasized the quasi- imperial position of the pope in the West, first claimed by Hardian after 774.

At Easter, on 5 April 781 Charles visited Pope. Hadrian acted as godfather for king’s son Carloman who was baptized as Pepin; he anointed the boy as king of Italy and his younger brother Louis as king of Aquitaine. The king’s daughter Rotrudis was engaged to the young emperor Constantine VI. The frontiers of papal state were defined and it acquired its definitive shape.

The Carolingian Renaissance

The Carolingian period witnessed a significant revival of intellectual activity involving three areas of England, Frankland and central Germany. This revival in the intellectual order is known as Carolingian renaissance. Einhard saw Charles as a new Augustus, bishop Modoin of Auxerre presented him age as an age of resurrection. The Carolingian renaissance was to mark a distinctive stage in time, to establish a kind of bastion for the future on which the intellect could lean din order to wage its fight against the Barbarism of mind. It was to make Christianity, and the entire intellectual activity of the west inseparable for j centuries to come.

The centre of this renaissance was Aix-la-Chapelle in Rhimeland – a centre of the empire? Charles summoned to this place all thinkers, scholars and theologians, Alcuin of York Peter of Pisa, Paulinus of Aquileia, Paul the deacon Einhard of England. Alcuin (735-804) was made the minister of education, director of Palatine school in Aix. He was an acade­mically minded man and exerted great influence through his theo­logical treatises and pamphlets. Paul the deacon was a historian; Einhard was a layman, an artist and a scholar.

These scholars formed a sort of club, called the Palatine Academy. Each of them bore a pseudonym borrowed from antiquity. Charles was known as avid. There was great progress in literat­ure, art and architecture. Charles commanded that schools be attached to every monastery and bishopric, as the means for spreading education. Those trained at the palace school at Aachen received bishoprics or monasteries in every part of the empire.

Leo III (795-8l6) succeeded Hadrian. He notified Charles and sent him the flag of Rome and the keys to the tomb of St. Peter in recognition of the rights of the Frankish king. Pope was soon in need of Frankish protection. He curtailed the privileges of those appointed by Hadrian. Leo was assaulted in 792. Inthe streets of Rome, Leo suffered serious wounds. He then asked Charles’ help. Charles came to Rome to look into the case. And on Christmas day of 800 while Charles was attending Mass in St. Peter’s pope Leo placed a crown upon his head and the crowd the church hailed Charles as the new Roman Emperor.

The revival of the Roman Empire in the West was very significant. It was the political side of theCarolingian renai­ssance. It also created both a partner and a rival to the papacy in the government of Christendom. It emphasized the jurisdiction of the pope by contrasting his position as spiritual head of Europe with the emperor’s role as temporal head. Both the one Church and the one State were felt to be divinely ordained as the two aspects of Christendom, the heavenly and the temporal cities of God. Each complimented and in turn drew strength from the other.

Pope Leo was convinced of his inability to govern his state without the help of the Frankish king. So he considered, the bestowal of the imperial title on the king a means of guaranteeing a closer protection by theFranks over the papacy, From this time on the Franks intervened willingly in Roman affairs.

There was a friction on the question of using the state imperial title without papal confirmation. Later the princes objected to being indebted to the pope for a temporal office, while the popes refused to relinquish the privilege of anointing the king. Charles contemplated of independent means of acquiring the imperial title and before his death he crowned his son Louis Pius. But Louis agreed to a repetition of the ceremony at the hands of pope Stephen in 816. Louis crowned Lothar, but again Paschal repeated it in 823.

On 28 January 814 Charles died of high fever. His remains were laid to rest in the Marienkirche at Aachen. Loius the Pius succeeded him.

Louis the Pius (814-840)

Louis expected opposition to his succession from his relatives, cousins, sisters and brothers. His sisters were forced to enter the convent. Louis did not have his father’s versatility; his interest lay especially in theology sand church reform. He summoned Benedict of Aniane to the imperial court of whom he built the monastery of Konnelimunster near Aachen in 817. Benedict instituted the first reform of Benedictine monasticism by attempting to restore the primitive observance. He proposed to unify all observances by adoption of a common code of supplementary regulations. His programme was accepted at a meeting of abbots at Aachen in 817 and promulgated by the emperor as imperial law, thus establishing the modified Benedictine rule as obligatory for all monasteries within the empire.

In Rome pope Leo III died on 12 June 816. Stephen IV was elected as the new pope. This was the first election to take place after the establishment of the Western Empire. In the Byzentine period papal elections had been ratified by the emperor or the exarch before the consecration, though since the election of Zachary there had been no imperial approval. Stephen IV merely sent Louis a notification. He had the Romans swear loyalty to the emperor and requested a meeting with him.

Emperor and the pope met at Reims at the beginning of October 816. During the mass pope anointed and crowned the emperor and the empress. In return the king confirmed in writing the freedom of papal elections and autonomy of the papal state in regard to administration and justice, in the privilege of 24 January 817. The notification of the papal election was to be made only after the consecration, and the emperor was to act as judge in the papal state only in the event of a denial of justice. Stephen died on the same day on which this document (Ludovicianum) was issued. Paschal I succeeded him. (817-824).


On Holy Thursday 817 the emperor had an accident, which impressed on him the transitory nature of earthly things. He decided to divide the empire. The oldest son Lothar was elected and crowned co-emperor as a result of divine inspiration. The younger brothers, Pepin of Acquitaine and Loius, who obtained Bavaria, were made kings, but both they and their areas of rule remained subject to their father and his successors in the imperial dignity. Further divisions of inheritance were forbidden even to the subkings. If there existed several heirs, election by the people should decide the succession.

The ordinatio imperii (imperial order) of 817 expressed that the emperor should stand above the nation. In it empire and the church were understood as unity. Hence the unity of empire was regarded as willed by God. On the unity of the empire rested the eternal peace of entire Christian people, the office of emperor and that of king were understood on the analogy of the office of the bishop.

An imperial assembly met at Aachen after Christmas 818 to define the churches ties to the emperor and church’s obligations to the empire. The preface of the capitulary of 818-19 distinguished the mortal person of the ruler from the imperial office, which stands on a lonely elevation. The emperor is auditor Dei; his sphere of duty embraces ecclesiastica negotia and status rei publicae. The Christian people are divided into three classes canons, monks and laity.

Since the sixth century the ruler filled the bishoprics. Most sees formally possessed the right to elect their bishops, whereas the abbots of the monasteries were in most cases determined by the founder of the proprietary church. In 818-19 Louis granted the right of election to all sees and to imperial mo­nasteries of the ordo regularis, but he retained the right to confirm and invest, which involved a review of the election.

Decline of Carolingian empire

Loius Pius innate weakness and the subdivisions of the empire among his sons occasioned rebellions and civil war, which continued throughout the ninth century. There were prominent bishops in the Frankish kingdom and they exempli­fied the role of the Frankish episcopate, eg. Abp Hincmar of Reims (845-882). Bishops tried to keep alive the traditions of unity and strong government as the best means of preserving social order.

Louis helped the church in the evangelization of both Slavs and Scandinavians. Ambitious persons persuaded him to divide the empire among his three sons. It led to never-ending fights between the sons and Louis and among the sons themselves.

After Louis death Lothar, the eldest son, retained the title emperor and was to rule the land from Frisia down to Northern Italy inclusive. Charles the Bald was given the territory of the west – roughly the modern France, predominantly French-speaking Louis the German, was given the East of Lothars kingdom, corresponding the modern Germany. The East and West kingdoms later developed into the kingdoms of France and Germany, because of their unity of race and strength. But the kingdom of Lothair was composed of several races and languag­es and was weakened when Lothair further divided it among his three sons.

The further fighting and divisions of the kingdoms in Europe in the ninth century finally resulted in the following kingdoms:

1. Kingdom of East Franks – modern Germany, Holland

2. Kingdom of West Franks – modern France, Belgium

3. Kingdom of Burgandy – south-eastern corner of France and part of Switzerland

4. Kingdom of Northern Italy -Lombardy

5. Papal State.

As the empire declined the church was liberated from the theocratic domination instituted by Chrlemagne. The political order enhanced the theoretical position of the church. By mid-ninth century bishops began to assert their superiority over the kings. In 868 Archbishop Hincmar of Reims wrote to Charles the Bald that the royal power derived solely from the king’s coronation and anointing toy the bishop. But the destruction of the empire hurt the church in many ways. The spoliation of ecclesiastical properties, usurpation of prerogatives lay control of monasteries, and acts of violence against the clergy continued apace. The close of the Carolingian renaissance found the church in a distressed condition morally and materially.

Canon Law: The False Decretals

Fasle Decretals is a spurious collection of canon laws composed in northwestern France between 847 and 852. Before the 12th century there was no authorized collections of universal ca­nons in the church. There existed numerous semi-official or private codes derived from scripture, tradition, papal pronounce­ments and decrees of councils.

When Charlemagne wrote to pope Adrian for an authoritative copy of the laws of the church he received in reply the Dionysian code which a council at Aachen in 802 adopted for the empire, thus making it the most widely used collection in the West. Dionysius was a Scythian monk who in the sixth century compiled the general collection for the Roman church: 213 greek canonf 50 apostolic canons, 138 canons of the African collection. We also collected 38 decretals of the Ro­man ponfiffs from Siricius(384-399) to Anastasius II (496-498).

The author of the fasle or Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals was anonymous. We wanted to protect the church from the wholesale spoliation of its prerogatives by the Carolingian nobility. To this end he forged laws strengthening the authority of bishops and as the final source of authority, the papacy. Thus he decla­red that a layman could not accuse a cleric in court, local councils required papal licence for convocation, and bishops might appeal to the pope against deposition by a metropolitan.

False decretals were a clever mingling of genuine with forged materials. Basically they were the Hispana – the Spanish collections – to which added letters assigned to very early popes on the basis of mere mention of such decretals in the Liber Pontificalis, an ancient and sketchy collections of the lives of Poes. In this way an aura of antiquity and veracity

pervaded the False Decretals. Forgeries of this type were common in the middle ages, false decretals were incorporated into the code of canon law arid played a part in the later cent­ralisation of papal administration.

The papacy and the West from 840 to 875

The history of the church reached a climax in the ninth century in the pontificates of Nicholas I (858-867), Hadrian II (867-872) and John VIII (872-882). There were changes in the relations between the church and the state. It was conditioned by the partition of the empire.

Pope Sergius II was consecrated before the imperial confir­mation. So Lothair sent his son Louis to Rome to insist on his prerogatives. Louis II intervened in papal elections even more vigourously than Lothar I. The Election of Nicholas I in 858 took place in the emperor’s presence. Hadrian was not the emper­or’s candidate in 867, but he was chosen following a reconcilia­tion with Louis II. We have precise information as to the electi­on of John VIII.

Pope Nicholas the Great was the last of the three popes to be given the titte “the Great”. He possessed great talent and force of character. His influence in ecclesiastical and political affairs was great. He had a great role to play in the Photian schism. Emperor Lothar wanted to divorce his wife and to marry his mistress. A synod of the German bishops in 860 annulled the marriage. Nicholas rejected the decision of the synod and deposed the archbishops of Cologne and Trier and threatened Lothar with excommunication. The king yielded and took back his former wife.

The church under lay domination


From 850 to 1050 the chief feature of the history of the church is the lay domination and interests. This situation extended from garish to papacy itself. The reasons are the barbarian invasion and certain defects in the administrative machinery of the church. The two institutions embodying lay control are feudalism and the proprietary church system. As a result there was a general religious decline.

Barbarian invasion

In the ninth and tenth centuries Europe was attacked from three sides: south, east and north. In the south the Muslims attacked now and then and gained a stronghold in Sicily and Calabria. In the east the Magyars or Hungarians invaded most o the towns.  In the north most of the towns were looted and destroyed.  They found that the monasteries and churches were places of precious things and jewels and old and silver ornaments. They not only destroyed the church property but also killed or enslaved monks and clergy which disrupted the normal ecclesiastical life. So the barbarian invasion caused the decline of religion and cleri­cal discipline and education. Internal confusion.

There was a confusion due to the decline and division of the Carolingian empire. The empire was divided into numerous smaller units and each of them was ruled jealously by counts, dukes, or weak kings. The abbots and the bishops depended upon these aristocratic feudal princes, who pretended to be the defenders of the church.

According to the canon law an ecclesiastical institution requires an endowment in land for its support. So each parish, bishopric, or monastery possessed extensive areas of lands. Under the feudal regime the possessor of land also enjoyed political jurisdiction over it; not only was he the owner or tenant, he was also in large measure the ruler. This situation had two results ; i) the secular  lords striving to obtain or increase their political power eyed the lands of the church as an available means to that end; ii) the bishops and the abbots who administered church property themselves became feudal lords and hence secular rulers in their own right.

Means of Lay Domination

During the time of Charlemagne all the dioceses and most of the monasteries were at king’s disposal under the pretext of protection. When the empire was divided into smaller units each ruler claimed to inherit the Carolingian rights, out its success depended on the circumstances. In the German part of the empire the king kept control of all the dioceses and large abbeys, while in France only about one third of the bishoprics remained under royal protection. In other parts of the kingdom it varied.

There was lay control over the ecclesiastical offices. It means that the office was treated like any other feudal feudal lord with rights and obligations dictated by custom. Sometimes a nobleman might confiscates church property outright and turn it entirely to his own. As long as the bishop and abbot fulfilled his feudal obligations to his lord, the lay lord would not disturb his vassal. And the ecclesiastical fief might be disposed of like any other. In 990 Count William of Toulouse gave the diocese of Beziers to his daughter as her dowry and bequeathed the diocese of Agde to his wife.

The most important right of the lay control was the right to influence the choice of bishops. Canon law specified that ele­ctions of bishops be by priests and people. But in the Middle Ages this was often ignored and there were irregularities. Powerful laymen influenced the elections. If the bishop was a vassal of a lay lord, the latter’s voice could not be ignored. He could nominate or veto the clergy’s choice. If the bishop was an independent sovereign without a strong overlord, elections resembled a contest between the nobility of the area. The law and custom sanctioned secular intervention and since the papacy was itself in the same position at this time, no protest could be expected. In 921 pope John X scolded archbishop of Cologne for ignoring the orders of the king in an election of a bishop. “We have not ceased to wonder that you have dared to act against all reason and without the king’s order; you should not have done that. Remember that no bishop can be consecrated in any dio­cese without the king’s consent”.

Feudalism and the church

Feudalism is a system of government that arose in the ninth and tenth centuries. It trsformed everyone who possessed land into a soverign his own land, owing certain obligations to those higher than himself in the feudal scale, yet enjoying prerogatives which could not be taken from him. Since the Edict of Milan the ecclesiastical officials especially the bishops had been enjoying some degree of public authority. Feudalism, however, more precisely defined and imparted a legal title to the present position than had often been the case earlier.

The rights of the feudal bishops or abbot were the following: protection by his lord, greater or lesser judicial powers incl­uding fines accruing therefrom, tolls and miscellaneous revenues sometimes the right to coin money and very often secular jurisdiction over city in which the cathedral was located.  The temporal overlord enjoyed the right to bestow the ecclesiastical fief on virtually whomever he wished, to invest that individual with in office, and to receive from him an oath of fidelity. There was no difference between the temporal services of an ecclesiastical and a lay vassal. These included the obligation to attend the lord’s court, military service, hospitality and entertainment, aids and relief.

Military service was considered incompatible with the ecclesiastical office. But in the feudal system it could not be avoided. Every feudal lord had his own/army to defend his territory. Some of the bishops had large number of armies. In 1184 the archbishop of Cologne had 1700 knights. These knights were the bishop’s vassals and they occupied parts of his land as fiefs in payment for their services. A certain number of them accompanied the bishops when they went to fulfill their personal obligation of armed assistance to their princes.  The military obligations of the monasteries was fulfilled by a layman who was employed to handle the secular affairs. Bishops very often took part in compaigns despite church’s prohibition. Because many of the bishops were nobleman who were born and bred to military life and it is not surprising that they could not free themselves from the influence of heredity.

The reason for the prominence of bishops in secular affairs of the middle ages is that the bishops were the most loyal vassals of the lord, because they were most amenable to control. And they were nominated by the kings. They were either personal­ly known to him or belonged to his family and very probably they had served him many years as royal chaplain, chancellor or courtier of some kind. Sometimes the kings granted huge grants of land on the bishops in feudal tenure in order to build up the diocese as counterbalance to the power of the great lay nobles who defied the kings with impunity. The German emperors ruled their empire with the aid of the bishops and without their help they would have been reduced to impotence.

The medieval bishops had dual functions of serving the church and the state. Sometimes they were more interested in serving the state. There were also exceptions: St. Bernward of Hiidesheim, Ulrich of Augsburg, Norbert of Cologne etc.

The Proprietary Church

Lay domination reached the level of the parish through the propriatary or private church  system. The parish church with all its property and revenues was conceived as a piece of property that had to be owned by a specific person acting in the name of the patron saint to whom the church was dedicated. That person was the founder or donor of the church. Since most parish churches were built and endowed by laymen they were regarded as the laymen’s property. Thus several dioceses most of the parishes were lay property.

Under the proprietary system the proprietor appointed the priest, whom a bishop ordained, but often without serious investigation of his qualifications. Legally the priest was not entirely at proprietor’s mercy, but in practice he approached that condition. The priest might pay the proprietor for his appointment and the lord had almost complete control over tithes stole fees, burial fees and all other parish income. The right to collect revenues could be assigned to others, sold, exchanged or alienated in any way whatsoever, provided the church building and altar were not put to secular use. The proprietor was res­ponsible for everything. Under these circumstances the spiritual aspects of parish life were not likely to receive proper attention. Monasteries and some times dioceses were exploited as part of proprietary system and fared no better than parishes.

The papacy

The Carolingian collapse dragged the papacy from its heights. The Frankish kings were no more able to protect the church. The papacy was disgraced by scandalous events. Holy see was occupied by unworthy persons. Of the 44 popes between 867 and 1048, nine met violent deaths; two by poison, four by murder or execution in prison, one by strangulation, and two under suspicious circumstances. It was a shame and disgrace for the Roman pontiffs. The one significant relieving feature is that however wicked the popes were personally and however scandalous their conduct, none of them attempted to promulgate false doctrine or teach heresy.

Leo IV was a saintly pope. Benedict III was his successor. The French king Lothair ordered the arrest of Benedict and nominated Anastaaius as pope. The Romans opposed it. So the attempt failed. On 17 March 858 Benedict died.

There is an accusation that a woman pope governed the church between the pontificates of Leo IV and Benedict III. Her name was Joan. There is no historical evidence for this.

Nicholas I (858-867) solved three great problems: 1. Divorce of Lothair, 2. Photian schism, 3. Procedure against Hincmar, archbishop of Reims.

Adrian II was very old. He was a married person, his wife and daughter ware living. A certain Eleutherius had stolen them and killed then afterwards, Eleutherius was the brother of Anastasius.

John VIII governed the church for ten years. It was period of confusion and riots. There were conflicts between the sons of Charles and invasion of Muslims. The Muslims invaded Rome and John prepared a strong array to protect Rome. John was imprisoned by the king of Caveria to get the title of emperor for him. He wanted to reform the church. There was opposition and its leader was Formosus who was expelled from Rome. The pope was given poison, but outlived. On 12 December he was killed. During the next pontificate, Formosus, bishop of Porto came back to Rome.

In 891 Formosus became pope. He was very prominent in papal politics but not wise. Pope unwillingly crowned Lambert of Spoleto king and emperor, but at the same time he appealed to king Arnulf in Germany. Arnulf came and pope bestowed him the imperial title without bothering about the fact that he had already given to it to Lambert. Illness forced Arnulf to retreat before dealing with Lambert. By the time Lambert was in possession of Rome, the pope had died.

Stephen VII had Formosus nine months old corpse exhumed, propped on a throne clad in papal vestments and tried by a council as a false pope. The Judges found Formosus guilty, annulled his acts and ordinations, removed his name from the list of the popes, and cast his body into a public grave from which the mob tossed it into the Tiber. Rome then divided into violent Formosian and anti-Formosian factions and many priests and even bishops were in a quandary because of the annulment of Formosus’ ordinnations. Stephen was strangled after having chained him.

The next two pontificates were short.  Pope Theodore reinterred the corpse of Formosus solemnly, he declared the acts of Formosus valid and licit. After his death the tension between the Formosian and anti-Formosian groups continued. The Formosian group elected John IX as pope, the other Sergius. The king Lambert supported John. John was a peacemaker .He finally rehabilitated Formosus’ reputation. To prevent new disputes John decreed anew that the emperor’s approbation must be received before a pope-elect could be consecrated.

The beginning of the tenth century was period of great confusion in the church. After the death of Benedict IV, Leo V became pope. Leo was imprisoned by an antipope, Christopher, whom pope Sergius III (904-911) sent to join Leo in prison; then out of pity he executed them both. Out of the melee arose the wealthy papal official and senator Theophylact, who with his wife and two daughters Theodora and Marozia dominated Rome for two generations. Marozia captivated Sergius by her charms and cemented her family power. Sergius was antt-formosian and irritated old wounds. He convoked a synod and declared the activities of Formosus, John IX and Benedict IV invalid.

Under the influence of Theophylact dynasty Anastasius III was elected pope. John X also owed his election to the house of Theophylact. He was a vigourous man of action who personally led the army to victory against the Saracens and made his influence felt in both Germany and France. Marozia hated John because of his independency. Her followers killed pope’s brother Peter, the Roman governor. Then they imprisoned the pope in dark room where he died in December 928.

John XI (931-935), son of Marozia and pope Sergius III gave his mother free rein in affairs of the Roman government, but before long the pope’s brother Alberic seized the control. Alberic opposed the new marriage of his mother with Hugo of Alberic gave Rome effective government for twenty years, but only at the price of personally designated five successive popes. The fifth one whom Alberic designated on his own deathbed was his son John XII (955-964), with whom the papacy sank to the lowest level in its history. Not yet twenty years old, John gave himself up entirely to the pursuit of pleasure in its manifold forms. But a new chapter in papal history was drawing, for a powerful prince was emerged north of the AIps and he was watching Italy with interest.

The German popes

Otto I of Germany was the most powerful European king since Charlemagne. When John was threatened by enemies he turned to Otto for deliverance. By February 962 Otto came to Rome and John XII crowned him Roman emperor. Rome now had a new lord protector who issued, a new constitution in which it was promised that the papal state should be preserved intact and no pope would be consecrated without the emperor’s consent. And again the perplexing problem arose of the extent of the German overlordship. John had desired a protector only, not a suzerain. But Otto envisaged a permanent occupation of Italy for he took the Lombard title and installed German bishops in the north Italian sees to rule their dioceses in the interests of the emperor. John began an intrigue against Otto. Since John had fled, Otto placed John on trial in his absence. Because of the scandalous life of John the assembled bishops proceeded to depose him and to place another. But as soon as Otto departed, John returned and expelled the antipope.

The Byzentine Church


In 858 Patriarch Ignatius was forced to resign, because he criticized Bardas, the emperor’s minister on the grounds of his love affair with his own daughter-in-law. Photius, a layman was appointed as patriarch. Tonsured on 20 December 858, he re­ceived on the four succeeding days the seven degrees of Holy Orders, which enabled him to be consecrated patriarch on Christ­mas day by an archbishop, incidentally, who had been suspended arid excommunicated by Ignatius. There was opposition from the Ignatian party.

After his nomination and consecration Photius send the synodical letter – a letter to other four patriarchal sees ex­plaining how he had been chosen and consecrated and made a profession of faith. Pope Nicholas I was not satisfied with Photius’ letter. He sent two legates to investigate the circumstances of the patriarchal election. The legates held a council, which not only recognized Photius but also renewed the condemnation of Ignatius. Nicholas cannot recognize this and he deposed the legates for having exceeded their powers. Soon afterwards there arrived in Rome a delegation of Ignatius supporters, through not sent by him. A council met there in 863; Byzantium was notified of its decisions and other three patriarchs were informed that the pope refused to recognize Photius. This situation created a tension in the church.

In 867 November pope Nicholas died; Photius was dismissed. Hadrian succeeded Nicholas. Basil I, the Macedonian, had obtained the throne by the two fold assassination of Bardas and Michael III. He liqudated Photius and reinstated Ignatius. He asked the pope for a general council to settle the matter. Pope Adrian II and a Roman synod condemned Photius and delegated representatives for the IV Ecumenical council of Constantinople. Pope wanted that the Greeks subscribe the Roman primacy. The council met in 868-869 and it was poorly attended. It vindicated the Roman position by accepting the formula of Hormisdas and Photius’ con­demnation.

By the time of patriarch Ignatius’ death Basil had changed his policies and now offered the patriarchal throne to Photius in 887. Photius convoked a council at Constantinople in 879 which recognized him patriarch arid annulled the anti-Photian acts of the council in 868-69. Even Roman legates accepted the acts of the new council despite its defiance of Rome. Pope John VIII tried to defend his position but he was murdered.

Leo VI, successor of Basil, dismissed Photius in 886. But Photius books against the Roman primacy became popular. And it opened the way to schism and finally to separation from Home. The primacy of Home was called in question.


Michael Cerularius and Greek schism

Photius’ successors in the patriarchate of Constantinople might from time to time show the pope some mark of respect, but their spirit of detachment from the holy see continued to in­crease; thus the practice of sending to Rome the synodical letter after their appointment was very seldom observed. But there no longer appeared to be doctrinal differences between, the two churches. The question of filioque did not disturb the minds of the people. On the other hand there were innumerable difficulties in the field of rites, which in the East were rigid and uniform for the whole church, whereas in the West they were more varied.

Michael Cerularius occupied the patriarchal throne at Cons­tantinople from 1043 to 1059. As a youth he had been occupied in politics that had taken part in a serious conspiracy and had even dreamed of seizing the throne. Afterwards he was converted and became a monk. He was very ambitious and resolved to make himself undisputed pope of the East. In 1053 he suddenly attacked the Latins for the horrible infirmities of using unleavened bread in the Eucharist, for insisting on clerical celibacy and for fasting on Saturdays, for omitting Alleluia in etc. Cerularius also closed all Latin churches in Constantinople, including the chapel of the papal legate.

Pope Leo IX (1049-1054) sent his ambassadors to Constanti­nople Cardinals Humbert and Frederick (future Clement IX) and archbishop Peter of Amalfi, to investigate. Cerularius abused the legates and excommunicated the pope. On 16 July 1054, Cardinal Humbert and his suite attended the solemn service in St. Sophia. After fulminating violent denunciations of the patriarch, who was described as a rebel against the pope’s authority, they laid upon the high altar a document announcing his excommunication. Then, leaving the basilica, they shook the dust from their shoes, crying,: “May God behold and judge us”. They thought that this would solve the problem.

Canonically the act of the legality was meaningless for two reasons: 1) the legates had not been authorized to take such a step, and 2) since Leo IX died on 19 April, the powers of his representatives had lapsed de facto, though the event was as yet unknown. Their gesture was decisive, but in a sense very different from that hoped for by the legates.

Michael Cerularius now appeared as defender of the Eastern church against the mockery of the West. The people were solidly fitbehind him. The emperor Constantine who was anxious to maintain His alliance with Rome against the Normans, attempted to interfere without any success. Attempt at mediation by the holy patriarch Peter of Antioch was also failed. Cerularius completed his work; the bull of excommunication was publicly burned, and on 24 July 1054 the synod of the Eastern Church – a dozen metro­politans and archbishops – met in St. Sophia and promulgated a synodal edict, which declared the matins guilty of seeking to prevent the true faith. Some weeks later Cerularius supplemented this edict with an indictment in which under the pretext of establishing the rights of his see as against Rome, he put himself forward as sole representative of the true religion of Christ.

Cerularius became the supreme authority at Constantinople. He also took part in a conspiracy which overthrew Michael VI in 1057 and set up in his place Isaac Comnenus. Isaac was not content to stand like a boy at the side of the terrible patri­arch. At Christmas 1058 he took advantage of a retreat, which Cerularius was making in a convent far from Constantinople to have him arrested, and was about to bring him to trial when the patriarch died. Public opinion was so inflamed that the emperor himself had to bring back the martyrs body with great pomp and allow the church to confer on him a regular apotheosis. Later under Isaac’s successor, Constantine X, who had married a niece of Cerularius, the patriarch was canonized and an annual feast instituted in his honour.

Greek schism was a great misfortune. It has never been solved. Both sides were to be blamed for this, on one side there was, there was pride and perfidy, on the other clumsy mishandling and intra sigence. Rome and Constantinople claimed to have been victorious. The Latins boasted of having broken the patriarch’s pride, while faith from impious errors of the West. There were people who were deeply pained by this wound inflicted on the church. Peter of Antioch exclaimed: “If the queens of the earth are at enmity, all the world will be in tears”. In 1064 a monk, George the Hagiorite said: “There is no difference between Greeks and Christendom indeed took a long time to recognize the fact of schism, pilgrims to the Holy Land continued to pass through Byzantine territory; the popes were still in official relations with the emperor and some of the emperors, e,g. Michael VII even made gifts to Western monasteries, above all to Monte Casino. Nevertheless the cleavage was incapable of repair and steadily widened; it was rendered final by the loss of Byzentine possessions in Italy to the Normans and, later, by the in­cidents of the crusades.

Constitution of the church, worship, pastoral care and piety:

FROM 700 to 1050

The pope.

During the dark age the papal prestige and power increased. In the Last Theodore of Studites, defender of orthodoxy extolled the primacy of Rome. In the West papal supremacy was unquestioned. The pope was considered as the spiritual ruler of the empire, he was also the head of the papal state. Because of this preemine­nce of this position both in the spiritual and secular sphere the Italian families and the emperors interfered in the election of the popes. It was solved to a certain extent during the time pope Nicholas II in 1059 that the pope was to be elected by the cardinals alone.

The Cardinals:

Cardinals are the princes of the church. They help the pope in the administration of the church. It is the college of cardi­nals that governs the church during the vacancy of the pontifi­cate. It is its duty to make arrangements for the new conclave but it has no power to change any laws of the church. The college of the cardinals has a head – Camerlengo – His office is to super vise the property and temporal rights of the Holy See especially sede vacante. He verifies the death of the pope and makes prepa­ration for the conclave, which he directs. It is appointed by the pope or if the office is vacant at the pope’s death, by the sacred college.

The normal rule is that the cardinals stay in Rome. But those cardinals who are in charge of the dioceses are exempted from this rule, The prefects of various Roman congregations are cardinals. One is made cardinal by the pope. There is no need of consent or vote of the College of Cardinals to make one cardinal. It is totally the right of the pope.

There are three ranks of cardinals

  1. The bishops cardinals:

 In the early church the bishops of seven dioceses – neigh­bouring – helped, the pope in the administration of the church. These bishops were later called bishop cardinals. The seven dio­ceses were: Ostia, Porto, Santa Rufina, Albany, Sabina, Tusculum, Palestrina. Later Porto and Santa Rufina were joined and added Vellerti to this group. The bishop of Ostia was the dean of the college of Cardinals.

2. Priest Cardinals

The priests in charge of the important churches in Rome were known as priests cardinal by 8th c. They participated in the ceremonies of the four major basilicas according to their turn. The term was used in Rome for 25 parish priests of the leading parishes.

3. Deacons Cardinals

Rome was divided into seven districts and deacons were appointed to look after the poor. These deacons used to minister pope when he celebrated mass in the Lateran Baslica. These deacons were called deacon cardinals.

The origin of the cardinals goes back to the fifth century. Gradually they changed in number and grew in importance in the 8th century; cardinal priests and deacons were declared the only candidates for the papacy, the bishops being regarded as untransferable.  In the 9th century the cardinals were looked upon as the pope’s counsel and in the 11th c. they were given the privilege of electing the pope. It was pope Nicholas II who declared that cardinals be the electors of pope on 13 April 1059. Pope Alexander III decided that two third majority of the votes was necessary for a valid election in 1179. Gregory X in 1274 instituted conclave system of strict seclusion to secure a more rapid papal election arid to hinder the influence of emperors and worldly powers. Further modifications were added by Pius IV in 1562. It was Sixtus V who fixed the number of the cardinals in 1586. Accordingly there were 6 bishops cardinals, 50 priests and 14 deacon cardinals. Later Leo XIII (1882), Pius X (1904), 3 Pius XII (1945), John XXIII (1962) Paul VI (   ) and John Paul II (     ) modified the election procedure and number of cardinal.

Cathedral chapters

The clergy who assisted the bishop for administrative and liturgical purposes and monastic communities established in the Episcopal see were called the cathedral chapters.  They occupied the first rank and had great influence in the government of the diocese. Cathedral chapters were at first under the archdeacon, then the provest (praepositus) and for disciplinary matters, the dean who was later virtually to assume the entire direction. The cantor took care of the liturgy, and sacred rites; the scholastics directed the cathedral school and sometimes the school of the entire diocese. Custos was for treasure.

The large dioceses were divided into smaller districts. Thus there developed in the 7th and 8th centuries the system of territorially defined baptismal churches, whose direction was entrusted by the bishop to a rural archpriest. Many smaller churches were combined to the baptismal churches and they formed the deaneries.

The medieval reformation

Despite the barbarian devastation and secular domination in the church there significant spiritual revivals. Both papacy and monasteries took part in it.

The monastic renaissance: Most medieval reform movements were nature or origin. Various monastic experiments of the tenth and eleventh centuries paved the way for the Gregorian reform.

Cluniac reform was the foremost among the monastic reforms. In 910 Duke William of Aquitaine, in cooperation with Abbot Berno of Baume, founded Cluny near Macon in Burgandy. Cluny owed its greatness to a succession of saintly and long-lived abbots: Berno (910-926), Odo (926-942), Maieul (954-994), Odilo ( 994-1049) and Hugh the Great (1049-1109). Cluny enjoyed freedom from lay control and their house was directly under papal jurisdiction.

Life at Cluny rested on the Benedictine rule as modified by St. Benedict of Aniane. Thus Cluny discarded manual labour and made recitation of the divine office almost the sole occupation of the monks. Study and copying of the manuscripts remained; but the simplicity of traditional Benedictinism disappeared; yet it became a mecca for those in search of spiritual perfection. Eventually it be came worldly and after the middle of 12th c. it 4 declined.

The monastic reforms influenced the secular clergy and use of their position to improve the state of religion in their respective places. Alfred the Great of England (871-899) tried to restore education among his clergy. Emperor Henry II of Germany (1002-1024) has been canonized for these eff­orts to revive the spiritual life among the corrupt German clergy.

The Cluniac reform stressed the moral regeneration. It attacked simony and clerical marriage. Simony is a sin of tra­fficking in sacred objects or offices. It arose from the possi­bility for laymen to profit from the disposition of the ecclesiastical positions within their jurisdiction. The evil was compounded when simonist bishops tried to recover the price of their office by extracting money from other clergy. Thus the archbishop of Milan, who owed his position to the emperor, established a fixed scale of twelve, eighteen and twenty-four denarii as the price of ordination of sub deacons, deacons and priests respectively. Humbert of Koyenmoutier’s Three Books against Simonists (1058) attacked simony. He denied the validity of ordinations performed by simonist bishops.

There was lax observance of the law of clerical celibacy. The synod of Elvira (306) prescribed celibacy for priests or continence if they had been married before ordination. This law applied to those in major orders. But often the law was neglected and there were married or concubinary priests and bishops. Some­times the priestly office was handed on from father to son like any hereditary benefice. Abbots, bishops and popes laboured to restore celibacy, but there were practical difficulties involved such as the fate of priests’ wives and children. One bishop complained that if he degraded all married priests he would have no one left to say mass in his whole diocese.

Political problems of reform The political act of lay investiture involved the bestowal by a laymen of the insignia of office on a clergyman. This practice symbolized secular domi­nation. As a result of this the bishop held a temporal as well as spiritual office and the two had become confused. “Deceive this church” was the formula of investiture as the king granted the bishop-elect his crosier and ring. The whole ceremony left the impression that the layman was bestowing a spiritual power upon his vassal.

Lay investiture was a symbol manifestation of royal rights over the church. It did not become a major issue until after 1065. The reformers disagreed among themselves on the question whether or not to abolish royal rights at all. Since the edict of Milan and therein the theocratic Carolingian empire it had been accepted prerogatives of the kings to exert extensive influence and control over the church. Kings recognized their obligation to protect the church and churchmen acknow­ledged the need of royal protection. To the medieval mind the monarch was both king and priest and therefore his control was not secular domination at all.

Humbert’s book against Simonists was the first attack on the principle of active lay participation in ecclesiastical administration and this marked a revolution in reforming circles.


The reformed papacy:  Pope Leo IX (1049-1054) started reform in the papal level. Around him he collected the famous reformers: Humbert of Moyenmoutier. Frederick of Lorraine, the monk. Hildebrand etc. He wanted to put Rome at the head of the reform. Everywhere councils assembled to reform abuses, outlaw simony, enforce celibacy and depose unworthy. Pope Victor (1055-1057) continued the reform.

Pope Nicholas II (1059-1061). In 1039 a Lateran synod declared that only the cardinals had a direct voice in papal elections the Roman elegy and people being permitted to express their   Hi consent but nothing more. This was to prevent the lay domination in the papal election. To the emperor was reserved a vague right of confirmation. The same synod formulated the first absolute prohibition of lay investiture. Nicholas also secured military aid to protect the papacy from its enemies.

The first test of the election law came in 1061. Alexander II was elected pope. A group of German and Lombard bishops declared Honorius II as pope. After two years Alexander secured general recognition.

Pope ST. Gregory VII. (1073-1085). As the monk Hildebrand he had been a great power behind the scenes at the curia for 15 years prior to his election. His career had begun in 1043 as a secretary to Gregory VI. St. Leo IX had brought him back to Rome made him cardinal, and sent him as a legate to direct the reform in France. He had enjoyed the full confidence of Victor II and still more of Stephen X whose dying instructions were that not until Hildebrand returned was the new pope to be elected. He had thus been instrumental in the election of Nicholas II and two years later, it was his influence that brought about the election of Alexander II too.

St Gregory was a monk. He was not cluniac, but was in closest relation with Cluny and its abbots. He believed that papacy alone could save the church. He wanted to re-educate the church with regard to such matters as the primatial actions of the Holy See, the freedom of episcopal elections, simony and clerical celibacy. Even before his elevation he set himself to organize the necessary researches. The result was the gradual appearance of canon law books of a new type out of which there came forth the scientific canon law of the church.

Gregory was a man of peace. He wanted to work with the emperor’s cooperation, but he was against the lay domination in the church. He forbade the lay investiture and excommunication was threatened against those who disobeyed. He excommunicated Henry IV, deposed him and absolved all his vassals from their oaths of allegiance. Though the emperor was in a strong position the papal sentence gave the rebels a new life. His own bishops deserted him and a national assembly (October 1076) ratified the act of deposition.

Henry was lost, submission to the pope was the only means open to him. Pope was en route for the great German council that was to choose and install his successor. Pope and emperor met at the castle of Canossa, on 28 January 1077. Henry is said to have stood in the snow for three days begging forgiveness as a humble penitent. As a priest Gregory had no choice but to absolve the imperial penitent.

The civil war continued in Germany, the vassals elected a new emperor and the pope declared himself neutral. When Henry returned to his old practice of nominating to sees and abbeys, the pope renewed the excommunication and acknowledged his competitor  Rudolf of Swabia. This time the German bishops stood by Henry and denounced all manner of calumnies against the pope and declared him deposed and elected in his place in June 1080 the archbishop of Ravenna as Clement III. Rudolf was slain in battle and Henry marched to Italy to carry out the deposition of Gregory and installation of Clement.

One town after another surrendered to Henry. In 1082 he laid siege to Rome. The next year he took St. Peter’s while Gregory sought refuge in the fortress of St. Angelo. In March 1084 the city surrendered and Clement was solemnly installed in the Lateran. The Normans rescued Gregory. They sacked the city and when they retired they took the pope with them. On 28 March 1085 he died at Salerno.


The Gregorian Reform

The synods of 1074, 1075 decreed permanent deposition for simonists. The synod of 1078 enforced the law of celibacy. Another synod of 1078 declared all ordinations performed by the excommunicated to be legally invalid.

It was forbidden to clerics under penalty of excommunication and annulment of completed action, to accept from a layman the investiture of bishoprics, abbeys and churches (1078).

The synod of 1080 enjoined the control of elections by the bishop and the confirmation by the metropolitan or the pope. In the event of an uncanonical election the electors’ right to fill the office was to pass to the metropolitan or to the pope. The synod of 1078 attacked the right of the proprietors of churches. The synod of Gerona stated that lay persons must not really possess churches; wherever this could not be avoided at least the taking of the offerings was forbidden.

Gregory was convinced that no Christian could be saved who was not bound to Peter’s vicar in unity, harmony and obedience. He used all the rights assembled in the “Dictatus papae” to the extent that he regarded as necessary.

Dictatus papae – Gregory intented the compilation of laws which had been done under the leadership of Anselm of Lucca. Before this the pope had himself collected canonical material dealing with the Roman primacy, mostly taken from pseudo-Isidore arranged in sections, and for each section composed a concise sentence, suggesting the chapter headings of canonical colle­ction. Thus originated the famed Dictatus papae, which was put in­to Gregory’s registrum of letters. There in 27 sentences were summarized the most important primatial rights, with no systematization but with the already mentioned prerogatives of the Roman church- her foundation by Christ and infallibility – and of primacy – the inherited personal sanctity of the pope and his rights of deposition; the honorary privileges, including that of having his foot’ kissed and exclusive right to use the imperial insignia, this last probably directed against the Byzantine patriarch; the supreme legislative arid judicial powers and its effects; superepiscopal authority with regard to the deposition and institution of bishops, ordaining of clerics, determining of diocesan boundaries, and so forth; and excommu­nication and absolution from oaths as a consequence of the papal coercive power.

Gregory expected all including the princes to be loyal adherents of St. Peter and his vicar. He made use of the Christian princes for the interests of religion and of the church. Thus he authorized some of them to proceed with force against unworthy bishops who defied ecclesiastical penalties or he asked for their help when the Roman church or specific areas of the Christian world were threatened. Hehad no hesitation about summoning a holy war. In fact he even established a troop of his own, the militia sancti Petri, and sought to turn it into a real army in times of crisis, by voluntary enlistments, by military & aid which he claimed from bishops or vassals or by mercaenaries.

After Gregory’s death Victor III was elected in May 1086; died on 16 September 1087. On 12 March 1088 the cardinal bishop Eudes of Ostia was elected as pope Urban II (1088-99). He was a former member of Cluny and resembled Gregory in real for the church’s freedom. He led the reform papacy toward victory. Urban regarded Henrydeposed and Henrywould acknowledge no pope but Clement III. While Gregory had chiefly desired free papal elections, Urban and his successors regarded the investiture ceremony as of greater significance, hence lay investiture now came to fore and Urban officially and publicly forbade with their office. At the synod of Melfi in 1089 he renewed the prohibition of simony, clerical marriage and lay investiture, but he instructed his legates to be generous. In individual cases he recognized bishops who had been invested by the kings. At Piacenzs in March 1095 Urban renewed the decrees against simony and clerical marriage. Again at Clermont he forbade church men to take an oath of homage to a layman.

The council of Clermont in 1095 was important because it summoned to the first crusade. Urban died on 29 July 1099.

Pascal II (1099-1118) There was a clash between Pascal and Henry V. When pope excommunicated Henry, he invaded Italy. In 1111 pope offered to surrender completely all the feudal rights of the church in Germany – temporal jurisdiction lands endowments, privileges, and all – in return for Henry’s abandonment of lay investiture. This was opposed by the cardina­ls. It did not work, Henry then arrested the pope and coerced him to cease all oppositions to lay investiture. Pascal died on 21 January 1118.

Calixtus II (1119-1124)

Concordat of Worms – 23 September 1122.

During the pontificate of Calixtus the investiture, controversy was brought to an end by the Concordat of Worm on 23 September 1122. In it Henry renounced investiture with ring a and staff but retained the right to investiture with the regalia by means of scepter to be performed in Germany immediately after the election, but in the case of the Burgundian and of the Italian sees within six months after the consecration. He also granted canonical election and free consecration. However, in Germany he retained a substantial influence on the election- in his or his representative’s presence.

To ratify the concordat Calixtus convoked The First Lateran council in 1123. The council concerned itself with disciplinary measures. By its 18th canon it sought to bring the proprietary church system under control. It was the first ecumenical council to meet in the West. No new dogma was proclaimed, no disciplinary laws were enacted, but it solemnly defined the principles of reform in such forcible terms that they could no longer be called in question.

The Crusades

Since the Arabic invasion of the Holy places, the Byzantine empire had long been waging war against Islam as a defense of Christendom. But the West had no complaint since pilgrims were permitted to visit Palestine without difficulty provided they purchased a permit from the Arab officials. But after 1050 the Seljuk Turks took control of the Holy Land and manifested fill the intolerance of the fanatical convert. The Turks massacred Christian pilgrims and desecrated sacred shrines. Reports of these atrocities and the entreaties ofthe Byzantine emperors for help provided the occasion for the crusade. Thus the crusade joined together two themes the holy war or military expedition blessed by the church, and the pilgrimage to holy places, from the beginning the papacy was prominently involved in the move­ment. It issued incentives to go on crusades, such as immunity from taxes and debt payment, protection of Crusaders’ property and families and especially indulgence, which guaranteed the crusaders’ entry into heaven and reduced or abolished his time in purgatory. The popes sent out crusade preachers, organized financial support, and sought to provide transport.


The First Crusade: Though Gregory VII planned a Christian offensive; it was Urban II who actually inaugurated the first crusade with his closing address at the council of Clermont in 1095. In his address he proposed many reasons to start the crusade. A number of favors, temporal and spiritual were offered to those who would take the cross, among them a plenary indulgence, the first such ever offered. Christ died for men: Christians should not shrink for material considerations from the hardship and danger of the attempt to rescue the places hallowed by his life. The people responded with tremendous enthusiasm. Cries of “God wills it” rang out, thousands pressed forward to take the crusader s vow, and cloth crosses were fastened to their clothing as a sign of their intention. Crusader = one signed with the cross

The first crusade was rather successful because of the internal divisions among the Muslims. The crusaders captured Nicaea in 1097, Odessa (1097), Antioch (1098) and Jerusalem (1099). Then the feat in kingdom of Jerusalem was organized with vassal dependencies and a Latin hierarchy was set up alongside the Greek and Monophysite churches. Latin patriarchs at Jerusalem with four archbishops and nine bishops, at Antioch, with four archbishops and seven bishops, provided the ecclesiastical framework.

The crusaders ignored the existence and status of the many eastern churches formerly under Muslim rule. They were unable to understand the Eastern Christian way of life and their ecclesiastical traditions.

Military monasticism: Monasticism adapted itself to the cause of the crusades by producing the military orders. These were orders of monks, mostly unorgained and lay brothers obeying the usual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but having as their special purpose the military defense of the Holy Land. They were recruited from the West. They became the backbone of the Christian army in the East.

The Knights of Hospitallers: They originated before the crusades about 1023 as a nursing group for the care of pilgrims in Jerusa­lem. About 1120 they transformed themselves into the Knights of the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem and became purely military.


The Templars: were founded by Hugh de Payen, a Burgundian knight. They derived their name from their headquarters near the temple of Solomon at Jerusalem, which received in 1118. With the colla­boration of St. Bernard, Hugh drew up a rule modeled on Cistercian practices. The Templars remained active in medical work, and their red cross on a white field is still used as a symbol of mercy. German knights established the Order of St. Mary, popularly known as Teutonic Knights, about 1190.

The Second Crusade: 1146-1148.

In 1144 Edessa fell to the Turks. Then pope Eugine III commissioned St. Bernard to preach a second major crusade. Bernard persuaded Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany to lead the crusade. But it was a failure.

The Third Crusade: 1189-1192. The capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by Saladin evoked the third crusade. Clement III induced Richard I of England and Philip II of France to rescue the Holy City. Frederick Barbarossa of Germany also cooperated in the beginning. They reached up to Cilicia, Frederick drowned in river. They had to return without any success.

The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204): Innocent III (1198-1216) made use of the diplomatic machinery to urge the emperors of Europe to take up the cross. New indulgences were proclaimed, general tax was levied for the first time on all church property to supply the necessary funds. The fourth crusade was a disappointment. They attacked the Christian Hungarian territory and incurred papal excommunication before going on to capture Constantinople from the Byzentines and to establish the Latin empire of Constantinople. Innocent expected the reunion of the Greeks, but the tactless papal legate ruined the chances of reunion. The Latin empire fell in 1261.

The Fifth Crusade (1218-1221): At the Fourth Lateran council (1225) innocent launched the Fifth crusade but he was dead before it met disaster in Egypt largely owing to the incompetence of cardinal Pelagius, the papal legate. Thus it was a failure.


The Sixth crusade (1228):Pope Gregory excommunicated Frederick II for having failed to depart for the crusade on schedule. Without the cooperation of the friars and the military orders Frederick won by diplomacy the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. The Sultan relinquished these cities by the treaty of Jaffa in 1229 on the condition that toleration be granted to Muslims living there.


The Seventh Crusade (1247-50): The Muslims reentered Jerusalem in 1244. The expedition was made to capture Jerusalem under Loius IX of France. Loius was imprisoned and a huge amount was given for his release.

The Eight Crusade (1270) This was also under the leadership of Loius IX at the request of Urban IV (1261-1264).  His death forced the army to retreat.

The Children’ s crusade (1212): It was a crusade conducted by the youth of Germany and France. It was also a failure.

The results of Crusades

1. Great financial loss. The feudal lords increased the taxes

2. It opened the free access to pilgrim centers

3. It helped the evangelization among the Muslims

4. It widened the break between the Last and the West

5. It helped the West to understand the eastern way of life

6. It caused the persecution of Christian by the Muslims

7. Some preached crusade as a means of sanctification

8. Many innocent people were killed

9. Sometimes the secular rulers made use of it for their purpose

10. Crusade was not the way of Christ.

The balance sheet of the crusades

It may appear that the crusade was a failure and the balance was disastrous: so much suffering, so many sacrifice for so little. Thousands of the Europeans lost their life during the expeditions. Materially it achieved nothing. Advantages like pilgrimages could be achieved by negotiation.

The reunion of the churches also had not been effected. The Greek church was ready to accept the Roman creed together with filioque, to recognize the use of unleavened bread, and to acknowledge the primacy of the pope. At the council of Lyons in 1274 the reconciliation seemed complete. But the clegy opposed the reunion. The reason for this was the siege of Constantinople by the crusaders in 1204. On 15 April 1204 the city was besieged and those three days were filled with horror. They broke the holy images worshipped by the faithful. They threw the relics of martyrs into places which were dirty. In the great church of St. Sophia they smashed the high altar, which was made of precious materials, and shared the fragments among themselves.

They stabled their horses there; stole the sacred vessels; tore wrought gold and silver from the pulpit, throne and doors. A public prostitute sat in the patriarchal chair and sang an obscene song. Hearing this pope Innocent wrote: “These soldiers of Christ who should have turned their swords against the infidel have steeped them in christian blood. They spared neither religion, nor age, nor sex. They openly committed adultery, fornication, incest… They stripped the altars of silver, violated the sanctuaries, and carried off icons, crosses and relics.”

But we cannot say the crusade was useless and harmful. It enabled Christendom to become conscious of its own fundamental unity, they felt a kind of spiritual association with the pope and the holy places. In this sense it can be considered as one of the outstanding achievements of the medieval church. Many of the actors in this drama gave but the best of them were true witnesses to Christian faith and morals.

The crusades had some mixed results. From the ethnical point of view, there was an importation of Western elements in to the East. The spread of French language in Syria and Egypt were due to the crusades. The oriental elements were also introduced in the West. So it opened up wider horizons for the West.

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The Carthusians took inspiration from Egypt and, the desert Fathers and also shared the monastic instincts of the West. The monks lived in solitude in their individual huts with their own gardens, assembling for only a portion of the daily office and an occasional meal. Silence, solitude, mortification and a meager diet shaped their contemplative life. Lay brothers called conversion handled most of the outside contacts.

Cistercians: It was founded in 1098 by St. Robert of Molesme, a wandering monk in search of perfection.  In 1098 with 20 like-minded companions Robert left in order to build a new reform monastery in the wilderness of Citeaux near Langers. He did not make much progress. In 1099 at the order of papal legate he returned to Molesme, but his disciples continued his work there. It made progress under the Englishman St. Stephen Harding (1109-1135). The first daughter house was founded in 1113 at La Ferte. At the time of the death of Stephen it had eighty houses.

The individual abbeys are autonomous and corporately united in the general chapter attended by all abbots. Thus both the rights of the individual monastery and the interests of the entire order were assured. First they subordinated to episcopal jurisdiction, out the exempted, came under pope. Their general chapter became the higher court of appeal in the order. The abbeys promised one another mutual economic help, the preserva­tion of a uniform discipline and the cultivation of a simpli­fied liturgy. In order to free from feudal ties it declined benefices and reintroduced manual labour. The white habit, the strict seclusion from the world by means of settlement in deserted areas, the austerity of the life in food, dwelling, and clothing and the simplicity of the liturgy gave the order a great refutation. They followed the Benedictine rule.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The expansion of Citeaux is insepara­bly linked with St. Bernard. He was a Burgundian aristocrat, born 1090 in Dijon. In 1112 Bernard entered Citeaux with his thirty relatives and friends. In 1115 at the age of twenty-five he became the abbot of the new foundation at Clairvaux which, before Bernard’s death in 1153, comprised 700 monks and sixty-five daughter houses.

Bernard was the most influential man of his age. He was the first of the great medieval mystic and a leader of a new spirit of ascetic simplicity and personal devotion. Leading a life of prayer he emphasized God’s love and believed that

Christians come to know God by loving him. Bernard preached that physical love which was natural to man, could be transformed by prayer and discipline into a redeeming spiritual love, the passi­on for Christ. Bernard did not hesitate to criticize and correct the powerful men of his age. In 1130 he intervened in a controversy over the selection of a new pope. He unhesitatingly backed Innocent II as morally more worthy candidate. He persuaded the kings of England, France and the Empire to accept Innocent II.  He made peace between king Louis VII of France and his feudal subjects. He condemned the heresies of Peter Abelard and Arnold of Brescia. He preached the second crusade and persuaded Louis VII and Conrad III of Germany to take the cross. Privately Bernard practiced the most rigorous self-denial. John of Sailsbury referred to Bernard as ‘sanctissimus Abbas’. Bernard died in August 1153.

The schism of 1130

The concordat of Worms was a papal victory over the temporal rulers. But the new factions in Rome striving to lay hold of the papacy for their own advantage created problems. At the death of Calixtus II in 1124, the two factions Frangipani and Pierleoni clashed and the Latter triumphed with the elevation of Celestine II. But during the ceremony of installation the Frangipani broke in, tore the papal mantle from Celestine’s shoulders and forced him to resign. In terror the cardinals chose Honorius II, who was canonically elected after a few days. The six years of Honorius reign was peaceful. He succeeded to safeguard the Concordat of Worms and to extend it by renouncing the right of royal presence at elections.

It seemed the electoral procedure of Nicholas II in 1059 gave the cardinal priests and deacons merely a right to consent to an election completed by cardinal bishops. The cardinal priests and deacons insisted that all cardinals should have an equal vote and in 1130 as Honorius lay dying they enforced this issue.

After the death of Honorius fourteen or fifteen cardinals, including a majority of the cardinal bishops, elected Innocent II, while twenty-four cardinals – 2 bishops, 13 priests, and 9 deacons – voted for Cardinal Peter Pierleoni who styled himself Anacletus II. Both were consecrated on the same day. Through the financial and military resources of his supporters, Anacletus mastered the city, while Innocent fled to France.

At this time Bernard of Clairvaux supported Innocent because the person elected rather than the election itself. He forced the kings to obey Innocent. But only after the death of Anacletus in 1138 that Innocent succeeded in establishing himself in the Lateran.

The Second Lateran Council (1139) Innocent convoked the tenth ecumenical council in 1139 to clear up the problems raised by the schism and to put the church back on the track of reform. Decrees were issued on simony, clerical marriage, excommunication, the peace and truce of God, and condemnation of usury. It also excommunicated Roger of Sicily for his refusal to recognize Innocent II. In the battle against Roger the papal force was defeated and the pope became a prisoner until he lifted the excommunication of Roger and confirmed his royal title.

In the last weeks of Innocent II the Romans rose in revolt, repudiated the papal temporal rule and organized a Republic. It lasted twelve years, 1143-1155. It had the support of Arnold of Brescia, a talented priest and friend of Abelard. Arnold insisted on the abolition of all temporal rights of the church, inclu­ding the surrender of the temporal power of the popes. In repri­sal for an assault on a cardinal in Rome and for the Romans’ refusal to recognize him as pope, Adrian IV placed am interdict on the city, forbidding all church services of any kind until Arnold was expelled. By the help of Frederick Barbarosse of Germany Arnold was captured and executed. Papal temporal autho­rity was re-established.

The Renaissance of Twelfth Century

The features of the 12th century renaissance are the gro­wth of institutions within which learning could flourish, the rediscovery of Aristotelian logic as the guide to the new, lear­ning, and the creation of a new technique for systematic study.

Education during the age of Charlemagne and the tenth and eleventh centuries was carried on mainly by the cathedral schools, the former being more famous until the eleven­th century.

A learned monk was appointed to teach novices and when he was a famous scholar, adult monks from other houses would come to study with him. Other young men from well to do families would also be sent to study under the monastic tutor and many of these would join the clergy or take up scholar work.

By the twelfth century the cathedral schools surpassed the monastic schools. Students in these schools were generally desti­ned for service as clerics. The chancellor of the school gives a license to teach (certificate or degree). The famous cathedral schools were Laon, Paris, Chartees, Cologne etc.

Debates were carried on various subjects in these schools. There was a discussion around the meaning of the words of con­secration in the mass; “This is my body, this is my blood.” Berengar held that a real and true change takes place in these elements, but that the change is spiritual and that the bread and wine remain of the same substance. Lafranc ( + 1089) and other theologians held that the underlying substance of the bread and wine was changed to Christ’s blood and body while the accidents (touch, taste, sight, and smell) of the bread and wine remained the same. During the long and bitter controversy (1045-80) the term transubstantiation emerged. Berengar was condemned and was forced to disown his views.

Another controversy was on the work of Christ, on the cross. How could the death of Christ work to reconciliation between God and man? The traditional belief was that through sin mankind had made itself subject to the devil. The mark, of this subjection was death. God in his grace wished to free man, but he was unable to because the devil’s claim was just. Consequently to neutralize Satan’s claim, a ransom had to be paid in the form of a valuable person over whom satan had no right – a sinless man. Thus the devil was tricked when Christ was crucified, because the Son of God was sinless; now God can save with justice whomsoever he pleases.

St. Anselm (+ 1109), the primate of England and archbishop Canterbury challenged this theory in his book ‘Cur Deus Homo? Why God became Man, be believed that when a person sins he breaks the right order of the universe and is alienated from. God. Because he is just, God must be given a satisfaction for sin before he can forgive the sinner. Christ was the sinless man, sent by the mercy of God; he was able to offer to God the sanctification owed by the human race, this explanation was widely accepted in Europe and changed the whole outlook concerning the incarnation and the at qnement. Anselm also taught that faith must lead to the right use” of reason: ‘I believe in order that I may understand. He was first to put forward the ontological argument for the existence of God. ‘God is that than which no greater can be conceived’

One of the leading figures of the schools of Europe in this period was Peter Abelard (1079-1142). He was born in Brittany in 1079. He became convinced that he knew more than his teachers. He arrogantly challenged and quarreled with them on a variety of subjects. He had many followers; he had a love affair with Heloise  which shattered his academic carrier and cut short of his intellectual influence. In 1115 he agreed to tutor the teenage niece of Fulbert, a canon of Notre Dame Cathedral. A very close teacher-student relationship developed which resulted in a son whom they called Astrolabe. Later to pacify her irrate uncle, Abelard agreed to marry Heloise secretly. Despite all of their precautions, ugly rumours circulated. Heloise agreed to retire to a local convent rather than further damage her lover’s academic reputation. Fulbert considered this an evasion of res­ponsibility and retaliated by hiring a band of thugs who broke into Abelard’s chambers one-night and castrated him. Following this humiliation Abelard became a Benedictine monk. He soon resu­med his teaching and once again became involved in bitter cont­roversy. In 1121 the council of Soissons condemned his views on the trinity without a hearing. After wandering for twenty years in 1136 he returned to Paris and enjoyed renewed popularity and wrote several important books. He helped to make Paris one of the intellectual capitals of Europe. In 1141 the council of Sens condemned several selected statements from his writings. He died near Cluny on his way to Rome in 1142 to appeal to the pope.

Abelard’s book SIC et non (yes and no) 1122 discusses the relationship between faith and reason in Christian theology. He believed that genuine Christianity was both reasonable and consistent. He began a search for the ultimate authority in the faith and practice of the church, which was to culminate in Luther’s return to Scripture in the early sixteenth. Century. His desire to reconcile faith and reason in the context of Christian theology set the stage for the work of Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. He was one of the pioneers of Schola­sticism.

Scholasticism: Scholasticism got its name from the medieval monastery and cathedral schools. It covers the period from the ninth century to the end of the fourteenth from Erigena to William of Ockham. Anselm, Peter Abelard, Hugh of St. Victor, Peter Lombard, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus are among the great schoolmen.

The scholastic schoolmen had a certain style and way of thinking. The theology, which interested them, was basically philosophical. Moreover their way of doing it was to examine the logical dinks and implications of ideas. The scholastic method of setting up contradictory statements concerning a problem, and then resolving them by reason was popularized in the twelfth century by Gratian in his systematizing of canon law in the Decretum. In this work he would state a law and, if it was not contradicted, it was allowed to stand. But if there a are opposition in statements he tried to reconcile them through logic. Decretum Gratiani was published about 1148. It was a systematic arrangement of over athousand canons with Gratian’s comments to reconcile apparent contradictions. It became the only manual used in teaching and in court practice. Because of its wi­de usage and apparent acceptance by the popes it came to be considered the first part of the later Code of Canon law.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was the greatest scholastic theolo­gian of the middle Ages; He was born in Aquino, Italy. When he decided to join the Dominican order, his family tried to dissu­ade him by tempting him with a prostitute, kidnapping him and offering to buy him the post of archbishop of Naples. All of these attempts were unsuccessful and he went to study at Paris, the ce­ntre of theological learning, he was nicknamed Dump Ox. He studi­ed under Albert the Great. His work comprises eighteen large volumes, commentaries on Books of Bible, on Peter Lombard’s sentences, discussions of thirteen works of Aristotle, and a variety of disputations and sermons. His two most important works are: Summa Theologiae, Summa contra Gentiles. His famous five ways to prove the existence of God by reason based on what can be known from the world. At the council of Trent his works were used to draft its decrees. In 1879 the pope declared Thomism eternally valid.

The Universities

The cathedral schools culminated in the foundation of universities. The term universities describe a guild or corporation of either teachers or scholars who might self-defense against the town in which they were located or to discipline or profligate students (or professors). A city w with a well-known cathedral might become the center for a great number of schools. At first scholars would rent rooms and students would pay to come and listen to lectures. Guilds of professors organized the universities of the Northern Europe, while in Italy the students formed the guilds. The first univers­ities obtained a charter from the pope; those established later applied to the secular ruler.

The first universities were Bologna, Paris, Salerno, Oxford, Cambridge, Montpeller, Padua, Salamanca, Toulouse. The seven subjects were taught – grammar, logic, rhetoric, arith­metic, geometry, astronomy and music. The graduate faculties taug­ht medicine, law and theology.

There were small and large universities, the largest had between 3000 and 4000 students. One could start studies at the age of twelve and a lecture in theology must be thirty-five. The only entrance requirement was acknowledge of Latin; the first four years study consisted of the liberal arts. The next two years’ work consisted of study, a teaching assistantship, and thesis defense and culminated in the MA degree. This enabled a student to go on to study law, medicine or theology. At Paris, if he decided to earn the DP. In theology he would spend six years studying the Bible and Peter Lombard’s systematic theology (the Sentences). Finally three years’ study of the writings of the as early church theologian and the Bible led to the STD which qualified the scholar to teach theology in the same way as the MA entitled him to teach the arts.

The students paid their fees to each professor. The teacher reads the text and gives a commentary. The teacher used to diet-ate the text. Later comments of the outstanding teachers were incorporated into the dictated materials. The students first stayed invented rooms, then in the beginning of thirteenth century hostels were founded. At Paris Sorbonne was the most famous college and in England, Oxford and Cambridge where clerics lived together under a rule. Their chapel was arranged in a simi­lar manner to a monastic chapel.

The scholastics tried to reconcile Christian revelation with Aristotelian philosophy. In the early middle ages Platonic ideas prevailed and its defenders were known as realists because they believed in the reality of ideas or universals. The nomina­lists challenged them and they maintained that universals were only useful names for talking about the world.

The Church in the High Middle Ages

Frederick I Barbarossa succeeded Conrad III of Germany who died on 15 February 1152. Pope Eugene III had given his approval of the election of Frederick on 4 March 1152. Treaty of Const­ance between the pope and the king on 23 March 1153 stipulated a mutual cooperation between them. Each promised to protect and guarantee the other’s honour. Eugene died on 8 July 1153 and was succeeded by Anastasius (1153-54). Anastius was a feeble old man and his was a pontificate of transition.

Hadrian IV (1154-1159)

In January 1155 Hadrian renewed with Frederick I the Treaty of Constance on behalf of himself and his successors. At Sutri on 8 June 1155 the pope met Frederick on his way to Rome for his imperial coronation. At first the emperor refused the service of bridle and stirrup and then performed it. In return the pope crowned on 18 June 1155. On the same day there was a rising of the Romans and Frederick put down it in blood. Since Frederick had not kept the decisions of the Treaty of Constance, the pope turned to king William I of Sicily and in 1156 he concluded the treaty of Benevento. William was given the royal title. Barbarosaa considered this as a violation of the treaty of Constance and of his imperial rights in southern Italy. Adrian denied the emperor’s charges and sent legates to the diet of Besancon in 1157 to protest an attack by the German knights on the abp of Lund. In the pope’s message, read by card. Roland Bandielli, there was reference to the pope’s bestowal of the imperial crown: we would be glad to confer even greater benefits on you if that were possible. The word benficia was translated to fief. There was an imperial protest to which card asked “from whom then does the emperor hold the empire if not from the pope? There was an attempt to kill the cardinal but it was calmed.

In 1158 Frederick crossed Alps to assert his claims in the words of the code of Justinian: “the emperor’s will is the law’. The opposition was crushed. The temporal rights of the papacy were evidently in danger out Adrian’s death postponed the impending crisis.


Alexander III (1159-1181)

Among the cardinals there were two groups on the issue of co-operation or resistance to Frederick. The anti-imperial majority elected card. Roland as Alexander III, while a minority of three cardinals elected cardinal Octavian as Victor IV. Because of the riots either candidate was safe in Rome. Victor took refuge with the emperor. Frederick withheld his own decis­ion, He proposed a general council to decide the matter. Accor­dingly a council was convoked at Pavia in 1160. A few prelates except his vassals attended. Alexander denied its competence but Victor submitted his and won recognition. Thus Frederick and a few German bishops fell into schism.

Alexander excommunicated the emperor and Victor and fled to France. Henry II of England and Louis VII of France acknow­ledged Alexander. The Cistercians and Carthusians supported him and did much to insure his success. In 1167 Frederick conquered Rome and installed Paschal III as antipope. But a terrible plague ravaged his army and carried of thousands of the German troops. Frederick returned to Germany.

In 1176 Frederick made another expedition in Italy. The Italian cities organized the Lombard League and resisted the emperor. The Germans were defeated. The emperor agreed to make peace. Preliminary talks were done at Anagni and the final nego­tiations took place in Venice. This treaty stipulated that Frederick should recognize Alexander as the lawful pope, hand over to him the regalia of the patrimonium, restore the confiscated properties. The pope would release Frederick from excommunication and recognize him as emperor and his son Henry as king of the Romans.

After having been absolved from excommunication, Frederick entered Venice on 24 July1177 and prostrated himself before the pope who lifted him up and gave him the kiss of peace and blessed him, while the Germans sang Te Deum. At Venice the king performed the honorary service he had once objected to. The emperor, king Henry and empress took oath of loyalty to abide by the peace of Venice. Thus the schism ended.

The Third Lateran Council (1179)

In the preliminary treaty of Anagni and in the peace of Venice (1177, July21) it was agreed to convoke a general council. Accordingly the pope opened the council on 5 March 1179 at Lateran. Bishop Rufinus of Assisi delivered the inaugural addre­ss. Some 300 bishops, abbots, priests scholars and attendants of bishops were present. Twenty-three canons were the fruit of discussions at three sessions on 5, 14, and 19 March.

 – the measures agreed to in Anagni and Venice for the liqui­dation of the schism were confirmed.

– Every cathedral was to have a school of its own.

– No cleric was to be without a benefice.

– The bishop was to look out for the welfare of his clergy.

– Canon 1 demanded a two-thirds majority for validity of the election of the pope.

– The election was restricted to the college exclusively.

–                      Decrees also were issued against heresies, on relations of Christians with non-Christians, crusades etc.

The church in England: Thomas Becket and Henry II

Between 1162 and 1170 there was a confrontation between king Henry II and the primate of England, Thomas Becket the archbishop of Canterbury. Henry after his accession to the throne in 1154, began to restore his rights and claims of the crown to control the bishoprics and abbeys. From 1155 the archdeacon of Canterbury Thomas Becket was the chancellor. Henry made him the primate of English church on 27 May 1162. As chancellor Thomas had been a friend of the king. But he carefully represen­ted the interests of the church. From his consecration he seemed to be another person, fully devoted to spiritual and pastoral life. He stood up for the rights and liberties of the Church. The attitudes of king and the archbishop made a confrontation inevitable.

At a council at Westminister on 1 October 1163 Henry compl­ained of the increase in the number of crimes committed by clerics and the leniency of the spiritual courts. The king sugg­ested, “clergy, examined and degraded by Episcopal courts if guilty, should be turned to royal judges for punishment. But the archbishop replied that a doubly punishment for a single offense was prohibited by canon law. Henry II summoned the royal council at Clarendon in January 1164, which in 16 articles nullified the independence of the English church from the crown. The feudal dependence of the episcopate was emphasized, episcopal elections were to take place under royal control, bishops-elect were to take the oath of fealty before being consecrated, bishops’ rights of disposal of church property were restricted, they were bound by the same services to the crown as were secular vassals. Ecclesiastical courts had to accommodate themselves to the judicial procedures mf the secular courts and their competence was considerably restricted, while that of the secular’ courts was ex-tended to matters of debt, perjury, disputes over benefices, questions of patronage, and the criminal and civil cases of clerics, Bishops’ Dowers of excommunication were curtailed in regard to the crown’ s tenants-in-chief and members of royal household and of the courts. All these were juridically formulated and made a law with the written consent of the bishops. Thomas protested this diminution of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and of episcopal liberties.

In October 1164 the king cited Thomas before the council at Northampton on the basis of Clarendon. Thomas did not accept the judgment but appealed to the pope. Then he fled to France and was to spend six years there. The pope condemned many of the canons of Clarendon arid confirmed him archbishop. Prom 1164 to 1166 Thomas stayed with the Cistercians. On April 24, 1164 the pope named him legate in England.

There were several attempts to reconcile the king and the ar­chbishop. In 1170 December Thomas returned to England and exco­mmunicated the bishops who sided with the king. Henry was irri­tated by this and said: “isn’t there anyone to deliver me from this hateful priest?” 4 Knights of the royal household took him at his word and murdered in his cathedral. He said: “I am ready to die for my God, if thereby liberty and peace are restored to the church”.

Responsibility for the murder of Thomas was assigned to the king, archbishop of York, and bishop of London. The accused were asked to make reparation for their crime. On 21 May 1172 the king and the accused bishops took an oath that they had neither commanded nor desired the death of the archbishop. Henry swore that he would set out on the crusade and would keep himself at the disposal of the pope. He would permit appeals to Rome in cases before ecclesiastical courts. He would disavow customs hurtful to the church as these had been enforced under his auth­ority. He would restore to the church of Canterbury all its pro­perty. He would also receive in peace all clerics and lay persons who had remained loyal to Thomas and give back their possessions. Henry and his son were absolved. Alexander IIIsolemnly canonized Thomas on 21 February 1173. In July 1174 the king made a pil­grimage to Canterbury to do penencae for his share in the saint’s death.

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Frederick promised to leave Sicily independent. He swore that after the coronation he would relinquish the kingdom of Sicily to his son Henry, who had already acknowledged the supreme power of the Roman church over the kingdom. Thus Innocent was able to maintain order in Sicily.

Innocent and France

Innocent clashed with the king of France, Philip I, on the question of the enforcement of church’s marriage laws. Philip married princes Ingeborg of Denmark in 1193 and repudiated her the day after the wedding. “French bishops annulled the marriage on grounds of a very distant affinity. Ingeborg appealed to pope. Innocent denounced the action of the French bishops and ordered Philip to set aside Agnes of Meran, whom he had meanwhile marri­ed, and take back Ingeborg. When king refused to, Innocent placed

France under interdict for six months during 1200.

The issue was complicated by an attempted mediation of Innocent in Franco-English war. Philip declared: “in feudal matters the king is not bound to take instructions from the Holy See”, the pope should not interfere in disputes between sovereign rulers”. He did not accept pope’s decisions by Philip grew wider and in the next century with Philip the Fair it culminated.

Innocent and England

Innocent’s clash with John of England started with the election of a successor to Archbishop Hubert Walter of Canterbury in 1205. The monastic chapter elected its superior Reginald and asked the pope to confirm him. The suffrogan bishops elected John, bishop of Norwich, the king’s candidate who took possess­ion and was invested with the see by the crown. In December Innocent annulled both election and had some of the monks who were in Rome elect a candidate of his own, the English curial cardinal Stephen Langton. Though the king rejected the pope consecrated him in June 1207, and invested with the palli­um despite the absence of the royal approval. In March 1208 the pope laid on England an interdict that was in general carefully observed. The king expelled the Canterbury monks, confiscated the property and revenues of clerics and bishops who obeyed the interdict, and left sees and abbeys, which became vacant unfilled. Negotiations for a settlement broke down and king John was ex­communicated in January 1209. In 1212 the pope declared John deposed by releasing all Englishman from their oath of alligiance and commissioned Philip II of France to attack his old enemy deposed by releasing all Englishmen from their oath of allegi­ance and commissioned Philip of France to attack England. Since Philip streneously pushed forward his preparations, while John was not sure of the support of his barons, John accepted the papal conditions of peace of 13 May 1213: to recognize archbishop to permit the return of the fugitive bishops, to restore all the confiscated property of the church. Two days later, on his won initiative, he placed the kingdom under the protection of the Holy See as a papal fief, promising 700 pounds sterling for England and 300 for Ireland as an annual census. This was paid total 1366.

After this agreement the pope stood by the king in the war against the rebels who on 15 June 1215 compelled John to issue the Magna Carta libertatum, which restricted the crown’s feudal and sovereign rights. The pope declared the magna carta null and void. Then, when the French invaded England partly in response to the pope’s earlier mandate, the pope threatened to excommunicate them and helped John. Pope suspended the rebels including Langton.

In Rome Bangton strove in vain for the lifting of his suspension. The pope forbade his return to England. At the forth Lateran council he renewed the excommunication of all the rebel barons, laid an interdict on London, and rebuked the French king for supporting the rebels. These rebels had offered the English throne to prince Louis of France who married the niece of John. Louis landed in England in 1216 May, but was excommunicated by the papal legate. In the meantime Innocent died on 6 July 1216.

The Fourth Lateran Council – 1215

The twofold purpose of the council was the recovery of the Holy Land and discipline and reform of abuses. 42 bishops, 800 abbots and priors, many laymen representing the rulers attended it. In three sessions the council passed seventy decrees. The two most famous canons of the council were: i. a profession of faith directed against Albigensian and Waldensian heretics and ii, imposing the obligation of annual confession and communion at Easter time for all members of the church. The first canon also gave official sanction to the term “transubstantiation”. Certain disciplinary decrees were also issued. New religious orders were forbidden unless they used one of the monastic rules alrea­dy recognized the 42nd canon supplied a clear distinction of ecclesiastical and secular courts. Immunity of the clergy from taxation was confirmed. In regard to matrimony, the council limi­ted the impediments of consanguinity and affinity, renewed the prohibition of clandestine marriages, and introduced the obligation of the banns. C.62 attacked the abuses in the cult of relics and decreed that new relics could be exposed for veneration only with the express consent of the Holy See. Fifty-nine of the seventy decrees were adopted into the law book of Gregory IX. Thus it became a conciliar source of the modern Codex Juris canonici after Trent.

The Waldensians

Peter Waldo or Valdes, a wealthy merchant of Lyons gave away his worldly goods in 1175 or 1176 and decided to follow the example of Christ by leading a simple life of poverty and preaching. The basis of his evangelism was the translation of Latin NT into the vernacular. He had some followers. Pope Alexander III at the third Lateran council (1179) approved it, provided that they obtain permission from the local authorities for the preaching. They were known Waldensians who spread the message of the Bible and exalted the virtue of poverty. In 1181 the archbishop of Lyons prohibited their scriptural preaching. But the Waldensians began to preach more zealously. In 1184 at Verona pope    Lucius III excommunicated them and directed that they were to be eliminated by episcopal inquisition and secular punishment.

The Waldensians fled from Lyons. They started to organize the movement as a church with bishops, priests and deacons, eventually they began to claim to be the true church. They spread throughout Lombardy and Provence. Around 1207 some of them came back to the Catholic Church and Innocent gave them special pro­tection. At Lateran IV in 1213 the pope condemned them. In spite of all these difficulties they were able to call a general coun­cil at Bergamo.

Belief: The two fundamental issues are: 1. The unauthorized preaching of the Bible, and 2. The rejection of the intermediary role of the clergy. They think that they are not subject to the pope or his decrees of excommunication. They rejected or re­interpreted for themselves all the catholic sacraments except confession and absolution and the Eucharist. In theory all Wal­densians men or women could administer these sacraments and the Eucharist was usually held only once a year. They may have some kind of baptism. All catholic feast days, festivals and prayers were rejected as a man-made and not based on the NT. They made exceptions in the case of Sundays, the feast day of Mary the mother of Christ and the Lord’s Prayer. They denied purgatory because there is no basis in the NT. This led them to reject the catholic belief in the value of alms and prayers for the dead.

The Waldensians are divided into superiors and ordinary believers. The superiors are expected to live more austere life depending on the alms of their followers and preaching. They Waldensians were also accused of rejecting the entire physical paraphernalia traditionally associated with the church buildings, altars, cemeteries, holy water, liturgies, pilgrimages, indulgences etc. were strong in central and Eastern Europe. Their doctr­ine later influenced the Protestant Reformation.

The Cathars

The Cathars (Gk. Katharoi –puritans) flourished in Western Europe in the 12th and 13th c. They believed in two gods, a good-god who created the invisible spiritual world and an evil god who created the visible material world. Matter, including the human body, was evil and was ruled by the evil god, whom the Cathars identified with the God of OT. He had imprisoned the human soul in its earthly body and death merely caused the soul to migrate to another body, human or animal. Salvation could be attained only by breaking free from this miserable cycle and Christ son of the good God had been sent by him to reveal to men the way of this salvation. Christ was a life-giving Spirit, whose earthly body was only an appearance. They accepted the NT and various Christian teachings, but rejected the incarnation and the sacraments. The one Cathar sacrament is consolamentum or spiritual baptism. It was administered by the laying on of hands. They believed that this would enable the soul to escape from the evil material world, They held that this was the baptism instituted by Christ, which gave the Holy Spirit to the recipient removed his original sin, and enabled him on death to enter the pure world of spirit and be united with the good God. The consolamentum had been handed down from the apostles by a succession of good men, but the church had perverted Christ’s teachings arid ordinances and was enslaved by the evil god.

The Cathars are divided into two classes; 1. The Perfect-they received the consolamentum, 2. The believers – they had not J received it. The perfect lived in strict poverty as ascetics, involving chastity, frequent fasts, vegetarianism and the renu­nciation of marriage and oaths. As they could alone pray directly to God, they receive unquestioning obedience and great venerati­on from the believers. Most believers postpond the consolamentum because of the rigour required for the perfect.

After 1140, Cathars spread mainly in northern Italy and southern France. The French Cathars are called Albigeneians, being most numerous in the district of Albi. By 1200 southern France might become entirely Cathars. The Cathars were protected by anticlerical merchants and nobles. The perfect were contrasted with the clergy of the Catholic Church who were corrupted.


It was a special court with a peculiar power to judge intentions as well as actions. Heresies were a problem in the church from the beginning. During middle ages, there were many heresies and the church decided to take strong against them. During the 12th c. in Europe there was a tendency either to purify (eg. Waldensians) or to provide alternatives (the Cathars) the established church. They were persecuted. Alexander III called upon the lay rulers to combat heresy. In the third Lateran Council -1179-a crusade was announced against the Cathars of France. In 1184 Lucius III decreed that the bishops should take action against heretics. It was decreed that a suspect, once convicted of being a heretic, was to be handed over to the secular for punishment. From the early eleventh century heretics were burned at the staked Innocent III talked about the heresy in terms of treason (1199). He sent first the Cistercians to preach against the Cathars, then the Dominicans, who became the foremost order of the Inqui­sition.

The king of France, Louis VIII issued ordinances to punish the heretics. Emperor Frederick II ordered in 1220 and 1224 to burn the heretics. In 1231 Gregory IX by his decree ‘excommuni – camus’ issued further decrees against the heretics. Under him the inquisition as a church institution was practically comple­ted and the Dominicans were entrusted its charge. In 1252, pope Innocent IV by ‘ad extirpenda’ incorporated all earlier papal statements about the organization of the Inquisition, as well as condoning the use of torture.

Inquisition was made up of several officials;

1. Delegates – they are the examiners who handled preliminary investigations and formalities

2. The socius – a personal adviser and companion to the inqui­sitors.

3. Familiars – they are the guards, prison visitors and secret agents

4. The notaries – they collect evidence and file it efficiently for present and future instances of suspected heresy. Besides the representative of the bishop and a dozen councilors, but the inquisitor is not bound to follow their advice.

The heretics were distinguished

–          Those who denied orthodox beliefs and

–          Those who had additional beliefs

–          Perfected heretics and

–          Imperfect heretic

–          Lightly suspect and

–          Vehemently or violently suspect.

Procedure – The inquisitor or his vicar would arrive suddenly deliver a sermon to the people calling for reports of anyone suspected of heresy, and all those who felt heresy within them­selves to come forth and confess, within a period of grace. This was the “general inquisition”. When the period of grace expired, the “special inquisition” began, with a summons to suspected heretics when were detained until trial.

At the trial the inquisitor had complete control as judge prosecutor and jury. The proceedings were not public, evidences of two witnesses was sufficient – they were unknown – The suspect was not allowed a defense lawyer or, rather lawyers discovered that defence of a suspected heretic might result in their own summons to the holy tribunal. Trials might continue for years, during which the suspect could languish in prison. Torture was a most effective means to secure repentance. Torture of children and old people was relatively light, the pregnant women were exempt until after delivery.

Penance following confession might be light, such as the hearing of a number of masses or, a pilgrimage to specific local or distant shrines, where scourging might be prescribed. Confessed heretics were sometimes forced to wear symbols denoting their fallen state, such as crosses of special design and colour, penitents night instead or in addition be fined or have their property confiscated. Some were sentenced to inquisitorial prison.

Resides loss of liberty heretics suffered civil death and were: disqualified from holding office or making legal contracts. The final group of heretics – unreconciled – had severe punish­ment – death at the stake. The inquisition entrusted this to the secular authorities, since the church could not shed blood.

The success of inquisition varied in different countries. It depended on the political relations with the papacy. It is influence was affected by events such as the Avignon papacy and papal schism. In Spain it was under royal control. In Germany it met with little success. In France it was strong. In Italy also it was string.

Most of the inquisitors were well educated and devoted to what they considered their duty. Some of them produced treatises for the use of other inquisitors.

The Mendicant Orders

Pope Innocent III attempted at the renewal of the monastic life in the church. He ordered to investigate the reason of the spiritual decline of the existing orders. At the same time he encouraged new foundations.  During this period two great mendicant orders were founded basing on the apostolic poverty.


1. Franciscans.

Francis of Assisi was born in 1181, son of Peter Bernard-one and of Pica. He gave up his wealth, renounced his inheritance and settled outside his native town to live a life of prayer and poverty. Gathering a band of followers, arid working part-­time jobs, he served his fellow men by preaching and nursing the sick. His way of life was approved in 1209 by Innocent III Thereafter they were known as the Minor Friars. They wore dark grey dress and went barefoot. As the organization grew it became difficult, to continue a life of poverty. So the order was permitted to own property. However some wanted to continue to live according to the teachings of Francis, insisting upon a life of poverty and a renunciation of endowments. They became known as the Spiritual Franciscans (Fraticelli) because they refused to obey the pope’s order to alter their rule this group was per­secuted and became associated with several other suppressed movements. The brothers who accepted the changes to the order were known as the “Conventuals”.

In 1219 Francis traveled to the Middle East. While he was absent problems arose among the members of his order. In 1223 pope Honorius III confirmed the new rule, which allowed for an elaborate organization. Francis holding to his original ideas laid down his leadership and retired to a hermitage on Monte Alvernia. There he received the stigmata. He composed his Canticle to the Sun, his Admonitions, arid the Testament. He died in 1226.

A society for women, the poor dares, began in 1212 when Claire was converted and commissioned.


The Dominicans

St. Dominic (1170-1221) was the founder of the Dominicans e or the Friars of Preachers. He was a/canon of the cathedral of Osma in Spain. He was sent to reconvert the Albigensians. He soon discovered that the ignorance of both clergy and laity concerning the doctrines and moral teachings of the church was the reason for the spread of heresy. Only bishops and their delegates were permitted to preach and they could not reach the people. To remedy this Dominic founded the Order of Preach­ers specifically dedicated to instructing the people from the pulpit and to teaching in the schools. The Dominican rule is based on the Augustinian and Franciscan rules, every superior was given and urged to use wide powers of dispensation if the church or order could be served suspension of rules. A system of democratic elections, representative assemblies and control by a minister general, bound the order together. Dominic also established an order for nuns.

The Dominican order was recognized in 1220. They wear a white habit and a black cloak (scapular) and so known as the Black Friars. They spread throughout Europe as the “watchdogs of the Lord” (a pun for the Latin name Dominicanus = domini canis) to hunt down heresy and ignorance.

The Dominicans established colleges and seminaries not as only for their members but also for other clergy. They produced leading mediaeval theologians such as Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas. The Franciscans were also busy in education. They established schools and seminaries. They had famous scho­lars like Beneventure (1221-74), Alexander of Hales (1170-1245) and William of Ockam.

Gothic architecture

Gothic architecture appeared in the eleventh century. It was the style of the high Middle Ages. It developed out of the earlier Romanesque pattern. Romanesque buildings were characte­rized by a low massive appearance due to heavy walla round arches and few windows. Gothic architecture emphasized height. Notre Dame, the Sainte Chapelle at Paris, York, Cologne cathedrals are classic examples of gothic churches.

The age of Transition

The end of thirteenth century in Europe was a period tran­sition. This period bridged the gap between medieval and modern times. Numerous elements of medieval civilization waned and dis­appeared, some others survived into later centuries with great struggles. The church as an institution outlived with much diff­iculty because the new forces shaping Europe were dynamic and powerful. The church had adapted itself to the feudal world, and now the new political, social and economic climate threat­ened to sweep away the ecclesiastical along with the feudal structure of the society. Now how this new tendency affected the church and what were the reactions of the church and the results?

Actually the later middle Ages were a period of difficulty for the church. During this period there occurred the crisis of the attack on Pope Boniface VIII, the Avignon papacy, the Great schism and the Renaissance. All these caused a decline in the church.

The fundamental attributes of this period which undermined the established position of the church are:

1. A shift in the economic basis of the society – feudalism based on land and source of wealth. How the revival of commerce and industry brought about a more flexible economic organizat­ion and a return to a money economy. Inevitably the church felt this change just as the secular institutions, for it faced with decline in its land values and a concurrent need for ready cash at the very times its functions were becoming more complex and consequently more costly. As the largest landholder of Europe the church’s economic basis was seriously weakened, and a changeover was necessary.

  1. A gradual secularization of the society

During this period there developed a new secularistic spirit in Europe. There was a tendency to concentrate on the present Ascetic renunciation lost its attraction. Even the mendicant orders lost much of its attraction. The secularistic spirit even penetrated among the clergy and it led to a moral decadence in the next century. Demand for reform in head and members were voiced at the councils. Anticlerical tendencies appeared.

3. The weakening of ecclesiastical monopoly over education and the educated class: During this period the church lost its monopoly of talent. By 1300 the greatest philosophers and theologians were dead. Some of the propositions of St. Thomas was condemned. Thomas did not dominate the centuries after his death. Nominalism of Ockam displaced Thomism. The coming of vernacular languages was a change, which employed a new sprit. Dante’s Divine Comedy was a most perfect literary form of the catholic culture of medieval Europe. Humanism in Renaissance emphasized the lay element in the literary world. As the laity became more educated they became more aware of the ignorance of many of the clergy and more critical of clerical shortcomings.


4. Birth of national sentiment in the midst of general political centralization – 1’eudal regime had been favorable to .the church. The church could control the small units. With the collapse of feudal system, national states emerged with national sentiments. This was felt as a threat to a unified Christendom» a second political characteristic of the age was the trend toward centralization of all authority in the hands of the sovereign. The sovereign should have the full control of over his subjects. Royal army, a royal bureaucracy and new sources of revenue promoted the process. It was a complete reversal of the medieval dispersion of public authority.

The clergy enjoyed wide exemptions such as immunity from civil courts, freedom from certain secular taxes, appeal of cases to Rome from the local bishop’s court etc. The new rulers with the popular support began to control this. This inevitably led to a conflict with the church and the state authorities. Demands of the national state took precedence over claims of a supranational church.

The second council of Lyons (1274)

It was convoked by pope Gregory X in 1274. Thomas Aquinas died en route to Lyons and St. Beneventure died during the sessions of the council. Three matters discussed in the counsel are the situation of the Holy Land, the Greet schism, arid the disciplinary problems.


 Though elaborate plans were laid on the recovery of the holy places, no international enterprise as crusade took place because in the new world of national states it was difficult.

For reasons more political than religious, the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII opened negotiations with the pope for the end of the Greek schism. After much discussion, a formula of agreement was achieved whereby the Greeks acknowledged papal primacy and catholic teaching on the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Byzantine legates at Lyons accepted the agreement and the end of the schism was joyfully proclaimed however, the reunion proved unpopular with the Greek population and was repudiated when emperor Michael died.

Two canons of the council are significant; canon 2sought to prevent delays in papal elections by providing for a secret conclave of the cardinals within ten days after pope’s death. Unless they agreed upon a new pontiff quickly the cardinals’ diet was to be reduced to bread, water and wine. Civil officials of the place of the conclave were charged with the execution of the scheme. It was promulgated against the cardinals’ opposition. So it was soon suspended, and then annulled entirely. It was re-enacted in 1294 by Celestine V.

 The prohibition by Lateran IV on the establishment of new religious orders was renewed. The tremendous success of the Domincans and Franciscans had called into existence a variety of imitators. If also caused a tension between the regulars and seculars. In 1253 the theologians at Paris had even voted to ex­pel all friars from the university and had petitioned the pope to suppress them entirely. The bishops at Lyons decided to take drastic actions against them. The council suppressed all mendi­cant orders except the Dominicans and Franciscans, although a decision was withheld on the Carmelites and the Augustinians pending further examinations. These latter two eventually were permitted to continue, but others either disappeared or changed.




Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel
Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

              The contemporary period begins with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Peace of Westphalia was a treaty that ended the thirty years war (1618-1648) between the Catholics and the Protestants. The war started with the election of the catholic Jesuit educated Ferdinand II as the emperor and king of Bohemia. The Protestants appealed to the emperor for protection and a guarantee of their religious liberties. Receiving no satisfaction they revolted against the king. In 1618 they (Bohemian rebels) declared Ferdinand deposed and elected a Protestant Frederick as their king. This caused a conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants all over Germany.  Later the Protestants in Denmark and Sweden also became involved in this war.

            In the beginning the Catholics were successful, later the Protestants with the support of France won. After thirty years of war peace was settled on 24 October 1648. As a result of this treaty a principle “cujus regio ejus religio” was adapted. The treaty also ratified the confiscation of ecclesiastical property. It provided certain absurd religious arrangements, whereby some dioceses were to be held alternately by Catholics and Protestants.  Pope Innocent X (1649 55) protested vehemently against this treaty.

            Peace of Westphalia marked the end of a period of history and the beginning of a new, whereby the Catholic Church became one of the several Christian Churches. Internal politics were now carried on without reference to Rome. Religion had become a private affair and was driven out of political and social life. It led to the process of secularization, the characteristic of modern history.

In the years following the treaty of Westphalia, the position of papacy was an extremely difficult one.  The popes of this period witnessed a definite decline in the political prestige and ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Curia.  The catholic rulers of Europe exerted powerful influence in the election of popes. They often humiliated the popes by exerting their superior political power.  State absolutism opposed the freedom and privileges of the church.

1. Decline of the Church and the Absolute State.

            The decline of the Church and the growth of the absolute state power are the two characteristics of the 17th and 18th centuries. The rulers in the catholic countries looked upon religion as a political concern. They felt that it was their right to control the church through the power of appointing members of the hierarchy and binding them closely to themselves. The interference of the popes in the domestic affairs of the state was considered as an illegitimate foreign intrusion. The popes of this period were generally good, but they granted concessions to make peace between Rome and the catholic kings.

Gallicanism was a typical example of the absolute power of the state. It means that the king has absolute power in his state to control the church. It came to a most complete expression in France in the 17th century but it was also realized in one way or another in almost every catholic country

            Gallicanism as a programme adopted whatever measures increased the independence of the national church and lessened the papal authority in the country.  These measures could be to increase the authority of bishops -Episcopal Gallicanism –which found its justification in the council of Constance (1414- 17) and Basel (1431) or to increase the royal power over the national church –Royal Gallicanism. As an attitude Gallicanism was the religious manifestation of nationalism. It was a tendency to ignore Rome and to develop a peculiarly “national church”. As a doctrine Gallicanism held that the pope was subject to a general council and his authority over the church in foreign countries is limited.

History of Gallicanism

In the beginning of the seventeenth century several French theologians and canonists began to decrease the importance of the pope. They refused to consider the pope a universal bishop and demanded superiority of the general council over the pope and maintained that the council could be convened even without the pope. They concluded that the pope was in no way omnipotent and that natural law and even the civil law of Christian nations placed limits upon his authority. Yet the French theologians unanimously acknowledged the true primacy of the pope, his universal authority and his position as the center of the unity of Christians.

The claims of political gallicanism had been formulated in 1594 by Pierre Pithou, a lawyer of the French parliament. According to him the king had the right to rule over his clergy and to convoke national councils. The pope could not interfere in the affairs of the church without the permission of the king. He could not excommunicate the king or his official nor could he absolve the subjects from obedience to the king. Another author Pierre de Marca limited papal infallibility to those matters which received the consent of the church. He defended the right of the king to censure ecclesiastics in his country

Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France (1624) advanced this theory. He wanted to suppress episcopal gallicanism and to strengthen royal gallicanism. He promised the king that he would make him an absolute ruler. His aim was to make French church into a patriarchate with himself as its head. But he died before it was taken place (1642).

Gallicanism under Louis XIV (1643-1715 ruler 1660 1715)

A revival of gallican ideas can be perceived from the beginning of rule of Louis XIV.  He believed that he was a divinely instituted ruler over the church and the state. Hence he admitted no limitations on his power. In 1661 the Flemish Jesuit Coret challenged his authority and defended divinely instituted infallibility of the pope. Louis branded this theory as the new heresy of the Jesuits.

            In the following years there occurred certain events that favoured gallicanism and created an antipapal feeling in France.

1. The violent confrontation between the Corsican guards and the French soldiers. The confrontation took place on 20 August 1662 near the French embassy in Rome. Louis  then  expelled the papal nuncio and declared Avignon and Venesian County annexed to France. He even threatened to attack Italy. Pope Alexander VII (1655 1667) apologized and punished the guards and erected a monument to commemorate the event. This event though apparently had no doctrinal significance had been made use of by Louis to create antipapal feeling in France.

2. The right of regalia. It was the right the French king enjoyed during the vacancy of a diocese to receive its revenues (temporal) and to appoint benefices (candidates). In France this had been limited to a few dioceses and Lyons 11 (1274) had forbidden further extension. On 10 February 1673 Louis declared that it was an inherent and inalienable right of the king and he extended it over all dioceses of France. 118/120 bishops supported the king. Pope Innocent XI (1676-89) condemned it.

In 1682 a general assembly of the clergy was convoked to settle the question. It recognized the right of the king to extend the right of regalia to all dioceses and suggested that the candidates presented by the king should be canonically installed. This assembly approved the four Gallican Articles formulated by Bossuet, bishop of Meaux:

1) The church and the pope have no power over the temporal rulers. They cannot depose the king nor release the subjects from obedience to the king.

2) The exercise of papal power is limited by the customs and privileges of the gallican church.

3) The papal power is limited by a general council.

4) The pope has the chief voice in deciding the questions of faith but he needs the consent of the whole church.

The king ordered that these articles be taught in all seminaries and formally subscribed to by everyone taking a degree in theology. Pope Innocent XI condemned the assembly and the articles. He refused to confirm the appointment as bishop anyone who attended the assembly. Louis insisted on nominating only those who participated the assembly. Therefore by 1687 there were some thirty sees vacant.

3. The Embassy dispute. The embassies in Rome claimed the right of asylum not only to the embassies themselves but also for a large district surrounding the buildings. This created difficulties for the police authorities. Pope Innocent XI limited this right to the embassy and its gardens. All European countries except France conformed. The pope excommunicated those who acted contrary to the decree. In spite of having been excommunicated, the new French Ambassador Marquis de Lavardin entered Rome and had the sacraments administered to himself at the church of San Luigi dei Francesi on 24 December 1687. As a result the church was interdicted. At the beginning of January 1688 Innocent XI secretly informed Louis that he and his ministers had been excommunicated. The king immediately took several countermeasures. He occupied Avignon and Venesian County and appealed to a general council. He jailed the papal nuncio and forbade the bishops any and all correspondence with Rome. During the next pontificate (Alexander VIII (1689-91) Louis returned the papal territories and consented to the restriction of the right of asylum due to the popular demand.

In 1693 a Louis withdrew his edict compelling the acceptance of the four gallican articles. In return pope Innocent X11 (1691-1700) confirmed the king’s nominees. All bishops chosen after 1682 signed a retraction: “we profess and declare that we are extremely grieved at what happened in the assembly of 1682 which is so displeasing to your Holiness and your predecessors. Hence we hold and affirm that all declarations issued by the assembly against the power of the church and the authority of the pope are herewith rescinded.” The conflict thus ended and the danger of a French schism vanished. But Gallicanism continued until the 19th century and it was adopted by other countries especially Holland, Germany, Austria and Tuscany. It not only weakened the papacy but led to a too great dependence of the church on the absolute state.

Heretical Movements.

In the following years after the Peace of Westphalia it was France that was the principal cause of Church’s anxiety. After the condemnation of Lutherinism in 1520, small groups of Protestants began to form in various towns.  During the time of Henry 11 (1547-59) Calvinism began to establish in France. Henry II was killed and in the struggle of the different factions to control the regency the religious division received a new importance. For forty years there was the conflict between the Catholics and the Calvinists. It is called wars of religion (1562-1598). During this period many Catholics were massacred. Catholic churches were sacked and destroyed (about 20.000). The Catholics rose against this. Henry 111 (1574-1589) was stabbed by a mad Dominican. His successor Henry IV (1589-1610) submitted to the church. There now began in France a revival of catholic life in all its forms.

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) founded a new Congregation of the Visitation. He wrote the famous book “Introduction to the devout life” and “treatise on the love of god”, one of the masterpieces of mystical theology.  These books served for the general revival of the life of prayer. The Order of Visitation (cofounder was Jane Francis de Chantal) was originally conceived as a partially active congregation without complete claustration, but in 1618, impelled by the archbishop of Lyon, it had to change into a contemplative order with ceremonious public vows. They then took over educational tasks.

            During this period there were attempts to reform the life of the clergy. Cardinal de Berulle founded the French Oratory. Two other orders  -Eudists, founded by  St. John Eudes (1611-80), the company of St. Sulpice, founded by Jean Jacques Olier- were also founded to supply well instructed and well informed parochial clergy.

            One of the greatest organizers of works of charity, who ever lived, was St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). He with St. Louise de Marillac founded sisters of Charity and the order of Lazarists

In those years another benevolent society -Company of the Blessed Sacrament -was founded.  Though it included priests and bishops among its members, it was under lay direction. It was the generosity of the member of this league that made possible many of the ventures of St. Vincent and the formation of Foreign Missions in 1663.

The spiritual revival of France was checked by certain heretical movements. The first among them was Jansenism.

1 Jansenism

Jansenism was a pernicious movement that disturbed the religio-ecclesiastical life of France in the 17th century. It tried to infiltrate Calvinistic thought into catholic theology and piety. It held the doctrine of predestination. It killed the prayer to the saints, practice of frequent communion etc.

Its cause was Cornelius Jansen, professor of theology at the university of Louvain and later bishop of Ypres. His book “Augustinus” seu doctrina  Augustini de humanae naturae sanitate aegretudine, medicina adversus Pelagianos et Massilienses” repeated the opinions of Michael Baius (+1589). Baius asserted that the preternatural and supernatural gifts with which Adam was endowed at creation were natural to him and therefore that original sin was more than a deprivation, it was a disorderly act which corrupted the human nature and renders it incapable of doing good.  For him free will is nothing but concupiscence (desire for worldly things). In his fallen state man can do nothing but sin. Pope Pius V (1566-1572) condemned these opinions by “Ex omnibus affectionibus” on 1 October 1567.

The book Augustinus was widely spread in Holland and France. In summer 1621 Jansen met Jean Ambrose Duvergier de Hauranne, a Frenchman, at the college of Saint Pulcherie in Louvain. Hauranne became the abbot of St. Cyran and wanted to reform caitholic life in the sense of “Augustinus”. Other leaders who supported Jansen was Antoine Arnauld (+1649), priest and theologian, the Cistercian nuns of Port-Royal of Paris where Antoine was confessor and his sister Angelique was abbess. Port-Royal was founded in 1204 by the wife of a soldier of the fourth crusade to obtain from heaven the safe return of her husband in the valley of Chevreuse. It was not enclosed, the members were free to come and go out. Mother Angelique was a daughter of a rich man who had eight daughters. Angelique (former name -Jacquiline) became coadjutrix of Port-Royal at the age of eight and her sister at the age of six. The phrase applied to these nuns is: “angelic in appearance but moved with pride of Lucifer”.

            The principal opponents of Jansenism were the Jesuits. Antoine Arnauld wrote a book De la frequente communion (1643) in which he severely criticized the practice of frequent communion as recommended by the Jesuits. He laid down very strict conditions for absolution and reception of communion. Sacrament of Penance is valid only with perfect contrition. Absolution must be withheld until the penance is performed. Holy Communion should be received only a few times a lifetime. No one is worthy to receive it. Respectful abstention from communion honours Christ more than frequent reception. The abbot of St. Cyran wrote to a nun who was saddened by not receiving communion during her illness: “You will soon understand that you do more for yourself by not going to Holy Communion than by going”.

Eighty-eight bishops urged by St. Vincent de Paul requested the pope to examine the book Augustinus. On 31 May 1653 Innocent X by his bull “cum occasione” condemned five propositions as heretical.

1. Some of the commandments of God cannot be observed by the just because they do not have the necessary grace to do so.

2. In the present state of corrupted nature man cannot resist the action of interior grace

3. Merit or demerit presupposes freedom from physical constraint not freedom from interior necessity.

4. The semipelagians erred when they taught that human will can resist or respond to grace.

5. It is semipelagian error to say that Christ died for all men.

As authentic Christians the Jansenists could not openly oppose the condemnation. They denied that the propositions were the teaching of Jansen. They distinguished between “questio juris and questio facti”. The church is infallible when she decides a matter of faith (whether a doctrine is heretical or not), but she is not infallible when she pronounces on a mere fact that has not been revealed (whether an author ever held this opinion or not or whether it is certain that a theologian taught this or that doctrine). In the latter case she cannot demand interior consent, but only a reverential or respectful silence.

Pope Alexander VII declared in 1656 that the five propositions had been taken from Jansen’s work and had been condemned in the sense in which the author had used them. Then the French bishops drew up a formula of faith to be signed by those who had refused to submit. Then the Jansenists claimed that only the pope had the right to exact such subscription. Therefore the pope issued a new constitution in 1664 with a similar formula. Louis XIV for political reasons supported the pope and opposed the Jansenists. But in spite of these measures many refused to sign it. The nuns of Port-Royal were debarred from receiving sacraments and in 1664 the archbishop of Paris placed their convent under interdict.

The four bishops of Alet, Angers, Beauvais and Pamiers first refused to sign the papal formula on the grounds that the pope is not infallible in the matters of fact. They signed a much moderated formula. When the king and the pope decided to take action against them nineteen more declared publicly that they agreed with the four bishops. The crisis was solved by a compromise known as the Clementine Peace in 1670. The Jansenist bishops agreed to sign the formula.

The Clementine peace lasted thirty years (1670-1700). During this period Jansenism spread among the diocesan clergy and it can be considered an underground movement in the French Church. Many held Jansen’s teaching to be true. Once again Port-Royal became fashionable. Many were influenced by the men and women of Port-Royal who were described as the angels on earth, saints descended from heaven.

In the beginning of the 18th century the Jansenist controversy was revived and again disturbed the French church for almost thirty years. In 1701 a new pamphlet -case of conscience -appeared. The question was whether absolution could be given to a penitent who maintained a respectful silence on the matter of Jansen’s teaching and signed the Papal formulary with the mental reservation that the five propositions were not to be found in Jansen. This became the subject of discussion among the professors of Sorbonne. Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) condemned it in 1703. At the request of Louis XIV he formally condemned the attitude of respectful silence by the bull Vineam Domini of 15 July 1705. In it he declared that a respectful silence was not enough but that the five sentences of Jansen had to be abjured with mouth and heart. However the bull did not have the desired effect. The clergy in their general assembly in 1705 declared that the constitutions of popes oblige the universal church only when the bishops give their assent. The pope’s disapproval of this declaration passed unnoticed. Since the nuns of Port-Royal refused to accept the bull  the convent was again placed under interdict in 1707. In 1709 the government suppressed the community and the building was demolished (1710-12).

            Perhaps the papal decree might have ended the jansenist trouble. But meanwhile a learned Oratorian Paschasius Quesnel (1719) published a book “reflexiones morales sur le Nouveau Testament”- moral reflections on the NT in revised edition in 1693. It met with an enthusiastic reception, but was condemned by pope Clement X1 in 1708. It insinuated Jansenism into a set of pious reflections made on each verse of the NT. Cardinal Louis Antoine de Noailles, archbishop of Paris, who as bishop of Chalons-sur Marne, had approved and recommended the book in 1695, now had to withdraw the approval

At the request of the king, pope Clement XI examined the book and issued the bull Unigenitus on 8 September 1713, in which he condemned 101 propositions taken from the Reflexiones. Four French bishops refused to accept the bull. Noailles appealed to a future pope better informed and to a general council. The universities of Paris, Nantes and Reims joined him. France was divided into two camps -the acceptants and the appellants. By the bull Pastoralis officii of 28 August 1718 the pope excommunicated the appellants. But the appellants appealed against the new bull and declared the ex­communication null and void. Finally cardinal Noailles in October 1728 declared his unconditional acceptance of the bull. Many followed his example. With this submission Jansenism as an organized movement came to an end. But Jansenism lived on in individuals and it harassed the church throughout the 18th century. It was one of the factors that led to the suppression of the Society of Jesus.

At this point the brilliant highly talented mathematician, philosopher and apologist, Blaise Pascal (+1662) – his sister was a nun in Port-Royal- wrote the letters provinciales (1656-57) against the Jesuits. It was placed on the index in 1657 and was forbidden in France by a royal decree of 1660, but the effect of the work was damaging and lasting. The Jesuits were discredited in France and in all Europe.

The magistrates of the parliament or courts interfered in the affairs of the church. In 1733 for example when certain priests in the diocese of Orleans tried to make the parishioners subscribe to the bull Unigenitus, the parliament called their conduct abusive and requested their bishop to restrain them. The most important quarrel was over the giving of last sacrament to those who refused to accept Unigenitus. Some priests refused to do so, and the parliament took legal action against them. Archbishop Christopher de Beaumont was ordered to appear before the parliament of Paris because he refused to revoke the regulation requiring subscription to unigenitus for receiving the last sacraments. The archbishop’s temporal possessions were confiscated, he was exiled from Paris and priests were forbidden to refuse the last sacraments to recalcitrant. A compromise was reached in 1756 when Pope Benedict XIV required obedience to Unigenitus but stated that the last sacraments need not be denied to any but notorious public sinners.

A small group of jansenists broke away from the church and set up a schismatic group still in existence, the Old Catholics of Holland. In 18th century it did much harm to the Church in France. It introduced into catholic circles a strong puritan note which robbed Catholicism of its richness and its full development.

            Jansenism was based on a certain doctrine of justification that proposed rigorous views of human nature and the role of grace in man’s salvation. Jansenists were austere in their morality and they considered any one opposed to them as corrupted enemies of God. Their aim was to purify the Church of all accretions since the time of the primitive Fathers.


Quietism was another heretical movement within the church in France in the 17th century. It also exaggerated and distorted the doctrine of St. Augustine. Jansenism bowed man to the ground before a dreadful God who according to His whim, called some and rejected others. Jansenist morality clouded over and dried up the heart, Quietism reached conclusions much less pessimistic; as they deviated in favour of softness as opposed to the harshness of Port­-Royal. It was a natural but extreme reaction to the stress laid on the activity and the role of the will by the Jesuits and the Vincentians.

This movement began in Rome where a Spanish priest Michael Molinos (1628-1696) had for sometime been spiritual director of a group. Molinos was in Rome as the procurator in the beatification cause of Jeronimo Simon. He was highly regarded there. Even pope Innocent XI thought well of him. In 1675 he published a book called “A spiritual guide” in Spanish and Italian. It was also translated into Latin, French and German. In 1685 he was arrested by the Inquisition and two years later Innocent XI condemned 68 propositions from his book.

The spirituality of Quietism culminated in two fundamental themes: absolute passivity and contemplation in complete spiritual tranquility. The soul must aim at mystic death, annihilation in God; allowing God to substitute Himself for the Ego and to dominate the whole being. The soul should have no desire, should make no act of love. In fact every act is displeasing to God because it interrupts the state of passive resignation. Devotion itself is harmful if it is addressed to the visible e.g. the humanity of the Man-­Christ, the Blessed Virgin or the saints. Thus one way only was offered to the mystical soul: the inward way. The purgative way was no longer necessary: away with asceticism.

Molinos taught that man must annihilate his will and all his powers so that God is perfectly free to act in the soul. The aim of spiritual life consists in such passivity of the soul that it no longer desires salvation, virtue of perfection, but rests in God without any activity or volition of its own. The perfect state of soul is one of complete passivity. For him it is wrong to resist temptation for this is a positive act of will. In the state of annihilation the soul no longer sins. Vocal prayers, mortification and struggle against temptation are not necessary for a soul that has achieved such passivity.

            After a long trial Molinos was sentenced to imprisonment for life. He accepted it humbly and silently. He passed the last nine years of life, until 1696, in prison. At this time a widow Madame Guyon (1648-1717) and her spiritual director Fr. Lacombe (1643-1712) made quietism an important movement in France. Guyon was somewhat unbalanced and claimed to have visions like St. Therese of Avila, when she was five years old and aspired to martyrdom. She said that ‘with a large needle’ she had sewn on her flesh a piece of paper bearing the name of Jesus!  She was physically and psychologically abnormal. She married a man 22 years senior to her. On the day after the wedding she declared amidst tears that marriage was to her a hateful sacrifice and that she would rather have been a nun. She lived in a mystical delight which made her forget her real life. She claimed that the Child Jesus had placed on her finger the visible ring of mystical marriage. She together with Lacombe moved from place to place and spread the quietist ideas and attracted considerable attention. She wrote a treatise called Moyen court et tres facile de faire oraison -easy and short ways for prayer. Bishops asked her to leave their dioceses. Finally the archbishop of Paris had her arrested in 1686. Lacombe was also imprisoned for alleged immorality and errors. He died insane.

Charges against Guyon’s moral conduct were never proved. She said that she would abandon her ideas as soon as they were declared false. So there seemed no reason to fear her orthodoxy. After her release, she met Fenelon, the future archbishop of Cambrai who regarded her as a holy woman. When the old rumours about her character and doctrine circulated again, the bishops decided to examine the case more thoroughly. She was arrested. Bossuet, bishop of Noailles studied the case, and drew up 34 articles in which her errors were condemned. Fenelon also signed it.

Quietism did not end when Guyon accepted the condemnation of 1690 because Fenelon and Bossuet continued the dispute. In 1699 pope Innocent XII ended the dispute by condemning 23 propositions taken from Fenelon’s writings. Fenelon submitted with his famous statement: “Please God, it may even be said of us that a pastor ought to bear in mind that he must be more docile than the least of his sheep”. Fenelon read his own condemnation from the pulpit. This put an end to quietism in France, but it damaged the contemplative life.

Decline of the Church and Secularism

In 17th and 18th.centuries the Church lost the initiative in cultural and intellectual life. And it was taken by people who styled themselves as scientists, artists or economists rather than as christians. As a result of this, the western culture was controlled by those who were not directly influential by the church. This phenomenon is labeled secularism. By this, various functions formerly performed by the church were turned over to worldly institutions.

During this period, though there were good popes, they were not able to give the church a forceful leadership. The most capable men of the age were civilians. Their aim was to make the church impotent in everything except the matter of private devotion. As a result of this, religion was pushed more and more out of man’s life, out of his social and political life, out of cultural affairs, out of art and literature and finally out of man’s very consciousness except for stated hours of worship each week. Now we shall study some of these secularizing movements. France was the centre of all these movements. From there it spread to other countries.

The Enlightenment

Different terminology: Lumieres (French)

Illuminarismo (Italian)

Aufklarung (German)

The Enlightenment is a way of thinking and acting that ignores and even denies the existence of the supernatural order, revolts against all kinds of dogma, and basing itself exclusively on experience and reason, elaborates a naturalistic and rationalistic conception of the world and life (Villoslada).

Here reason was given absolute sovereignty. Nature takes the place of God and physical laws replace providence. Faith was subverted in the revealed religion. But it had also some positive and beneficial results. It opposed the superstitions and unreasonable incredulity. It exerted great influence on education. It also induced the governments to exercise tolerance towards various religions. It fostered a new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in various positive sciences. It created humanitarian interests which resulted in greater material wellbeing.

This movement originated in England in the 17th century. Then it passed to France and Germany. The English philosopher Francis Bacon (+1626) was the one who prepared the way for this movement. He completely divorced reason from revelation, faith from knowledge. He opposed scholasticism. For him the kingdom of man (earthly happiness) has no bond with a supreme being.

The other English men of Enlightenment were:

            Lord Herbert of Cherbury (+1648)

            John Locke (1630-1704)

            Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

            David Hume (+1776)

            In France the enlightenment did greater harm. Ferdinand Brunetiere says “the 18th century became the most unchristian and the least French of any century in France’s history. In France the most powerful writer was Pierre Bayle (1647-1706). For him not only revealed religion but even natural religion is incompatible with reason. He wrote a book: the historical and critical Dictionary (1695-97).

The chief representative of this movement in France was Voltaire (1694-1778). As a gifted writer and superficial thinker he ridiculed all that is noble and sublime. He wanted to destroy all positive religions especially catholic church. His bitterness towards the church was expressed in his words: “crush the infamous”.

Rousseau (1712-1778) was less hostile towards religion. He became catholic in 1728 and remained so until 1754. According to him true religion consists in the love of good and beautiful and contains only three dogmas: l. existence of God, 2. liberty, 3. immortality. In his book on Social contract he advocated the idea of democracy and sovereignty of the people.

In France the representatives of Enlightenment were called Encyclopedists. Between 1751 to 1780 an encyclopedia was published in France in 28 volumes plus 7 supplementary volumes. Most of the contributors were the representatives of enlightenment.

The Germans were attracted by the enlightenment towards the end of the 17th century. Their leader was Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716). Other leaders in Germany were Christian Wolf (1679-1754), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) etc. The German enlightenment reached its zenith during the reign of Frederick II. They published a book Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek (1765-1805) in 106 volumes. It was followed by many pernicious books. Some of the authors denied trinity and divinity of Christ eg. Edemann(+1767) Reimarus (+1788)  presented Moses and Christ as a pair of imposters.

The leading writers of the classical period of German national literature were Lessing (+1781), Herden (+1803), Weiland (+1813), Schiller (+1805) and Goethe (+1832). These people professed a monistic idealistic philosophy, a religion of humanity, which rejected Christianity as revelation and esteemed it only for its esthetic value.

The effects of the enlightenment

1. The new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in the various positive sciences and gave a new impetus to the spread and renewal of education at all levels.

2. Its humanitarian interests resulted in greater material wellbeing: great improvement in such matters as roads, new buildings, commerce etc.

3. Some of the pioneers were men of sincere faith, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Descartes, La Place (all catholics), Newton and Leibniz (Protestants). Newton believed that his scientific discoveries were communicated to him by the Holy Spirit.

It seems that the Church was not aware of the danger of this movement. The clergy neglected their pastoral duty. There were atheists and deists among the French clergy. The irreligious writings mounted and had penetrated every level of society.

The enlightenment differed slightly from country to country, but essentially it was the same everywhere. It was antireligious; it secularized morality by separating it from a personal God and from any religion. The church had no clever men to defend the religion. Therefore by the end of the 18th century there was a tendency to identify the church with ignorant peasants and the clerical class used to exploit them and to keep them subservient to an absolute monarch. Then the thinking people rebelled against established authority in the Church.


The philosophers, though followed different paths, formed a kind of friendly society within which they maintained constant intercourse, exchanging visits and carrying on a vast correspondence. There was thus a plentiful and fruitful encounter of ideas. Europe was the home of great minds determined to be “free”

As to the origin of freemasonry it derives from the journeymen builders who in the eleventh and twelfth centuries traveled from city to city, from site to site, in return for which popes and princes granted them certain privileges.  At that period and until the sixteenth century it was a religious corporation whose members bound themselves to be faithful to God and the church.  Virtually inactive everywhere, it took a new lease of life in England after the Great Fire of London in 1666, when the city had to be rebuilt. In London in 1717 a society was organized by stone masons who had been employed in the construction of St. Paul’s and other buildings. They accepted as members others who were not stone masons by trade. James Anderson, and Anglican clergyman drew up the constitution of the society in 1723, in which it was stated that the purpose was to foster humanity and brotherhood. It spread rapidly and was soon established in many cities -Madrid 1728, Paris 1732, Florence 1733, Lisbon, Hague, Rome 1735, Hamburg 1737, Berlin 1740, Vienna 1742. Their houses were known as lodges.

            The success of this movement was remarkable. Its members were recruited from the rich, the ruling classes and the enlightened circles. It was veiled in secrecy and rituals. Absolute secrecy was imposed on the members and various oaths were required of them. It has also a lure of a certain philosophical ideal, a certain spiritual aspiration and even a degree of mysticism.

            The question ‘whether freemasonry was antichristian’ is disputed. One thing is true that a large number of ecclesiastics were the members of it and they enjoyed the privilege of admission without inquiry as to their respectability, since their profession guaranteed their character. Priests, bishops and monks were its members. Towards the year 1789 a quarter of French freemasons were churchmen; and there is no reason to think that all of them were bad catholics. Great many of them saw no incompatibility between their faith and their Masonic membership. They even regarded freemasonry as a weapon to be employed in the service of religion.

The Jesuits were the first to feel uneasy about the Freemasonry Prompted by them the secular authority itself was hostile from time to time. Some bishops gave public approval to the action of parish priests who refused the sacrament or burial in consecrated ground to notorious freemasons. In 1738 Clement XII condemned freemasonry by his ball In eminenti, and thirteen years later Benedict XIV (1751) renewed it by his bull Providas Romanorum. This condemnation proved almost ineffective, the publication of the bull was prevented in France, no priest resigned from the society. Even in Rome the masons met almost without concealment.

Was freemasonry inimical to christianity? Strictly speaking no – at any rate not to any great extent.  there was no violent attack upon the dogmas of the church. They had pious declarations which reveal a strong attachment to the Mass as well as to Our Lady and the saints. A closer look at Masonic religion shows that it had nothing whatever to do with dogma or with an ecclesiastical established order. The rules drawn up by Anderson in the early days are quite explicit on this point: “Each Person may retain his personal beliefs, provided always he observes the precepts of the religion upon which all men are agreed and which enjoin him to be good, sincere, modest and honourable, no matter to what religious denomination he may belong”. So Masonic religion is clearly natural religion, purged of the dogmas, rites and symbols of christianity. Based on a form of Deism which recognizes the existence of a Great Architect, it allows Him no right of intervention in the spiritual and moral life and identifies His activity with that of reason. It is therefore fundamentally the doctrine of the philosophers. Consequently the church condemned it rightfully and dutifully.


            Febronianism is a movement in Germany which sponsored episcopalism, which is the theory that in the government of the church the supreme authority resides in the body of bishops. After the council of Trent the authority in the church was more centralized Ad Limina visits were made obligatory every five years, faculties reserved by bishops to dispense in cases reserved to the pope, had to be renewed every five years. The German bishops were not pleased with such arrangements. Febronianism resulted from the exploitation of these grievances.

Justinus Febronius was the pseudonym of John Nicholas von Hontheim (1701-1790), a brilliant prelate who had studied under Van Espen at the University of Louvain, then at the German college in Rome, and had finally been appointed coadjutor bishop of Trier. In 1763 he published a book de statu ecclesiae et legitima. potestate Romani pontificis  under the pseudonym Justinus Febronius. It was Rousseau’s Social Contract  applied to the church. According to Febronius, authority within the church belongs primarily to the community of the faithful (ecclesia) which possessed the power of the keys conferred by Christ. The pope has no right of jurisdiction, but only a primacy of honour.The bishops are the delegates of the community. The pope was simply the first among the equals and had no primacy. If the church wished it could designate this position to any other bishop, for Roman primacy was simply an administrative office conferred by the church on the pope. He denied papal infallibility. Primacy in the church rests with a general council and the pope is its administrative agent whose powers are limited by its decrees. The abuse of papal powers should be checked by a general council, by national synods and by the secular princes in each country. Febronius considered that the termination of papal abuses would restore Christianity to its original purity and enable dissenters to return to the bosom of the church. His book was translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

In 1764 pope Clement XIII condemned the book and placed it on the Index, but many bishops refused to publish the prohibition. At the earnest request of Pius VI and the insistence of his archbishop, Febronius agreed to publish a retraction of his theories, perhaps more formal than sincere; and he ended his long life at peace with the church.

Punctuation of Ems

In spite of the condemnation, Febronius’ ideas continued to prosper. The bishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier adopted them and tried to put them into effect. They took a stand publicly against usurpations on their jurisdiction by the Roman curia. In 1786 they issued twenty three decrees known as the punctuation of Ems in which they made strong demands for Episcopal ‘rights’ against Rome.

1. All exemptions from Episcopal authority enjoyed by convents and monasteries be suppressed.

2. Faculties granted to the bishops every five years be granted in perpetuum.

3. The Episcopal permission be required before papal acts were published in a diocese.

4. The Episcopal oath of office be replaced by a new one.

5. Papal primacy was based on the False Decretals. It was a forgery produced in the diocese of Rheims between 845 and 853 to provide law which could protect the rights of the bishops. In order to strengthen the argument, the authors invoked the principle of supremacy of the pope. Their intention was not to aid the papacy, but in fact it was the papacy which ultimately benefited most. The first pope who made use of it was Nicholas 1 (858-869).

6. They should no longer apply to the Holy See without the royal placet.

7. The pallium and annate taxes (first year’s revenue of See paid to the pope) would no longer be paid to the Curia. The pope and the nuncio Pacca stood firm. The outbreak of French Revolution and the invasion of Germany relegated everything else into the background.


In the second half of the 18th century there occurred a religious revolution, a systematic overthrow of all that the church believed inviolable. The reason was that the church was in a deteriorated situation which forced the state to intervene. In this period we find a tendency “enlightened despotism” that means the sovereigns would reform the church without reference to the pope. Josephism was a typical example of it.

              Maria Theresa (1740- 1780) was the mother of Joseph II. She was a prudent and pious woman and devotedly attached to the church. She began a series of reforms to improve the administration of her domains and promote the good of souls. These reforms were in harmony with the antireligious spirit of the age. She had forbidden the founding of new congregations, monasteries and convents or increasing of church property. Religious profession could not be made before the 24th year. The clergy were no longer to enjoy immunity from taxation. Papal enactments could not be published without the placet of the government. The number of holidays was reduced to 24 and the government assumed the censorship of the books, Higher studies were removed from the control of the clergy (Jesuits) and the universities were reorganized (1752) under the direction of the imperial physician Gerhard Van Swieten, a Dutch Jansenist. Since she was greatly loved by her people, her innovations were put into effect without much difficulty.

Joseph 11 (1780 1790)

Joseph dreamt of a unified strong Austrian state. He regarded the church as a mere cog in the state machine. He wanted to emancipate it from Rome and subject it to him. Thus he wanted to create a national church. He interfered in the church affairs fanatically. After 1781 he issued decrees in rapid succession. He fixed the umber of the candles at High Mass, regulated the use of incense, abolished a number of holidays, rearranged the parishes and dioceses in geometric fashion, closed hundreds of convents and monasteries (600) he  considered useless. He said: ‘being useless to the world they cannot please to God’.  One mass could be said daily in each church; the breviary was censored, the rosary was forbidden, and he amalgamated the confraternities.  He set up a commission which reorganized the seminaries (5 general seminaries) and ordered Mass to be said in German. Because of his interference in liturgical matters, Frederick of Prussia called him “the archsacristan of the holy Roman Empire”.

            Though Joseph made all these reforms he was not anti-catholic. The only thing he wanted to do was to remove certain things out of the domain of religion which never belonged to it. On certain occasions Joseph behaved as a good servant of the church. For example on one occasion he appointed 1500 carefully chosen priests to found parishes where there were none. He also struggled against superstitious practices and the sale of indulgences. He forbade the use of coffins which were to be replaced by funeral bags!

Cardinal of Vienna, Primate of Hungry etc. protested against these reforms vigourously. Pius VI went in person to Vienna in 1782 to check Joseph’s zeal for reform. But it was in vain. Joseph’s return visit in the following year was just as barren of results. It was only to obtain more concessions from the pope in the matter of episcopal appointment. Vigourous protests came also from the Belgian episcopacy. At the end of his life (20 Feb 1790) Joseph was forced to see the total failure of all his reform plans. He composed a melancholy epitaph for his tomb: “here lies a prince whose intentions were pure, but who had the misfortune to see all his projects fail”.

            Josephism was copied by some other rulers especially Leopold II of Tuscany, Joseph’s brother. Bishop Scipio Ricci of Pistoia cooperated with him. He convoked a synod at Pistoia in September 1786 and adopted a number of reform measures; four gallican articles were adopted, Quesnel’s moral reflexions were recommended. Devotion to Sacred Heart,  mass stipend etc were renounced. It was decided to banish all religious orders except one to be established after the model of Port- Royal.

            All other bishops except Ricci rejected the reform measures. They held a synod at Florence in April-May 1787. Leopold dissolved it. People were against the reforms, they attacked bishop Ricci, who resigned in 1791. Pope Pius VI condemned 85 propositions of Synod of Pistoia by the bull Auctorem fidei on 28 August 1794. After some years of refusal Ricci finally submitted in 1805. He retired and lived as a private person till his death in 1810.

The Suppression of the Society of Jesus (1773-1814)

            The suppression of the Society of Jesus shows how feeble the papacy had become under the pressure of the state power. The Jesuits had been rendering most valuable services to the Church in all fields since its origin in 1540. By the middle of the eighteenth century they had about 23,000 members, 800 houses, 700 colleges and 300 missions. It had become the most important and influential religious order in the church. They had also many enemies. The Gallicans and the Jansenists considered them as their chief enemy. Many of other religious orders were jealous of their greater power and influence in varlious fields. Many bishops especially in Spain and Portugal disliked them. Some of the enlightened thinkers like Voltaire considered the suppression of the Society the necessary first step toward destroying the effectiveness of the Church. Unfortunately the papacy was occupied by weak men at this time and eventually they agreed to suppress the society “for the sake of peace within church”.

The first blow against the Jesuits fell in Portugal.  The weak and immoral king Joseph Emmanuel (1750-1773) was completely under the influence of the ambitious and irreligious prime minister Marquis de Pombal. Pombal considered the Jesuits the cause of all ills in Portugal. An incident in the South American Jesuit states gave him an opportunity to act against them. As a result of a border treaty between Spain and Portugal 30,000 christian Indiana were forced to migrate in Paraguay, which Portugal obtained from Spain in 1750. The Indians were first resisted and were defeated and forced to submit (1756). Pombal blamed the Jesuits, their spiritual leader, for the natives’ resistance and began a systematic compaign of calumny against them. At the request of the Portuguese government pope Benedict XIV appointed Cardinal Saldanha, a relative of Pombal as a canonical visitor to the Society. Saldauha induced the Patriarch of Lisbon to suspend all Jesuits from preaching and hearing confession.

The Jesuits appealed to Rome. Then the Pombal forged a letter from the pope confirming Saldanha’s decision. The forgery was denounced at Rome. Then the Jesuits were accused of preaching regicide.  On 12 January 1759 all the Jesuits in Portugal were arrested. 221 superiors and other high-placed members had to spend the next 18 years -till Pombal’s death -in jail. Theothers were transported to the papal port of Civitavecchia, where they were unloaded “as a present to the pope”. Their houses, colleges and properties were confiscated. When the papal nuncio protested he was expelled and diplomatic relations with Rome was severed.

A similar fate befell on the Jesuits in France. The week king Louis XV was under the influence of Madame Pompadour, his mistress who hated the Jesuits because they refused to sanction her adulterous relationship with the king. She and others were waiting for an opportunity to discredit the Jesuits. It came in a curious way. The Jesuit mission at Martinique failed financially when its cargoes were captured by the English pirates early in the Seven Years’ War (1756). The principal creditor was Fr. La Vallette S.J. who undertook the sale of colonial products in Europe. The importing company in France (Lioney   Gauffre) sued the society as collectively responsible. La Valette left a big deficit and applied for money to the Jesuit Procurator General of the Missions. The Society refused to pay the debt. Then the Jesuits appealed to the parliament of Paris. The parliament decided that the society as a body was liable. The society also accused of participation in an assignation attempt on Louis XV in 1757. In August 1762 the parliament passed an act dissolving the Society in France. The king subscribed to it on 1 Dec. 1764. Their property was confiscated.

            The next blow was in Spain the stronghold of the Jesuits. When serious riots occurred in 1766, the minister Aranda convinced king Charles 111 (1759-1788) that the Jesuits were to blame for that. An enquiry was conducted in secrecy; no Jesuit was heard. All records of the proceedings were destroyed and decision reached was rendered without any reasons given. Sealed orders were dispatched throughout the kingdom with instructions to open them on the night of April 2, 1767. On the next morning every Jesuit in the country and the empire were arrested and transported to the Papal States.

The king of Naples (son of Charles III) suppressed the society in November 1767; also the Duke of Parma. All these rulers together demanded the pope to suppress the Society. Clement XIII refused. Then they began to confiscate the Papal States and threatened to depose the pope. Clement died while they planned to blockade Rome.

            The conclave lasted three months; 23 candidates were excluded on the grounds that they were favourable to the Jesuits. Finally Clement XIV (1769-1774) was elected.  He tried to delay the suppression but he yielded to the demands of the rulers and on 21 1 July 1773 he published a Brief “Dominus ac Redemptor” by which he suppressed the Society of Jesus. In this the Pope made no charges against the Jesuits and said that the “Church cannot enjoy true and lasting peace as long as the society remains inexistence”.

The Society continued to subsist in Prussia and Russia. In 1778 Pius VI sanctioned it. In 1801 Pius VII declared the society reestablished for the whole of Russia. They were allowed to accept novices and to live according to their rules. They were also allowed to enter other orders. In 1814 Pius VII (1800-1823) reestablished the society on a universal basis.

Trench Revolution

The 18th century was an exceedingly difficult period for the church in Europe. The church displayed the appearance of more decadence than of renewal. She possessed enormous wealth, countless and state support, but its authority was shaken. There was the disparity between the world and the church. The world was in the process of full economic, social and cultural development. The church authority was simply incapable of differentiating between the real requirements of faith and the non-essential accessories.

Gallicanism and Febronianism were the doctrinal expression of a sentiment hostile to Rome. Even many members of the clergy accepted the notion that the spiritual supremacy of the pope was nothing more than an honorary privilege. While the enlightened rulers improved the economic, social and education condition of their states, the Papal States were in a vulnerable state in these fields. In fact the popes of the 18th century with the exception of Benedict XIV could not rise above party factions and exercise his authority. Prof. Rogier makes an assessment of the papacy of the 18th century: “in general the actual influence of Rome on international happiness was extremely small; its contributions to the development of thought exhausted themselves in stereotype and sterile protest. Surveying the cultural history of the 18th century, one repeatedly misses the participation of the church and its supreme leadership in the discussions of the burning issues of the period.  If Rome contributed at all, it did so only negatively, with an admonition, an anathama, or an exhortation to silence.  Regrettably Rome not only failed to join in dialogue with a generation as strongly affected by the currents of the age as that of the eighteenth century, it systematically avoided it”. On the eve of the upheavals of 1789, the 1740 formulation of President Charles de Brosses was still valid: “‘if in Europe the credit of the Holy See is shrinking daily, this loss stems from unawareness by papacy of its antiquated modes of expressions”. The people continued to perform their religious duties without conviction. The nobility and the educated adopted an increasingly emancipated stance.

The church lacked the acuity necessary to develop a new religious anthropology to respond to the message of Revolution as well as the spiritual reorientation of the age.  She failed to abolish the system of benefices which was one of the chief sources of dissatisfaction. There were noteworthy problems within the monastic system of the period. The religious atmosphere within the walls was in general rather mediocre. People regarded monasticism as an easy life which provided good incomes to the monks who administered extensive pieces of real estates and undertook expensive construction projects. Many monasteries were half empty and some suffered from a crisis of belief and discipline. The opponents of monastic life felt that some orders are totally useless to society. In their eyes only those orders were acceptable which devoted themselves exclusively to education and care of the sick. Consequently in some countries the governments began to secularize a part of monasteries. In the republic of Venice 127 monasteries were closed between 1748 and 1797. Similar measures were taken in Tuscany, Parma, Lomabardy, Spain etc. In France such an action bad been suggested and organized by the clergy itself despite the protest of the pope. In 1768 a number of steps for the reform of orders were suggested to the king. Consequently 426 monasteries were dissolved; their lands were turned over to the dioceses.

There was also a crisis among the clergy (secular). In some countries their state was very lamentable. A very large number of priests lived from the income of benefices or other sources without performing any pastoral work. The attempt to upgrade the intellectual and spiritual education of the lower clergy by the end of the 18th century could not put an end to the abuses among them. A large number of the clergy in France were interested in Gallicaniam whose goal was to reduce the authority of the pope and the bishops.

In 1775 Pius VI was elected pope (Cad. Gianangelo Braschi, Cesena 1717).  He was rather world1y, spent large amount of money for the beatification of Rome. He also revived nepotism, built a splendid palace for his nephew. He introduced reforms in the Papal States, improved roads. He found difficulty to maintain the traditional position of papacy. On the eve of French revolution Pius VI failed to supply a much needed decisive stance. Godechot stated: He displayed more courageous abstinence than real sensitivity”.

In the 18th century France was the country with the largest catholic population. The monastic orders had the largest number of houses. Their theological and spiritual influence was comparatively strong. The Catholic Church in France linked to the state and enjoyed significant political, juridical and financial privileges. Catholic Church was the established religion in France and was supported by the secular powers. Other denominations and religions were not tolerated. The relationship between the church in France and the Holy See based on the concordat of 1516. It conceded certain rights to the king, eg. the right to distribute benefices etc.

The clergy enjoyed a predominant position in every respect. In parliament they constituted an estate general. These delegates met every five years in general convention. There were 135 dioceses 50,000 Priests working in the parishes and between 15,000 and 18,000 canons who served virtually no function. There were also 20,000 to 25,000 monks and 30,000 to 40,000 nuns. The French clergy comprised approximately 120,000 persons. Besides there were a large number of sacristans and chorists, as well as businessmen and staff who took care of worldly concerns. This secular and regular clergy possessed impressive economic power. It owned numerous urban buildings, property etc. They were exempted from tax. Tax privilege was compensated for by heavy expenditures especially costs of education and welfare.

The Revolution, in fact, began as a liberating force completely compatible with the teaching of gospel. Facing bankruptcy, Louis XVI decreed that the Roman Catholic Church and the nobility less than 2 percent of the population, owning a third of France would pay land taxes. Challenging his Authority the nobility forced Louis to convene the estates general, a body of the clergy, nobles and commoners that had not met since 1614. The Estates General met at Versailles on 5 may 1789 after a full catholic ceremony.  On the 4th May there was a grand procession and Holy Mass. During the mass they begged God to enlighten the deliberations of Estates General. No one foresaw so dark a future in that hour of glory. The representatives of third estate declared themselves the National Assembly and urged the clergy and the nobility to join them. On 20 June they gathered in an indoor tennis court and took an oath “never to separate until the constitution of kingdom shall be laid and established”. Louis reluctantly accepted the Assembly.

On 11 August 1789: The national Constituent Assembly abolished feudal rights and ecclesiastical Privileges. On 26 August it made Declaration the rights of man and the citizen which included the freedom of belief and worship.

            The revolution, then, betrayed its original ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and began to persecute the believers. In November 1789 the National Assembly nationalized the church property and on 13 February 1790 it suppressed the contemplative orders and banned the solemn vows. On 12 July 1790 it passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which contained the old Gallican ideas.

Its contents:

            It reduced the number of dioceses to 85 from 135 and they were divided conterminous with the geographic division of the country. There was to be one parish for every 6000 inhabitants

            The bishops and priests were to be elected by the electoral colleges on the level of department and districts – all citizens, Protestants, Jews form the electoral college.

            Bishops, priests and vicars were to be paid salaries by the state with the condition of performing all religious services free of charge.

            Bishops were entitled to inform the pope of their election, the canonical investment of the bishops were to be done by the metropolitans without prior confirmation by the pope. The title ‘archbishop’ was abolished and ten bishops were called metropolitans.

            A council of priests was formed to participate in the administration of the dioceses.

            All benefices without the care of souls were abolished.

The aim of the Constitution was to make the French church a purely national one and to remove the clergy as far as possible from all contact with Rome. The constitution obliged all the clergy to take an oath of loyalty to the constitution (27 Nov 1790). The weak king Louis sanctioned the constitution on 26 Ajec.1790 excusing himself on the grounds that a refusal would endanger his life and that of his family.

The French church was divided into two camps because of this constitution: 1. the church of constituent clergy 2. the church of non-constituent clergy (they were majority). On 10 March 1791 the pope Pius VI (1775-99) condemned the constitution by “quot aliquantum”. Again on 13 April pope condemned it by his bull Caritas because it based on heretical principles and declared the constituent clergy suspended. He declared that the ordination of the new bishops sacrilegious and prohibited them from performing their offices a d threatened with suspension all priests who refused to recant their oaths. He also condemned the declaration of the rights of man and citizen as contradictory to catholic doctrines regarding the origin of the authority of the state, freedom of religion and social inequality. In 1791 the national Assembly, in reprisal, declared Avignon and Venesian country to be the property of France.

2. Legislative Assembly (1 October 1791 -September 22, 1792)

It composed of people who were farther to the left both politically and religiously. It began to persecute believers. On 29 November 1791 it ordered that clergymen, regardless of their ministry, who did hot take the oath within eight days, would be regarded as rebelling against the law and as having evil intentions against the country. They would lose their pensions, were removed from their residences. On 1 August 1792 all congregations were dissolved, monasteries were closed, property of the church was sold, and clerical dress was prohibited. On 26 August it ordered to depose all priests loyal to Rome. About 20,000 priests were rendered homeless and they found refuge in other European countries. On 2 September 1792 there occurred the September Massacre in the prisons of Paris in which at least 1400 victims including 300 clergymen, 3 bishops, were executed. It was very cruel. Many were cat into pieces by hatchets. Women were brutally violated before being torn to pieces by those tigers; the intestines were cut out and worn as turbans. The victims seemed happy because ‘they went to death as to a wedding’. In the following years about 30000 clergymen fled from the country.

The decapitation machine “Guillotine” was first used on 25 April 1792. It was adopted as humane capital punishment – I a cool breath on the back of the neck”. Its proponent was Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin.

3. National Convention: 22 September 1792 -October 1795.

National Convention completed the work of demolition. It abolished the monarch rand declared France a republic. Louis was beheaded as a traitor to the state and nation on 21 January 1793. His wife also met the same fate on 16 October 1793. Both were guillotines. -On 21 June 1791 in servants disguise Louis and his wife attempted to flee France, after midnight for 200 miles dash to Austrian territory ruled by queen’s brother. But on route a postmaster identified Louis. Then 40 miles from the border his royal carriage was halted and they were arrested and brought to France. There was a posted warning: “any one who applauds the king will be beaten, any one who insults him will be hanged”.

During this period many were shot. Divorce was allowed and civil marriage was made obligatory. It passed laws on the marriage of priests and for their protection and support.  12 bishops and 2000 priests got married.  The christian calendar was replaced by the Republican calendar, the first year of which was to begin on 22 September 1792, the day of the proclamation of the Republic. Sunday was deleted from the new calendar and the day of rest was every ten days. Civil holiday were substituted for traditional christian feast days. Finally in November 1793 the Convention instituted the cult of Reason and Nature, i.e., atheism. The cathedral of Notre -Dame was desecrated by scandalous rites in honour of the goddess of reason. Some 2400 churches suffered a like-fate. Many of them were used as store-houses and stables.

            There were people who were against the extreme reforms. At the suggestion of Robespierre in 1794 the convention agreed to recognize a Supreme Being and immortality of soul. But persecution continued and the members of convention executed him on 28 July


4. The Directory Oct. 1795-1799

The directory was a governing body of five members. During this period there was an outbreak of violent persecution. All the laws against the non-juring priests were reactivated and under the orders of directory, the priests were hunted down all over France. Those captured were deported to French Guiana where they died. A new deistic religion called Theophilanthropism appeared. (deism= belief in the existence of God without accepting revelation, one who professes to unite love to God with love to man). The directory tried to enforce the observance of the republican calendar and decadi. Nevertheless by 1798 divine services had been resumed in about 40,000 parishes.

The faithful became aware of their responsibility to the church. In the absence of the priests, they organized prayer meetings, gave children religious instruction. Former nuns (without habit) encouraged pious girls to devote themselves to religious instructions and charitable work. In 1791 the Daughters of Heart of Mary was founded adjusting to the new conditions. By 1799 there were 267 members in 10 dioceses. They were no external sign, retained their occupations and continued to live with their families.

In 1796 General Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Milan and then the northern portion of Papal States. The directory demanded from the pope the renunciation of the condemnations of the constituent church. Pius VI refused. Negotiations between pope and the French government produced no results. Meanwhile Bonaparte began preparations to march on Rome, and forced the pope on 16 February 1797 to accept the treaty of Tolentino to abandon his rights to Ronagna and to pay 15 million Franca.

On 27 December 1797 the Directory ordered immediate occupation of Papal States. On 15 February 1798 Rome was occupied and was declared republic. Pius VI, 81, pleaded to be allowed to die in peace in Rome. Instead he was forced to flee to the still independent duchy of Tuscany. The pope was declared deposed, carried off first to Sienna then to Florence. In May he was brought to France. He died on 29 August 1799 at Valence.

The next conclave was convoked on 1 December 1799. Of 46 cardinals 35 participated (30 Italians). On 4 March 1800, Cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti was elected pope Pius VII. He was a man of doctrine and a shepherd of souls, always gave pronounced preference to the religious goals. He had the courage of his convictions, but had great tolerance for opinions which differed from his own. At 14 he joined the Benedictines, studied in Padua, Rome, professor of theology from 1766-75 in Parma, and also at St. Anslem, Rome. He became bishop of Tivoli in 1783, bishop of Imola and Cardinal in 1785. As a diplomatic mediator he had an outstanding ability to hold without braking and to reconcile without bending. At Christmas he declared that the democratic form of the government was not in opposition to the gospel and religions was even more important in a democracy than in any other form of government. He appointed cardinal Consalvi, a conservative reformer as his secretary of State. Due to his diplomatic skill Papal States were restituted.

Napoleon Bonaparte

On 9 November 1799 the general Napoleon by a coup d’etat, overthrew the directory and became the first consul for ten years. His foreign minister was Talleybrand. Napoleon was deist and a stranger to religious practices. He looked upon religion as having only a practical value. It was evident to him that only Christianity was the ethical foundation of European civilization. Therefore, he felt the need of it.

The concordat of Napoleon 15 July 1801

            On 5 June 1800 Napoleon stated that it was his firm conviction that religion was an indispensable adjunct to the state and that it was his wish that France be reconciled to the Holy See. Soon thereafter negotiations were begun, but immediately encountered serious obstacles, mainly unreasonable demands of Napoleon himself. Finally a concordat was drawn up on 15 July 1801 by cardinal Consalvi and Napoleon’s foreign minister Talleygrand. It gave the French church legal status, but a status far removed from that she had once enjoyed. Catholic religion was recognized as the religion of “the great majority of French people” and it could be exercised freely and publicly while conforming to police regulations. The dioceses were redistricted into 60 of which 10 would be metropolitans. All bishops must resign and the new bishops were to be named by the First Consul but the pope was to give them canonical institution. All clergy were to take an oath of loyalty to the state. They waived all claim to church property confiscated during the revolution, in view of which the government promised the bishops and parish priests a fitting maintenance. Bishops could redistrict their parishes with the consent of the proper state officials and appoint as pastors only persons acceptable to the government.

The concordat was not appreciated by all. Some bishops refused to abdicate and they considered it as anti-catholic. There was anti-Catholic in the government, who were not content with the concordat on the grounds that it was not sufficiently anti-Catholic. Therefore Napoleon added several further clauses -seventy seven organic articles- to the concordat, which he published at Easter 1802. Most of them were contrary to the terms of the original agreement and to the principles of canon law. The pope protested and pointed out 21 of them which could not be accepted under any conditions, but Napoleon paid no heed to this protest.

The new articles are:

i. All decrees of the pope and the synods outside France require the placet of the government.

ii. Professors of the seminaries are obliged to teach Gallican articles of 1682.

iii. Number of new priests is to be fixed yearly by government

iv. Catechism approved by the government is to be taught.

v. Diocesan or national synods need government authorization.

vi. No representative of the pope enter France without permission

vii. Clerics may appeal to the civil court.

viii. Distinction was made between rural pastors and others.

ix. No feast days other than Sundays.

In the meantime Napoleon restored Sunday in 1802 and abrogated the republican calendar in 1805.

Napoleon as Emperor

In May 1804 Napoleon was elected emperor. He invited pope Pius VII for anointing and coronation. Pius VII yielded to the pressure and anointed Napoleon in Notre Dame Cathedral on 2 December 1804. The coronation was preceded by a religious ceremony Pope was allowed to anoint, but Napoleon insisted on crowing himself. At the coronation ceremony Napoleon seized the crown from the hands of the pope and put it on his head.   The pope hoped, in return, two important concessions: 1) the revocation or modification of the organic articles; 2) the removal of divorce from the new code of civil law. But his hopes were blasted. Napoleon and his associates had interpreted the pope’s visit as a sign of weakness which they tried to exploit to the full. The pope returned to Rome humiliated and without obtaining any concession from the emperor.

The pope was requested to declare dissolved the marriage of Napoleon’s brother Jerome Bonaparte to Eize Patterson, an American protestant. A little later the pope refused to annul, Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine Beauharnais. Despite the pope’s refusal members of the French hierarchy gave the emperor the desired annulments. Napoleon had insisted St. Napoleon’s day be observed throughout the empire on 16 August.

Napoleon resumed war for the domination of Europe. And this war brought a rupture in his relations with the pope. The pope refused to approve of Napoleon’s annexation of Naples (Napoleon named his brother Joseph king of Naples).In 1809 Napoleon officially annexed the papal states to his empire and on 17 May 1809 he revoked the donations of Pepin and charlesmagne. The pope answered by excommunicating Napoleon and his associates: “against the robbers of the patrimony of Peter, their advisers, abettors and agents”.  During the night between 5 and 6 July 1809, 400 French soldiers entered Rome and arrested Pius VII and carried him off to Savona. The cardinals were taken to Paris.

Meanwhile Napoleon divorced Josephine and married Narie Louise the daughter of Austrian emperor. The decree of divorce was published on 16 December 1809. On 9 January 1810 the diocesan court pronounced the marriage null and void. On 2 April 1810 Napoleon married Marie Louise. Thirteen of 27 cardinals then in Paris refused to attend the wedding. Napoleon “decardinalized” them who were known “black cardinals” and those attended the wedding were known “red cardinals”.

Pius VII suffered much. He was treated most harshly and shame fully; books, pen, ink, ring were taken from him. The longer the conflict the greater become the vacant sees.  Napoleon wanted to full them without the approval of the pope. He convoked a national council of the bishops at Paris in June 1811 under the presidency of Napoleon’s uncle cardinal Fesch. There it was decided that metropolitans had the right to confer canonical institutions in case the pope did not do so within six months of a candidate’s presentation.

On 9 June 1812 the pope was moved to Fontainebleau palace near Paris. When Napoleon returned from Russia, defeated and desperate, he met the pope. On 25 January 1813 Pope was forced to sign an agreement known as concordat of Fontainebleau. In this the pope renounced the Papal States and conceded that canonical institution of bishops could be made by the metropolitan if the pope did not act within six months. However, the pope revoked this concession within 24 hours. Napoleon suppressed the revocation kept the pope isolated and published the concordat as valid reconciliation of the church and the state in France.

Napoleon’s power was almost at an end. He was defeated by the allies and was forced to sign his abdication at Fontainebleau on 16 April 1814. He was then sent to the island Elba. He reached there on 4 May. He was given allowance 2,000,000 francs yearly. He had 400 volunteers and the title of emperor. Before he had been sent to Elba, he tried to poison himself. On 20 March 1815 he returned to Paris, and resumed war. But he was defeated at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. On 22 June he abdicated in favour of his son. He wanted to escape to U.S.A., but was prevented and exiled to St. Helena.

            On 15 October 1815.Navoleon arrived at St. Helena in southern Atlantic. His life there was hard; breakfast at 10.00 dinner 7-8 p.m. He used to play cards, reading, and writing, study English, and went to bed by midnight. He had difficulty with the governor of the island. His wife did not visit him. She had a son from him, and a lover too. In 1817 he showed the sign of illness -ulcer or cancer of the stomach. In March 1821 he confined to bed. In April he dictated his last will: “I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of that French people which I have loved so much … I die before my time, killed by the English Oligarchy and its hired assassins”. On 5 May 1821 Napoleon died at the age of 52. He spoke: “my God… the French nation, my son, the head of the army. He died at 5.49 p.m. The stone covering the tomb bore no name but only two words: “cig it”-here lies.

The pope Pius VII was released in March 1814 and on 24 May 1814 he entered Rome amid jubilation of the people. When the pope returned to Rome he said to the people: “let us forget the past”. When napoleon was in exile at St. Helena pope wrote to cardinal Consalvi: “The emperor’s family has informed us through cardinal Fesch that the rocky lsland of St. Helena is fatal to health and the poor exile is dying by inches. We are deeply distressed to hear this and you will certainly share our grief; for we must both remember that to Napoleon more than anyone after God, is due the restoration of our religion in the great kingdom of France. The pious and courageous initiative of 1801 has long ago effaced the memory of later wrongs. Savona and Fontainebleau were only mistakes due to temper, or the errors of an ambitious man; the concordat was the saving act of a christian and a here”. This is perhaps the most charitable estimate ever made of Napoleon’s role in the history of the church. Pope gave refuge to Napoleon’s mother, cardinal Fesch and his two brothers in Rome.

Pius VII lived another eight years after Napoleon’s downfall. In the congress of Vienna (1815) the Papal States were returned to the pope. Concordats and conventions were made with various countries and the prestige of papacy was restored.


The French revolution produced mixed results:

1. The prince-bishop disappeared into the pages of history, when Napoleon secularized the holdings of the church.

2. The monastic orders were reduced to near impotency. This weakened the liturgical life of the church.

3. Church’s influence on cultural and intellectual life was lost when the universities in which ecclesiastical and intellectual life had flourished, had been closed down or were taken by the state.

4. French revolution had put an end to the absolute king and thus the church was free to work out a new set of relationship with the state.

5. Concordats were made for regulating relations between church and the state.

6. French revolution was a political and social solvent. It melted down old institutions, good and bad and enabled the church to begin afresh.

7. It loosed forces hostile to the church: liberalism, nationalism, secularism etc.

The Church after 1815

Napoleon’s system was an artificial one and it collapsed because it rested on the genius and determination of one man. It ruined Europe, displaced frontiers, and subverted the social order. The church suffered materially, lost more than half of her property, which had supported her seminaries and charitable institutions and schools. It affected the parochial life and ecclesiastical administration. Many archives had been dispersed, many universities disappeared. Though the church lost her social influence together with her privileged position, morally she was not impoverished.  The martyrs during the popular regimes and the black cardinals are the examples of this.

During this period there were signs of spiritual reawakening. France witnessed a large growth in the number of vocations and a remarkable flowering of regular orders. Between 1820 and 1828 the surplus of ordinations was 2,289. The average annual number of ordinations rose to 3000. Religious congregations were revived. In 1816 the Society of French Missions was founded. There grew a new attachment to the papacy and a new appreciation of the value of a religion independent of the state. There were also a host of new religious orders of women particularly devoted to teaching. The declaration of Catholicism, as the state religion by Louis XVIII on 4 June 1814, the restoration of Society of Jesus in 1814 were good signs.

There was also a sad picture. Faith was not deep rooted. There was hypocrisy and rebellion. Lacordaire asserts that at one state secondary school in France where daily mass was obligatory, thirty youngsters went together to communion in order to obtain consecrated wafers with which to seal their letters.

Pact of Holy Alliance – 1815

On 20 September 1815 , emperor Francis I of Austria, Frederick William III of  Prussia, Czar Alexander declared that they wished to base their mutual relations on the sublime truths taught by Christ and firmly resolved to take as their sole rule of conduct the doctrine of the church. They decided to consider themselves as brothers and as fathers towards their subjects. They would be three members of a single family and confessed Christ as their, sovereign to whom all powers properly belong. They also invited others princes to join the pact of holy alliance. This was not approved by the church.

During the thirty years after 1815 the absolute king sought to regain lost ground and the liberals to overturn the settlement of 1815. The first liberal risings in Spain and Italy were easily suppressed. But from 1848 to 1870 liberalism touched its apogee and in Italy it achieved the most spectacular and systematic triumph of all.

The popes as temporal sovereigns were absolutish. They were affected by the political duel between liberalism and absolutism. Liberalism opposed Catholicism. It was really interested in the material betterment of mankind and correction of social abuses. Some of its fundamental postulates were irreconcilable with the catholic teaching.

In 1870 the temporal power of papacy came to an end. The same year witnessed the triumph within the church itself of the old Roman, conception of the papal office. Thus there began a new type of pope. The popes of the nineteenth century restoration (1800-1878) are all of them good men and several are men of real ability. But they are all meant of the eighteenth century or rather of the absolute age of which that century was popularly the symbol.

Pius V11 (1800-1823), Leo XII (1823-29), Pius VIII (1829-30), Gregory XVI (1831-1846), Pius IX (1846-1878), Leo XIII (1878-1903).

None of these really understood the new world which the revolution had produced, understood either how to fight it or how to convert it. Leo XIII was a pope supremely gifted in political understanding and in the diplomatic gifts. He was the greatest papal ruler since Pius 111 (1534-1549). He was a traditionalist and conservative who thought in modern terms and spoke in the modern idioms. His reign was the beginning of a new age of catholic history. During the reign of Pius IX, France was the scene of the heroic life of St. John Mary Vianny (1786-1859), many apparitions of Our Lady -1830, 1846, 1858, 1871, esp. 1858 in Lourdes. Italy had St. John Bosco, Joseph Cottelengo, and Gabriel of Sorrows.

The Popes of the Nineteenth Century

Pius VII (1806 1822)

The settlement after Waterloo restored to the pope the Papal States. But it posed a problem: could they survive? The demand for Italian unity was to grow. How would papacy meet it? Cardinal Consalvi who was dismissed to appease Napoleon, was reappointed as secretary of State on Napoleon’s fall. He was the chief negotiator for the pope of the diplomatic settlements. He introduced several changes which were opposed even by a few cardinals.

The authority of the pope was enhanced by concordats or agreements with several States. Rome was made the centre of European culture, works of art, books and manuscripts were restored. In 1814 Congregation of Extraordinary ecclesiastical Affairs was instituted, renewal of monasteries, religious orders and congregations. Pius VII died on 20 August 1823 at the age of 81.

Leo XII (1823 1829)

            Cardinal Consalvi was labeled as too liberal; to some he had seemed dictatorial. So the choice of Consalvi as successor to Pius was opposed. He died on 24 January 1824. His final words: Io sono tranquillo -I am at peace.

            Annibale Francesco Clement Melchior Girolomo della Genga, (1760 b.) was elected as Leo XII. He spent large part of his life as nuncio. When Napoleon mistreated Pius VII, he retired to the monastery. After Pius returned to Rome, he called Genga again into his service and was sent to congratulate Louis XVIII on the latter’s restoration. When there was a sharp clash between Consalvi and Genga the latter returned to his monastery. In 1820 he was summoned to Rome. At the time of election he was sick. When he was asked after the vote whether he would accept it, he protested saying that the cardinals were electing a corpse. He surprised his physicians. He guided the church for six years which witnessed several achievements. He brought papal finance into order reduced taxation, urged the bishops to be examples of sound morals and doctrine, to be diligent in pastoral visitation, to pay attention to the seminaries. He fought against Gallicanism and Josephism. In 1825 be proclaimed Jubilee year, the first since 1775.

Leo launched a world wide appeal for the rebuilding of St. Paul Outside the Walls, which had been destroyed by fire in 1823. He left the Quirinal and took residence in the Vatican. He tried to improve the morals of the people and of the clergy. His opposition to nepotism made him unpopular with many among both the officials and others. He put the Church of Rome in a better physical condition and revived the spiritual life of the city. He ordered to cloth the naked statues in Rome. In France he had to face the trends of Gallicanism. In Austria he still faced the traditional Josephism. In Spain and Portugal he was confronted by anticlericalism of the liberals. The pope died on 10 February 1829 at the age of 69. pasquin insulted him with these verses: “Holy Father thrice you have mocked us,  by agreeing to become pope, by living long and by dying on Carnival day”. His pontificate was not brilliant, but it revealed the difficult situation with which the church was then confronted. Only a strong, daring and far-sighted genius could have escaped from the dilemma, and it was not the fault of Leo XII that he was no such man.

Pius VIII (1829-1830)

Cardinal Francesco Saverio Castiglioni was elected pope who took the name Pius VIII. He was learned in canon law, Biblical Literature and numismatics. He had had administrative experience in several posts including bishoprics and posts in Rome. He had suffered imprisonment because of his opposition to Napoleon. After his release Pius VII had rewarded him with the cardinal’s hat, and is said to have wished him for his successor. Out of gratitude he took the title Pius. He was mild in temper and not likely to go to extremes or to have particularly vigorous pontificate. He was 67 at the time of election and was not well.

The situation was everywhere disturbing; there was perhaps no catholic country where grave problems did not confront the church. In France she had to face Gallicanism and liberals. In Spain anticlericalism, in Italy hostility towards the church. For the pope the solution was silence and temporization. In the midst of these problems, the pope tried to check the menace of secret societies and advance of indifference. His choice of cardinals also seemed to indicate a desire to rejuvenate the Sacred College. A rescript of November 1829, recommending to catholics, throughout the world the fund for the propagation of the Faith, proved that he had a sense of the chinch’s universality and of her obligation to share in the great movement of western expansion that was then taking place. Pius died on 30 November 1830. Pasquinades greeted his passing: “nacque, pianse, mori, declared the Romans; but no, Pius VIII had done more than be born, weep and die.  His death marked the end of an epoch. The attempt made since 1815 to annul the Revolution and return to the past had evidently failed. It was now essential to take account of that new life which awaited the world and the church. Perhaps that failure was foreseen by Joseph de Maistre when he wrote these prophetic words: “a counter revolution must be not a revolution in the contrary direction, but the contrary of a revolution”.

Gregory XVI (1831-1846)

            The conclave dragged on for fifty days due to the opposition of two candidates -Pacca and Giustiniani. Then Mauro Cappellari, a Camaldolese monk, austere and pious was elected pope. He took the name Gregory XVI. He was the secretary of Propaganda.  He was a stranger of politiacs and the ways of the world and unable to cope with the complicated problems of his time. There were serious revolts in the papal states. In Italy   a movement for national unity was growing. The radical party called “Young Italy” founded by Giuseppe Mazzini (+1872) was basically revolutionary and anti religious. They had secret plans to overthrow papal rule. Even some of the clergy were infected with revolutionary ideas. The moderate patriots like Alessandro Manzoni (1873) tried to reconcile the papacy with political liberalism and dreamed of an Italian confederacy of states, with the pope at the head. The consciousness of unity however, continued to grow stronger. Gregory on his part defended the liberty of the church.

La Mannais and papacy

Felicite de La Mennais said: “catholics break for ever with the men whose incorrigible blindness imperils this holy religion. Rejected by the state the church should withdraw from political society and concentrate upon herself, with a view to recovering, along with her essential independence and the fulfillment of her destiny, her pristine and divine strength”. In order to promote his ideas La Mennais founded a jounmal “L’Avenir” whose motto was “God and Liberty”. He had a youthful team- Abbe Gerbet, Harel du Tancrel, Henri Lacordaire (1802-61), Vicomte Charles de Montalembert (1810-70). The first number of L’Avenir appeared on 16 Oct. 1830.

Pius IX (1846-1878)

When Gregory XVI died on 1 June 1846 the political condition of the papal state was tense. The Italian patriots desired to free Italy. The conclave was opened immediately without waiting for the arrival of the foreign cardinals. On the second day of the conclave Cardinal Mastai Ferretti was elected pope who took the name Pius IX in memory of his benefactor Pius VII. Giovanni Maria Mastei-Ferretti was born on 13 May 1792 in Senigallia. He was ordained priest in 1819, bishop of Spoleto in 1827-32, of Imola in 1832-46, cardinal in 1840. He made a journey to South America in 1823-25 which provided him with an insight into the new dimensions of missionary problems and into the difficulties which liberal governments could cause for the church. As archbishop he was known very liberal. One biographer describes him as “the creator of modern papacy”.

            Some considered Pius IX as a messenger of God sent to complete the great work of the 19th century the alliance between religion and liberty. Others considered him as a man with the fire of heart but weak in planning and without any real ability to lead.

Pius IX began his pontificate with the intention of meeting the just demands of the people for greater liberty and of establishing new political reforms in the papal states. On 17 July 1846 he granted a general amnesty to more than thousand prisoners and mitigated the censors then in force. This was hailed in Rome and throughout the world as the act of an enlightened ruler. The municipal government of Rome was reorganized and laymen were made eligible for many of the ministerial posts. A number of progressive measures were quickly undertaken, construction of roads, lightening the streets, improvements of prisons etc. Finally on 14 March 1848 a new constitution was proclaimed providing for two chambers, one to be named by the pope, the other to be elected by the people, the college of the cardinals to act as a Senate over both houses. These reforms were hailed with enthusiasm. But the people demanded more radical changes, even unreasonable demands. They also insisted that the pope drive the Austrians out of Italy and create a national state Pope’s prime minister Pellegrino Rossi was murdered on 15 November 1848 as he was ascending the steps of cancellweia to open the parliament.  When Pius 1X resisted these demands, a so called constitutional assembly Proclaimes Rome a republic under a triumvirate consisting of Mazzini Saffi and Amellini on 9 February  1849. On the next day Pius himself was besuieged in the Quirinal and threatened. He escaped in disguise and fled to Gaeta in the kingdom of Naples. Pope sought for French help. The French took Rome and restored the papal rule. In April 1850 Pius returned to Rome. Thereupon he left his liberalism.

            In 1850 the Roman clergy were ordered to wear the long soutane instead of breeches and frock coat, so as to indicate more clearly the difference between churchmen and men of the age. The bishops were requested to visit the pope at regular intervals. In 1850 an extraordinary jubilee was declared.

Definition of the immaculate caption of BL. Virgin Mary

On 2 February 1849 Pius IX asked the opinion of all the bishops about the definition of Immaculate Conception. Out of 603 bishops 546 urged the doctrinal definition. Then on 8 December 1854 he defined the doctrine of Immaculate Conception by the papal bull “Ineffabilis Deus”. He defined as the infallible teacher in the church in the presence of 54 cardinals and 200 bishops. The pope placed a golden crown on the head of Our Lady’s statue. The city was illumined.

Liberalism and the syllabus of errors: On .8 December 1864 Pius IX issued the encyclical “Quanta cura” with an appended “Syllabus of errors” (catalogue of doctrines). It contained some 80 of the principal errors of the time. The liberals protested it strongly. One of the theses condemned was the statement that “the pope can and should reconcile himself with progress, liberalism and modern civilization”. Here by modern civilization pope meant the attacks on the church, denial of religion, imprisonment of the clergy and closing of catholic schools.

The syllabus of errors contained eighty unacceptable propositions. In it the pope condemned pantheism and rationalism; indifferentism, which regards all religions as equal in value; socialism, which denies the right to private property and subordinates the family to the state; the erroneous concept regarding Christian marriage; Freemasonry, the rejection of temporal power of the pope; Gallicanism, which wanted to make the exercise of the ecclesiastical authority dependent on the authorization by the civil power; statism which insists on the monopoly of education and dissolves religious orders; and naturalism which regards, the fact that human societies no longer have respect for religion as progress and which demands laicization of institutions, separation of church and state, and absolute freedom of relegation and the press.

Dom Butler evaluated the syllabus “as a most inopportune document”. Actually the excitement was not very strong everywhere. The public remained calm, some because long ago they had stopped paying attention to the strictures of the Vatican in political questions, others because they realized that an exact interpretation of the Roman document required careful exegesis. In England the non Catholic public was virtually unanimous in finding the pope’s campaign against modern society totally ridiculous, primarily because he had condemned virtually everything. English Catholics, on the other hand, attempted, not very successfully, to argue that Pius IX had condemned the doctrinal errors and excesses of liberalism, and not the liberal institutions as England knew them. In the Netherlands the document contributed to increasing Protestant hostility to the papacy and to the hastening of the break between Catholics and liberals in parliament.

            The Austrian government feared that, encouraged by the encyclical the clergy would demand an even more favourable application of the concordat. Dollinger and friends deplored the syllabus; but the Mainz faction noted the condemnation of atheistic philosophers and of bold theologians with satisfaction. In France agitation lasted for several weeks. Many bishops wrote to Rome, pointing to the dangers of ambiguity, and demanded a clarification. Some of the others persuaded the government to forbid the official publication of the encyclical under the pretext that its condemnations were directed against the constitution of the empire. Dupanloup wrote a mitigating commentary on encyclical and the syllabus in the form of a defense of the pope.

Pius IX was no longer able to see the radical difference between catholic liberalism and liberalism as such. While regular liberalism, even its adherents practiced their religion, was naturalistic and wanted to separate man as much as possible from his religious ties, liberal catholics both intellectually and practically were guided by the demands of their faith and accepted, sometimes somewhat unwillingly, their subjection to the decisions of the church. Pius IX admitted the difference but unwillingly. In 1874 he declared: Catholic liberalism has one foot in the truth and one foot in error one foot in the church and one foot  in the spirit of the century, one foot on my side and one foot on the side o my enemies”.

Pius IX and I Vatican Council

A council was suggested to Pius IX as early as 1849 and it matured slowly. At the end of 1864 the pope consulted a number of cardinals about the advisability of the matter. Since their opinion was positive he decided to pursue the issue carefully. He consulted the bishops and other officers in the curia and asked them to submit suggestions for an agenda. Gradually he then formed four commissions to make detailed programme. Since the majority in the curia was not very enthusiastic about the council, the pope hesitated for more than two years. Finally on 26 June 1867 he publicly made known his intention, and invited to Rome on 8 December 1869 all the catholic bishops and those who had the right to participate in a council.

It was suggested to invite the representatives from the non-catholic churches. A letter was directed to all the Orthodox bishops in September 1868, in which they were asked to return to catholic church unity in order to be able to Participate in’ the council; a few days later a global letter was sent to Protestants and   Anglicans. From an ecumenical point o f view this was one of the saddest cases of missed opportunities.

In the catholic world the announcement of the council intensified the opposition between Gallicans and liberal Catholics on one side, ultramontane and opponents of the modern freedoms on the other. (Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define the papal infallibility. In Germany Ignaz Dollinger under the Pseudonym of Janus published a critical and partisan book attacking the primacy of the pope and the Roman centralization. In France a heated discussion was done on the question, of infallibility. Bishop Dupanloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create.) But several bishops like Deshamps, Manning demanded immediately that the council be utilized solemnly to define the truth of this publicly contested point. The majority of the German bishops at their annual conference at Fulda in September 1869 expressed reservations about the future definition of the personal infallibility the pope.

The council opened on 8 December 1869 in the presence of 700 bishops, 60 from Eastern rites, 200 from outside of Europe (121 from America, 49 US, 41 from India and the Far East, 18 from Oceania, 9 from Africa). The Italians constituted one-third of the assembly, they also provided two-thirds of the consultants and experts, all of the secretaries, and all five presidents, only one important position, that of secretary general, was entrusted to a foreigner, to the Austrian Fessler.

Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define papal infallibility. Then in Germany Prof. Ignaz Dollinger of Munich attacked infallibility on historical grounds. In France a heated discussion was done on the question of infallibility. Bishop Duponloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create. Cardinal Newmann supported him.

The council fathers assembled in an atmosphere of tranquility and security. The public sessions were presided over by the pope in person. On 24 April the third session of the council unanimously adopted and published the dogmatic constitution De Fide catholica concerning the fundamental doctrine of christianity and condemning the errors of Rationalism, aetheism, pantheism, traditionalism etc.

The question of infallibility of the pope had called forth much excitement within and outside of the council. It was included in the schema De ecclesia Christi. It became the matter of a heated discussion and it divided the Fathers into two camps:

1. The great majority held that a definition was proper and necessary. The leaders of infallibilists were Deschamps of Belgium and Manning of England. (451).

2. A minority, one fourth, opposed the definition. This group broke down into two groups:

a) Those who thought the doctrine was wrong. (88)

b) Those who believed in papal infallibility but thought its definition was inopportune. (62)

The chapters on the primacy of the pope and his infallibility were brought to a vote on 18 July 1870. 533 Fathers voted placet and two bishops non placet. Sixty bishops were absent for the final vote. After the definition the bishops throughout the world accepted the decision of the council as true and inspired. Do1linger’s supporters in Germany refused to accept the doctrine and they formed a small schismatic group called the Old Catholics.

On 19 July 1870 the Frank-Russian war broke out and many bishops obliged to leave Rome. Then on 20 September the Piedmontese took Rome and made it absolutely impossible to continue the council. Therefore on 20 October 1870 the pope prorogued the council indefinitely to a more Peaceful and favourable time.

The Papacy and Italian Unification

In the 19th century the drive toward national unification in Europe was strong. Attempts were made also in Italy like in other European countries to create a united Italy. When the dream of an Italian confederacy at under pope had proved impractical, the Italian patriots began to direct their gaze toward the ambitious king of Piedmont Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel 11 (1849-1878). They backed the plan of incorporating the various Italian states into Piedmont Sardinia. It was the plan of Camillo Cavour (1852-1861), the Piedmontese prime minister. His slogan was “a free church in a free state”. He made use of the help of the secret societies and revolutionaries to attain his ends.

            In 1859 Cavour declared war against Austria and sought of France. The Austrians were easily defeated and Parma, Modena, Tuscany and part of papal states were incorporated into Piedmont. The pope pronounced excommunication in vain. In the newly acquired provinces the church property was confiscated and state schools were established in which the teaching of religion was forbidden. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi conquered Sicily and Naples. Other provinces Umbria and Marches were also conquered. In March 1861 Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed king of Italy.

            Only Rome and surrounding territory remained under the pope. The Italian nationalists wanted to make Rome the capital of Italy. Victor Emmanuel sent his envoy to speak with the pope, but pope denied even the possibility of negotiation. He received the royal emissary, read the letter, burst into violent reproaches against the vipers, the whited sepulchers of Florence and replied “non possumus”. On 2 September 1870 Rome and Vatican were seized. The protest and excommunication of the pope had no effect. In June 1871 Rome was proclaimed the capital of the united Italy and Quirinale became the residence of the king.

            The pope withdrew to the Vatican as a voluntary prisoner. On 13 May 1871 the Italian government issued the law of Guarantee to settle the affairs of the Holy See. This law invested the pope with personal attributes of sovereign, immunity from arrest, inviolability of his person. He could have a personal military guard, his communications with the bishops and foreign governments would be absolutely free. He should have his own postal and telgrrapgh services. He was given exclusive use of Vatican and Lateran basilicas and palaves, and palaves, and villa of Castel Gondolfo.  He was also granted a tax free pension of three and a quarter million lire a year.  Pius IX denounced the law of gurantee because it was a unilateral

Old Catholics

The opposition to infallibility culminated in the establishment of a new church, Old Catholics. Prof. Dollinger was its leader. Many professors in Germany joined him. They regarded themselves as conservatives adhering to the old catholic faith in the face of erroneous innovations.

In Germany it remained as an elite movement and in the 1870s it reached its peak with about six thousand members. In August 1670, 1300 Rhenish catholics protested against the council. In Nurenburg 32 professors appealed to an ecumenical council, true and free, to be held on this side of the Alps.

In September 1870 the first congress of old catholics was held in Munich with 300 delegates from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, guest participants from Orthodox and Anglican churches. Dollinger was against division, claimed the right to continued equal membership in the catholic church. He never formally joined old catholics, but others called for the establishment of an emergency community, the majority of the congress participants agreed with them.

The second congress was held in 1872 in Cologne. It officially adopted the name “Old Catholics”, decided to establish regular care and appointed a commission for the preparation of the election of a bishop. On 14 June 1871 Pro. Joseph Hubert Reinkens was chosen. He was consecrated by a bishop of Utrecht Church and thus entered into the apostolic succession. He was placed under interdict by Pius IX. Bishop Reinkens established an Episcopal administration in Bonn. He was acknowledged as a catholic bishop by Prussia, Baden etc.

The constitution of the Old Catholics was drafted by Schutte and it granted legislative powers and right to elect bishops to the synods formed of the representatives of clergy and laymen. It was approved by the Third Congress in 1873 in Constance. It was ratified by the first Synod in 1874 in Bonn. After 1880 German was employed in the liturgy of the Mass. In 1879 they abolished celibacy.

In Switzerland in 1875 a new church, Christ Catholic church of Switzerland Was established. In doctrine it followed the German model and its constitution it is more democratic. In 1876 Edward Herzog was elected bishop. They established a church oriented to Bible and Eucharist. In 1874 a university was established in Berne by government with the assistance of Herzog.  It became a theological center.

In Austria after 1872 there existed four Old Catholic communities. In 1879 its first synod was held and it adopted the German pattern.

The Old Catholic bishoprics and the Utrecht church, which prior to 1870 had been totally isolated, formed the union of Utrecht in 1889. It is an autonomous union of national churches free from Rome, whose honourary primate is the archbishop of Utrecht. A joint declaration again accepted the faith of the first millennium, and a kind of Roman primacy which then prevailed. It protested against the dogmas of 1854 and 1870. Dollinger’s internationally recognized scholarship and his ecumenical efforts in 1874-75 resulted in the Bonn conference of union, consisting of old Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Anglican theologians. In the 19th century they made a bold attempt at the international theological discussions and thus precursor to ecumenism.

Leo XIII (1878 1903)

The conclave began on 18 February 1878. 60/64 cardinals entered in the conclave. 25 cardinals were non Italians. A strong group of cardinals wanted the election conducted outside of Italy. Finally it was decided to have it in Rome, On 20 Feb. cardinal Gioachino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi Pecci was elected pope with 44 votes. The new pope chose his name Leo XIII in gratitude to pope Leo XII for furthering his studies at the Roman seminary.

Leo did not deliver the benediction Urbi et Orbi from the outer loggia towards the St. Peters square, but toward the basilica. His coronation was held in Sistine chapel and not in St. Peter’s because there was no guarantee for security from the government. Pope’s choice of a name inspired the mockery: “Non e Pio, non e Clemente, ma Leone senza dente’. He sent individual inaugural letters to catholic as well as non catholic as well as non-catholic heads of the states, in which he indicated his desire to settle disputes. The Italian government was ignored and in turn the government did not recognize the new pope officially.

Pope Leo was born on 2 March 1810 in Carpineto, central Italy. His brother was a Jesuit. Leo was ordained priest in 1837, had doctorate in Theology. He was papal nuncio in Belgium from 1843-46. He was appointed bishop Of Perugia in 1846, cardinal in 1853, Camerlengo in 1877.

All agree that Leo XIII was a great pope. He was a humanist in the best sense of the word. He possessed a keen intelligence and political ability and experience.  He was prudent in his dealings with governments and was able to adjust differences amicably without sacricing the principles.

1. Leo XIII and the Italian problem

Leo seemed intractable in his dealings with Italy. He did not yield to the insulting attitude of the Italian government. His stand on the Roman question was the same as his predecessor’s. He refused to accept the Law of guarantee. He condemned the injustice of the government and exhorted the catholics not to participate in the national elections.

The Italian attack on the Church can be summed up under three classes of measures:

(1) Those intended to annoy and insult the pope and make a mockery’ of the catholic faith. The government officials were forbidden to attend thanksgiving services for the election of Leo, wanton attack of government supported hoodlums (street rowdy) on the funeral cortege (funeral procession) of Pius IX, when his body was removed in 1881 from St. Peter’s to the cemetry of San Lorenzo; permitting the newspapers and magazines to carry outrageous anti-catholic blasphemies etc. All these caused Leo to think of leaving Rome and he even entered into preliminary negotiations to take up residence in Austria.

(2) Those measures against church property. The government confiscated the wealth of the suppressed religious orders. In 1881 it took over control of the property of Propaganda Congregation.  It also took over the administration of the properties of the charitable associations.

(3) The anticlerical measures designed to hamstring (cripple) the Church and prevent her from carrying out her religious work. The Clergy were drafted into the army as soldiers, religious teaching was banned from the schools nomination of the bishops was hindered. The regulation of public worship was put under government control and police surveillance. Leo XIII found it impossible to do anything effective toward solving the Roman question. He bore them patiently and was very careful not to do anything that might appear to condone (overlook) these outrages against the Church.

2. Leo XIII and German Kulturkampf

Kulturkampf means battle for culture. It is a title used to describe a series of laws passed in Germany to weaken the ties between the church in Germany and the papacy and to bring the German church under the control of the absolute state. It began in 1871 with Bismark. Two series of events inaugurated the Kulturkampf. (i) The growing strength of the catholic centre party which the pope refused to condemn at the request of the German government. (ii) The protest made by the bishops and in the universities and colleges.

            In 1871 the Catholic Church was put under the control of the government. The government issued the “pulpit laws” which forbade any criticism of the government or the constitution under penalty of heavy fine and a year’s imprisonment. In 1873 a series of laws known as May Laws was passed to put the clergy under the government control. Candidates for priesthood had to spend three years in a state university and Pass a state examination in various non-theological subjects. Seminaries were put under the control of the state inspectors and government asserted its right to appoint and dismiss parish priests. Bishops and priests who disobeyed these laws were deposed.

            In 1875 religious orders except those engaged in hospital work were expelled. Hundreds of priests were fined or imprisoned; several bishops were deposed, exiled or imprisoned. Bismark operated these laws with brutal and mechanical efficiency. The strength of centre party grew and endangered the legislative plans of Bismark. And there was a feeling by 1878 that Kulturkampf was a rather shameful thing and there was no real justification for it.

When Bismark needed the support of the central party against the socialists, he entered into diplomatic relations with the pope. Finally in 1887 Bismark revoked the Kulturkampf and spoke eloquently of the pope as an agent of peace. The central party loyally attached to the Church. Its basic idea was that modern constitutions guarantee all citizens freedom of religion. This attitude of the centre party made the Kulturkampf a failure and an active and strong body of catholics grew at the end of 19th century in Germany.

3. Leo XIII and the Secular laws (Lois Laigues) of France

            Leo faced a different situation in France. The Lois Laiques the counterpart of Kultutkampf were more thourough, more vicious and more successful.

The French Revolution divided France into two nations: (i) Liberals (Republicans), (ii) Catholies (monarchists). The events of the 19th century made the difference between these two nations deeper and more bitter and the attempts of the liberal catholics like Ozanam and Duponloup failed to bring the two parties together. In 1877 the Republicans won the election. They formed the Third Republic. Gambetta became the prime minister. His slogan was “clericalism the enemy”.

The catholics were not sincere supporters of the church. There were professed atheists among them. They supported the church as an instrument to further their political views. They were divided into different groups bitterly opposing each other. On the other hand the republicans were disciplined +united.

The third republic declared war against the church. The clergy were expelled from all charitable institutions which were entrusted to laymen. Schools were laicized; military service was imposed on seminarians. Sunday labour was authorized and divorce courts were established. These laws were known as Ferry laws.

            The laicization of education was accomplished step by step. In 1880 the Jesiuts were expelled and their schools and colleges (28) were closed. All “non-authorized” congregations must apply within three months for authorization, submitting their statutes, rules and number of the members. Only those authorized by the government were to continue teaching. In 1882 all religious was excluded from the primary schools. In 1884 February Leo published an encyclical “nobilissima Gallorum Gens” in which he regretted that the eldest daughter of the Church had departed from its tradition. But the government continued its anti-Catholic activities. In 1886 all nuns were excluded from the government supported schools.

            Gradually the government had to stop their process of laicization because of two reasons: (i) the attempt to drive the church out of French life did not meet with widespread support. Less than 3% of the children were enrolled in the laicized state supported schools. (ii) The mild attitude of Leo. On 16 February 1892 the pope released his encyclical “au milieu des solicitudes” to the French bishops and their flocks. It was to end the dissensions among the French Catholics and to remove all pretexts of anticlericalism among the enemies of the church. In his Brief on 10 January 1890 “Saplunltiae christianae” the pope exhorted the French Catholics to be loyal to any form of the government and that they had an obligation to accept the Third Republic as duly established government and to work within it to protect the church’s interests and the common welfare. He said that the church was not opposed to any form of the government so long as religion and moral discipline were untouched and the church would not side with any party.

Again between 1901 and 1905 the French government enacted a series of anticlerical laws known as the “lois laiques”-secular laws – to drive the church out of French political, social and intellectual life. An Association Act of 1901 provided that any religious order wishing to continue work in France must obtain specific authorization from the government and submit to periodical inspection. A law of 1904 provided that within ten years no member of a religious congregation could teach in any French school, public or private. The separation Act of 1905 abrogated unilaterally the concordet of 1801. So the church was deprived of government support. The administration of church properties was entrusted to lay associations. Leo’s efforts in France had ‘failed but he had from time to time moderated the storm against the church and contributed to lessening the divisions among the faithful.

4. Leo XIII as the teacher of the Church

In the midst of tribulations and problems pope Leo performed successfully his function as the head of the Church. He issued a series of masterful encyclicals. The Kulturkampf, Lois Laiques and the Italian measures have all been rescinded and have melted into history. But the encyclicals of Leo are still read, studied and quoted’. He wrote on such current topics as marriage, errors of the day, the temporal power and the church and civilization. The great encyclicals are his most enduring memorial.

Inscrutabili Dei (878) on the evils affecting modern society, their causes and remedies.

Quod apostolici muneris (1878) defended the right of private property, sanctioned by the law of nature. He focused his attention on socialists, communists etc.

Humanum Genus (1884) against Freemasonry and secret societies.

Aeterni Patris (1879) on scholastic philosophy.

Rerum Novarum (15 May 1891) on labour problem.

Immortale Dei (1885) on basic political problems, the church and the state are two perfect societies.

Libertas praestantissimum on liberty as gift of God.

Providentissimus Deu’s (1893) on study of S.Scripture.

Diuturnum Illud (1881) people have the right to choose their form of the government.

Sapintiae Christianaeon, the chief duties of christians as citizens.

Divinum Illud, on devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Mirae Caritatis, on Eucharist.

Other activities

1881 – He opened Vatican archives to all scholars. 1886 – He instituted the Latin hierarchy in India (Kerala). 1887 – Ritual separation the Syrians and Latins in Kerala. Two vicariates for Syrians.

Pius X (1903-1914)

On 4 August 1903 Joseph Melchior Sarto, the Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice was elected pope. He took the name Pius X. He was a man of deep piety with a purely pastoral background. “Instaurare omnia in Christo” was his motto.

Joseph Sarto was born in 1835 as a son of a postmaster of Riese on Venetian plains. He was ordained priest at 23. He had experience as a pastor, chancellor and spiritual director of the seminary. He was ordained bishop of Mantua in 1884 and became patriarch of Venice and cardinal in 1893. The government delayed his elevation for sixteen months. He took a round trip ticket when he went for the conclave. He was elected pope on the fourth voting. It was complained that he was a bishop rather than a statesman because of his simplicity. His secretary of the State was Raphael Merry de Val.

Pius X and Modernism

            Modernism is difficult to define because they did not agree among themselves on what they believed. For them believing was unimportant whereas religious experience and pious living were the essence of the religion. Pius X summed up the teachings of modernism under 65 condemned propositions. He called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies”.

The errors of Modernism are summed up under three headings: 1. Agnosticism: supernatural truths cannot be known with certainty by human reason. Holy Scripture could be interpreted subjectively. 2. Immanentism: S Scripture and tradition do not contain revelations of God, but expression of feelings and inner experience of extremely religious persons. For them religion is a purely inner experience. 3. Evolutionism: The church is a result of gradual evolution as it evolves it should adopt itself to changing times.

            By his decree “Lamentabili” (1907) Pius X condemned modernism. He renewed it in “Pascendi Domini Gregis”. He suggested appropriate remedies: sound training in the seminaries, careful scrutiny of professors in seminaries and universities, careful control of the bishopsover the catholic journals and news papers, creation of the diocesan board of censures, diocesan committee to safeguard teaching of religion in schools. In 1910 he published a motu proprio which obliged all priests to take an explicit anti-modernistic oath. The condemnation of modernism, though salutary, put a temporary check on the study of scripture.

Pius X and the codification of Canon Law

At Vatican I several bishops requested to revise the canon law. Pius IX and Leo XIII had made attempts in this respect. The canonists also suggested the church, legislation be revised and codified. On 19 March 1904 Pius X appointed a commission of cardinals, canonists and theologians to prepare a new code with the suggestions from all bishops. Cardinal Gasperi was appointed the secretary of the commission. To speed up the work, the commission was divided into two; one led by Gasperi another by cardinal De Lai. Books were published on:

Books I, II      –           20 March 1912

            III        –           01 April 1913

            IV        –           15 Nov. 1914

            V         –           01 July 1913

At the time of Pius’ death the major work had already been accomplished. The final conclusive version was published by Benedict XV in 1917.

Spiritual reforms of Pius X

1. Frequent and daily communion. In the beginning of 20th century there was a dispute between the advocates of frequent communion and its opponents. Leo XIII encouraged frequent communion Pius X also defended it and several decrees and letters in favour of it were published. In June 1905 he approved a prayer “for the propagation of the pious custom of daily communion, bringing to mind that Jesus meant to be the daily remedy and the daily food for our daily shortcomings. On 20 December 1905 the congregation for the council specified two conditions for receiving Holy Communion.  1. The state of grace, 2. Proper intention. He asked all faithful to communicate frequently and daily. On 8 October 1910 he issued the decree “Quam Singulari” declaring that it is sufficient for children to have the age of reason to receive the First Holy Communion. In April 1905 he founded the teague of Priests to enforce the application of the decree about the frequent communion.

            2. International Eucharistic Congress. The first Eucharistic congress was convoked in 1881. It was organized by Miss Tamisier, a French Lady, and a disciple of St. Peter Julian Eymard. The name Eucharistic congress was suggested by Msgr. Mermier. Msgr. Seigur was also associated with it.

Originally international congresses were meant to be public manifestations to inspire the devotion to Bl. Sacrament and to have a public witness to Christ’s kingdom. Pius X wanted these congresses be an occasion to encourage faithful to receive Holy Communion frequently even daily. This was especially pertinent at the Congress of Metz in 1907. In 1914 at Lourdes Eucharistic children’s crusade was founded. By then the Eucharistic congress became more international in character, besides, national congresses were also conducted.

3. Liturgical renewal. a) Church music. No significant renewal was done after the council of Trent. On 22 Nov. 1903 by “tra se sollicitudine” Pius X wrote on church music. It was qualified as the ‘charter of the liturgical movement’. He opposed the orchestral opera music. Gregorian chant was presented as perfect model of church music. He wanted music provide a prayer with a beautiful background. b) Revision of breviary (1911) C) yearly liturgical conventions

4. Concern for pastoral improvements. Pius X tried his best to improve the spiritual and moral level of the clergy and to inspire their pastoral enthusiasm. Under the direction of Consistorial Congregation a questionnaire was prepared in 1909 focusing on clergy’s observance of their duties and situation in the seminaries. He constantly reminded the bishops to use stricter standards when recruiting the priests. He prevented priests from participating in activities of an economic or political nature.

In order to improve the quality of the clergy, Pius X turned his attention to the seminaries including the minor seminaries. In 1907 a programme of studies was published. In 1908 norms for the organization of the seminaries in regard to education and discipline. It paid attention to minute details. It had many shortcomings – a life without much contact with outside world. The Roman regulations could not be executed due to lack of suitable men, finance etc.

Pius X was very careful in the selection of bishops.  St. Anselm was represented as the ideal bishop. He revised the methods of studied each one personally before the final decision. He issued regulations on their adlimina visits – a detailed report of the diocese every five years.

Reforms of Pius X

The London Times wrote after the death of Pius X: “It is not an exaggeration to say that Joseph Sarto instituted more changes in the administration of the Catholic Church than any of his predecessors since the council of Trent”.

Reorganization of the Roman Curia

The organization of the Roman Curia was instituted by pope Sixtus V on 21 January 1588 by his bull Immensa aeterni. There were 15 congregations. In the course of 300 years it turned into a heterogeneous assemblage of thirty seven agencies whose rights and responsibilities were often totally undefined and who were constantly in conflict with each other. Moreover the elimination of temporal authority rendered some of these agencies totally superfluous. Furthermore the administrative methods were completely obsolete, inflexible, out of date, costly etc. Many in the curia consider their work as a carrier to have the cardinal’s hat. The reform in the curia was very urgent. In 1903 Pius X suspended Congregation De eligendis episcopis and entrusted the appointment of the bishops to the Holy Office. In 1906 he suspended Congregation Super disciplina regulari and De Statu Regularum and entrusted everything concerned Religious Orders to Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.

On 29 June 1906 Pius X reorganized the Roman Curia by the Constitution “Sapiente consilio”. The new curia consisted of 11 congregations, three tribunals and five offices. I.Conareagtions

i. Cong. for Doctrine of Faith

ii. cong. of Consistory: in charge of bishops, seminaries

iii. cong. of the Sacraments

iv. cong. of the Council – general discipline of clergy and faithful

v. cong. of the Religious

vi. cong. of the Propagation of Faith

vii. cong. of Rite

viii. cong. of Ceremonies

ix. cong. for Extraordinary Affairs

x. congregation for Seminaries and Universities

xi. cong. of the Index (abolished in 1917)

2. Tribunals

i. Romana Rota -highest court of appeal.

ii. Apostolica Signatura – highest court of administrative and reversal of judgment.

iii. Sacred Penitentiary – the curial court of grace for the internal forum. Since it predominantly grants pardon, it should be considered rather as an administrative office than as a court.

3. Offices

i. Apostolic Chancery – responsible for the preparation and dispatching of bulls.

ii. Apostolic Datary -competent for the conferring of lesser ecclesiastical benefices (c.261).

iii. The Apostolic Camera (Chamber) – for the administration of temporal property and rights of the Holy See (c.262).

iv. The Secretariat of the State responsible for the direction of the policy of the Holy See.

v. The Secretariat of Briefs.

It is remarked that the basic structure of Sixtus V’s organization was not essentially (decisively) changed.

Papal Conclave

Pius I reorganized the papal conclave so as to insure absolute freedom in the election of the pope. He abolished the system of veto in 1904 (5 Dec.) and imposed absolute secrecy on the conclave’s deliberations under penalty of excommunication. On 19 May 1914 he created 13 new cardinals to give the College of Cardinals an even balance of Italians and non Italians.

Pius X ordered to teach catechism on Sundays and Holy days and to establish confraternity of Christian doctrine in every parish. He also pointed out the necessity of lay action in the Church (Il fermo proposito – 11 June 1905). He promoted the study of Bible. In 1909 he established the Biblical Institute in Rome.

St. Pius X did not possess the diplomatic ability and versatility of his predecessors. He permitted the Catholics to take part in the parliamentary elections provided the diocesan bishops approved. Pius X lived to see the outbreak of World War I, of which he spoke forebodingly. The war broke out late in the summer of 1914 and within three weeks the pope died on 20 August 1914. His kindness, simplicity and genuine piety had won for him the love off Catholics and the esteem of the non-Catholics.

Benedict XV (1914-1922)

Giacomo Paulo Battista Della Chiesa, the archbishop of Bolonga, was elected pope on 3 September 1914. He took the name Benedict XV in memory of his predecessor Benedict XIV (Lambertini). His coronation was on a September at Sixtine chapel.

Benedict XV was born on 21 November 1854 at Genoa. He had two brothers and a sister. He was ordained priest on 21 December 1878. In 1882 he was appointed to the cong. for extraordinary affairs, then as secretary to Card. Rampola. In 1887 he was appointed minutante of Secretariat of State. In 1901 he became the Sostituto, in 1907 archbishop of Bolonga. He was ordained bishop by Pius X at the Sixtine chapel. In 1914 he was made cardinal. When his mother complained about not promoting him to cardinalate, Pius X said to her: “your son takes few but long steps”.

Benedict was the ideal choice. He had experience in Roman curia as well as in pastoral work. He continued the reform works of Pius X. In 1914 he created a commission on the correction of the Vulgate and in 1915 he issued an encyclical on preaching. In 1915 he created a congregation for seminaries and in 1917 the congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Benedict XV and the World War I

The First World War (1914-1918) broke out in the summer of 1914. It is called a world war for nearly every nation of the world became involved in it. Since Italy was neutral the conclave could be done in tranquility.

            The war caused the pope great pain. He followed a fourfold policy: perfect neutrality, protest violations of the moral law, perform works of charity for suffering humanity, attempt to end the conflict and to bring peace. He perused this with diplomatic skill and with a heart full of charity.

Benedict XV issued several documents appealing all to peace. In his encyclical Ad Beatissimi (I Nov.1914) the pope speaks of four causes of unrest that produced the war: 1. a general contempt has developed for authority, 2. mutual love no longer governs human relations, 3. class relations are dominated by injustice, 4. people are possessed of a universal fever to amass riches. The pope’s appeal to peace went unheard. Again on 28 July 1915 he exhorted all to end the conflict and to make peace.

Unable toymaker peace, the pope concentrated on charity work. He converted the church’s organization to the relief of suffering and the minimizing of the hardships attendant upon the war. He sent alms to help those areas devastated by the war. In December 1914 the pope set up a Prisoners of War bureau in the Vatican. This office obtained the lists of the missing soldiers and informed the missing men’s families. Arrangements were made through the bureau for communication between prisoners and their families.

Benedict XV also offered to mediate peace between the belligerents. On 1 August 1917 he invited all to agree upon his seven peace points:

1. The moral force of right should replace the material force of arms.

2. Simultaneous and reciprocal disarmament.

3. Acceptance of arbitration with proper sanctions to punish nations that did not abide by the decisions.

4. Freedom of the seas.

5. A general and reciprocal condonation as regards damages and cost of the war.

6. The reciprocal restitution of territory.

7. The promise to examine territorial disputes in a conciliatory spirit and taking into account the aspirations of the people concerned.

The pope’s note was not even answered. The war continued more than a year later. Then the peace was signed at Versailles, but Papacy was excluded from the negotiations.  It was at the request of Italian government which, afraid that Vatican would bring up the Roman question and place it on the agenda for discussion.

After the peace of Versailles, Pope Benedict wrote his encyclical Pacem Dei Munus expressing his joy and pointing out that there can be no lasting peace unless there be a return of mutual charity to appease hate and banish enemity. He stated explicitly that Christian peace alone can work a reconciliation that will be just and lasting. He promised Church’s full support to the Leagge of Nations.

The neutral policy of Benedict was appreciated by all. It resulted in a number of steps in various countries toward reconciling the church and the government. Meanwhile Holy See’s diplomatic prestige had increased. England appointed an ambassador to Vatican in 1914, Holland in 1916, and France in 1920. Political persons visited the pope. A statue of pope was erected in Constantinople. Its inscription reads: “To the great pope of world tragedy, Benedict XV, a benefactor of peoples without distinction of nationality or religion, the East, in token of gratitude 1914-1919. He died on 22 January 1922 at the age of 68.

Pius XI (1922-1939)

            On 6 February 1922 the cardinal archbishop Of Milan Ambrose Damian Achille Ratti, was elected pope. He took the name Pius XI. Achille Ratti was born in Desio near Monza on 31 May 1857. He was ordained priest on 20 December 1879. From 1882 to 1886 he was professor in Milan Seminary, prefect of Ambrosian Library from 1888 to 1907, then prefect of Vatican library. In 1918 he was appointed apostolic visitor and nucio to Poland and in 1921 he was named archbishop of Milan and cardinal. He had doctorate in Canon Law and Philosophy. He was a strong man with keen intelligence and universal interest. He had vast encyclopedic knowledge of the modern world.

            Pius XI was a compromising candidate. Cardinals Lafontaine of Venice and Gasparri were the candidates. In the 14th ballot Ratti obtained 42 votes out of 53. He took the motto “Pax Christi in Regno Christi”. He was the scholarly pope since Benedict XIV (1740-58). He had considerable knowledge of languages and acquaintance with modern scientific investigation. Re was pious and active in pastoral care. As nuncio he acquired experience of ecclesiastical politics. He had excellent health, had a regular walk in Vatican garden.

“Life in action” was one of his maxims. Another one was: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can today”. It seems that he was born to command. He had a strong consciousness of authority. His model was St. Ambrose. He used to say “Laws are to be observed, not to be dispensed with”. He was strongly against nepotism. He received his relatives in the official reception hall. The first blessing of the pope from the external loggia shows a move toward a solution of the Roman question.

Pius XI and the Room question

The Roman question was settled in 1929. It was largely the, personal work of Pius XI. It ended the 59 years of anomalous existence the church had endured since 1870.

In October 1922 Fascism under the leadership of Benito Mussolini seized the power in Italy and soon eliminated all other parties. Fascism- from the word fasci or clubs – was organised by Mussolini in the industrial centers. Its members wore black shirts and had as their symbol the fasces or bundles of rods enclosing a battle axe and saluted Mussolini as il duce with outstretched hand in Roman manner – took a friendly attitude toward the church which it considered primarily of course as an element Of natural culture. Religion instruction again became obligatory in the elementary schools; clerics were granted exemption from military service, military chaplains were appointed; the crucifix was returned to a place of honour in the schools, hospitals and law courts; churches and cloisters, that had been seized were given back, catholic holidays were acknowledged by law. Mussolini fully recognized the immense importance of a settlement of the differences with papacy. So he was very anxious to settle the Roman question. He wanted the full support of all Italians and he knew that this was impossible until the church officially accepted the loss of Rome and Italy recognized the papacy as a sovereign state. He believed that he could identify Catholicism and Italian nationalism to enhance his own power and prestige. Since Italian people is almost totally catholic, he explained, and Catholicism is the ancient glory and tradition of Italy, the state which is the judicial organization of the Italian nation, the representative of its spirit and the heir of its traditions, is not and can not be aught but catholic”.

Pius XI on his part intimated at the beginning of his pontificate that the church would accept much lose than the city of Rome and she recognized the unification of Italy as an accomplished fact. He explained that he needed only a little corner of the earth. In his first blessing he expressed his desire to negotiate with Italy. Then in his first encyclical he invited the Italian government to settle the question.

            Informal negotiations were begun in August 1926. Francesco Paccelli, brother of Pius Pius XII, represented the Holy See, Dominico Barone, the Italian government. Both had 110 conversations. And they prepared a draft treaty in April 1927. Then the last stages of negotiations were carried on by Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri. Finally after two and half years of negotiations on 11 February 1929 was concluded the Lateran Treaty.

This treaty has three parts: 1. The treaty proper, 2. A financial settlement, 3. A concordat.

1. The Treaty proper. It is a bilateral settlement. Pope’s sovereignty was recognized by Italy. It created Vatican City, a sovereign state governed by pope. It has 108 acres. It declared the person of the pope sacred and inviolable and acknowledged his right to send and receive diplomatic embassies. The pope, on his side, recognized the kingdom of Italy with Rome as its capital. The treaty also provided for the extra territoriality and immunity of many buildings outside Vatican City including the major Roman basilicas (Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul) the palaces of various Roman congregations and papal summer residence at Castel Gondolfo. It also recognized the cardinals as princes of the Church.

2. The financial settlement. The treaty also made a financial settlement. The state had seized tremendous amount of church property since 1870. Italy promised to pay the pope 1750 million Lire for the loss.

3. A concordat. The treaty included a concordat between the Holy See and the Italian government. It established the catholic religion as the state religion of Italy. It granted to the bishops full freedom in the exercise of their pastoral office, it placed Christian marriage, Christian schools and religious societies under the protection of the state. The state promised to recognize the holydays established by the church. The church, on her part, promised to recite liturgical prayers for the king of Italy and the Italian nation.

The Lateran treaty was a great achievement of pope Pius XI. It brought to the foreground the religious and pastoral functions of the papacy and pushed into background its worldly and political interests.

Pius XI and the Concordats

Pius XI believed that the church could effect a contribution to the consolidation of the new political situations and to the peaceful and cultural development of Europe. Therefore he entered into general concordats with various European powers. In this work he was supported by his Secretary of the State Cardinal Gasparri (+1934) and his successor Eugenio Paccelli. Pius XI concluded concordats with Latvia (1922.), Bavaria (1924), Poland (1925), Lithuania (1927), Romania (1927) Prussia (1929) Italy (1929). Baden (1932), Austria (1933), Germany (1933), Yugoslavia (1935- not ratified). So his pontificate can be called a new era of concordats.

The results of the concordats

1. The church obtained legal autonomy and freedom from secular rulers.

2. Provision is made for the nomination of bishops. Pope is free to nominate anyone he wishes and submits his name to government to make sure he is not politically a persona non-grata.

3. Freedom to exercise public worship, recognition of right of the church to promulgate laws binding on all Catholics.

4. Full freedom for communication between Holy See and bishops in the country, between bishops and their faithful.

5. Ecclesiastical organizations obtained official recognition and legal right to acquire and manage property. These organizations are recognized as corporate persons.

6. Freedom for religious orders to operate as cooperate entities within the country.

7. Special status of ecclesiastics according to the canon law was accepted: clerics are free from military service and from duties and public offices that are unbecoming to clerical status.

8. Some measure of the state support for the church in return for property confiscated in days gone by.

9. Various arrangements are made for matters that are a concern to both church and state eg. Education, marriage etc.

10. The concordat guaranteed the church the right to follow its divinely appointed mission freely in return the church recognized the legitimacy of certain political and social interests of the state as education.

Pius XI and fascism

Fascism was a source of trouble to Pius XI almost from the beginning. Certain accomplishments of the fascist government for eg, suppression of secret societies, its protest against materialism etc. deserved to be applauded, but fascist violence could never be condoned. Its doctrine of the state was a modern form of idolatry. Against this Pius XI said; “It is not the function of the state to absorb, to swallow up, to annihilate the individual and the family. This would be absurd, contrary to the nature of things, for the family existed before the state, as it existed before the society”.

            In 1930 and 1931 Mussolini conducted an insulting campaign against papacy and catholic action groups. Therefore on 5 July It 1931, the pope wrote the indignant and strong encyclical “Non abbiamo bisggno”. In it the pope described fascism as an ideology which openly resolves itself into a true, real pagan worship of the state. Then Mussolini withdrew the decrees against the catholic action and never dared to declare open war against Vatican and the church.

Pius II and Nazism

            In Germany the church was persecuted by Nazism under Hitler. Pius XI condemned the doctrine of Nazism and its terrorist activities. In France there was an ultranationalist movement called L’action Francaise which aimed at the restoration of monarchy.  Its activities were anticlerical.  Pius XI condemned it in 1927. In Spain the Revolution of 1931 overthrew the royal rule and passed several antireligious and anticlerical laws. The church’s legal rights were abolished, the ecclesiastical property was put under the state control, the religious instruction was excluded from education and provision was made for the suppression of religious orders. Churches were burned, priests murdered, nuns outraged and slain by the radicals. The government watched passively. On 3 June 1933 the pope condemned this anticlerical legislation. Pius XI and Catholic Action

Pius XI realized that the priests cannot by themselves adequately perform their apostolate in the modern world and that they need the help of laity. He defined catholic action as the participation of the laity in the work of hierarchy.  He reminded the laymen of their obligation and duty to preach the gospel to all people. Catholic action groups are formed to spread gospel. Its aim was to create a sacred militia that would bring true, spiritual and moral principles to bear on the problems of the time. Catholic action stands above and beyond all party politics for it aims at the common good of the souls rather that at the welfare of particular bodies. The members of catholic action are always to remain under the bishops’ authority and subject to their jurisdiction. Pope obtained legal recognition of catholic action groups in many countries. Thus different youth groups developed in Europe.

Other activities of Pius X1

Pius XI was able to take the lead in every field of ecclesiastical and religious life and to reveal to all the world the eminent mission of the apostolic see. In line with his motto in 1925 he introduced the feast of Christ the King together with the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He presided over many canonizations: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Mary Vianney, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. John Bosco, St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More etc. In impressive encyclicals he gave clear instructions for the defense of human dignity and Christian personality. Thus in the encyclicals “Divini illius magistri (1929) and Casti connubi (1930) he demanded support for christian education and christian marriage against the modern errors and abuses. On the 40th anniversary of the encyclical of Leo XIII Rerum Novarum, he issued a new and most important encyclical Quadragessimo anno (1931). It gives an outline of a reasonable social order. It reiterates the basic principles of rerum novarum and brings their application up to date. Within a few years Q.A. was known throughout the world, and many of its principles became commonplace among the sociologists and economists.

Main points of Quadragessimo anno.

-the church had the right and duty of exerting its authority in social and economic matters.

-pope points out the errors of socialism and communism on the one hand and rugged individualism on the other.

-pope established the right of private property which has a social character and cannot be employed against the common welfare.

-pope insists that ownership of property entails obligations as well as rights. He lists e rights and unjust claims of capital and labour.

-he dwells on the reconstruction of the social order on the basis of vocational groups and respects for the principles of subsidiarity.

The other encyclicals of Pius XI are:

            Ron abbiamo bisogno– a powerful protest against fascism. In this the pope accused Italian government of attempting to monopolize all the young from the tenderest years up to manhood and womanhood.

            Mit brennender sorge- a more incisive indictment of Nazism. Pope denounced the neopagan exaltation of race and blood.

            Divini Redemptoris– a denunciation of atheistic communism.

            Divini illius magistri- a classic statement of the catholic theory of education. Pope says: “there can be no ideally perfect education that is not a christian education for sound education must take into consideration man’s final goal in life. It must deal with the whole man.

            Casti connubi- the pope states the traditional catholic doctrine on marriage.

1922- Celebrated tercentenary of Propaganda

1922- Authorized the transfer of the headquarters of Propaganda from France to Rome, and placed it more directly under papal supervision.

1923- Institution of Syro-Malabar hierarchy.

1923- First indigenous bishop in India for Latin rite, Tuticorir

1924- Cardinals -New York and Chicago.

1925- Jubilee year, instituted the solemnity of Christ king missionary exposition and founding of a missionary and theological museum in Lateran.

1926- Officiated at the consecration of six Chinese bishops in St. Peter’s.

1929- Extraordinary Jubilee on the occasion of the golden Jubilee of the pope.

1930- Cardinal -Rio do Janeiro.

20 Sept. reunion of Jacobites in Kerala.

1931- Jubilee of council of Ephesus.

1932- 11 June institution of Syro-Malankara hierarchy.

1933-34- Jubilee of Incarnation and redemption of Christ.

1935- Cardinals Buenos Aires, pat. of Antioch.

1936- Foundation of the academy of science.

The pontificate of Pius XI was a fruitful period. The missions were solidly organized and the church began to spread outside Europe. Internally also the church grew greater and stronger. Pius XI also did all he could to facilitate the reunion of the Eastern Churches. The Oriental Institute in Rome was given strong papal support. The pope ordered that all seminaries institute course dealing with the Eastern Church to help to do away with the mutual ignorance and scorn, which have perpetuated the schism. He published his encyclical “Rerun Orientalium” of 1928 on this question.

Pope Pius XI died on 10 February 1939 after 11 years in papacy. At his death the New York Times wrote: “He was a man of ample and various gifts, a humanist, a quiet scholar… a singularly able administrator, a lover of antiquity, his settlement of the Roman question will always be memorable…”

Pius XI made his little domain – larger he would not have -a centre of freedom and of the defense of religion against the new cult of worship of the state. In this defense he was as brave as he was wise. The free men and women whose battle he fought will not forget him”. Pius XI wanted all to bring all into the kingdom of God. The institution of Archaeological Institute in Rome and instruction to the bishops to preserve existing archives show his love for antiquity. He instituted a historical section for completing of the process of beatification and canonization as a part of the congregation for the Rites.

Pope Plus III (1939 1258)

On 2 March 1939 Cardinal Eugenio Paccelli was elected pope. The conclave lasted but one day. He took the name Pius XII

Eugenio Pacelli was a Roman by birth. He was born on 2 March 1876, He attended the state secondary school Visconti and, after finishing these, he pursued philosophy at the Gregoriana from 1804 to 1899, while he was a member of Collegio Capranica. He studied theology at Sant Appollinare as an extern, but at the same time for an entire year he heard lectures at the state university of Sapienza. He was ordained to the priesthood on 2 April 1899 by the cardinal vicar of Rome in the latter’s private chapel.

After the completion of legal studies at Sant’Appollinare (1899-1902), Pacelli entered the congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs as a minutante in 1904. Pacelli became its undersecretary in 1911 and secretary of the congregation in 1914. From 1909 to 1914 he was also teaching at The Academia dei Nobili and performing pastoral work as confessor, preacher and lecturer.

In 20 April 1917 Pacelli was appointed nuncio in Germany. Benedict XV himself ordained him as archbishop of Sardes on 13 May 1917 in the Sistine chapel. After the overthrow of the monarchy, Pacelli was on 22 June 1920 made the first nuncio to the German Republic. In 1925 he moved to Berlin. He was qualified as the most skilful diplomat of the Curia.

            He was recalled to Rome and on 16 December he was created Cardinal. On 7 February he became Gasparri’s successor as secretary of state. He became known to the universal church through legations to Buenos Eires in 1934, Lourdes and Lisieux in 1935 and 1937 respectively, and Budapest in 1938. In 1936 he visited the United States in a private capacity.

            Pacelli spoke a variety of languages. Though he had no experience as the administrator of a diocese, he had a long experience in dealing with men. He had a high intelligence, a combination of charm and dignity in public and private address. He was ascetic and religious and had great devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary. He consecrated human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1946 and defined the Assumption of Mary in 1950. When he was in the curia he used to hear confession in a parish and teach catechism. He had a sense of duty and sought to make the church more Catholic.

Pius XII was the man of the hour He possessed the diplomatic skill and experience of Leo XIII and Benedict XV. He was deeply religious like Pius X. He was a teacher on the model of Pius XI. He added sensitivity to changing social and economic conditions.

The beginning of the Pontificate of Pius XII was overshadowed by the impending outbreak of the World War II. Pius XII worked and prayed incessantly to avert the outbreak of the conflict.

The three main concerns of Pius XII were:

1. Peace

2. Protection of Church’s rights throughout the world

3. Adaptation to changing conditions in the world

1. Peace efforts of Pius XII

Peace was a great concern for Pius XII. He worked a programme for a true, just and lasting peace. In the first months of his pontificate he tried desperately to prevent war. He prayed and pleaded for peace. He also employed church’s world wide organization to relieve suffering caused by the war.

            Before the war the pope launched a crusade of prayer to Bl. Virgin Mary and to Sacred Heart of Jesus to prevent the war. He also made a direct appeal to the leaders of the nations, for eg. the radio message of August 24 said: “nothing is lost with peace, all may be lost with war”. In spite of his appeals and peace efforts, the pope hurried I. diplomatic efforts to reconcile the great powers. He proposed to hold an international conference to settle the German -Polish and French-Italian disputes, but it was turned down. (The Germans invaded Poland on l Sept.1939).

At the outbreak of war Pius XII published his first encyclical “Summi Pontificatue” on 27 Oct 1939 –analyzing the dangers that confront the church and the pressing problems of modern time. He asked: “what age has been for all its technical and purely civic progress, more tormented than ours by spiritual emptiness and deep-felt interior poverty”.

            The pope points out two principal errors that lie at the source of all troubles: 1. the denial or forgetfulness of the unity of the human race, 2. the divorce of civil auth it from dependence on God. From these derive nationalism and totalitarian state which denies human, family and even divine rights. The pope stressed the role of the church and her obligation to build up a new world order based on the truth. In the hour of darkness of war he was optimistic saying: “God can do all things. He, therefore, exhorted the Catholics to pray for a lasting Peace based on charity and justice.

Pius XII can truly be called a pope of peace. The problem of peace was always nearest his heart. His Christmas eve address on peace constitute the most complete analysis of the nature of peace. Peace is fundamentally a spiritual and moral condition -”a tranquil living together in order” (St. Augustine). Peace is a threefold thing: 1. it is an interior state of soul and condition of mind within each individual, 2. it is a domestic matter within each nation, social peace among the classes within the country, 3. it is a tranquil living together in order by all the various nations of the world.

In his Christmas message of 1939 Pius XII laid down the essential points of international peace:

i. the right to life and independence of all nations

ii. Deliverance from the economic and psychological slavery.

iii. Creation of some international institution to guarantee agreements entered into by the nations of the world.

iv. Satisfying the real needs and just demands of all nations and all minorities.

v. striving by all people and governments to attain justice rather than promoting selfish interests.

Pope said that the mutual distrust and suspicion are the grounds in which the seeds of war are fruitfully cultivated.

According to Pius XII there are certain victories which are preliminary to any lasting peace:

i. victory over the hatred which divides the nation in our day.

ii. Victory over distrust which makes honest understanding among nations impossible.

iii. Victory over the “dismal principle that utility is the foundation and aim of law, that might can create right”.

iv. Victory over conflicts arising from an unbalanced world economy.

v. Victory over nationalistic selfishness.

Pope stressed that lasting peace must be based on justice among the nations and among the classes within nations and that its foremost foundation lays in the principles given to mankind by Christ.

In the Christmas eve message of 1942 pope laid emphasis on the development and perfection of the human person, on the rights of the family, the dignity and prerogatives of labour and the christian concept of the state. In the Christmas eve message of 1944 pope showed that the same democracies, accepting right political principles can solve international problems and promote peace in the world.

The Church and the War

The war interrupted the normal communications within the church. Many priests were forced into armed services; thousands more left their dioceses to serve as chaplains. Several priests were killed. Millions of faithful suffered and millions were found themselves behind the iron curtain.

Pius XII followed two lines of action in regard to the war. He mobilized the church’s resources for relief work and he used his moral prestige and diplomatic service to shorten the war and advocate terms on which a sound peace could be reached.

1. A Pontifical Relief Commission was set up to help the devastated areas of Poland. Then new relief stations were set up as the war spread into other countries. Food, medicine and clothing were passed out by Vatican relief workers to people of all creeds and nationalities.

2. Protection of refugees: After 1943 when the allies began the invasion of Italy the pope found Rome a particularly pressing problem. There were half a million refugees in Rome and Vatican served them meals at the cost of about $7000 a day. The relief centers helped thousands to find a permanent settlement.

3. Looking after the prisoners of war. Vatican looked after the prisoners of war in many countries. Vatican representatives were given free access to the camps of the prisoners everywhere except in the Russian territory. They contacted the prisoners personally and provided them with all possible helps.

4. Information service. Vatican also set up an information service whose aim was to supply information about the missing persons to their relatives. It started with two volunteers and by 1945 it had a staff of 600 full-time volunteers.

5. Appeal for peace. Throughout the war the pope used his office to mitigate the harshness of the war. In 1940 he appealed for a Christmas truce. 24 November 1940 was declared a day of penance and prayer: for those who died, for those who mourned, and that “true peace may unite as brothers all peoples of the holy family’. May of 1941 was made a crusade for peace month; a special prayer was composed by the pope.

Pius XII negotiated with both sides to have Rome declared an open city. But it was not done; Rome was subjected to several severe bombings until it was taken by the American troops.

The loss of the Church

The church suffered serious losses in personnel and property during the war. Three bishops and at least 2000 priests had died or been killed in Poland and 1597 German priests had been killed and similar numbers of religious had lost their lives in the other countries of Europe. Japan had killed many missionaries in China. War damages to the church alone estimated at more than six billion.

The reconstruction of the church

Pius XII began to rebuild the church on a world-wide basis. He increased the number of the cardinals and gave to the College of Cardinals a universal character. The Italians lost the majority. (23/70). On 18 February 1946 he created 33 cardinals.

Russia thwarted the reconstruction works of the church. The church behind the iron curtain was cut off from Rome. 53 millions of the 425 million Catholics in the world are in this church of silence. The Holy See was powerless to offer more than prayers and encouragement to them. The influence and guidance of the pope checked the communist advance in Italy in the years after the war.

Pius XII and adaptation to a changing world

Pius XII was deeply concerned with keeping the church abreast (up-to-date) of the times. As bishop of Rome he took possession of the basilica of St. John of Lateran, the first pope since 1846. In 1939 he visited the king of Italy in Quirinale.

            Pius XII also effected changes in certain aspects of ecclesiastical life. He encouraged the religious congregations to modernize their dress and suggested some reforms to effectively fulfill their duties. In 1952 the superiors of 200 Congregations met in Rome.

Pius XII insisted that the renewal of religious life should be marked by fidelity to the traditional heritage as well as by courage for wise adaptation. He strongly emphasized the obligation not to attack the essentials of religious life and of the particular institute, and not to be unduly influenced by the current views and opinions.

The Roman congregation of the Religious took up the aim of renewal of religious life in accord with the time. In the Holy Year 1950 it convened at Rome an International Congress for male religious. This general Congress discussed the life and cloistral discipline of religious, their formation and apostolic work. Two years later a congress of superioresses General took place at Rome which also treated the question of reform of the institutes. In 1957 the Congregation summoned the second general congress and discussed the theme “the timely renewal of the state of perfection”.

National and international conferences were instituted in various countries to reform the religious life;

1. Union of superiors general for male -1957

2. International union of the superioresses general for female religious -1965

3. Confederation of Latin-American religious 1959, Bogota. On 21 November 1950 the pope published the apostolic constitution Sponsa Christi on nuns. It was followed two days later by the directives for its implementation from the Congregation of Religious. These documents first underscored the inalterability of the contemplative life, the propriety of solemn vows, and the unrenounsable papal enclosure for all nuns. In adaptation to new requirements the rules on the enclosure were modified, namely, by the creation of the so-called little papal enclosure, which permitted a meeting of nuns and outsiders in an area of the enclosure that was intended for work directed to the outside. A high apostolic value was acknowledged in the very life of the nuns and definite works of apostolate were approved in so far as the constitutions provided. These documents also recommended the uniting of autonomous monasteries of nuns into federations so that they could give effective help to one another in this work of renewal.

Pius XII was very much concerned for a good formation of religious, especially of the Priests. On 31 May 1956 he published the apostolic constitution Sedes Saplentiae and it was followed on 7 July by general statutes of the congregation of Religious in the form of directives for its implementation. These documents treated not only the formation of the candidates, but attributed great importance to their education in pastoral theology as good shepherds of souls. One additional year devoted to pastoral introduction and practice and a sort of second novitiate were prescribed. In order to equip the orders of women the Congregation of Religious on 31 May 1955 erected the papal institute Regina Mundi at Rome with a three year course for sisters.

Liturgical reforms

            On the liturgy in 1947 Pius XII published an encyclical Mediator Dei. In this the pope explains the nature and purpose of liturgical services and encourages active participation in them by the faithful. He introduced some significant reforms, including the approval of numerous rituals with vernacular texts and songs, the introduction of a new translation of the psalms, but especially the renewal of the Holy Week and Easter Vigil liturgies. In Mediator Dei the pope made use of the keyword of “active and personal participation”. The liturgy is “the public worship which our redeemer, the Head of the church, gives to the heavenly Father and which the community of believers offers to its Founder and through him to the eternal Father… It displays the total public worship of the Mystical body of Jesus Christ, namely, the Head and his members”. The precept of the Eucharistic fast was greatly mitigated in 1953 and 1957 and thereby the way for the general permission for evening mass was opened. He permitted to use native languages for certain sacraments. The faithful were allowed to receive Holy Communion on Good Friday. Reading of epistle and gospel in the vernacular was permitted.

In 1928 pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus by his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor. He also recommended the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus as a means of salvation in the encyclical Caritate Christi compulsi of 3 May 1932. Under Pius XII the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus reached a climax especially in regard to teleology. On 15 May 1956 he published encyclical Haurietis aquas which made clear that the devotion to the Sacred Heart “can look back to an advanced age in the church and has in the Gospels themselves a solid foundation, so that tradition and liturgy clearly favour it”. The reason for this cult which is distinguished as the most effective school of the love of God”, is twofold: the first consists in this, that Christ’s heart, “the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united with the person of the divine Word; hence to it must be paid the same worship of adoration by which the church honours the  person of the incarnate Son of God … The second reason results from this that his heart more than all other members of his body, is a natural indication or symbol of his unending love for the human race”.

Marian devotion: Pius XI and Pius XII promoted the Marian devotion. Appearances of Mary at Fatima in 1917, in the Belgian localities of Beauraing in 1932-33, and Banneux in 1933 obtained ecclesiastical approbation. At Fatima Mary demanded especially the praying of the rosary for the peace of the world, the consecration of Russia to her immaculate heart, and communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month. Pius XII (ordained on 13 May 1917) regarded himself throughout his life as bound to the aims at Fatima in a special way. On 8 December 1942 he consecrated the entire human race to the immaculate Heart of Mary. On 7 July 1952 he dedicated all people of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To spread the aims of Fatima there was established, at the urging of the Canadian bishop Dignan, a “Rosary Crusade”. In 1947 there arose in Vienna, under the Franciscans the Rosary Atonement Crusade.

The Legion of Mary founded by Frank Duff in Dublin in 1921 spread rapidly on all the continents. Then there appeared also the Militia of the Immaculate Conception founded in 1917 by Fr. Maximillian Kolbe (1894-1941), the Blue Army of Mar founded in 1947 by Harold von Colgan. Pius XII by his apostolic constitution Bis seculari of 1948 encouraged the lay apostolate of Marian congregations. In 1953 was founded the World Association of Marian Congregations. The Pallotines, the Schonetatt Movement by Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968), Marian sisters, Marian brothers, Schonstatt priests are the agents of the work

In 1931 Pius XI in the encyclical Ingravescentibus malis recommended rosary, with clear allusion to Fascism and communism, in view of the threatening world situation. A series of Marian feasts was introduced:

i. 1931 -feast of the maternity of the Bl. Virgin Mary on 11 October.

ii. 1944 -feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 22 Aug.

iii. 1954 -feast of Mary our Queen on 31 May.

The climax of the papal initiatives came with the proclamation of the dogma of the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven on 1 November 1950. In the dogmatic bull Pius XII stated that Mary who was already a share in the full redemption, is a sign for the mankind, threatened in a secularistic world of materialism; mankind should recognize in Mary that human fulfillment is to be found only in God; it is to be hoped, said the pope, that through the contemplation of the glorious example of Mary there may grow ever stronger the insight into what high value human life has, when it is used to carry out the will of the heavenly Father and to act for the welfare of the fellow man. And it can also be … expected that the truth of Mary’s Assumption may show to all clearly to what noble end we are destined in body and soul. Finally faith in the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven will strengthen faith also in our resurrection and lead to energetic activity” (Munificentissimus Deus).

There was a powerful increase of Marian literature and it reached its climax in the 1950s. Thus between 1948 and 1957 about one thousand titles per year appeared. The theologians treated Mary in the framework of the divine economy of salvation. Thus Mariology was seen in its relations to Christology, ecclesiology and eschatology.

Marian congresses were organized on regional, national and international levels. Further there were formed societies for Marian studies and in 1950 an international Marian Academy was founded. In France the Institut Catholique at Paris received a special chair for Mariology; at Rome Mariological Academy was made a papal academy by John XXIII on 8 December 1959. Pius XII declared Marian Years 1950, 1954, 1958 (centenary of Mary’s appearance at Lourdes).

Pius XII on 18 February 1946 named thirty two cardinals from all parts of the world. Then on 19 January 1953 he internationalized the College of Cardinals by promoting twenty-four cardinals. He canonized thirty-three saints including St. Pius X in 1954.

The encyclicals of Pius XII

Mystici Corporis Christi, 29 June 1943

Divino afflante Spiritu on Holy Scripture, 30 Sept.1943

Sacramentum Ordinis, on 30 November 1947, defined as the essence of the sacrament of orders the invocation of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands; the symbolic presentation of chalice and patent do not pertain to it.

Muniticentissimus Deus, on 1 Nov 1950, defined dogma of Assumption of Mary.

Sempiternus Rex, Sept. 1951

Haurietis aquas, 15 May 1956 on devotion to Sacred Heart.

Humani generis, 12 August 1950, accepted theological progress, but warned against the relativization of dogmas and the all too close accommodation to the trends of day

Sedes Sapientiae, 31 May 1956, extended the circle of theological departments of study in accord with the demands of modern pastoral work.

Numerous are the carefully prepared addresses of Pius XII. He spoke on human dignity, formation of conscience, marriage family, mass media, sacraments, ecumenical movement etc.

Mediator Dei, 20 Nov 1947, on liturgy

Christus Dominus, 6 Jan. 1953 on Eucharist.

Provida Mater Ecclesia, 2 Feb.1947, rules for secular institutes.

September 1956 -the first liturgical World congress at Assisi. The pope also issued new decrees on he conclave and the papal election: photographic and radio apparatus could not be brought in, and television speakers and writers could not be employed; one vote over the two thirds majority was needed to elect the pope ( Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis on 8 December 1945). In the constitution Episcopalis consecration is of 30 November 1944 he clarified the role of the two consecrators in Episcopal ordination; in the constitution Spiritus Sancti munera of 14 Aept.1, 1946 the priests were given authorization to administer the sacrament of confirmation in the territory of their parish, to the faithful who as a result of a serious illness are in danger of death. The motu proprio Sacram communionem of 19 March 1957 brought further mitigations of the Eucharistic fast and the extension of the faculty to permit evening mass. The premarital investigations were minutely regulated in 1941. The constitution Exsul Familia of 2 Aug 1952 introduced and exhaustive ordering of the pastoral care of refugees, exiles and emigrants.

Under Pius XII the codification of the canon law of the eastern churches reached its maturity. The following parts were promulgated; on 22 January 1949 the law of marriage; on 6 Jan. 1950 the law of trials, on 9 Feb.1952 the law of religious institutes and of property as well as the stipulating of specified concepts; on 2 June 1957 the constitutional law.

Neutrality of papacy in the world war

Reasons:-neutrality of Benedict XV

– The characteristic of Pius XII. He was a diplomat and an outspoken man of peace.

– The international law. In the Lateran treaty the Holy See had assumed the obligation of holding itself aloof from the properly political problems of international politics.

Pius XII preferred the term “impartiality”. He declared to the cardinal of Munich: “Neutrality could be understood in the sense of a passive indifference, which in a period of war such as this was unbecoming to the head of the church. Impartiality means for us judgment of things in accord with truth and Justice”. He declared that the church “does not have the function of intervening and taking sides in purely earthly affairs. She is a mother. Do not ask a mother to favour or to oppose the part of one or other of her children”.

Pius XII observed the policy of impartiality almost rigoristically. During the war he refrained with difficulty from any explicit condemnation of many aggression of the part of Germany, Italy, Soviet Union and other Allies. He was likewise careful to see that Vatican did not become entangled in any crusade propaganda of one of the warring sides. Even the term “communism” disappeared from the vocabulary of the Holy See.

The war made impossible the communication with the rest of the world. Mussolini withdrew the extraterritoriality of the papal buildings contrary to the Lateran Treaty. The curia continued to function in the Vatican itself. Though there were restrictions and limitations the central authority of the universal church could continue to operate essentially intact and keep contact with its nuncios and the bishops. During the German occupation of Rome in 1943 the pope managed to hidden the papal documents in his palace and microfilm photographs of others sent to Washington in order to save them.

Pius XII was without doubt was the most brilliant Pope. He appeared as the perfect Pontifex. In the most difficult days of war he stayed with his people and had been their single protector. Although he had three Germans in his immediate entourage -the Jesuits Robert Leiber and Augustine Bea, and Ludwig Kaas, the former leader of central party, and his housekeeper Sr. Pasqualina, he was far from favouring Germany or even of pursuing a pro-German policy. After the death of his secretary of state, Maglione, on 22 August 1944, he appointed no successor and governed in direct contact with the heads of the two departments of the secretariat of state, Montine and Tardini.

The pontificate of Pius XII was remarkable. The international prestige of papacy reached a new height under him. The administration of the church was vastly improved; its spiritual Life had grown richer. The homage paid to him on his 80th birthday (2 March 1956), and the deep and universal mourning at his passing proved his greatness. Pius X11 died at Castel Gondolfo on 9 October 1958.

Pope John XXIII (1956-1963)

Angelo Giuseppe Cardinal Roncalli, patriarch of Venice was elected pope on 26 October 1958 after a brief conclave (25-28 Oct). Roncalli was born in Sotto il Montel province of Bergamo) on 25 November 1861, the fourth of fourteen children of the farmer Battista (d.1935) and his wife Marianna Mazzola (d.1939). After attending the minor and major seminaries at Bergamo from 1892 to 1900, he continued his theological studies at the Roman Seminary of Sant’Apollinare from 1901 to 1905, interrupted by one year of military service at Bergamo,”un vero purgatorio” as he wrote to the rector of the seminary. From his professor of church history Benigni, he received the advice “Read little but well”. He took a doctorate in theology on 13 July 1904 and was ordained priest on 10 August 1904. In 1905 he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and from October 1906 he also lectured on church history in the seminary and later on petrology and apologetics and edited the ecclesiastical journal La vita diocesana. He also began editing the visitation documents of St. Charles Borromeo. After the death of his bishop Radini Tedeschi, he wrote his biography (1914). During the world war he served as a military chaplain (1915-18). Then he served as the spiritual director of the seminary (1918 20). Then he went to Rome for four years as president of the Italian work of the Propagation of the Faith. On 3 March 1925 he became apostolic visitor in Bulgaria and on 19 March was ordained as titular archbishop of Areopolis and as his motto he selected “obedientia dt pax”, Baronius’s motto.

Roncalli’s stay at Sofia was not so easy. It was a period of “acute, intime sofferense”. After ten years he was, on 24 Nov. 1934, named apostolic delegate in Turkey and Greece and at the same time administrator of the vicariate apostolic of Istanbul. This activity satisfied him: “I feel young in body and mind” he wrote in 1939 in his spiritual diary. On 27 May 1939 he visited the ecumenical patriarch.

On 22 December 1944 Roncalli was made nuncio to France. He was made cardinal on 12 January 1953 and three days later named patriarch of Venice. When he was elected pope at 78, the people thought that he would be a papa il passagio. In fact, he became a pope of aggionrnamento.

Personality of John XXIII

John XXIII had a different temperament and experience of life unlike his predecessor. His temperament was to rejoice in the good and to be slow to rebuke. His experience of life-Sotto il Monte, Bulgaria, Istanbul, Paris -had led him to accept the world as it is and to recognize and try to build upon the good in all men both inside and outside the church. It was his experience among the non-Catholics that nurtured within him the seeds of a new ecumenical attitude which ultimately found expression in the decrees of Vatican Il.

Pope John’s motto was obedientia et pax. He believed in the strict observance of law and his temperament was conservative. This is seen in his life especially in liturgical discipline etc. But he wanted certainly a renewal of the life of the church and especially a new approach on the part of the church to the world outside. But he did not look to any relaxation of the inner discipline of the catholic life.

There is a great intellectual difference between John XXIII and his predecessors. John did not attach much importance to differences of philosophy. When his predecessors had seen implacable the liberals and the communists, whose philosophy, if tolerated, must subvert the church, John XXIII was more inclined to see men and women, of greater or less good will, in error, certainly, but an error which contact might help to correct, or at, least would not tend to harden, as would ostracism and estrangement.

            John’s spirituality was thoroughly traditionally catholic. He frequently read The Imitation of Christ and regularly made the Ignatian exercises. He recited rosary daily, breviary, mass, a half hour’s meditation, weekly confession. His spiritual models were Francis de Sales and Philip Neri and as a pastor, Charles Borromeo. He lived a simple life. I am one of you, he said to the faithful of a Roman suburban community. He himself wanted “to be born poor and to die poor”.

Though John served the Roman curia for a long time, he was no “curialist” but constantly desired to be only a “good shepherd”. On I August 1959 he published an encyclical on the Cur d’Ars, imago sacerdotis.

John XXIII, Pope of “aggiornomento

Aggiornomento means bringing up-to-date. It was an attempt to ensure that the church was fully and sympathetically aware of the changing character of the contemporary world. Pope John disagreed with the attitude of the curia that the world was going further and further astray. In his encyclical Mater et Magistra he made it clear. The world, he insisted, gave great cause of encouragement and hope. The movements among the emergent people of Africa and Asia, for example, for natural independence, were to be welcomed. The wind of change was a wind that brought life. It was colonization that was wrong. It was the duty of the wealthiest nations to assist the poorer, helping them to win their political and economic independence, and moreover, to do so without imposing their own cultural ideas or setting up a new economic control over them. Once the church allowed herself to become identified with the ruling political power, when the ruling power was overthrown, she had to suffer the same fate.

In his programme of aggiornamento pope John was not departing from the teaching of his predecessors, but rather he was building upon the foundation they had laid, bringing their teaching up-to-date in the light of modern developments.

Pope John was more revolutionary that he cared to admit it. This is evident in matters social and political and in his determination to enter into fruitful dialogue with other christians. For him it was high time to recognize the Orthodox and the Protestants not as schismatics or heretics but as fellow workers in the vineyard of the Lord, He was very font of repeating the prayer of the Lord “ut unum sint”. This now attitude or approach was a part of the teaching of the church. It was a turning of the attention of the Catholics towards something that had been neglected. There had been a tendency to warn and censure, but” Pope John’s tendency was to encourage and pursue it dwelling on the positive side.

From his experience pope John understood that the work of renewal must be   begun within the church. He knows that the development of the church was being impeded by over-centralized and ultra-cautious control from the Roman curia. The solution for this -to enable the church to find her own voice- was a general council according to Pope John. “He was a man sent from God whose name was John” (Pat. Athanagoras of Constantinople about Pope John).

Pope John XXIII and Vatican II

The convoking of the II Vatican council was the action of Pope John XXIII. In the presence of the cardinals on 25 January 1959 he announced a Roman diocesan synod and an ecumenical council. He understood the council as the challenge of God, divinum incitamentum, but not in no way was it the implementation of a long prepared plan. There is no evidence that he resumed the project of a general council pondered by Pius XII. He wanted to carray out the will of God to follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Pope John intended to convoke a general council of the Catholic Church, but from the start he expressed his desire for the particlization of the Christians separated from Rome as a first step toward church unity. On the basis of the suggestions collected from the whole catholic world, the pope by his motu proprio Superno Dei nutu of 5 June 1960 introduced the proximate preparation of the council. It determined for the first time the name of the future council: The Second Vatican Council. Then ten preparatory commissions were formed to work out the draft of decrees to be laid before the council.

1. Theological commission -Holy Office

2. The commission for bishops and the governments of dioceses -consistorial congregation

3. The commission for the discipline of clergy and the Christian people -congregation of the council

4. The commission for the discipline of the sacraments

5. The commission for ecclesiastical studies and seminaries

6. The commission for sacred liturgy

7. The commission for the Eastern churches

6. The commission for the Missions

9. The commission for the Apostolate of the laity

After the preparatory work the council was opened on 11 October 1962. 2540 council fathers with the right to vote took part in it. The opening ceremony was very solemn. In his opening talk the pope repeated the conviction that the summoning of the council followed an inspiration from above and to bring to mankind the sacred wealth of tradition in the most effective way, with regard for changed conditions of life and social structures, not to condemn errors but fully to declare the strength of church’s life. This two main aims of the council were: an aggiornamento of the church and the unity of the Christians.

            The events of the first session of the council made it clear that there existed a conservative group of bishops and a progressive majority of bishops.  The first session was also significant. 1. It was the first time that so vast an assembly of bishops from all over the world gathered together (they numbered 2540, Africa- 296, Latin America -600, Far East -100t U.S.A.- 217 etc. 2. The meeting together of these bishops was an event of unique significance. They have faith in common, but had enormous differences of experiences and ideas. What they decide, is going to affect the direction of each policy everywhere. The fathers of the council could acquire a different perspective about Church’s attitude towards the schematics, Protestants and the Communists. The so-called schematics and the Protestants were seen occupying the best seats in St. Peter’s and were provided with the council’s agenda papers. They were received with every mark of respect and affection by Pope John at Vatican. They were pope’s friends.

Many council fathers encountered a twofold challenge. The first one was a challenge to their traditional habit of difference towards the curia, the second a challenge to their traditional attitude towards the enemies of the church. They were invited to think afresh about their own responsibilities which given to them by God, and not by the Vatican. Schemas on liturgy, sources of revelation, communication, christian unity, nature of the church were discussed, but no conclusion was taken on them. In these circumstances the first session was closed on 8 December 1962. Pope exhorted the Fathers to work hard during the interval.

Pope John could not see his brother bishops again when they assembled. The six months after the first session he was fully preoccupied with the urgency of seeking after peace. The dangerous confrontation between America and Russia over Cuba disturbed the peace of the world. Pope John’s passionate appeals for peace had impressed the world. In March 1963 the Balzan peace prize was awarded to him. Soviet representatives were present there. Some of the bishops behind the iron curtain were released. In April 1963 John issued his most famous encyclical Pacem in terris – in which he extended his appeal for peace on earth to all men of good will. It insisted in clear tones, upon the right to religious freedom of all men of upright conscience, It encouraged Catholics to work together with all men of good will for the good of the mankind.

Pope John died on 3 June 1963 offering up his severe final sufferings to obtain abundant blessing for the ecumenical council, for the holy church and for the mankind as whole which yearns for peace.  The whole world loved his transparent goodness.

Paul VI (1963-1978)

The cardinals assembled on 19 June 1963 to elect Pope John’s successor. On the 6th ballot they elected Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, archbishop of Milan who assumed the name Paul VI. The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano observed that Paul VI is “a symbol of ecumenical unity”.

Montini was born on 26 September 1897 at Brescia, Italy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920. He was created cardinal on 5 December 1958. He had spent most of his time in Rome. He was in the secretariat of State from 1924-1954. In 1954 he was appointed archbishop of Milan. In that large industrial centre Montini had his first experience of diocesan work. He vigourously undertook a renewal of his archdiocese. He was known for his patient intelligent and a sympathetic work at the Vatican. He was also a strong supporter of Pope John’s intention to summon a general council.

            Pope Paul VI opened the second session of the council on 29 September 1963. He showed a keen interest in the work of the council. The constitution on sacred liturgy was promulgated (4 Dec.63) in this session. It led to the adoption of the vernacular in the Mass, its deeper purpose was no less than to remodel the prayer of the church. The constitution had chapters on:

1. General principles for the restoration and promotion of S.L.

2. The most sacred mystery of the Eucharist.

3. The other sacraments and sacramentals.

4. The divine office.

5. The liturgical year.

6. Sacred music.

7. Sacred art.

            In an essay in response to the Const. on Sacred Liturgy, Prof. Jaroslav J. Pelican of York University says: If the constitution can be translated into action creatively and imaginatively- and that still remains to be seen- it will indeed, as the council Fathers hope, “contribute to the unity of all who believe Christ”. The second session ended on 8 December 1963.

The third session started on 14 September 1964. It passed and promulgated the important document of Vatican II: the constitution on the Church, the decrees on Ecumenism and the Eastern Catholic Churches. It also discussed the documents on religious freedom, the Jews, lay apostolate and the Church in the modern world. The constitution on the Church is considered the most important work of Vatican II. Its purpose is “to unfold more fully to the faithful of the church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission”. It has eight chapters:

1. The mystery of the Church.

2. The people of God.

3. The hierarchical structure of the church with special reference to the episcopate- collegiality.

4. The laity.

5. The call of the whole church to holiness.

6. The religious.

7. The eschatological nature of the pilgrim church and her union with the heavenly church.

8. The role of the Bl. Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and the church.

The principle of Episcopal collegiality has not in any way diminished the authority of the pope. This college of bishops exists only when the pope is present as its head. This principle has already led to the setting up of national Episcopal conferences. Pope promised to convoke an Episcopal synod to meet at R me and to advise him on policy. Accordingly given bishops’ synods were convoked by Paul VI.

1. 1967 -on the present danger of faith, Canon Law, Seminary, mixed marriage, liturgy.

2.1969 -on Holy See and Episcopal conferences.

3.1971 -on ministerial priesthood, justice in the modern world

4.1974 -on Evangelization.

5.1977 -on Catechism.

The fourth session of the council started on 14 September 1965. The constitution on the Church in the modern world emerged during this session. It reflected the mind of John XXIII. It looked however tentatively, to a new and more positive relationship between the church and the contemporary society and it promised the establishment of an organization to promote the study by Catholics of the special problems of the underdeveloped countries. The matter of birth control was not touched and it was decided to entrust it to a special committee.

The pope and most of the bishops wanted to conclude the council with the fourth session. So the procedures were accelerated and on 8 December 1965 the council was dispersed.

Pope Paul VI had two things to say about the council after its close: 1. He disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to go back to their old ways of doing the religious and moral habits. He also disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to continue to bring into perpetual discussions truths and laws already clarified and established. He says: the true task is to study, understand and apply the councils work. 2. The conciliar renewal was to be measured not so much by the changes in outward usages and rules as but by a shaking off of habits of inertia and an opening of the heart to the truly Christian spirit. The conversion of the heart was what counted.

The pontificate of Pope Paul and the period of Vatican II witnessed a revolution in the life of the church. During these years the whole approach of the Catholics to the vital questions affecting the church changed. A new ecumenical attitude was formed. A new secretariat for Christian unity was set up for this end in view. Pope John was concerned to encourage rather than to condemn. Pope Paul followed the same policy.

The Church after Vatican II

The results of Vatican II are:

1. Great increase of open-mindedness

2. Some sober self-criticism.

3. A new enthusiasm for discussion

4. An enthusiasm for joint action with its own members and other people

5. A new sense of political responsibility-a tolerance and sympathy for political option.

The post conciliar Church has undergone a crisis of authority. The renewal has worked tension and impatience as well as enthusiasm. There is a division between the traditionalist and reformist elements. This is confirmed by Pope Paul’s teaching on birth control, celibacy, his approach to ecumenical movement. Catholic Church is still not a member of the World Council of Churches.

In 1969 a group of leading theologians published in Concilium a declaration that “the freedom of theologians and theology in the service the church regained by Vatican II” must not be lost again”. In the same year cardinal Suenens called for a reappraisal of authority at All levels (in co-responsibility in the church). Paul responded that the attacks on the curia were tantamount to attacks on himself. There are important contributions to the catholic theology on the nature and structure of the church: The Church (1967), Infallible? An enquiry (1971), Fallible? A balance sheet (1972) – Hans Kung, Structural change in the Church (1972) -Karl Rahner.

The papal rulings on birth control and celibacy were issues of major importance. The Humanae Vitae in 1968 provoked a major crisis. The encyclical condemned all forms of contraception except the rythm method on the ground that they were contrary to natural law. The reaction ranged from protest to disappointment.  “It might provoke scandal or even revolt or laughter” (French Jesuit). The pope has won the applause of the future (Spain). There were demonstrations in USA. In Western Europe many priests advised the faithful to practice contraception where in conscience they felt it was right.

The celibacy encyclical sacerdotaliscaelibatus (1967) caused considerable tension within the church. In France and Holland priests left the ministry and many clergy openly disagreed with the ruling. A survey of priests in the USA suggested that the majority were against compulsory celibacy and expected a change in the law. In Italy 40 percent hoped for relaxation of the rule and 15 per cent might marry if allowed to. In 1970 the Dutch pastoral council voted for abolition of the rule. In 1971 the National Federation of priests’ council in the USA voted in favour of abolition. The Congolese bishops and a meeting of European priests in Geneva supported the ordination of married men. The Latin American Bishops’ council called for an abolition of the rule. But pope criticized his opponents for “the moral mediocrity by which they pretend it is natural and logical to break a long premeditated promise”.

Peace efforts of Paul VI

Paul VI made repeated pleas for an ending of the American bombing in Vietnam. He conferred with the leaders of USA, Vietnam, Russia and China. He offered prayers for the peaceful settlements in Northern Ireland and Middle East.

According to Paul VI peace can be achieved only through justice. The elimination of hunger and misery must be the first step towards bringing Christian values and social justice to the developing world. In 1966 he set up a Vatican agency to fight world poverty and 1967 he devoted a major encyclical Populorum Progressio to the welfare of the developing nations. He visited Latin America Africa, Far East and Australia.

In some of countries the church’s work of justice has been handicapped by ultra conservative factions in the hierarchies. In Brasil in 1970 the government accused the bishop of Volta Radonda of subversion activities. When Rome protested the government retaliated by threatening to take actions against archbishop Holder Camera who had recently returned from Europe on ground that he had defamed Brazil. As a result cardinal Rossi stated that “one can not attribute to the government responsibility for isolated acts of torture”. In 1971 he was removed from his post and given a Roman curial appointment. It was a sign that Paul VI disapproved his action -support to the government. In 1969 the hierarchies of Brazil, Peru and Argentina denounced their governments. Fr. Camillo Torres, a revolutionary guerrilla priest said “the only true christian is a revolutionary”. He became a secular martyr. In South Africa the church kept silence about the oppression of the black community.

            Latin America has also originated the major new theology of the decade -the theology of liberation founded by Gustavo Gutierriez. The theology of liberation attempts to reflect on the experience and meaning of the faith based on the commitment to abolish injustice and to build a new society; this theology must be verified by the practice of that commitment, by active effective participation in the struggle which the exploited social classes have undertaken against their oppressors.

            In Spain , too, there are signs that the church is aligning itself with the oppressed. In 1966 a group of Spanish priests accused the hierarchy of compromising with the regime and demanded the implementation of the council’s decrees on religious and political liberty. In 1968 Basque priests were goaled for taking part in May Day demonstrations and in 1970 the bishops called for freedom of assembly and for representative trade unions.

In Rhodesia the bishops’ pastoral “Crisis in conscience” (1970) openly defied the government. They said: “we can not in consideration and will not in practice accept any limitation on our freedom to deal with all people irrespective of race, as members of the one human family”. In South Africa individual Catholics condemned the situation, but the hierarchy kept silence. In USA the priests were gaoled for their opposition to Vietnam War in 1970. In 1972-73 the missionaries revealed to the world the massacre techniques of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.

The catholic approach to ecumenical movement has been cautious. In 1969 Paul VI attended the world council of churches in Geneva. He spoke of it “as a truly blessed encounter, a prophetic movement, dawn of a day to come and yet waited for centuries. In 1967 Paul VI met patriarch Athanagoras, in 1968 archbishop Makarios. Catholic observers attended the World council of Churches in Uppsala. The Christian churches agreed to a mutual recognition of baptism and the catholic ruling on mixed marriages has been relaxed.

The publications of common Bible (1973), first Protestant Catholic Catechism (1975) are important steps in the ecumenical movement. A major contribution to it has been the reform of the liturgy. Simplified vernacular rites have been introduced with a new emphasis on participation and understanding. In the celebration of the Eucharist importance is given to a sense of community and fellowship.

Adult catechism has been given importance and there has been a movement for concretization of the underprivileged masses in Latin America which owes much to the new catholic social awareness. The number of the vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life has fallen, but catholics are expected to be more conscious of the social implications of their faith, and to practice their responsibility. One of the major secular watchwords of the age, ­“truth is concrete”- has been seen in its religious reference too. What looks like a serious crisis may “mark the moment of a new life … for identity consists only on its variability, its continuity only in changing circumstances its permanence in varying outward appearances” (Hans Kung).

Ancient Church History

Ancient Church History

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

i. Definition of history

Aristotle: it is an account of the unchanging past.

Thomas Carlyle It is nothing but the biography of great man.

Voltaire:a picture of crimes and misfortunes,

Beccario:(18th c.) That nation is happiest which is without history.

These definitions either represent a complex picture or a distorted picture.  But a simple definition is that that history is the study of a past. It is the story of mankind depicting what had, happened, why they had happened and the principles, which governed these happenings.  It is the study of events in men’s struggle for progress. 

ii. The characteristics of history

1. History is humanistic. It is fundamentally concerned with human actions.

2. What is important in history is event. Historian has nothing to do with assumption (something, which did not happen).

3. History is concerned with change.  Historians are concerned with change, when, how and why changes take place. 

4. History is time and Place oriented.  Events are noted with reference to date and place.

5. History is scientific.  History is based not only, upon enquiry into evidences of events but also upon a rational analysis of data.

6. History is an independent branch of study.  It; is self-explanatory, for it exists of its own, reflecting upon the human experiences in the past and prompting a better understanding of the present.

iii. The scope and. purpose of history

                 The scope and purpose of history have been looked upon differently from historian to historian and from age to age.  The most satisfactory definition of the purpose of the history is that of Arnold Tonnbee’s.   It is, a search for “light on the nature and destiny of man.  History is any, integrated narrative, description or’ analysis of past events or facts written in a spirit of critical inquiry for, the whole truth).

  1. During the Age of the classical civilization of Greece and Rome, a scientific purpose was imparted to history. It was looked upon as a branch of study m based upon enquiry and analysis.
  2. The medieval Church restricted the purpose of history to the explanation of how the divine will expressed itself in the human actions
  3. In the modern times it was treated as a study of all changes that had taken place in the universe.

Individual historians have given importance to one particular aspect or other of history.

1. Herodotus and Thucydides gave importance to truth and their connection between causes and consequences.

2. Freeman laid emphasis upon the political aspect of history.

3. Karl Marx laid emphasis upon economic factors.

4. Traumas Carlyle: upon the role, of great men.

            All these are interlinked.  So in a limited sense it is a political history, military history and the like. In a broad sense, it is history of the universe, comprising the diverse facets and trends.

iv. History is a Science and an Art

History is a science.  Like science it began to recognize the importance of truth and systematized knowledge.  It is an art for it attempts a realistic interpretation of events and imparts knowledge of intellectual utility.

Certain attributes of history are scientific in character.

i. Like science it deals with nature, for man, the subject of all historical studies, is the greatest work of nature.

ii. History employs scientific method of investigation and aims at the attainment of truth.

iii. History is a social science discussing social relations.  It deals with the conditions of mankind living in social state; it seeks to discover general laws, which governs these conditions and which bring about such developments like progress or decay of civilization or fall of states.

History is not experimental, but science is experimental. History deals with the events that had happened and cannot be repeated.  It is not subject to experimentation.  Science deals with visible objects like leaf, rock light etc.  In science the importance is the observation of laws of regularities. Scientists can forecast and eclipse, but the historian cannot predict famine and war.

Method of science is inductive of history is deductive. In science general propositions are derived from practical cases eg. When heat is applied iron expands. In historical process many developments are analyzed and particular conclusions are arrived at.  Eg. Inefficiency of administration an empire had declined. 

History is an art. Like art it is concerned with hum values. The task of historian is reconstruction of the past.  He comes across distorted versions, incomplete balance, and sympathy of an artist so that he can do justice to his theme of study.

History is of intellectual utility. For an understanding of the problems of present day, politicians administrators and diplomats seek explanation from pages of history. Though history cannot predict the future the conclusions it furnishes are used for ‘Practical guidance.

History is an art as well as a science. It is an art in regard to the subject of treatment, method of composition and. intellectual utility.  It is a scientific method of enquiry and, seeks to find out the truths.

V. The uses of history

The uses of history are almost endless. It may be read for hundred reasons, eg. for amusement, etc. To understand its more important values, we must approach it on an elevated level, and measure it not in relation to individuals but to societies and nation. It is actually a bridge connecting the past with present and pointing the road to the future.  It more than a guide for men in their daily life; it is a creator of future. The conception which men have of their record in generations past shape their dreams and ambition for the generation to come.  eg. The new. Italy, of which Mussolini dreamed, was partly a reincarnation of Rome of Caesars.

History is a maker of nations.  To give a people a full sense of their future we need first the historians who give them a full sense of their past, eg. Cooper’s historica1 romance “The Spy” helped immeasurably in making America a nation.

History is ‘a continuing inspirits.  It tends to make each individual a sharer in the great deeds, ideas and movements of his ancestors or forerunners.

To sum up it reflects the thought over centuries which had forgotten. It helps to understand the human behaviour and serves as guide for the study of human conduct. It enables to understand the present in order to prepare himself to face the problems of future.

           George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.   The beauty of the cities ‘and the magnificence of the monuments are better appreciated when the stones behind them are known. 

Lord Acton: “the prize of all a history is the understanding of modern times, for history explains the present in the light of the past by indicating the ideals and forces which are at work around us.”

                    John Seeley: “when we learn history, we do not learn the past, but the future.”

VI. The limitations of history

  1. The history of mankind is not complete
  2. All history is not really authentic (based accounts)
  3. Those who are interested in the study of history are limited.  So no wide popularity as some other sciences
  4. People are not habituated to drawing lessons from history.  Hegel says: the one thing one learns from history is that nobody ever learns anything from history.
  5. History does not repeat  No two events are alike

VII. Intellectual and educative value of History

1. 1t teaches us by examples of times and men,   the wisdom that had been acquired through the ages

2. It furnishes examples of great men who faced challenges and attained –success ultimately, eg Europeans to discover the remote lands. 

3. It serves as introduction to other branches of study.  Eg. To biography, politics, etc. 

VIII. Kinds of history

            The history can be divided:

1. Chronologically, prehistoric, historic.  And historic can be ancient, medieval and modern.  

2. Based on the events political, cultural, etc.

IX. History and allied subjects

            Geography, politics, economics, sociology, biography, etc.



                                                        CHURCH HISTORY



About 2000 years ago Jesus Christ was put to death on a cross in a small and obscure Roman province of Judea.  Today in the twentieth century faith in the risen Christ has grown to   become the faith of nearly a thousand million people

How does this belief in Jesus Christ become a worldwide faith? How has it outlived the mighty Roman Empire? And also the other European emperors? How did the Christian churches, denominations, movements, doctrines and beliefs we know today come into being? How has the faith in Jesus been passed on from generation to generation and from country to country? These are the questions which are answered in the Church History.

            Church History treats of the growth in time and space of the church founded by Jesus Christ. Vincent of Lerins compared the growth of the Church with that of the human body and of the seed which is sown. Here the growth involves no injury to its peculiar qualities nor alteration of its being.  As the grain of wheat germinates, sprouts and produces  corn, yet remains wheat,  so the church manifests herself  in changing forms during the course  of history,  but remains  always true to herself  The noticeable features of this growth are the following:

1  The ability of the christian faith periodically to reform and renew itself  Christianity has an inexhaustible capacity to revive after periods of stagnation or decay

2.  A tremendous impulse to evangelize – to share with others the good news of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, eg.  Monastic enterprises, sermons, missionary societies, social services etc.

3.  An ability of faith to respond to different pressures and to various threats to its existence – Christianity has been able to adjust to changing historical and cultural situation without altering the essentials of its message, eg. Fierce persecution has led to the purifying of the faithful.  Heresy and aberrations have led to the clarifications of beliefs


 Church History is a theological discipline because its subject matter is derived from and rooted in faith  And in this respect it differs from  a history of Christianity. Its  theological point of departure refers to::

1. The Church’s divine origin through Jesus Christ

2. The hierarchical and sacramental order founded by Christ

3. The promised assistance of the Holy Spirit

4. The eschatological consummation at the end of the world. 

These are the essential elements in which the essential identity of the church consists, i.e., her continuity in spite of changing outward forms.

The historical character of the Church rests ultimately on the Incarnation of the Word and its entry into the human history.  It rests above all on the fact that Christ willed His Church to be a society of human beings- people of God- under the leadership of men- Apostles (papacy and episcopate)  Thus the Church depends on human actions and weakness.  But the Holy Spirit preserves her from error and maintains holiness within her.  It is testified by the miracles.  And it is in the cooperation of these divine and human factors in time and space that Church History has its origin.

The beginning and end of Church History rest on a theological basis.  It begins with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and ends with the second coming of Christ.  Therefore, Church History is the manifestations of the Church within this period.  These manifestations can be:

1. external- spread of the Church  and her relations with various states, non-christians etc

2. internal – developments and establishing of dogmas in the struggles against heresy,  the proclamation of faith by preaching of the Word,  fulfilling of her sacramental nature by the celebration of liturgy and administration of sacraments etc.

The relevance of Church History.  Church History is the understanding of the Church and therefore an integral part of Ecclesiology.  One who studies the growth of the Church in the light of faith enters into her divine and human nature and understands her as she is not as she might be.  He learns to know the laws by which she lives and gains a clear view of her from within.  He feels with the Church.  Then he will stand fast in every crisis.  For this a strictly scientific investigation and impartial presentation of facts are required.  From this the church historian can and must draw conclusions  which will be important for the understanding of the present day and modern problems.  For eg. the history of the councils throws light upon the present councils. Church History also makes clear the original meaning of ecclesiastical institutions and opens the eyes to the need for reform in the Church.  J. A. Mohler says: “We can not understand the Church at the present day if we have not first understood the whole of the Christian  past”.

Ecclesiastical historian must have a love of history.  He must bring to his task a christian feeling and christian faith and spirit.  He must have the faith to explain it.  Thus he becomes the interpreter of the working of the Holy Spirit upon earth.  In his search for truth he has to judge impartially men and events

            The division of Church History cannot be based on the divine plan of salvation, because its details are not known to us, though we have the outlines of Revelation.  It cannot be based on the relationship between the Church and her milieu, for the Church is not identified with any civilization.  Therefore, any division into periods must take into consideration this truth – the inward and outward growth of the Church, brought about by the Holy Spirit in cooperation with human free will,  is achieved by her constantly coming to terms with civilization.  In her spreading, in her penetration of mankind and civilization, people and societies, the Church makes use of the historical circumstances and adapts herself  to them.  Therefore, Church History is something midway between universal history and history of salvation

A universally accepted division was not yet found.  The usual three fold division is this: 1. Ancient – Pentecost -692 (Trullo); 2. The Middle Ages 692 – 1517 (Lateran V); 3. Modern/Contemporary 1517 – present day.

The method of Church History

The Church History makes use of historical method.  Sometimes the tension between faith and historical fact may confront the ecclesiastical historian with difficult decisions.  Here he should be honest (scientific honesty) because church history is both theology and historical science.  The application of the historical method is to be carried in different stages.

First church history is bound by its sources.  Therefore one has to search out the sources, test for genuiness, and establish the dates and facts which form the framework of all history.

Secondly church history must be presented not as a series of unconnected events but as a process.  Events must be seen in their causes and consequences. Here the facts are grouped together based on the judgment of values, eg.  Golden Age, Reform.

In the third stage Church History as a whole can be understood only as the history of salvation.  Its ultimate meaning can be understood only by the eye of faith.  It is the abiding presence of Logos in the world and the fulfillment, in the people of God, of Christ’s community in which ministry and grace work together.  It is the Growth of the body of Christ.

Church History is also called the theology of Cross, because the growth of the church is sometimes hindered by internal or external causes, i. e., she suffers sickness, failures of men, persecution, etc.  The church is in constant renewal, simper reformanda.  She has only a provisional character and awaits perfection at Paruosia

The Evolution of Church History: The writings of Church History

The historian Altaner says: “the sense of history, which was comparatively active when the gospels and Acts of the Apostles described the work of Christ and His Apostles, remained almost without expression in the period when the church was developing out Christ’s revelation and was acquiring its historical character in the midst of struggles and persecutions”.

            In the early Apostolic period we have the genuine and ancient Acts of Martyrs: eg. Martyrium Polycarpi, The Acts of Justine the martyr, The Acts of Scillitani etc

            Then we have the Apology of Hegesippus and Ireneus.  Later we have the World Chronicle of Sexus Julius Africanus (+240), Hippolitus of Rome (+235).  In 303 Eusebius of Caesarea published the World Chronicle which set the pattern of the type of Christian historiography for more than a thousand years.

            Eusebius of’ Caesarea (260 339) is the Eather of Church History.  In 324 he published his Ecclesiastical History (Gk) in ten volumes.  It is a precious document of the ancient church.  In this he describes in chronological order:

I – III Books: the activities of Christ,   the Apostles and of the post apostolic Period.

IV – VII contain lists of bishops of the apostolic churches of Rome Antioch and Jerusalem, an account of the heresies, of great ecclesiastical writers, and of persecutions by Jews and the pagans.

VIII – IX are devoted to the “Persecutions of our days”.

X – is devoted to the victory of Christianity under Constantine.  It has also a supplementary account of the martyrs of Palestine and the laudatory life of Constantine by the same author.

            Eusebius’ work is the important historical source for the first three centuries.  He was followed by three or four historians who all treat more or less of a common period.

1. Socrates (+439). He was a lawyer of Constantinople and he grouped the ecclesiastical events of the years from 305 to 439.  He is more impartial, less involved in theological conflicts.

2. Sozomen (+425)  also a lawyer.  He was superior in literary skill.  He presented the events in the period from 324 to 425.

3. Theodore of Cyrus was a versatile writer. He described events perceptively and vividly of the years 323 -428. He included many synodal decisions and letters and other documents. He is sometimes inexact in his chronology.

4. Evagrius Scholasticus (+600). He published ecclesiastical History. In it he re1ated the Christological disputes of the period 432 544.

In the Western Church Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius was translated in 400 by Rufinus of Aquilea, who added two move books. Historia Tripqrtia was the translation of the three successors of Busebius. In 392 Jerome published the first catalogue of christian writers, comprising 135 names. In the fourth century Epiphanius made also a list of bishops.

De Civitate Dei of St. Augustine is a kind of philosophy of history. His conception of history as a struggle between the kingdom of God and that of the world strongly influenced the political ideology of the Middle Ages.

            In the middle ages we do not find any history worthwhile. Yet a few names could be mentioned.

Anastasius +879

Vincent of Beauvais + 1264 – Speculum Historiae, a part of his great medieval encyclopedia ‘Speculum Triplex’.

St. Antonine +1459 Summa Historialis

            In the second part of 15th century onwards there arose a critical sense and return to the sources of things. The invention of printing press gave historical studies a new impulse.

During the Protestant Revolution Church History became an important battlefield of apologetics. There were abuses on both sides.

The Lutherans at Magdeburg published Ecclesiastica Historia (1559 1574) in 13 volumes, one for each of the first thirteen centuries. This work is commonly known as Magdeburg Centuries. Though it abounds in documents, it is strongly anti-Catholic and antipapal. In reaction to this, Cardinal Caesar Baronius (1588 1607) wrote “Annales Ecelesiastici” in 12 volumes up to 12th century Innocent III annals = narration of events year by year.

In 17th century we see a critical sense in the study of sources. The Benedictines of St. Maur edited the Patristic work. The Jesuits on their part began to publish Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists in 1643. During this period Valuable works were published in Italy and France. For example, “Memories pour server a 1 Histoire Ecclesiastique” (16 vols. 1693­1712, Paris), “Histoire des Empereurs”, (6 vols,1690­1738, Paria).

In 19th century valuable historical works were produced in Germany:

Protestants: Neander, Baur, Herzog, Adolf von Harnack (+1930) Heussi – Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte. Schaff Philip – History of the Christian Churches, 7 vols, N.Y. 1889 -1892.

Catholics: F.L. Von Stolberg – 15 vols. upto 433

                                       Von Kera added 30 vols. upto 12th c.

                                       Brischer added 8 vols. 50 years

                                       Mohler, Hefle of Tubingen

                                       Von Pastor History of the popes 40 vols, 1906 – 53.

Jesus Christ and the world at His birth

By the birth of Jesus Christ human history received an entirely new orientation. The whole history is divided into before Christ (B.C.) and after Christ (A.D.). When we consider the events after the birth of Christ we are tempted to ask certain questions:

1. Why did Christ select this particular moment to come incarnate into this world?

2. What was the world like at the time of His birth?

3. What was the relationship between His life and message and the religious experiences of His contemporaries?

When St. Paul wrote: “the Saviour came in the fullness of time” (Gal 4, 4.) he answered to some of these questions. By this he means that all history prior to the Incarnation was merely God’s plan of preparation for the birth of His Son. It also means that there were certain positive and negative elements which were propitious for the foundation and spread of Christianity.

There were three worlds or cultures at the time of Christ’s birth:

1. The Roman world which represented the political factor.

2. The Greek world represented the intellectual factor.

3. The Jewish world represented the religious factor.

1. The Roman world.

            The Roman Empire extended from Syria to Atlantics, from English Channel and Danube to the sands of Sahara. It had a political supremacy and was well organized under Augustus Octavian. Octavian ended the civil war with his victory at Actium in 31 B.C. He inaugurated the “Pax Romana” from 31 BC to 180 AD. During this period Roman Empire enjoyed its longest period of domestic peace and high level of prosperity. But there were drawbacks: misery slavery brutality etc. no charity, no sense of social obligation.

2. The Greek world

Greece dominated in the intellectual sphere. As a result of the conquest of Alexander the great, Greek culture influenced other cultures of Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor. Greek became the language of the educated and Greek ideas and ideals found general acceptance. So the lower class resisted Hellenism. Rome also recognized the cultural superiority of Greece and began to reshape their society long Greek lines. They looted Greek arts and adorned their houses. Greek slaves were appointed as tutors of the Romans. Cicero went to Rhodes and Athens for education. Virgil and Horace imitated Homer.

3. The Jewish world.

            We have to make distinction between the Jews in Palestine and Jews in Diaspora. Both had a longing for the promised Messiah but it was more rooted in the political distress of the people than in religious motives. For more than a half century they had lived under the Roman domination (from 67 BC onwards). This was considered as a divine punishment. Herod the Great was the ruler and he was hated by the Jews because of his pledge to protect the Roman interests. He was also a foreigner (Idermaean). He took Jerusalem by Roman assistance in 37 BC. He could not win the hearts of the people. After the death of Herod the Great (40 4 BC) the empire was divided between his three sons Archalaus, Herod Antipas and Philip Then the Jews appealed to Rome to free them from Herodian dynasty. Thus Augustus sent procurators to govern Judea (eg. Pontius Pilot 26 36 AD). But this arrangement failed to bring civil peace. The Jews hated the Romans because the latter levied taxes and their soldiers settled in Jerusalem. In 60 AD there was a great rebellion of Jews but it failed. In.70 AD Jerusalem fell to Titus. Between 67 BC and 39 AD around 200,000 Jews were perished by violence.

The religious situation of the Jews

              It was characterized by the peculiarity of their religious convictions they hold fast to faith and religion even at the cost of heavy sacrifices and isolation from other people. The belief in one God, Jewish, was the central point. They believed in the immediate intervention of God through prophets. They also believed that they were the chosen people of God, God had made a covenant with them and the salvation for others was from them. They had a hope of a Saviour and redeemer who would establish in Israel the kingdom of God. The expectation of Messiah was the chief source of strength in the times of peril. They saw in the messiah a liberator from the Romans. Yet there were some who believed in the religious mission of the Messiah.

Importance of law

              For a Jew the law was of decisive importance and the task of daily life. Observance of the law was the daily task and its transgression was punished and its fidelity was rewarded. The law was given through Scriptures and they are interpreted by the Scribes.

The Eastern Mystery Religions

            They began to penetrate westwards. They claim to be able to give the individual a liberating answer to his questions about his fate in the next world. They claimed that by ordering his way of life in this world, he could find eternal salvation.

The common characteristics of mystery religions:

1. Belief in a blessed immortality

2. A symbolic initiation ceremony

3. A sacrifice

4. A dramatic scene

5. A sacred meal.

1. Mystery cult of Mithras

It originated in Iran, developed in Cappadocia and then spread to West. It was essentially a masculine cult and most of its devotees were Roman soldiers. Its main figure was the Persian god Mithras, who stole a bull belonging to the moon and slew it on the orders of Apollo. The representation of this event is the central motif of the image which set up in all Mithraic temples. The blood of a bull was sprinkled over the believers, who were thus initiated and became entitled to expect salvation. The candidate for initiation prepared himself by undergoing various tests of courage and ritual washings; after his reception he proceeded through seven grades to that of a full disciple of Mithras. As Mithras was taken up by the sun-god Helios in the chariot of the sun, so did the disciple hope to be raised up in glory in the next world. The members of the cult were also united in a sacred meal, which prefigured, to those who partook of it, a happy life together in the hereafter.

2. The cult of Isis and Osiris in Egypt

In Egypt goddess Isis was honoured every year by a solemn procession. She was believed to have brought morality and civilization to mankind. She was regarded as the inventor of agriculture and writing, as foundress of law and civil order, a protectress of the persecuted and liberator from every kind of distress. Osiris is figured as her husband. He was the ancient Egyptian god of vegetarian who died and rose again, as the annual sowing and growth of the crops-symbolically signify. His death was mourned by his worshippers, his resurrection celebrated with joy. In his dying, man saw his own death expressed, but like Osiris he would rise again to a new life after death.

3. The cult of great mother in Asia Minor

She is the fertility goddess Cybele. She was connected with a male divinity, the Nature hero Attis, her lover. According to the myth Attis was unfaithful to her, wherefore he was cast into a frenzy, from which he died. He was awakened to new life and reunited with the Great Mother. This myth became the basis of this cult. Their priests are called Galli. These, by ecstatic dancing and flagellation, brought on their own “mystical” frenzy, in which there were driven even to self castration. In the rite of initiation, the candidate (mysta) symbolically relived the fate of his god in death and resurrection; he was sprinkled with the blood of a bull and then entered the “bridal chamber”, which he left as one reborn. At a sacred meal he made his profession as a ‘mysta’ of Attis, and a priest proclaimed to the initiated the joyful tidings: “be comforted, ye mystae! Salvation came to the god. So also shall we be partakers of salvation after tribulation”. Here, too, the promise of salvation was the deciding motive for joining the cult.

The positive features in the Hellenistic religion which helped the preaching of the now faith in Jesus:

1. The feeling of emptiness on account of the failure of ancient religions

2. A deep desire of redemption – eternal salvation was promised by the Saviour.

3. The strong tendency to monotheism – this was apparent in the Hellenistic religion.

The positive elements in Jewish religion:

1. Monotheism

2. The expectation of Messiah

3. The Jews in Diaspora prepared the Septuagint.

4. They preached monotheism and the Ten Commandments and the foundation of Christian morals.

5. The synagogues, where christian missionaries found         God fearing people, were ready to receive their message.

Jesus Christ and the Church

The history of the church has its roots in Jesus Christ. Therefore His life and work, by which the Church was founded, are a necessary preliminary to the history of the church.

The sources of Christ’s life: the writings of N.T the first three gospels, Acts of the Apostles and some letters of St. Paul They are not intended to be a historical biography of Christ. The gospels are the outcome of the apostolic preaching. The evangelists presented Jesus as vivid in their hearts. The N.T tat writings bear witness to the life and work of Christ and prove that earthly Christ was the same Christ who is the Saviour of the world. So they are a kind of outline of the life of Jesus.

The historical data from the gospels

– Birth of Christ tour or five years before the beginning of christian era.

– thirty years of secret life

-three years of active life, baptism


-supreme law of Jesus’ religion: unconditional love of God and neighbour.

-other doctrines: purity of mind and intention against outward observance of law; inward union with the Father; silent conversation with the Father; joy over the repentance of the sinners; blessedness of the poor; ‘consolation to the lowly, depressed , blind, lame, etc.; and finally the call to all to follow him and his discipleship requires self denial.

-those followed are called to form a new community and His message bound them together. They are brothers in a religious family. They prayed together. This community is the Church. Ecclesia= those who are called

Church = the lord’s house

From the disciples he dejected twelve. They were the object of his special attention end had special position.  They were to continue his mission. The content of his mission wan the proclamation of the kingdom of God. He gave them Power to fulfill it. He chose Peter for a special task. He was rock foundation on which his church should stand. Thus the foundation was prepared.  It would now grow in space and time.

The primitive Church at Jerusalem

The important source of the primitive church is the acts of Apostles (7 chapters). It is not a complete picture of events because the author chose for his subjects only what served his purpose. Only about fifteen years of the origin and growth of the community arc described there.

Actually it was resurrection of Christ that brought together the scattered disciples and united them in a community sharing the same belief and profession of faith.

The events narrated in the Acts are the following:

I. Ascension

2. Election of Mathias

3. Pentecost

4. Opposition from the Jews 5: 29

5. Election of deacons

6. Martyrdom of Stephen

7. Journey of the apostles

8. Conversion of  Paul

9. Persecution by Herod

10. James the Younger bishop of Jerusalem

11.Gospel to the gentiles- conversion of the chamberlain of queen of Ethiopea by Philip and that of Cornelius by Peter.

12. The name Christians Act 11, 26.

13. Jerusalem council (49) whether circumcision is necessary for salvation was discussed and decided:

“We shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus” 15, 11.

The Church: Organization, Belief and Piety

            The Disciples of Christ had formed themselves into a special community which had the name Congregation, Assembly, Ecclesia (Acts 5, 11, 8.1.). This community was convinced that Christ was the true Messiah and led their own individual religious life and this conviction brought them together and they  organized a religious community. This community had from the beginning a hierarchical order in which not all were of equal rank.

The hierarchical order:

1. College of Apostles. The Apostles are distinguished in a unique way to carry out the special task entrusted to them by Christ. Their number was twelve which was considered sacred and Mathias was elected in the place of Judas. The characteristics of the election of Mathias are the following: prayer and God’s decision was sought by means of lot. This shows that the call to the office of an Apostle is by the supreme authority of God.

The tasks of the Apostle are the following

– To bear witness to the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

– To lead the community in the liturgy solemnities of cult

– To administer baptism

– To preside at the religious meal

– To lay hands on those who were consecrated for special tasks.

– To be mediators between Christ and the Church through the exercise of priestly functions.

Peter was the head of the Apostles: Peter occupied a leading place among the twelve. It was given by Christ. We see Peter exercising this in the primitive Church:

– conducts the election to the college of Apostles

– Spokesman of the disciples at Pentecost Acts 2.15.

– preaches after healing of the lame. 3.1.

– Spokesman before the scribes and elders. 4.8

– Spokesman before the Sanhedrin. 5, 20

– appears with judicial authority in the episode of Ananias and Sapphire 5.3.

– His decision to admit Cornelius to baptism. It has a great significance – gospel is also to Gentiles.

– In Jerusalem council Peter’s attitude was the deciding factor in the dispute as to whether the gentile christians were subject to Mosaic law or not.

2. The Elders. They are not so clearly defined in the Acts (11 39). It was not a new name for there were elders in the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. In the primitive church the elders are always found in the company of Apostles as leaders of ‘ the congregation. They also took part in the decisions of Jerusalem council (15 2ff). So they were assistants to the apostles in the administration.

3. The Deacons: Their appointment was not by election, but was done by prayer and imposition of hands. No name was given to this group in the Acts of the Apostles, but their work is described by the verb “to serve” (6 2). They were appointed to assist the apostles in their work, to take over the services of the tables among the poor of the community.

The existence of apostles elders and deacons shows that there was already in the primitive church a division among the members into different groups consecrated by a religious ceremony for special tasks apart from the main body of the faithful. This division between laity and clergy was not felt a separating gulf because the Jews also had priesthood whom they respected.

Faith of the early Christians

The resurrection of Christ was the pivot upon which the apostolic message hinged. So all those who wished to follow the gospel had to accept it. The fact of resurrection both as a historical event and as part of the faith was confirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (2.1ff). The Pentecost gave its final clarity and direction to apostolic message. Then on the apostles began to preach that the Risen Lord was Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus, the Saviour. The early christians believed that Jesus was the Saviour called by God for the salvation of men (5.31).They also believed that only grace of the Lord (15 1­11) could save them not the circumcision.

Forgiveness of sins. It was the first step to salvation through Jesus Christ. Prayer and inner conversion were necessary for removal of sins.

The reception of the Holy Spirit. It was a proof and confirmation that salvation had already begun for its members. After the Pentecost the descent of the Holy Spirit repeated continually. Eg. In Samaria 8 1ff. Cornelius 10 44; 4 31. It was the Holy Spirit who gives the inner and supernatural strength.  It was also the cause of missionary zeal – Stephen, Philip.

Thy Rites of early christians

I. Baptism was the basis of the membership in the community. It was followed by the reception of the Holy Spirit, by laying on of hands.

2. Breaking of the Bread: This refers to the liturgical celebration of the last supper of the Lord. It took place in the houses of the faithful (I Cor.10 16). The faithful met on the first day of the week to break the bread (Acts 20, 7). Here we note a liturgical development among the first christians. They gathered on Sundays because it was the day of Lord’s resurrection and they hoped that He would come on the same day of the week.

3. Fast day: They fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. The passion of the Lord began on Wednesday and the Lord died on the cross on Friday.

4. The anointing of the sick:  ref. James 5, 14ff.

5. Works of Charity: The early christians manifested their love and enthusiasm in the works of charity. They were of one heart and one soul and they shared everything in common (Acts 4, 32). This christian enthusiasm was nourished by the expectation of the parousia. They were indifferent to the goods of this world and it made them free and unselfish.

St. Peter, his missionary activity and death in Rome

According to Mk. 1, 16-18 Simon and Andrew were the first men called by Christ. According to John 1.44 they lived in Bethsaida. Peter was married (M.1, 30-31, 1Cor 9,5). It was Andrew who brought Simon to Jesus (Jn.1, 40). Peter was the head of the Apostolic College. After the ascension of the Lord he took the leadership of the community in his hand. He was the spokesman, performed miracles and opened the door of the church to the gentiles.

               Peter was imprisoned by Agrippa II and was to be executed. But he was set free by an angel and went to another city (Acts 12). The Acts concludes the account of Peter’s activity in Jerusalem with these mysterious words: “He went to another place”Actsl2, 17. His route to Rome, the time of his arrival there and the length of his stay are not known from the Acts. 1n 49 he was in Jerusalem then he went to Antioch Acts 15, 17.

The basis of the Roman tradition concerning St. Peter

1. The letter of Clemet: It is the first letter of pope Clemet, the third successor (88-97) of Peter. While speaking of the martyrdom of female christians under Nero, Clement writes: “Peter, who because of unjust envy suffered tribulations not once or twice but many times, and thus became a witness and passed on to the place of glory which was his due” (I Cor. 5,l 4; 6,1 2). So according to this, St. Peter might have got martyrdom under Nero in the mid­sixties. Clement did not give details of the martyrdom because he presupposed that his readers had known about it.

2. The letter of Ignatius of Antioch: St. Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch (98 – 110) became martyr under Trojan. In his letter to the Ramans he wrote: “I do not command you as Peter and Paul do”. This means that Peter stayed in Rome for a lengthy period and he had a special relationship with the Roman congregation.

3. A combined text of Ascensio Isaiae (4, 2 – 3) and a fragment of the Apocalypse of Peter. Ascensio Isaiae (100) written in prophetic style says: “one of the twelve will be delivered into his hands; the community founded by the twelve will be persecuted by Nero”. The Apocalypse of Peter (125 – 150 discovered in 1886) says: ” see Peter, to thee have I revealed and explained all things.  Go then into the city of fornication and drink the chalice that I have foretold to thee”.

4. The Gospel according to St. john: Jn. 21, 18-19 says about martyrdom of Peter but there is no mention of the place.

5. The first Epistle of St. Peter: I Pet.5, 13 Peter indicates lose as his abode (Babilon = Rome).

The Tomb of St. Peter

There is a difference of opinion concerning the location of the tomb of St. Peter.

1. Vatican Hill

i) Tacitus’ account of Nero’s persecution, Annales 15, 44, 5.

ii) The first epistle of Clement.

iii) The account of Gaius.  Gaius was an educated and active member of the Roman congregation. He says: “I can show you the tropaia (a victory monument) of the Apostles for if you will go to the Vatican hill or as the r ead to Ostiav that you will find the triumphal tombs of those who founded this congregation”.    Gaius lived during the time of pope Zephyrinus (199 – 217). So about 200 the conviction at Rome was that St. Peter’s tomb was on the Vatican Hill.

               As opposed to this, an entry in the roman liturgical calendar of 354, supplemented by the so called Martyrolegium Hieronymianum (after 431), states that in 258, on 29 June, the memory of peter was celebrated at the Vatican, that of Paul on the road to Ostia, and of both in catcombas

2. On the via Appia under the Basilica of St. Sebastian:

An epitaph composed by pope Damasus (366 – 304) says that the two apostles had once “dwelt” there, which probably means that their bodies had once been buried there. There was about the year 260 a shrine of the two apostles on the Via Appia under the basilica later known as St. Sebastian’s, which in the fourth century was still called ecclesia apostelerum. Excavations in 1917 proved the existence of suck a shrine about the year 260, in which both apostles were honoured refrigeria (memorial service). Though no grave was found out, other signs force us to the convulsion that the visitors were convened that it was the burial place of the apostles.

Different hypotheses

1. Same hold that the actual burial – place of both apostles was on via Appia, their bodies having been translated to Constantine’s basilicas only after these were built.

2. Others held that the burial place was Vatican Hill and the relics had been brought to St. Sebastian’s for safety during Valerian’s (253-260) persecution and had remained there until their translation to the now basilicas.

3. Yet others deny the possibility of translation to the Appian Way, because the Roman law strictly forbids opening of graves. Perhaps a substute shrine may have been built here when the persecution of Valerian made the visitors to the real tombs impossible.

4. Still a fourth opinion was that there may have been on Via Appia a centre of veneration of the apostles belonging to some schismatic group, perhaps the Novatians, who living in Rome itself, could not deist from such veneration.

Therefore in the third century there was no certain knowledge about the burial place of St. Peter.

Excavations of 1940-49 under Petrine Basilica.

There discovered a vast necropolis (cemetery) reached by street of tombs ascending to the west from which one arrived at numerous mausolea (magnificent tomb). Many of them are richly adorned. One among then is purely christian, with ancient mosaics, and a representation of Christ-Holiest a very valuable piece of early christian iconography. The mausolea was built in 130-200. This is below and in front of the “confessio of St. Peter.

Tradition puts his martyrdom in 67 and gives June 29 as the exact date. This date had a symbolic character. It was the day on which the Romans celebrated the founding of their city by Romus and Romulus. The early Christians transferred it to the feast of St. Peter and Paul, the founders of the new christian Rome.

ST Paul

Only through a series of striking events could the Jewish christians arrive at a knowledge that they had an obligation to carry the gospel of good news of Jesus to the gentile world. The shocking events were:

1. Baptism of Bthiopean chamberlain by Philip. 8, 26­39.

2. Baptism of Cornelius 10, 1-11,18.

         Then on christian communities were formed outside Jerusalem, in Antioch and Damascus. It was at Antioch that the followers of Christ received the name christians (11 – 26). It was to arrest the christians at Damascus that Paul came to Damascus.

Paul was born of a Jewish family at Tarsus in Cilicia. His ancestors came from Galilee. His father possessed a Roman citizenship. He knew the Greek ‘koine’, the common language of the Mediterranean region. He had his training as a teacher of law in the school of the Pharisee Gamaliel (22,3). He Persecuted the christians and took part in the martyrdom of Stephen (36), which he confirmed in his letters (Gal.1, 13ff; I Cor. 15, 9).

            Paul might have converted in 38 AD cf. Acts 9, 3 18; 22, 3-16; 26, 12-30. Paul calls this apparition of the Lord as a supernatural call to grace. From that moment on wards he became an ardent follower of Christ and dedicated himself fully to the service of the Lord.

Mission of St. Paul

St. Paul began to proclaim the message of Christ in the synagogues of Damascus and then in Jerusalem (9, 20; 22, 26­29). At both places he not with strong opposition. So he withdrew to Tarsus. Then after some years’ of silence he preached in Antioch. He was convinced that he was called to preach good news to the gentiles. And he selected the Roman expire as his mission field. He made three missionary journeys.

1. The first missionary Journey (45-48)

His companions were Barnabas and Mark. They first went to Cyprus and worked in the city of Salamis. Then they went to Asia Minor, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe.  Everywhere they had opposition and sometimes physical violence. But some accepted the gospel and thus christian congregations were formed there and suitable leaders were appointed for them.

             Paul did not impose circumcision and Jewish ritual prescriptions upon the gentile christians. But the Jewish christians demanded circumcision as an essential condition for salvation (15, 1-5). This dispute sometimes hindered Paul’s missionary work.  It was settled in council of Jerusalem (49). There the Pauline thesis “the Mosaic Law has no binding force for the gentile christians” was accepted. Paul also collected money from the new congregations for those poor of Jerusalem community. It testified the mutual bond between the gentile and Jewish christians. The first missionary journey ended in 48. They returned to Antioch.

2. The second missionary journey 50-53

            Paul’s companions were Silas and Timothy. The visited places where Paul preached gospel and founded congregations during his first missionary journey. Then he went to the coast in northern Troas. After that in a dream he was called to Macedonia. Here Luke joined the group. They sailed to Philippi. There they had opposition from the Jews. They went to Thessalonica and stayed there one month. They also preached in the synagogues. After visiting Athens they went to Corinth where a few Jews and many pagans accepted gospel. Paul stayed there eighteen months. The Jewish couple Aquilla and Priscilla had greatly promoted his work  thus Corinth became one of the main centers of Paul.  Then Paul went to Ephesus and after a short stay there he returned to Palestine by sea.

3. The third missionary Journey 53-58

Ephesus became the center of Paul’s missionary activity.  He worked there two years. He had success as well as difficulties. A new congregation separated from the synagogue was formed. From Ephesus Paul wrote letters to the faithful in Corinth and Galatia. In 57 he left for Macedonia and Greece. After a short stay in Troas he visited Corinth from where he wrote to the Romans. In this letter he mentioned his intention to visit Rome (Rom.15, 24-29). After visiting the various congregations founded by his and after a sorrowful farewell to the elders of Ephesus he returned to Jerusalem about the time of Pentecost in 58.

In Jerusalem Paul was arrested and as he had appealed to the emperor he was taken to Rome. In Rome he resumed his missionary work in the possible way. Some believed him (Acts28 23). Luke concludes the activity of Paul in Rome with this statement:  “this salvation of God has been sent to the gentiles, they will listen” (Acts 28, 28).

Acts is silent about the subsequent activities of Paul. In Rome his trial ended with an acquittal. Then he went to Spain and visited the Hellenistic East. During this period he gave directions for organizations of his congregations and warned them against false doctrines. During the reign of Nero, Paul was again imprisoned and was beheaded probably in 67 AD. The place of his martyrdom is known “Tre fontane” (Three fountains) as his beheaded head touched three places water spring spouted from there.

The characteristics of the Pauline congregation

1. Paul occupied a unique place, he was the highest authority, the chief judge and law -giver.

2. The congregation had a hierarchical order. Paul assigned duties such as care for the poor and conducting of religious worship to certain persons by imposition of hands and prayer on them. They were called presbyters or e1ders (Acts 14, 23). The elders of Ephesus were referred to overseers (Episcopoi). Paul also speaks of deacons having special duties in the congregation as a distinct office from that of episcopoi and presbyters. These office bearers (episcopoi, prebyters, and deacons) were local leaders and remained with the community.

3. Charismatically gifted persons: They had gift of tongue and prophecy. They appeared in the assembly for the worship. Sometimes it became dangerous because of the overestimate of gifts.

4. Unity with other communities: Pauline congregations were not independent. They were closely linked with their founder and the Jerusalem community.

5. Charitable works: Pauline congregations had the consciousness of being one church. They assisted the poor of Jerusalem.

The religious life of Pauline Congregation

i. Its centered on the belief in the risen Lord.

ii. The admission to the community was by baptism.

iii. On the first day of the week they regularly met together for worship.  Songs of praise, hymns and psalms.

iv. Eucharistic celebration (Lord’s Supper) was the central point and climax of the service. Details were not mentioned. The breaking of the broad was the participation in the body and blood of Christ. It nourished and constantly reaffirmed the inner unity of Pauline congregations.

v. Proclamation of gospel. In the assemblies gospel was preached. Pauline congregations had also difficulties. The difference between pagan and christian morality was evident. The latter demanded greater effort. There were signs of disunity. Against all these Paul warned the faithful and asked them to keep unity, peace and brotherly love.

The development of the hierarchy

The apostles appointed a group of elders to watch over the community. They were referred to in the NT as presbyters (elders) or episcopoi (overseers). Authors generally agree that these two words are synonymous. Whether there were bishops or priests opinions are divided. The prevailing opinion is that they were priests.


            This word was first used in the church in 58 AD cf. Act 20, 28: “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood”.

St. Paul speaks of the qualities of episcopoi:

I Thim. 3, 2-7: “a bishop must above reproach, husband of one wife, temporate, sensible, dignified, and hospitable an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent, but gentle not quarrelsome and no lover of money”.

Tit. 1, 7-9: “a bishop as God’s steward must be blameless must not be arrogant or quick-tempered, or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy and self-controlled.

In the second century episcopoi’s position became clearer.  They were the heads of the community of faithful. They became the centre of the community. Hippolitus (235) says: “the faithful should elect the bishop”.

Didaschalia apostolorum (3 c.) catholic teaching of the twelve apostles and holy disciples of our Lord Saviour (full title) published by a bishop in Syria speaks of the qualities of the bishop: “bishops were allowed to marry. Elders were elected by the bishops to help the latter. Baptism was reserved to the bishop. But elders and deacons administered baptism with the permission of the bishop”.

Later in the light of the decisions of Nicea I and Chalcedon certain changes were introduced with regard to the election of the bishops. The right of the electing a bishop was reserved to the bishops of the neighbouring dioceses. Then the opinion of the faithful was sought out.  Polycarp was elected bishop after having enquired about him by sending the deacons.

The synod of Ancira (314) decreed that when a bishop was not acceptable to the community he had to retire to the priesthood. The synod of Arles (314) decreed that there should be seven bishops to consecrate a new bishop. It also decreed that there should be at least three if not seven, but the absentees should inform about their consent with the signature of the archbishop.

Once a bishop was appointed to a see, he should not go from there. There were strict rules regarding the transfer of the bishops.

Bishops were simple pastors and were not distinguished by any of the external trappings (mitre, cozier, etc.). During the persecution bishop stood out as the leader, teacher of the community, director of the divine worship and administrator of the sacraments.


            The head of the Jewish community was called presbyter. In the Qumran community too we found presbyters. The presbyters were in charge of the synagogue.

In the church in the beginning there was no distinction between episcopoi and presbyteroi. But St. Ignatius says: “The Eucharistic celebration should be under the leadership of the episcopoi. This shows that episcopoi were the successors of the apostles.

In the third century we find a distinction between episcopoi and presbyteroi. In the absence of the bishop, presbyter could give blessing in the agape. Eusebius speaks of 46 presbyters, seven deacons and seven sub-deacons in Rome besides the bishop.

Other orders

Deaconate originated with the election of those seven men mentioned in the Acts 6, 1-6. Though originally intended for the care of the poor many other activities fell to their lot as time went on. Deacon became the bishop’s right hand man, assisting in the celebration if the Eucharist in the administration of baptism and in the temporal administration of the diocese. Didaschalia speaks of them: “the bishop’s ears, mouth, heart and soul”.

Subdioconate: Subdioconate came into existence to assist the deacons. It originated in the apostolic time. The number of deacons was seven. When the community became large, deacons took assistants (subdeacons).

In the Western church in the third century other lesser orders came into existence:

Lector (reader) educate members of the community who would read the scriptures at the divine services. 

Acolytes assisted the sub-deacons.

Exorcists to take care of those who were supposed to be possessed.

Porter to keep the door. 

Besides these there was deaconess also to help in the baptism of women.

Formation and maintenance of the Clergy

We do not find a formation as we have today. Yet the apostles trained their co-workers in the ministry of the word and administration of the sacraments. At first more stress was laid on the virtue of the candidate. The will of the people was sought out when one is appointed. It was people who determined their bishop. This election would be ratified by other bishops.

            Promotion to the priesthood was done considering the satisfactory account of oneself in the lower orders, fifty age for bishop, thirty for the priests.  Self castrated eunuchs, neophytes, slaves were excluded from clerical state.

Celibacy was not obligatory in the first three centuries. A married person (once) could become deacon, priest and bishop.  But they were not allowed to marry after the ordination. Second marriage was tolerated for the laity but considered unworthy of the clergy. There were people who had attraction to virginity and this liking for celibacy grew gradually more common. In 305 synod of Elvira (Spain) made celibacy obligatory for bishop, priests and deacons.

Maintenance of the clergy: The words of the Lord “the labourers have the right to their maintenance” was the principle. Since there was a strong community spirit, there was no problem. There were generous contribution, offerings at Mass, monthly collections, etc. (Tertullian)

Developments of parish, diocese, archdiocese, Patriarchate

The word parish comes from the Greek word Paroikia = community of pilgrims, those near the house of God. When the number increased christian centers also increased. In the beginning private houses were used for Eucharistic celebration. In the second century onwards these communities were known as parish. Each parish was given the name of a martyr. In 300 there were twenty parishes in Rome. Communities were again formed outside the cities and the church in the city became its centre. Bishop appointed Priests to the parishes. Thus there were many parishes under a bishop.

The parish system spread rapidly throughout the East. In the West we see a gradual development. In Rome bishop was the leader of the Eucharistic service. He was consecrating bread and wine even if there were other churches in the city. Consecrated bread was sent to other churches. Priests had obtained permission from the bishop to consecrate bread and wine. In the fifth century laity began to own parishes and they used to pay the priests and gained the income of the parish.

Diocese or provinces: Different parishes are formed into a diocese.  The word comes from the Greek Diokein = to govern. Diocese is a place which is governed. The sixth canon of Nicea I speak about the division. Diocese is known by the name of the place where bishop resides. The bishop of the capital had some authority over the others and from fourth century onwards was referred to as metropolitan (metropolis = capital).

Patriarchate:  Different metropolitan churches were grouped into a new system called Patriarchate. Patriarch means head of a family or race. In the OT Abraham and Jacob were called patriarchs. The early christian centers Rome, Alexandria and Antioch were known as patriarchates. The sixth canon of Nicea I refer to this. When Constantinople became the capital of the Roman Empire it demanded the second place among the patriarchates. Later Jerusalem (451) also was given the patriarchal title. Thus there were five ancient patriarchates and were known as Pentarchy of the church. Rome had the first place.

1. Rome:  As the see of St. Peter Rome had preeminence among the patriarchates. The councils also approved it. The one who is in communion with the Roman see was considered to be in communion with the rest. Roman primacy is clear from the attitude of the authority which the popes displayed in their dealings with the other churches. Pope Clement (86-97) in 96 interferes in a split in the church at Corinth. Pope Victor (189-199) showed himself superior of the whole church on the occasion of the dispute about the date of Easter. Pope Stephen (254-257) in 256 forbade the bishops of Africa to rebaptize heretics. Dionisius (257-68) in 260 corrected the bishop of Alexandria for errors concerning the Trinity. These are indirect evidences. There are direct evidences:

Ignatius of Antioch (110), says: Roman church as presiding in love, presides in the chief place of the Roman territory.

Ireneus (185), while speaking against the innovations of the Gnostics, ascribeds to roman church potentior principalities on account of its being founded by St. Peter and Paul. St. Cyprian says: Petri cathedra atque ecclesia princioalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est.

2. Constantinople: In the fourth century Constantinople was a suffrogan to Heraclea. In 324 when Constantine mad it the new capital it became known as new Rome. Constantinople 1 381 assigned to it the second place. The 28th canon of Chalcedon 451 approved it. The 21 st canon of IV Constantinople (869­870) officially confirmed it. Again it was confirmed in the council of Florence in 1439. Pope Leo 1 (440-461) was against it. Chalcedon decreed that Constantinople had the right to take decisions on the Byzentine church. From 6th century onwards. Constantinople’s patriarch was called ecumenical patriarch. Pope Gregory the great (590-604) opposed it but the title was used by the patriarch with the consent of the emperor. Constantinople had authority over the whole Asia Minor.

3. Antioch: Canon 6 of Nicea I speaks in a vague way about the privileges of Antioch  Canon 6 of Constantinople I determined the rights of Antioch.

4. Alexandria:  Most ancient patriarchate. Nicea I, c.6 speaks of the ancient custom according to which the Alexandrian patriarch had power over Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis. Canon 2 of Constantinople I determined the rights and jurisdiction of Alexandria.

5. Jerusalem: had great importance. It was first a suffrogan to Caesarea. Nicea had given certain privileges to it and Chalcedon 451 conferred on it the patriarchal title at the request of their bishops. Three provinces of Palestine were given to it.

Different factors in the formation of patriarchate.

1. Apostolic origin

Rome -St. Peter

Constantinople -St. Andrew

Antioch -St. Peter

Alexandria St. Mark

Jerusalem St. James

2. Ecclesiastical importance

            Rome- see of Peter

            Constantinople- Basilica of the Great Wisdom

            Antioch -centre of Theological School

            Alexandria ft

            Jerusalem centre and pilgrimage

3. Political importance

Rome- capital of Roman Empire

Constantinople -new capital

Antioch -capital of Orient

Alexandria- capital of Illyricum

Jerusalem- residence of roman governor

Intellectual Opposition Heresy and Schism

As the christians were known to the world, there arose an intellectual opposition in the second half of the second century. Though the opposition was a danger to the individual christians, it contributed to the development of christian doctrines in so far as it has forced the Church to reexamine her intellectual resources and to define with greater clarity and distinction.

i. Opposition of the Pagans.

The two famous pagan opponents of christianity were Lucian and Celsius. Lucian used to ridicule the christians and spread calumnies against them. Celsius in his book “The True God” written in 178 attacked the Church most viciously. The work was burned in 488 by the order of emperor Theodosius. Origen quoted the text in refuting Celsius. The following are the arguments of Celsius: (i) The official Roman religion is essential (ii) the Christians are the enemies of the empire (iii) ridiculing the christians he hindered the pagans from becoming christians (iv) he put forward refutations of the christian doctrine especially against Incarnation and redemption. Celsius presented Christ and the Apostles and the christians as vagrants who pride themselves on their own importance.  He considered christian doctrines as mere ill-digested borrowings from traditional wisdom and insidiously points out that their attitude presents a danger to the City.

2. The Challenge of Religious Philosophy.

The third century is noted for its philosophical revival.  The pagan philosophers tried to make their philosophy more attractive and to show that it is superior to christianity.

Intellectual movements

(i) Neoplatonism

It appeared in Alexandria in the first half of the third century. It was founded by Ammonius Saccas (174- 242), an apostate. But the chief exponent of this movement was Plotinus (+270), a disciple of Saccas. He lectured in Rome and preached a kind of Trinity.

a) One: It is not intelligible, formless, no attributes contained all beings.

b) Nous: It is the emanation of One and the exemplar of all things. It received the Being contained in the One in the form of

c) World-Soul: It is the emanation of Nous, and created the universe.

Man is a union of body and soul and this union is accidental. Body is the instrument of the soul. The sou1 existed in the World­Soul before its union to the body. Plotinus is not clear about whether the soul is distinct from World-soul and souls or not. In the body there is a danger of domination of matter. Therefore one has to fight to preserve its union with the world soul. If it keeps itself free of matter it will be able to rise to the contemplation of Intelligence (Nous) and ultimately to the ecstasy of a facial vision of One. This vision is only in the next life where soul will enjoy immortality on being freed from matter by death.

(ii) Eclectism

It was an attempt to fuse Greek philosophical ideas with the elements of various oriental religions: Persians, Babylonian and Indian. The empress Julia Donna, wife of Spetimus Severus (193-211) asked a certain Philostratus to present the ideal fusion of all religions personified in some great figure. Thus Philostratus wrote the biography of a certain Appollonius of Tyna, lived in the first century. He presented the latter as a perfect philosopher who traveled from Spain to India and asserted that all religions were same. During the persecution of Domitian (81-96) he was tried, but disappeared from the tribunal and appeared to two of his disciples who thought that he had risen from the dead. He was presumed to be disappeared from the temple while the virgins sang: “Leave earth and come to heaven”. This was an effort to provide the pagans with a counter attraction to Christ.

(iii) Gnosticism

It is a collection of systems – a fusion of hellenistic ideas with Jewish religious ideas and certain elements of christian revelation. It started in the first decades of the second century. The basic question of Gnosticism was how can man find the true knowledge, which will explain the riddle of the world and the evil there in as well as the riddle of the human existence. Gnosticism claimed to bring to religious minded people a valid interpretation of the world and of themselves. They had a liturgy and its forms were borrowed from Eastern Mystery cults and christianity. They made use of its symbolic content skillfully. They organized their adherents to a close-knit community and propagated their doctrines by sacred hymns and fascinating novels. Gnostic cells were formed inside the Church to conquer the Church from within. 

Gnosticism taught a dualism. This dualistic conception of being is expressed as the opposition between god and Matter, between Light and Darkness. There are intermediate beings called Eons which are pure spirits and pure lights. Eons together with god of Light formed the kingdom of light. One of the Eons, Demiurge, tried to raise himself above his status and was expelled from the kingdom of light. He then created universe and man. He rebelled against God. Demiurge is the God of OT. The souls of men belong to the world of light, but are imprisoned in matter. So man has to fight to free the soul. Gnosis is the secret knowledge that will enable them to do that.

Result of gnostic teaching

(i)  Denial of original sin

(ii) Destruction of the doctrines of incarnation & Redemption.

(iii) Christ is only an Eon.

(iv) They divide the people into three classes:

a) Spirituals -who have the secret knowledge (gnosis).

b) Uneducated christians -who were forced to live a asceticism.

c) Pagans who had no hope of salvation.

Different groups of Gnosticism

1. Syrian group: The centre was Antioch. Their leaders were Menander and Satornil. Menander proclaimed himself the redeemer.

2. Basilidian School: Its centre was Alexandria and its leader was Basilides who claimed to have secret doctrines which the redeemer had entrusted to Mathias after the ascension.

3.Valentinians: Its centers were Egypt, Alexandria and Rome. Its leader was Valentinus. This sect was most dangerous to christianity.

Works of Gnosticism

By the victory of christianity, the Gnostic literature were destroyed but some of them are preserved being quoted in the antignostic writings of Ireneus, Tertullian, Hippoliyus, clement of Alexandria, Origen and Epiphanius.

i) Pistis Sophia

iii) Books of Jeu-alleged revelations of Christ his disciples.

Discovery of Gnostic remains

The excavation of 1945-46 discovered an extensive library of a gnostic community near upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, in the vicinity of the former Pachomean monastery of Chenoboskian . It contained in 13 papyrus manuscripts more than 40 unknown works in the Coptic language mostly direct translations from Greek. The translation was done either at the end of the fourth century or in the beginning of the fifth century. The Greek originals were written in the second century. Their titles seem to be christian apocrypha, but the contents are quite new, eg. Apocryphal gospels of Thomas Philip gospel of Egyptians, of Truth, Acts of the Apostles, Peter, Mathias, etc.

iv) Marcianism

            Marcian was a son of the bishop of Synope, south coast of Black Sea. He came to Rome in 140 and joined the christians who supported him with money. In 144 he left Rome since his peculiar ideas were not accepted there. He wanted to purify the Church from Judaism. Therefore he founded a new church with bishops, priests and laity and liturgy. This church lasted till fifth century. He made a distinction and opposition between God of OT and God of NT. Christ is God of love and mercy. Consequently he denied all OT books and those books which looked favourably on OT. He accepted only gospel of Luke minus his infancy narrative. He also accepted moat of the Pauline epistles. In the East he won many followers. His church was well organized with strict morals and fu11 pledged members. They abstained from matrimony meat and wine. But Marcianism was regarded as a most dangerous enemy of the Church. St. Polycarp of Smyrna called Marcian “primogenitus Satanae“.

(v) Montanism

This sect appeared in Phrygia, Asia Minor about 172. Montanus a Phrygian and two of his female disciples, Maximilla and Priscilla claimed to have received the charisma of prophecy. The monatanists gave more importance to visions and revelations. According to him the time of the paraclete had begin with the coming of Montanus the new Jerusalem was going to be inaugurated and last for a thousand years. For it all must live in continence. They showed excessive respect for virginity. They deny the possibility of forgiveness of sine after baptism especially sins of fornication, murder and idolatry. Therefore they had postponed baptism. No statues, no paintings were allowed. Pope Zephyrinus (199-217) excommunicated them. This movement spread very quickly. In Rome Tertullian joined into it and left the Church in 207. It ended by the fifth century. Maximilla said: “after me there will be no prophecy but the end”.

(vi) Manichaeism

Trinitarian Heresies

In the first century there was no dispute about the doctrine of Trinity. But when it was explained some went astray in the second century.

1. Dynamic Monarchianism or Adoptionism

Monarchianism appeared as a continuation of Jewish monotheism treating the Father Son and the Holy Spirit merely as powers of one god in the Judaic sense of the word. So it is the unique divine person who was manifested in Jesus Christ. Mons=alone arkho=rule.

According to Adoptionism Christ is a mere man, but God’s power operative in him in a special way at baptism. Therefore it denied the divinity of Christ. The first exponent of this doctrine was an educated leather merchant Theodotus of Byzantium who came to Rome about the year 190. According to him Christ was a mere man but had been filled with the power of god at baptism. Thus Christ was divine only in a wide sense. He tried to prove from Scripture t that Jesus until his baptism led a life of simple but very upright man on whom the Spirit of Christ then descended. Pope Victor (189-99) excommunicated him.

            Theodotus the Younger, a disciple of Theodotus of Byzantium taught that Melchizedech Was superior to Christ and the actual mediator between god and man.

            Paul of Samosata, the bishop of Antioch was its exponent in the East. According to him god is one in nature and in person. Christ is a mere man in whom the impersonal word (wisdom of god) dwelt as in a temple. Christ might therefore be looked upon as an adopted son of god. Hence it has got the name Adoptionism. In 269 Paul was condemned. His followers were also called Paulicians.

2. Modalist Monarchianism or Sabellianism

It denied the real distinction between the three divine persons. One god revealed in different ways or modi as Father Son and the Holy Spirit. Father suffered on the cross. For them Christ was really Father Himself appearing in a different way. From the identification of the father with the suffering Christ they are called Patripassionists or Modalists.

The first representative of this doctrine was Noetus from Smyrna in Asia Minor. According to him there is only one god who became man and suffered on the cross. He was condemned in 190.

Sabellius, another representative of this doctrine gave it a systematic character. He attributed to one godhead three modes of operation. Father expressed himself as Son and Spirit. As Father God was creator and law giver, as Son he was operative in Redemption as Spirit he conferred grace and sanctification. In Rome he had opposition from Hippolitus who criticised the pope Callistus of his laxity towards Sebellianism and declared himself antipope.

The Date of Easter

The Asiatic church celebrated Easter on 14 Nisan following the Johannean tradition But the Churches outside Asia especially Rome celebrated Easter on Sunday following the 14 Nisan. Pope Anacletus (155-166) asked the asiatics to conform to Roman usage. Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna journeyed to Rome and persuaded the pope to drop his demand. But he did not agree. Pope Victor (189-199) renewed the request of Anicetus and he ordered to hold synods to settle the question. All churches except Asia led by bishop Polycratus of Ephesus sided Rome. Pope then excommunicated Asian church. It was a severe measure. Eventually the Asians also accepted the Roman custom. In 325 – council Nicea I – it was decided that Naster was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox (March 21). The difference in the date showed a difference in the concept of Easter. Those who celebrated it on Sunday were commemorating the Resurrection, the others regarded Easter as a commemoration of redemption (Death and Resurrection).

The Schism of Novatus and Novatian

After the persecution the apostates and the compromised created a serious problem. There was a dispute with regard to the readmission of the apostates. In Africa bishop Cyprian had to face the laxity of certain clergy Novatus was its leader. Cyprian wrote a strong exhortation De Unitate on the authority responsibility and solidarity of the bishops. In Rome the church faced a rigoristic movement under the learned priest Novatian (once strong supporter of Cyprian) who declared himself antipope to Cornelius (251-253). He rejected the readmission of the lapsed. A Roman synod excommunicated Novatian. Novatian formed a new church which demanded rebaptism from those who obeyed the pope. The Novatians built up a network of small congregations calling themselves cathari (pure ones) to distinguish themselves from other churches. Novatian made great propaganda by sending his followers to different parts of the world and he consecrated bishops. In Africa Cyprian opposed him. Novatus the leader of lax party joined Novatian. They had only one thing in common, i.e., the opposition to lawful authority. This schism lasted for two centuries more Novatian died in the persecution of Valerian about 258.

Rebaptism of Heretics

Here is the question is about the Christians who had been baptized in some heretical or schismatical sects. According to Tertullian a heretic could not validly baptize. Three garthagian synods (220 255 256) and two Asia Ninor synods (230) followed his opinion. Cyprian also shared this opinion.

Pope Stephen (254 257) considered Cyprian’s view an innovation and asserted that according to tradition heretics who are converted have only to be reconciled by laying on of hands but do not have to receive baptism. So baptism by heretic was valid. Dionisius of Alexandria shared Rome’s view. The Africans bishops supported Cyprian. Steaphen threatened them with excommunication. But disputes were forgotten in the presence of the persecution of Valerian under whom Stephen was martyred. Cyprian was martyred in 258.


Manichaeism claimed to be the most universal of all religions and promised true redemption to all nations. Its founder is Mani or Manes a Persian. Until recent discoveries our information about it was from its opponents (Cyril of Jerusalem, Augustine, etc.). Writings on Manichaeism were discovered in 1900 and 1930. In 1900 some texts of Manichaeism were discovered from the caves of Turfan in the Chinese province of Turkestan. They were written in Parthian or Persian and contain fragments from Mani’s book of Giants liturgical documents certain confession formularies a type of catechism and dogmatic texts. In 1930 there discovered a Manichaean library in Medinet Madi in Upper Egypt which contain letters and sermons of Mani (Homilies) fragments of a text book of Manichaeism (Kephalia) and an important large volume of Psalms. These texts are translated from Syriac into Coptic about 400.

Details of Manichaeism from the new findings

The founder Mani was born on 14 April 216 in Selucia Ctesiphon from a family related to the princely family of Arsacids. During his life in Babylonia he came in touch with all shades of religion practised there (Mandasans, Mazdaism, etc.).

In 240 Mani received the revelation that he was destined to be the missionary and herald of a new religion. He believed that his mission was the continuation of that of Zoroaster, Budha and Jesus and he was the supreme revealer in whom the total truth was made manifest.

Mani came to India and preached in the province of Beluchistan. Then he returned to Persia and won the favour of the king Shapur (241 273) who allowed him to spread his doctrines throughout the kingdom of Sassanid. During the reign of the king Bahram I he met opposition from the magi and was put to death in 277. His followers described the manner of his death as crucifixion but the term was meant only his martyr’s death for his beiief (Handbook of CH. HIS, p.262). Following this event his followers fled to west India, China and persisted till 14th century.

Writings of Manichaeism

1. The Great Gospel from Alpha to Tau. It is an album of pictures.

2. Treasure of life.

3. The book of mysteries (24 Chapters).

4. His letters.


Mani preached a radical dualism concerning God. There are two highest Beings or Principles of equal rank: one of Light and the other of Darkness. Both are unbegotten, eternal, had equal power, irreconcilable. The reign of Light or Good lies in the north and of the Darkness or Evil in the south. The realm of light is ruled by a king called Father of Greatness, of evil by the Prince of Darkness who commands numerous demons. There arose a conflict between the two. The Father of greatness created the first man with his five sons who went out to battle with the reign of Darkness but was conquered by evil. The first man then begged the Father of Greatness for help. The Father emitted from himself after a series of intermediately emanations, the living spirit who freed the first man from evil and redeemed him.

Man is a mixture of light and darkness. As soon as he is aware of it his redemption begins. The Father of Light helps him for it. For, he sent heralds of true religion to earth, who taught correct knowledge. They are Buddha in India, Zoroaster in Persia, Jesus in Judea and Mani is the last one. The first three did not establish their message in writing consequently their religion especially christianity quickly fell into pieces or were falsified. Mani preached the highest and perfect gnosis. The rejection of it is the refusal of salvation. His religion is universal and it comprises all earlier religions but is beyond them.

Manichaean Ethics

Manichaeans abstained from everything which links men to matter. The perfect manichaean renounces this world. He binds himself by the triple seal of the mouth hands and womb. Man would find salvation through the doctrine of these three seals.

1. Seal of mouth- signaculum oris- one refrains from impure words and pleasure.

2. Seal of hands- signaculum manuum- One rejects the menial works.

3. Seal of womb- signaculum. Sinus- One rejects marriage and practices absolute sexual continence.

On account of the strict ethics there was a division among them:

1. Electi- those who bind themselves by the triple seal

2. Hearers- Audientes- Catechumens- They serve the elect and give them food and clothing. They hope to be born sometime in the body of an elect and attain salvation.

Hearers were obliged to Mani’s Ten Commandments:

1. To avoid idolatry

2. To avoid lying

3. To avoid greed

4. To avoid murder

5. To avoid adultery

6. To avoid theft

7. To avoid bad teachings

8. To avoid witchcraft

9. To avoid religious doubt

10. To avoid laziness.

They would ultimately join the elect in heaven after a series of purifying incarnations in the next life. Unbelievers would wander about till the end of time and would then be cast into hell.

The structure of the Manichaean church

Their hierarchy is consisted of:

1. Supreme head- He is the head of the apostles or king of the religion. His residence is in Babylon. Mani is the first head.

2. Twelve apostles

3. 72 bishops (teachers of truth)

4. 360 priests

5. Deacons (electi). They are men and women.

6. Hearers- lowest grade.

They had rites resembling baptism and Eucharist. Their only feast was that of Mani’s execution and entry into heaven. They had given a high rank to Jesus but did not recognize God of OT as God of light. Manichaeans could not be members of other religions. St. Augustine was a Manichaean once. A crusade was proclaimed against Manichaeism by pope Innocent III in 1208. By the 14th century the last heirs of Manichaeism had been finally suppressed by the inquisitions.

2. Persecution

During the first decades history of the Church there was no hostility towards the christians from the part of the Roman empire. The emperors intervened in the conflicts between the Jews and the christians and protected the latter whom they viewed as politically harmless. But there was hostility from the part of the Jews and the pagans.

The Jews hated the christians, because the Jewish christians were considered apostates. Secondly, the Jews accused the christians of sexual immorality in their nocturnal meetings, of revolting practices in their religious worship.

            The pagans hated the christians on account of the aversion of the christians from everything connected with pagan worship. Secondly, the christians considered their God as the only true God and redeemer of the world. Thirdly, the christians out themselves off absolutely from their pagan surroundings and they were considered enemies of the classical culture.

            Besides, the christians had to face the opposition of the intellectuals.  The Jewish historian Flavius Joseph did not give a prominent position to Christ. In the middle of 2 C. some even wrote against christianity, Celsus wrote the Mary was a prostitute, and the repudiation of Christ was a myth. The epicurean philosopher Lucian ridiculed christianity causes of Persecution

1. We should not look upon every roman emperor or governor, under whose rule the christians were put to deathm as a man who persecuted them in blind rage solely because of faith.

2. the initiative for reprisals against the christians did not come primarily from th e state authorities.  It was contrary to the principles of roman religious policy to proceed with the power of the state against the adherents of a religious movement solely because of their belief.

It is true that the emperor cult slowly became an essential component of the state religion. But the conscious rejection of emperor worship on the part of the christians was seldom the motive for proceedings against them by the state in the 1C. The pagan state power took notice of the special character of the christianity only because of the disturbances that occurred between the christians and Jews or pagans. Then it stepped to control it. Only then the authorities become convinced that the religious peace was being disturbed by the christians who constituted a treat to the religious policy of the empire. Therefore, the primary cause of persecution was rather the claim to absoluteness made by the christians religion itself. The second cause was the hostile attitude of the pagan population

The source for the history of the persecutions is the account of the christians. A detailed history of persecution from the pagan point of view does not exist. The number of the persecutions was said to have been ten which prefigured in the ten plagues of Egypt.

            In 59 A D. Paul was brought before the Roman procurator Porcius Festus. This was the first occasion when a Roman state power was concerned with a Christian. He was brought before the Roman authority because of his claim to be Roman citizen. Proceedings ended with an acquittal. Here Paul’s religion was not regarded as offending against the existing laws or public orders.

The antichristian attitude may be dated to the beginning of Claudius’ reign (41-54). Actually it was not directly against the christians, but against the Jews. The emperor’s order affected the christians who were converted from Judaism. Eg.1. Order forbidding the Jews in Alexandria to invite thither fellow countrymen from Syria or Egypt. 2. Expulsion of Jews from Rome because of conflict among themselves.

I. Nero (54-68)

            The earliest example of the persecution of the christians by the Roman authority was the persecution after the burning of the City under Nero in 64, Tacitus in his ‘Annales’ reports that there was persistent rumour circulating among the people that Nero himself was responsible for the conflagration on 16 July 64, which destroyed several districts of the City completely and others in part. To get rid of this suspicion, the emperor diverted it onto the Christians, “who on account of their misdeeds were hated”. Some men, who had been arrested and charged, were bribed to denounce the Christians as the actual culprits. Therefore the christians were arrested in large numbers and executed. Some christians were sewn into the skins of animals and thrown to wild dogs, others were clothed in inflammable materials and used as living torches after dark in Nero’s gardens which he threw open to the public for spectacle. Tacitus though against the christians and believed that they deserved punishments on account of their crimes, reported that they were unjustly accused of arson. His report shows that at Rome in the seventh decade of first century there had been a considerable number of the christians. (ingene multitudo). It is clear that the motive of the precaution by Nero was not his belief that the  christians constituted a threat to the state. In carrying out his plan he made use of the hostile attitude of the population towards the christianity, but he was not aiming at the christian faith as such. Later christian apologists generally regarded him as the first Roman emperor who persecuted christians from religious motives. Lactantius says that Nero’s objective was the complete extirpation of christianity.

The christian writer who mentioned the events under Nero was Clement of Rome. Without naming Nero directly he says that not only did Peter and Paul suffer a violent death, but also a great number of the elect among them women, had died after cruel tortures.

            Lactantius is the only writer who says that the persecution under Nero included the whole Roman empire. This is improbable, for other sources are silent on this matter. Some assumed that a general edict of persecution was issued by Nero. No source speaks of a persecution in the East. Besides in the beginning of sixties christianity was not an important religion that the state should take legal measures against them. No later Roman authorities did base their attitude. Nero’s action had no legal foundation, but sprang from the arbitrary will of the ruler who thereby hoped to cleanse himself from the suspicion of arson. Nevertheless Nero’s persecution influenced the public to have a feeling against the christians. From that time on, to be a christian was to be an outlaw in the eyes of the people. In the future the state could find support from the public opinion to face the question whether the state should take action against the christians or tolerate them. Slowly this view if christianity acquire force of a principle of law by which the legal position q f the christians in the empire was largely determined.

2 Domitian (81-96)

            Melito Sardes in his apologia for the emperor Marcus Aurelius mentions Domitian as an opponent of christianity In his letter to the Corinthians Pope Clement refers to the persecutions that had prevented him from writing them sooner. Epictetus a non christian says that the christians went foolishly and thoughtlessly to their death. Dio Cassius reports that the consul Flavius Clemens and his wife Domittilla had been accused and condemned on account of godlessness and with them many others who favoured Jewish practices. The accusation of godlessness makes intelligible  the motive behind Domitian’s action. It was the emperor’s claim to absoluteness for his own person expressed in the emperor cult.

The extent of persecution and the number of its victims: The words of Dio Cassius “many others” refer to good number of Christians. As to the extent of persecution we do not have any source. It is said that Domitian persecuted the christians towards the end of his reign, because the christians refused to pay temple tax and pay homage to him.

3 Trojan (98-117)

The correspondence between the emperor and his governor of Bithynia, Pliny the younger, helps us to understand the attitude of the Roman authority towards christianity at the beginning of the second century. The governor asks the emperor officially what principle he should follow in certain border line cases when dealing with the christians. This shows clearly that in the Asiatic province, numerous christians were denounced to the authorities as christians, tried and examined, and if they remained true to faith executed. The emperor answered the governor in the form of a rescript it is called the rescript of Trajan.

            Pliny informs the emperor about the situation of the Christian religion in his province. He was concerned with the christians because many of them did not obey the imperial decree banning the hectairies, associations unrecognized by the state. These Christinas were denounced to the governor sometimes even anonymously. He examined them and then ordered then with threats of death penalty to give up their religion. Only when they obstinately persisted in it did he have them put to death with the exception of those who were Roman citizens who were transported to Rome.

The letter of Pliny shows that he was unaware of any law or decree of the state as a norm in the proceedings against the christians. So he asks: Does the mere name of christian suffice as grounds for persecution or must other crimes be proved? Trajan’s answer confirms that there was no general law regulating proceedings against the christians. He did not establish a universally valid norm but gave certain directions:


1. Christians were not to be sought out.

2. Anonymous accusations were to be ignored

3. Denounce christian should be examined

4. If denied christianity, he was not punished

5. If on examination one confessed christianity and persisted in it, he was to be punished.

No christian lost life in Bithynia, but two bishops Simon of Jerusalem (crucified at the age of 120) and Ignatius of Antioch (thrown to the wild beasts in 110) were put to death.

4. Hadrian (117-138)

In answer to a letter of the proconsul of Asia Proconsularis asking the directions in the dealings with the christians, Hadrian gave certain directions. He reaffirmed the norms of Tvajan. He condemned anonymous denunciations of christians. Only when someone vouched with his name for the accusations was a christian to be brought to trial, and only when it could be proved that the accused “had offended against the laws” was the governor to pronounce sentence according to the gravity of the offence. So christians could be punished only if they could be proved to have committed crimes against the existing laws of the state. Hadrian does not indeed exclude the possibility of prosecution for merely being a christian, but he appears to have demanded proof that the accused had offended against Roman law So the rescript of Hadrian was only a guidance. But Nomen Christianum itself was worthy of punishment. No martyrdom was mentioned under Hadrian.

5. Antonius Pius (138-161)

            Under Antonius Pius there was a change in the relation between christianity and the Greco-Roman world.  Formerly christianity was linked with Judaism and christians were persecuted in connection with the conflict between Judaism and the empire. Then christianity was considered a Jewish heresy. Gradually christians began to appear to pagans as a different group, as curious be a who disturbed peace by their magical powers etc.

Martyrdoms: three christians at Rome (ref. Justin the martyr Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna was condemned to death at the stake and burnt in the theatre.

A survey of the Persecution from Nero to Antoniua Pius

1. There was no general law that governed the attitude of the state towards the christians.

2. Out of the hostile attitude of pagans, there developed an opinion: “beingchriatgian is incompatible with the Roman way life”.

3. This formed a maxim: adherence to christianty is a crime, and can be punished.

4. Persecutions during this period were local and sporadical.

5. The number of victims was relatively small.

6. Marcus Aurelius (161-180)

            Some writers ascribed to Aurelius an edict favourable to the christians. But this is not true. He despised the christians in his heart. In 176-177 he issued an edict which could be indirectly employed against the christians (introduction of an unknown cult). Melito Sardes, Athanagoras, etc. say: the christians were hunted, robbed and persecuted. Their report was confirmed by a series of individual martyrdoms in the empire. In Rome the philosopher Justin and a group of the christians were put to death between 163 and 167 after a trial. Eusebius speaks of the martyrdom of three bishops in the East between 160 and 170. Bishop Dionisius of Corinth speaks of the martyrdom of the bishop of Athens Publios (161-170) in his letter to the church of Athens. Bishop Sergius of Laodicea was executed about the year 164, also bishop Thraseus of Eumenia, and a group of christians from Pergamum.

In the summer of 177 when the representatives of all Gaul were assembled in Lyons for the festival of the imperial cult the popular rage suddenly vented itself on the christians who were accused of atheism and immorality. The mob drove a group of christians into the market place. There were examined and sent to prison. During the trial ten christians abjured their faith, the rest were condemned to death. Before execution they were cruelly tortured. Bishop Potheimos of Lyons died in gaol after brutal ill-treatment, the others were thrown to wild beasts. The bodies of the executed were not handed over to the families for burial, but were burnt and the ashes scattered in the Rhone. The number of victims was about fifty. Sometimes the christians were sentenced to forced labour in the mines instead of death.


1. Public opinion against the Christians, eg. Lyons.

2. General discontent of the population. The endless compaigns of emperor laid many burdens on the people the constant threat of hostile invasion irritated the people at frontier. People were aggravated by natural disasters such as overflowing of the Tiber and the outbreak of plague. Its result was organized massacre (pogroms). The absence of the christians at the ceremonies of propitiation to avert the pestilence caused popular anger.

3. The opposition of the church to the pagan culture and the Roman state became a parent in the background of the disputes with the Gnostics.

4. The montanist movement. Their exalted desire for martyrdom and fanatical refusal of everything pagan.

Commodus, son of Aurelius, (180-192) was tolerant towards christians. Christians held influenced offices at his court. It was due to the influence of his wife Marcia though not baptized had friendly relations with the christians of Rome.

A survey of the persecution under Aurelius shows that the attitude developed under Trajan still continued. Christians were condemned only when they were denounced to the authorities. And the profession of christian faith sufficed for their condemnation.

7. Septimus Severus (193-211)

He was the founder of the Syrian dynasty. Tertullian says: the emperor publicly demonstrated his good will towards individual christians. Christians held influenced positions at court. The first ten years of his reign were peaceful the bishops could even freely meet in synods to discuss the question on Easter date about the year 196.

In 202 he changed his attitude to christianity. He issued an imperial edict forbidding conversion to Judaism to christianity under pain of heavy penalties The activities of the church was supervised by police. This edict hindered the missionary work.

The reason to publish this edict: Severus realized that christians would become a universal organized religion and would be a threat to the state. So he wanted to hinder further growth of the church. The refusal of some christians to do military service strengthened him in his conviction that the christians were dangerous to the maintenance of the order of the state.

In Alexandria and Carthage where there were large christian communities the persecution affected catechumens and newly baptized persons, for they particularly transgressed the new edict.  The teachers of christian school of Alexandria were compelled to leave the town in 202. Six pupils of Origen who were working there were executed (two of them catechumens). In 203 a group of catechumens were arrested and were heriocly suffered martyrdom. eg. Perpetua, her slave Felicitas, etc.

Christians as individuals were persecuted. Three christians of Carthage were condemned to death at the stake another died in prison. Augustine refers to the martyrdom of Gudentius in 203. Tertullian wrote a work: “To the martyrs” addressed to the christians in prison (197). He refers to the flight of the christians including clergy to escape arrest some obtained safety by bribing the police.

Christians were brought from other places to Alexandria and were executed. Among them were Leonidas, father of Origen, the virgin Potamiaina, her mother Marcella, soldier Basilides, etc. Some find the coming approach of antichrist in the persecution of Severus. In Cappadocia the governor persecuted the christians because of the conversion of his wife to the new faith.

From 211 to 249 was a period of religious toleration. It was inaugurated by Garacalla (211-217). In 212 he granted Roman citizenship to all free men in the empire. His successors Heliogabelus (218-222) and Severus Alexander (222-235) followed the same method Maximus (235-238) changed the policy since his reign was short, nothing happened. Philippus Arabo (244-248) was sympathetic towards the christians.

            A survey of persecution in the first half of the third century shows that there were phases of really a peaceful coexistence and sometimes of positive toleration. Only twice (Septimus Severus and Maximus) a systematic policy against christianity was observed.

8. Decius (249-251)

One of the cruel Persecutions of christianity. In Dec 249 itself he ordered to arrest christians. In 250 Jan. bishop Fabian of Rome was put to death. In 250 he issued a general edict summoning all on the empire to take part in a general sacrifice to the gods- a supplicatio. This was to invoke the protection of gods for the well-being of the empire. Commissions were set up to see the sacrifice was performed and to issue everyone a certificate or libellus. Before a certain date the libellus was to be exhibited to the authorities. Anyone refusing to sacrifice was thrown into prison and was tortured. This was a serious attack on the church.

What was the motive of such a decree? The opportunity to determine the exact number of the christians or the expectation of a mass return to the old state religion? The latter may be the motive. In Egypt and North Africa those who obeyed the edict far exceeded those who refuse it. Ref. Bishop Dionisius of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage. Origen who refers to the laxity says: the heroic days and former spirits have gone. In Alexandria some christians performed sacrifice some denied that they had even been christians still others fled. Many offered sacrifice on the point of arrest others endured a few days in prison refusing to sacrifice until they were due to appear in court some submitted only after torture. In North Africa some secured the certificate through bribery or other means. They were called libellatici. There were others called thurificati who offered incense. Those who offered a full sacrifice before the image of gods were called sacrificati. The number of lapsi was large. St. Gyprian speaks of two bishops in North Africa and many others who fell away. One of these bishops even persuaded the majority of his flock to offer sacrifice. He also speaks of two Spanish bishops who were libellatici.

In contrast to these there were christians in every province who were ready to die for their belief. Cyprian gives an account of it. He speaks of the christians in prison including many women and children who were ready to die for the faith. There were exemplary women among his clergy. Cyprian does not mention the name of all martyrs but only two, Lucianus and Gelarinus.

In Egypt bishop Dionisius speaks of fourteen martyrs, ten of them died at the stake and four by the sword. He mentions that many christians died of hunger and cold.

Bishop Alexander of Palestine, bishop Babylas of Antioch were put to death.  Origen died a martyr’s death after a cruel torture. In Asia Proconsularis five christians were put to death. Gregory of Nyssa speaks of the persecution in Pontus.

            The Decian persecution ceased rapidly. It was because of the departure of emperor for the Danubian provinces to fight against the Goths and his death on the battle field prevented its rapid resumption.

The Roman government gained no tangible and lasting success by this calculated and systematic attack on the church. Many of those who left faith, were received into the church, many libellatici were atoned for their fault by a new confession of faith.

Trebonius Gallus (251-253) arrested Cornelius, the head of the christian community in Rome and was exiled to Civita Vecchia where he died in 253.

9. Valerian (253-260)

In the first years of his reign he was well disposed towards the christians. His household was one of God’s communities. In the fourth year he changed his attitude and introduced a short but extremely harsh and violent persecution.

Dionisius of Alexandria blames Macrianus, emperor’s minister who may have suggested the idea of remedying the precarious financial state of the empire by confiscating the property of the wealthy christians. Valerian was probably also impelled by the threatening situation of the empire in general.

In 257 he issued a public edict ordering all bishops, priests and deacons to offer sacrifice to the gods. Any of them celebrating divine worship or holding assemblies in the cemeteries were to be punished with death. Bishops Cyprian and Dionisius were arrested and many christians in African provinces were condemned to forced labour in mines.

In 258 he issued another edict: It took further decisive step. Clerics who refused the sacrifice were to be immediately put to death. The leading laity was also included in this. Senators and members of the order of knights were to lose their rank and possessions. If they refused to offer sacrifice, they were executed and their wives were banished. The aim of this policy was to eliminate the clergy and the prominent members of the christian communities. Thus deprived of leaders christians were condemned to insignificance.

            Result: The victims were numerous especially among the clergy. Bishop Cyprian was beheaded. Pope Sixtus was put to death together with his deacons.  Bishop Dionisius of Alexandria was condemned to exile. Deacon Lawrence also was put to death also many others. Socrates says: Novatian also died during the reign of Valerian for his christian convictions. In Egypt and North Africa the number of victims was high.

            The persecution ceased with the tragic end of the emperor who was taken prisoner by the Persians in 259 and soon died.

A survey of the persecution of Valerian shows that the christians stood firm in faith. They met this trial with far more calm determination than they had displayed in the time of Decius.

Gallienus (260-268) issued an edict in favour of the christians. With this there began a period of glory and freedom (Eusebius). Places of worship were restored. Preaching and building new churches were allowed. It lasted fourty years.

10. Diocletian (284-305)

            During the period of peace (260-300) the christians enjoyed freedom of belief, worship and preaching (Eusebius). But it was not a guarantee for a permanent tolerance (freedom) because no law defended the christians. Even during this period a christian could be denounced and suffer persecution. Even Eurelian (270­75) prepared an edict of persecution and its application was prevented by his sudden death.

In the first years of his reign Diovletian was tolerant towards the christians. He had christians as high officials. His wife and daughter had inclination towards christianity. For 18 years Diocletian was busy with the reforms and the defence of the empire. He did not want to molest the christians because he had unity and security of the empire at his heart.

In 297 Diocletian divided the empire into two, keeping the last where he lived for himself. He put his colleague Maximian in charge of the West with its headquarters in Milan. He further divided the empire into four prefectures, thirteen dioceses and 101 provinces. Each emperor had an assistant with the title of Caesar. The emperors would rule for twenty years and then they would be succeeded by their respective caesars. Diocletian received Galerius, Maximian took Constantius. Each had separate court and was responsible for each one section. But there remained only one empire and all decrees had to be signed by four rulers.

                                                            Illyricum                                  -Diocletian-emp.

East Nicomedia C.      Asia Minor Orient                   -Galerius-Caes.

Roman Empire 297                             Italia                                        -Maximian-emp.

West Milan C.             Gallia                                       -Constantius-Caes.

            After having finished the reform in the empire, Diocletian turned towards the christians and violently persecuted them. The causes: Lactantius in one place says that Galerius persuaded Diocletian, in another place he names Hierocles as originator and adviser of Diocletian. But most probably Diocletian persecuted the christians with his full freedom and personal responsibility. He was convinced that christianity was against his work of reconstruction of the empire.  Perhaps Galerius and Hiercles might have confirmed him in the line. The hostility of the people and the educated to christianity also recommended this.

In 300 Diocletian published a decree ordering all soldiers to offer sacrifice to the gods or to leave the army. Then in 303 February he published an edict (I Edict) in the name of four rulers:

1. To destroy all christian places of worship

2. To surrender and burn all the sacred books

3. To forbid all the assemblies for divine worship

4. To degrade the christians.

As a result of this christians were enslaved and they lost their privileges and ranks. In the meantime a fire broke out in the imperial palace in Nicomedia. Galerius blamed the christians. It followed a persecution. A church was demolished, a certain christian (Euethios) who tore the edict was soon executed. Then distinguished christians were forced to offer sacrifice to gods. Even his wife and daughter had to do it. Many clerics were also persecuted. Bishop Anthimus was executed. There were also people who left the faith.

In 303 itself Diocletian published the second edict ordering to rob the christian communities. Eusebius speaks of the situation. The prisons were filled with bishops, priests, deacons etc.

In the same year (303) another edict was published which contained the detailed proceedings against the clergy. Any one who offered sacrifice could be free and those who refused it would suffer torture and death.

The fourth edict was published in 304 which inaugurated one of the cruelest persecutions. It imposed sacrifice to gods an all without exception. Its refusal would bring cruel persecution. Six or seven million christians suffered. The list of martyrs is endless: St. Sebastian, Pancratius, Agnes, pope Marcelline, etc.

In 305 Diocletian and Maximian, the two emperors abdicated according to the norm of Diocletian, i.e., 20 years of reign. In the West Constantius Chlorus became the emperor and his Caesar was Severus. In the East Galerius became emperor and his caesar was Maximinus Daia. In 306 Constantins died and his son Constantine became the emperor. In 307 Maximian, the former emperor of the West declared himself and his son Maxentius, co rulers of the I Italian prefecture having deposed Severus. In 310 Maxentius deposed his father.  But in 312 Constantine degeated Maxentius.   It is known as the Milvian Bridge Battle on 28 October 312.

On 30 April 311 Galerius published the edict of toleration in the name of four rulers ordering the cessation of persecution. It is stated that the earlier measures were for the good of the state and to restore the old Roman laws and manner of life. By this Christians were permitted to exist and to hold their religious assemblies provided that they do nothing disturbing the public order. They were asked to pray to their God for the welfare of the empire, the emperor and themselves. This tolerance opened to the christians the gate to a brighter future.

Galerius was succeeded by Licinius who followed the method of toleration, but his caesar Maximinus Daia renewed persecution. He made use of the following methods:

1. False propaganda against the christians

2. Petitions of pagans to emperor and his rescripts were published in towns

3. Arrested many christian and imposed death punishment.

But towards the end of 312 Maximinus Daia also changed his hostile attitude, but the christians did not believe him.

Emperor Constantine and the liberation of the Church

Constantine was born in 285. He was the son of Constantius and Helena.  A few years after his birth, his father left Helena and married Theodora, step daughter of Maximian. His family had positive relations with the christian circles. It is clear from the christian names in their family.

In 306 Constantine became emperor following the death of his father. On 28 October 312 he defeated Maxentius in the battle of Milvian Bridge. This event marked the turning point in Constantine’s attitude towards christianity. It is said that some time before the battle Constantine saw in bright day light a cross in the sky with the Greek words, “In this sign thou shalt conquer“. And the following night Christ appeared to him with the cross and told him to have it copied and to carry it as protection in war. This is the version of Eusebius. But Lactsntius says that Constantine had a dream exhorting to put God’s heavenly sign on the shields of the soldiers and give the battle.

In 313 Constantine and Licinius discussed the new political situation when they met at Milan to celebrate the marriage between Licinius and Constantia, his sister. On that occasion Constantine published the edict of Milan (313) which a new era for the christians began. The clergy were exempted from military service. Bishops were given civil jurisdiction. Permission was given to build churches.  However Licinius did not shoe much favour towards the christians. By 320 he exerted pressures on the christians, put restrictions on freedom of worship and preaching. He closed the places of worship, arrested bishops and priests and condemned them to death.

Constantine accomplished his new religious policy in three stages:

1. 312-320. During this period he hardly touched paganism, but exalted the church with increasing energy.

2. 320-330. In this stage he brought the church into public life and attacked polytheism. In 321, July 2, he declared Sunday as national holiday. In 324 he defeated Licinius, but spared his life at the request of Constantia and assigned Thessalonica as his place of detention. Later Licinius was executed for treasonable plot. Sunday was dedicated to god sun.  Constantine raised that day to the rank of a festival. Christians were appointed to the higher administrative posts of the empire. Constantine presented to Militiades, bishop of Rome, the palace of the family of the Laterani, the property of his wife. He arranged for the building of the Lateran basilica. In 325 he convoked the first ecumenical council at Nicea. On that occasion he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his reign. On 18 September 324 he began to rebuild the old Byzantium. On 17 May 330 he inaugurated the capital in Constantinople and celebrated the 25th year of his rule.

3. 330 338. The final stage. He broke all relations with the old religion. On 15 July 335 he celebrated the 30th year of his rule. He died in 338. He received baptism at his death bed from an Arian bishop.

The forces that drove Constantine to do these things:

1. His revolutionary character. Julian speaks of Constantine: “a wicked innovator and tamperer with the time hallowed laws and the sacred ethical traditions of our fathers”. He aimed at unification and promoted uniformity in the church.

2. His christian conviction. This conviction was not mild and gentle as in the spirit of the gospels. He conceived of God as being as quick to wrath as he himself was.

3. His fear of God

4. A true consciousness of his mission. The emperor and kings of the ancient world believed that they had a divine mission and they are elected and protected by the gods. Constantine chose his god for himself and his choice was sealed by a vision.  He was convinced that he was called to become a prophet.

5. Iron will to rule. In the service of faith it was an irresistible force. In 314 in his address to the synod of Arles he called himeelf famulus Dei.

Constantine was extoled as new Moses and the apostle of of God. Paintings and statues showed him the protector of the christian religion. He felt himself to be bishop of all mankind, a God -appointed pope (cf. Eusebius). He felt himself that he stood on the same rank as the apostle of the Lord. At his express wish he was buried in the new capital as the thirteenth apostle with cenotaphs of the Disciples of Christ (Sepulchral monument to persons buried elsewhere) six and six, to right and left of his grave (Eusebius). Constantine died in 338.

From the liberation of the Church to the synod of Trullo (692)

After the liberation of the church in 313, the emperors considered themselves heraids of the new religion. Emperor Gratian (374-383 West) renounced the title and trappinas of Pontifex Maximus and removed the alter to the goddess Victory from the senate. Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395 East) imposed Nicean creed as the official belief of his subjects in 380. He issued a series of decrees in favour of the christians and declared pagan sacrifice high treason. His successors Arcadius (395-408), Theodosius II (408-450) continued the work of complete eradication of paganism. St. Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius Il had infiuenced the latter for it. By the middle of 5th c. the number of pagans had been very much reduced. Marcian 450 -457, Leo 1 457-474, Zeno 474-518, Justine 518-527 Justinian 1 527- 565.

The eastern part of the Roman empire reached the height of its splendour under Justinian. He with his wife Theodora wanted to restore the old empire in its fulness. But he did not succeed completely. He is known for his codification of Roman canon law. It was a masterpiece that surpassed all previous efforts in comprehensiveness, clority and order. Most of the European countries even today had the influence of Justinian Code. Justinian commonded all pagans to be baptized under pain of confiscation of all their goods and the privation of civil rights. The result of it was 70000 conversions in Asia Minor.

Justinian code   529, Justin II 565- 578, Tiberius 11 578 -582, Maurice 582 -602, Phocas 602 -610, Heraclius 610 -641

Decline of Byientine Empire

After Justinian the empire began to decline. The Lombards took most parts of Italy. The Avars also threatened the empire from north, the Persions attacked from the East in 570 and came up to Chalcedon. Chosroes 11 (589-628) took Asin Minor, Syria, Palestine and most of Egyrt and sent an ultimatum to Emperor Heraclius in 610 demanding the surrender of Conotantinople. In 610, after having commeded himself to God he declared a crusade against the Persians. After nine years fighting he achieved the purpose, but both parties were weakened and by the 7th c. most of their disputed territories were taken by the Mohemedans.  The Perdisn Empire disappeared and Constantinople was diminished.


Arius under whose name this heresy has come tuto the Church history, was a priest in the church of Alexandria. He had his theological formation.probably at the school of Antioch and was a pupil of the Antiochene priest Lucian. He was ordained in 310 and was pastor in Baucalis in Alexandria.

From 318 through 319 Arius expounded in his sermons and teaching an idea of the Logos and his relation to the Father, for which he found a considerable following within his congregation, in a part of the clergy, and especially among the consecrated virgins; whereas others decisively rejected it. His bishop Alexander decided to examine it in a theological discussion in which both sides could express and justify their ideas. Arius stated that “the Son of God was created out of nothing (nonbeing), that there was a time when he did not exist, that, according to his will, he was capable of evil as well as of virtue, and that he is a creature and created”. His opponents insisted on the consubstantiality and eternity of the Son with the Father. Alexander finally accepted the second view and ordered Arius never to propound his opinion again.

Since Arius resolutely refused to comply, Alexander excommunicated him and his clerical adherents. Arius did not intend to recognize the excommunication and leave the church; instead, he wanted to bring his ideas to victory within the Church. He knew that outside Egypt also there was no unanimous opinion in this theological question, and a considerable part of the episcopate sympathized with his theses. He found protection of Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea (for a short time). Bishop Alexander summoned, probably in 319, a synod of all Egypt­apparently 100 bishops. He made known the result of their deliberations in an encyclical to all the bishopd of the Catholic Church: Arius and his supporters in the Egyptian and Libyan clergy were excluded from the church, because of their “errors which dishonoured Christ”.

Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia consoled Arius “You think correctly, but pray that all may think in the same way”. Arius had meanwhile left Egypt and finally-after a brief stay with Eusebius of Caesarea -arrived in Nicomedia which now became a center of Arian propaganda. In 320 Eusebius convoked a synod at Bithynia and sent a circular to all bishops which called for the restoration of ecclesiastical communion with those who had been condemned, since they were orthodox; piessure should be put on Alexander to receive them back. Arius drew up a profession of faith according to which only the Father is eteraal, he alone is without beginning, but the Son is God’s perfect creature, he does not possess his being together with the Father, since the Father existed before the Son. He wrote a book entitled Thalia or Banquet, a mixture of prose and verse, in which he recruited for his ideas in popular form.

Bishop Alexander sent circulars and letters to all bishops about the heresy of Arius. Pope Silvester was also informed of the events in Alexandria and of the excommunication glexandrians clerics. (Ephiphanius was acquainted with a collection of some seventy letters of Alexander relating to is matter). It was also known to emperor Constantine, probably through the bishops of the East, and it seems that he was not informed about the entire seriousness or about the theological significance of the quarrel.

Bishop Hosius of Cordoba, the episcopal adviser of Constantine, came to Alexandria to reconcile Arius with his bishop and to stop all public discussion of the controverted point. But it was not at all practicable. He went back to Nicomedia to report to the emperor on the failure of his mission. Soon both understood that there was only one possible way of restoring peace to the church: to summon the entire episcopate of the church to a great synod. The early sources all attribute to Constantine the initiative for this solution. The synod took place at his command.

The invitations to the bishops specified Nicaea in Bithynia as the place of meeting and May 325 as the date for beginning the deliberations. The number of the participants in the council is not clearly established. Busebius says there were more than 250; Athanasius, also an eyewitness, on one occasion gives the round figure of 300, but elsewhere he gives 318. Later historians uphold this laft number, especially since it had a biblical mystical prototype: Abraham’s troop of retainers amounted to 318 (Gen.14,14). Only five bishops and two priests, Vitus and Vincent, representative of the pope, represented the West. There were theological experts -periti -like deacon Athanasius of Alexandria. The solemn opening took place on 20 May. 325.

The emperor addressed the assembly emphasizing peace and harmony within the Church. Then the doctrine of Arius was discussed and the Fathers condemned it. The council approved a creed (nicean Creed) which declared the Son to be consubstantialto the Father, true God and true man. After the adoption of the Creed, the Fathers took up the other points of the.  In the matter of the date of Easter they agreed on the practice of the greater part of the church, which celebrated the solemnity of the resurrection on the Sunday after 14 Nisan.

The council had a solemn and impressive closing. The emperor gave a splendid banquet for the council Fathers in his palace at Nicomedia. He gave them also presents and admonished them to maintain peace among themselves and recommended himself to their, prayers. Soon afterwards, he sent a comprehensive report on the Council “to the churches” not represented at Nicaea.

Nicaea I was the first council in history which possessed an ecumenical character since to it were invited bishops from all the geographical areas of christianity. The emperor convoked it and the bishop of Rome consented to him by sending his own representatives.

After the council two bishops, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Thegnis of Nicaea informed the emperor that they withdrew their assent to the creed of 325. The emperor sent these bishops into exile in Gaul and gave their former sees to prelates loyal to Nlcaea. But from the beginning of 328 a reversal in the emperor’s attitude began to appear concerning individual representatives of the pro-arian faction. In that year the exiled bishops Eusebius and Theognis were permitted to return from banishment and again occupy their former sees. Eusebius even gained emperor’s ear and favour and finally occupied the position of theological adviser of the emperor. It was due to the influence of Constantine’s stepsister, Constantia.

Soon after his return from exile, Eusebius energetically and methodically assumed the leadership of the Arian faction.  Instead of attacking the Creed, he wanted to eliminate the leading personalities of the opposition. Bishop Eustathius of Antioch was accused of immoral character and disturbor of religious.peace. At the synod of Antioch in 331 the friends of Arius deposed Eustathius whom the emperor exiled to Thrade. Eight bishops more were exiled. Then Arian party turned against Athanasius who had been elected to the see of Alexandria in 328.

Division in the Church

In the universal church there are two kinds of divisions: first one is according to the liturgicval rites.  Second one is according to the doctrinal differences.   The churches founded by the apostles professed the same faith, but developed adapting customs and traditions of the place.  Hernce diversity could be seen in explaining the faith and in their worship.  Thus different particular churches were formed with their own liturgical traditions.  The main liturgical rites are the following: Roma, Antiochean, Alexandrian, Byzentine, Chaldean, Armenian. 

These liturgical rites were developed centered on the early christian centers: Roman, Antioch, Alexandrian, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Persia, Armenia.  Out of these seven centers the first five were in the Roman Empire.

In 297 Emperor Diocletian (284-305) divided the empire into East and West for administrative purpose.  During the time of Constantine the empire came under one emperor, but again it was divided after the death of emperor Theodotius 1 (+395).  Thereafter the churches in the Eastern Empire were known as Eastern or Oriental churches –Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Constantinople. The churches outside the Rome empire-Persia, Armenia and India-also belonged to this group.  The Roman Church was the only Christian centre in the western empire and it was known as western church.  It is called Latin Church its liturgy being Latin. 

Division according to the doctrinal differences

In her very beginning there had been in the church of God certain rifts (1cor 11: 18; Gal 1:6). Such quarrels were condemned by St. Paul. They however, did not divide the church. In subsequent centuries More widespread disagreements appeared in the church and large communities became separated: from the full communion with the church. Such separations took place in 431, 451, 1054, 1517 and 1533.

1. Nestorian church

Nestorianism was born in the patriarchate Constantinople but grew in the soil of Persia.  Nestorius, an Antiochean monk, became patriarch of Constantinople in 428.  He taught that it was incorrect to refer to Bl. Vergin as mother of God (Theotokos), for she was mother only of the human element in Christ, not of his divine personality.  Hence he was accused of holding two persons in Christ. Reports about his teaching spread throughtout the empire. In his Easter circular and in a special pastoral letter, Cyril of Alexandria reacted to it. Both appealed to Rome. In 430 Pope Celestine in a Roman synod condemned Nestorian teaching. He wrote four letters: 1. to Nestorius to retract his teachings within ten days, 2. to the church of Constantinople, 3. to Bishop John of Antioch, 4. to Cyril of Alexandria appointing him papal legate to receive retraction of Nestorius.

Cyril drew up twelve propositions (anathamas) which Nestorius had to retract within ten days under pain of deposition. The phrase of Cyril in this like “one is the nature of the incarnate Word is heretic (monophysitism). Nestorius reacted by sending Cyril a set of twelve counter-anathamas.

Council of Ephesus 431. Emperor Theodosius II, in agreement with Pope Celestine (422- 432) convoked a general council at Ephesus on 22 June 431. 159 bishops attended the council. Nestorius was condemned and deposed. Shortly after the first session of the council the papal legates arrived and confirmed the decree against Nestorius. John of Antioch with 42 bishops came even later, distrustful of Cyril and Alexandrian theology, organized a pseudo-council and excommunicated Cyril as heretic and appealed to the emperor. Cyril on his part excommunicated John and his followers.

The emperor approved the decisions of both parties. Both Nestorius and Cyril were deposed. But later Cyril won the favour of emperor through the influence of his (emperor’s) sister Pulcheria and generous gifts. Nestorius was deposed and exiled to the Egyptian deserts where he died in 450. After two years of negotiations in 433 Cyril and John were reconciled.

The recent study on Nestorius shows that Nestorius was not a Nestorian and was unjustly condemned in the council of Ephesus. When we study Nestorianism we have to make distinction between the personal teaching of Nestorius, Nestorianism as historical teaching, and theoretical nestorianism.

1. The personal teaching of Nestorius.

Nestrius was accused of the following:

1. He proposed the   title Christotokos to Mary instead of theotokos. When Nestorius became patriarch of Constantinople therl.was a controversy about the title Theotokos. Some preferred to call Mary Anthropotokos. Then Nestorius proposed as a compromise the title Christotokos -mother of Christ. His criticism of Theotokos was well-intentional.  He was trying to conteract the abuse of the title by the Arians -who denied the divinity of Christ -for Arius (+335) taught that the Word is not eternal, but first and noblest of creatures -and Appollinarista (Acco. to Appollinaria of Laodicea 310-390, Christ was one person and had only on nature. The word was made fleah means that Christ took a body, not the word was made man. The Word which is consubstantial with God, is united to an incomplete humanity. In the composite being of Christ the Word plays either the role of soul in the body or that of the spirit in the body). But Nestorius disregarded the fact that the title Theotokos had a history of 200 years of orthodoxy. It was an expression of faith in the true divine sonship of Christ and was based on the Communicatio idiomatum = communication of properties. It is the attribution of properties of both natures of Christ, together or separately, to the same person in Christ. It is the first important consequence of the hypostatic union. The subject of attribution in Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity, to whom both divine and human natures are belonging. As the natures so their properties too may be rightly attributed to the very same person.

2. Nestorius seems to speak of union in Christ as union of wills = moral union. He wanted to affirm the gratuity of order of salvation and that the union was according to the good pleasure of God. The term used was conjunction. He also wanted to say that the Incarnation was not out of necessity of nature (appollinaristic conception of Incarnation.

3. Nestorius was accused of holding doctrine of two persons in Christ. The terms used in the christology of Nestorius were the following:

1. Physis= nature in general

2. Ousia=nature in general

3. Hypostasis=person, nature

4. Prosophon=person.

The controversiat term is hypostasis which means person and an individual Perfect nature = the particular nature preserving the property. Nestorius used the term hypostasis in the meaning of individual perfect nature. So when he says that Christ has two hypostasis, he means that Christ has two natures preserving the nature of Godhead and that of manhood. If Christ had only one hypostasis, he is neither God nor perfect man. He has complete hypostasis like the Father and complete hypostasis like Abraham.

2. Nestorianisma as a historical reality Is the position of the bishops who rejected the union agreed upon by John of Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria in 433.  Here Nestorianism accepted two natures and two hypostases. It rejected Ephesus and communicatio idiomatum and the title Theotokos.

3. Theoretical Nestorianis is contrasted with Monophysitism which is equally theoreticl. It means that in Christ there are two persons and two natures.

Through nestorianism was born in Constantinople, it grew in Persia. The Persian Church had its origin in the first century itself. It was through the Jews that gospel reached there. There were Persians at Pentecost among those who had listened to St. Peter. They returned to Persia and spread the good news.

St. Thomas also preached gospel in some of the places of the Persian Roman Empire. Grigen speaks about the apostolate of St. Thomas in Persia. Now it is believed that St. Thomas preached in Mesopotamia (Persia proper), and his disciple Addai in Edessa and his disciple Mari in Seleucia Ctesiphon (cities on the either side of river Tigris). In all these places the medium of communication was Syriac because it was the commercial language of the Middle East.

2. Monophysite Church

Monophysitism is simply the extreme opposition of Nesorianism. Nestorianism is called after a man, but monophysitism is a definition of a heretical idea.  As soon as Nestorius began to divide Christ into two persons, his opponents began to insist on the unity of our Lord to such a degree that they confused his humanity with his divinity as one thing. They declared Christ one person with one nature. In Christ the humanity was absorbed in the divinity as a drop of wine would be in an ocean of water.

The first home of Monophysitism was Egypt. The phrase of Cyril “one nature incarnate of the Word of God” became their watchword. When Cyril reconciled with John of Antioch, some of his followers accused him of compromising with Nestorianism. They are the first monophysites. Cyril died in 444 and Dioscorus, his archdeacon succeded him.

The trouble began with Eutychus, superior of a monastery with 300 monks.He had influence at the royal court. He began to teach that Christ is not consubstantial with other men and had not the same nature as we have. At incarnation the two natures were fused into one. As soon as Eutychus began to propagate this new doctrine, the Eastern theologians opposed him. (Theodoret of Cyrus, Flavian, etc.).

In 446 in a synod at Constantinople, Eutychus was found guilty and was deposed and excommunicated. Eutychus then, wrote letters justifying his ideas, to the Pope, Dioscorus, etc. The emperor Theodosius decided to convoke a synod at Ephesus to revise the judgent of the synod of Constantinople. Pope Leo 1 (440-461) sent his legates with a dogmatic letter -Tome -which contained the catholic doctrine=our Lord is one person having two natures of God and of man; each nature is real, complete + perfect.

            The proposed council met on 8 August 449 at Ephesus.  The majority of the bishops present (350) were followers of Dioscorus. Dioscorus presided over the meeting and made the synod do all he wished. iutychus was declared innocent. Bishop Flavian and others were maltreated. Flavian died a few days afterwards. The papal legates were threatened and they signed the acts. Emperor approved the council. But Pope Leo in a local synod in Rome protested against the synod and declared it invalid. This synod is known as Robber Synod.

At pope’s wish Marcian, the successor of Theodosius convoked a council on 8 Oct. 451 at Chalcedon to settle the question of Our Lord’s nature. 630 bishops attended it. The papal legates presided. Dioscorus was condemned; the dogmatic letter of Leo was approved with the acclamation “Peter has spoken by Leo”. The doctrin of two natures and one person is defined. Those who did not accept Chalcedon are called Monophysites.

Was monophysitism – the heresy – the real motive of the monophysite quarrels? Many historians see in them a political motive, working under guise of a theological dispute. The christians of Egypt and Syria refused to accept thedecrees of Chalcedon and they sympathised with Dioscorus and saw in his deposition an attack on St. cyril and Ephesu. Egypt and Syria were the two provinces in the East. They were not really loyal to the empire. Both kept their own languages had ancient civilizations of their own. The emperor and his soldiers were foreigners to them. This feeling of patriotism and anti­imperialism made them to refuse a council which was convoked by the emperor and in which their patriarch was condemned and deposed.

Besides it was a matter of national honour to the Egyptians. Ephesus and Robber synod were a great triumph for them, where their patriarch had deposed the patriarch of Constantinople. But Chalcedon reversed the process. Pat.of Const. deposed their pat. So Egypt rose to defend its patriarch and persuaded Syria and Palastine to join them in the common cause against the emperor.

Chalcedon could not put an end to the problem raised by Eutychus. It started a long crisis in the Church. As its consequence a considerable number of Eastern churches remain separated from the universal Church. The Alexandriam church supported almost unanimously despite his condemnation. In Jerusalem the pro-chalcedonian bishop was deposed and amonophysite bishop was elected. In Antioch also a Peter the Fuller, a monophysite became the patriarch. He added to Trisagion “who was crucified for us”.

Attempts to reconcile the Monophysites

1. Acacian schism (484-519)

In 482 emperor Zeno published Henoticon, a document drawn up by patriarch Acacius of Const. to reconcile the monophysites by showing that to be antichalcidon and monophysite were not the same thing. The Henoticon contained orthodox faith and declared as symbols of faith the creed of Nicea-Const, 12 anathamas of Cyri 1decrees of Ephesus, condemnation of Nestorius and Eutychus.  But it rejected Chalcedon in order to please the monophysites.

The publication of Henoticon satisfied most of the east except the fanatic monophysites.But the Pope and the West rejected it for its repudiation of Chalcedon. Pope Felix ll (483-492) sent legates to Const. to settle the question, but Zeno treated them harshly. Pope, then, held a synod in Rome and excommunicated Acacius. Acacius removed the Pope’s name from diptychs. It is known Acacian schism and lasted thirty years. It ended in 519 when emperor Justin l and people of Const. forced patriarch John 11 (518- 520) to subscribe Chalcedon. Patriarch emperor and bishops signed the formula of Pope Hormisdas (514-523) condemning Nestorius, Eutychus, Acacius and Dioscorus.

2. Three Chapters (544 -554)

Theodore of Askidas, bishop of Caesarea made an attempt to reconcile the monophysites. He wanted to make it clear that to accept Chalcedon does not mean becoming a Nestorian. The monophysites hated Theodore of Mopsuetia, Diodore of Tarsus. Therefore Askidas persuaded emperor Justinian to publish an edict condemning three documents 1. The person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuetia. 2. Writings of Theodoret of Cyrus, 3. Letter of lbas to Bishop Maris. This is called the Three Chapters. The emperor published the edict in 544.

The West refused to accept the condemnation. Pope Vigilius was brought to Constantinople in 547 and condemned the Three Chapters by force in 548. When the western bishops protested, the pope withdrew the condemnation (judicatum). In spite of the disapproval of the pope, and excommunication, Justinian convoked a general council on 5 May 553 at Constantinople.165 bishops attended it. Pope attempted a compromise sending a document condemning 60 propositions from the works of Theodore and forbidding further condemnation. The council rejected it. The pope, then, worn out with the long strife, gave in, confirmed the acts of the council and condemned the Three Chaptersin 554. The sick pope died on his return journey at Syracuse in June 555.

The monophysite Churches

Egypt, Syria and Jerusalem continued to be monophysites. In the 6th cent. national monophysite churches were formed in Armenia, Syria etc. At present there are five monophysite churches.


After the council of Chalcedon there had been several attempts to make a balance between the Nestorians and the Monophysites. In spite of the difficulties that emperor Heraclius (610- 641) faced during the attack of Persians and the Mohemedans made efforts to reconcile the Monophysites of Syria and Egypt. He accepted Monothelitism as good means.

Chalcedon decreed that in Christ there are two natures. In 616 patriarch Sergius of Constantinople (610-638) began to preach that there is only one principle of operation and one will in Christ. This will and principle are both human and divine-theandric. Th monophysitex patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch agreed with Sergius by 633. After five years Heraclius published a decree – Ecthesis -drawn up by Sergius professing belief in one will, summoning all christians to do likewise and forbidding further discussion.

St. Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem and St. Maximos the confessor opposed the Ecthesis. Sergius wrote to Pope Honorius I (625-638) who misunderstood the issue. Honorius reply upheld Sergius opinion and commended him for trying to silence those who spoke of two principles of operation in Christ.

In 638 Herallius published a formula prepared by Sergius, where no mention of one operation is made. It was accepted by most of the Oriental bishops. But the Western bishops and pope Severinue (640) strongly objected  it. In 648 emperor Constans II (641- 655) withdrew the formula and issued a religious edict, the Typos, forbidding all criticisms of Monothelitism. Pope Martin 1 (649-655) condemned the Ecthesis, Typos and monothelitism after careful investigation by a Lateran synod. Constans had the pope arrested and brought to Constantinople. There he was tried for high treason, ill-treated and banished to Cherson (654) and in southern Russia where he died in 655.

Council of Constantinople 111 (680-681)

At the suggestion of Emperor Constantine IV a council was convoked in Constantinople to settle the problem of Monotheitism. Pope Agatho (678-661) approved it and sent legates explaining clearly the doctrine of two operations in Christ. The conucil sat from November 680 to September 681. On the basis of Agatho’s epistle and passages the council recognized the doctrine of two operations and two wills in Christ as the teaching of the church.  The council condemned Sergius, three other bishops of Constantinople and pope Swegius. 

The Maronites of Lebanon preserved Monothelitism and they were eventually reunited to the Catholic Church in 12th c and 15th century.

Pope Honorius and Infallibility

The case of Honorius was one of the main arguments against the papal infallibility in Vat I. In his two letters to Sergius pope is supposed to have admitted Monothelitism, because he speaks of one will in Christ. He admits one will in so far as the human will never contradicts the divine. He says that there is only one operator of the divine and human in Christ, but whether he works by one operation or two is none of our business. He was afraid to make a decision, lest he should be accused of Nestorianism or Monophysistism.

            In his second letter the pope emphasized the unity of two natures and asked to avoid subtleties about one or two operations. Therefore what Honorius affirmed was correct. He was not a theologian and could be blamed for his negligence and ignorance to safeguard the pure doctrine.

Council of TruIlo (692)

            The V and VI ecumenical councils enacted no disciplinary canons. Therefore the emperor Justinian II convoked a council called Trullan from the domed hall (gk.Trullos) which is also called Quinisext from its purpose of completing the other two councils (Quini sext = Latin for fifth-sixth and refers to a synod called the sacred Trullan synod, held in 692 which covered the disciplinary problems that had been passed over during the fifth and sixth councils). It was not approved as ecumenical by the popes because its canons were according to the practices of the Greek Church. Justinian ordered to arrest the pope Sergius (687­701) but failed. He, a decade later, invited Pope Constantine (708-715) to visit Constantinople. Pope came and was received with enthusiasm and devotion. He was the last pope to visit Constantinople.


Donation was a heresy which holds that the efficacy of a sacrament depends on the worthiness of the minister. The starting point was the election of Cocilian to the see of Carthage in 312. A section of the community under the leadership of a widow, Lucilla contested the validity of Cecilian’s consecration on the grounds that one of the consecrating bishops, Felix Apthungi, was guilty of traditor. They elected Majorinus as bishop, who was soon succeeded by Donatus. Donatus was an energetic and efficient man and became the organizer of this schismatic group to which history has given his name.

On 15 April 313 the Donatists appealed to Constantine. Their case was brought before Rome and three successive synods,, Rome -15 Feb. 314, Arles -1 July 314, Milan 10 Nov. 316, declared that their claims were groundless. Cecilian was reinstated and Donatus was excommunicated.

            In 317 the emperor promulgated a very severe law against the Donatint who had to hand over their churches. It followed a violent persecution. Finally their obstinency forced the authorities to tolerate them by an ediet (5 May 321). (Again on 15 August 347 the emperor published an edict ordering union of catholics and Donatists). In spite of the persecutions the Donatists spread in Africa. They claimed to be the pure wheat in the field. Donatus felt himself to be the Primate of Africa. In 336 they could convoke a synod of 270 bishops. Donatus died in exile in 355. He was succeeded by Parmenian (355 391).

In 361 Emperor Julian ordered the restoration of Donatist church as it had been before 347, at the request of the Donatists. It followed the expulsion of the catholics from their churches, ill-treatment of the clergy, desecration of catholic churches, and dishonorable treatment of Donatists who had gone to the Catholic Church.

            During the period of Parmenian there flourished Donatist theological literature. He wrote two books “New Psalms” which make the basic doctrine of their confession, and “adversue occlesiam traditorum, which in five books presented a comprehensive and also original ecclesiology of the Donatists. According to Parmenian the true church can be recognized by this, that, as the bride of Christ, it possesses a fivefold dowry:

1. The cathedra-the power of the keys entrusted to the Bishops

2. The angel -who stirs the water at baptism

3. The Holy Spirit

4. The baptismal font 

5. The baptismal creed without which the baptismal font cannot be opened.

Since these five gifts altogether can be found only in the Donatic community, the catholics are branches torn from the tree of the Church. Catholics through their recourse to the power of the state against the donatists, automatically betrayed the true church, so they have to be rebaptized after due penance.

In 373 the donatist baptism was prohibited and their worship was forbidden in cities and villages. In 377 an imperial edict was published against them. In the last decade of 4th century situations advantageous to Donatism was changed because of two factors:

i) personal- the election of Primian as successor to Parmenian was a poor choice. There formed an opposite group under Maximian.

ii) Political- their bishop had political alliance with Gildo against Rome.

St. Augustine and Donatiste- St. Augustine was born in Numidia (Africa) in 354 Nov 13. His father Patricius was a pagan and mother Monica was a christian. After his education in his country he went to Italy where he met Ambrose. In 387 he received baptism from St. Ambrose. In 391 he was ordained priest and in 396 he was consecrated bishop of Hippo. He died on 28 August 430.

St. Augustine made great efforts to restore unity in the church for which he made contacts with the Donatists. He addresseed them brothers, since to a great extent they agree with the Catholic Church in doctrine and liturgy. It was also agreed to receive the bishops and priests to the catholic church with the rank they then held.This was for those who had not Performed rebaptism. The synod of Carthage in 401 decided: It left to the individual bishop the decision on the reception of Donatist clerics, but provided a   new criterion for this: “when it seems useful for pax chriatiana”. In 402 three Donatiet bishops became heads of catholic congregations. The synod of Carthage in 403 determined to try a dialogue on the highest plane. The donatist bishops were invited. It was not realized. Bishop Primian declined saying: “it is contrary to the dignity of the son of martyrs to meet with the descendents of traditores”.


The protagonist of this heresy was a British monk, Pelagius. He was a resident at Rome between 390 and 400. There he acquired a reputation and even fame among the christian nobility and in Christian circles by his exemplary life and many came to him for spiritual direction. According to him every man is capable of attaining perfection by his own efforts. For this grace is a help, but, not necessary.

In 410 Pelagius and his companion Coelestius went to Africa. After a short stay there, Pelagius went to Palestine and Coelestius preached the new doctrines openly in Africas Pope Zosimus (417-18) received a letter from Pelagius justifying his teaching. Bishop of Jerusalem also sent another letter justifying Pelagius. Coelestus presented the pope a libellus containing his doctrine. Pope demanded a review of the African judgment against Pelagius since their doctrines caused disturbances in Rome.  Emperor Honorius banished Coelestius and Pelagius from Rome in 418 and forbade the further spread of their teachings. The pope Zosimus in his “epistola tractoria” condemned Pelagianism. Pelagius ended his days in an Egyptian monastery and Coelestius continued his teaching.

A groap of Italian bishops declined to sign the Tractoria. Bishop Julian of Aeclanum was its leader. He questioned Jerome and Augustine and attacked Augustine personally. Augustine refuted the false doctrine of Julian. Julian accused Augustine of Manichaeism.

Pelagianism collapsed between 420 and 430. a group of deposed bishops signed Tractoria  In 430 Coelestius and Julian sought readmission to the church. In 431 council of Ephesus condemned Pelagianism. Julian led a wandering life. In 439 he tried to restore his see of Aeclanum. Pope Leo 1 (440-61) again condemned him. He died in Sicily in 450.

The doctrine of Pelagianism

1. Adam was created mortal, and would have died even if he had not sinned.

2. The sin of Adam affected him alone.

3. At birth we are in the state of Adam before his sin.

4. The human race does not die by the sin of Adam, nor does it rise again as a result of Christ’s redemption.

5. Man can live without sin and observe all the commandments.’

6. Original sin is a bad example of first parents.

7. There is no original sin in children.

8. Grace is not necessary to do good.

St. Augustine refuted the doctrine of Pelagius. In 415 he wrote a book De natura et gratia against it. In the beginning both Pelagius and Coelestius escaped condemnation deceiving pope. They satisfied pope that they were orthodox by avoiding any reference to original sin. In 418 at Carthage a synod of 218 bishops condemned them. Augustine wrote another work De gratia Christi et de peccato originali. pope Sosimus by his epistle Tractoria appealed to all bishops to recognize the error of Pelagianism. Finally the council of Ephesus condemned Pelagianism in c.l and 4.


It is not a heresy, but a name given to certain erroneous attempts to modify some exaggerations into which St. Augustine fell in his polemical (controversial) writings with Pelagianism.

According to St. Augustine grace is something irresistible and invincible. If God wanted to save everybody, they would all be infallibly saved. If some are not saved this must be due to their not hazing received the necessary grace from God. God’s salvific will is not universal, but particular. He predestines some to heaven, gives them a special gift of perseverance and they are saved. The rest are infallibly lost. Nobody has a right to grace because of the original sin.

            Augustine’s view on grace was the opposite extreme to Pelagiu. On his attempt he minimised the role of the man’s own efforts.The monks of the African monastery of Adrumentum challenged him. They asked: if everything was to be attributed to grace, where as the responsibility for sin? Why strive for perfection? Augutine seemed to lead them to a kind of fatalism which would destroy the ascetical endeavour that was at the heart of monasticim. Augustine wrote two books: De gratia et libero arbitrio and de Correptione et gratia (426-427). Here he insisted on the necessity of cooperating with grace.

In southern France abbot John Cassian (+435) spoke against Augustine. For him God’s salvific will is universal. Predestination was not absolute, i.e., solely an act of predilection, but in accordance with God’s knowledge of merits and sins of each. Grace is necessary for salvation but once in the state of grace, there is no need of a special grace of preseyerance; there is only one kind of grace for all. Cassian went wrong in holding that we could merit the grace of conversion by our prayers and good works.

The synod of Orange (529)

Aransicanum II a town on the Rome.

The controversy on the doctrine of Augustine was put to an end by the synod of Orange in 529. It approved a colleition of Augustinian texts and defended thegratuitous nature of grace.  Its doctrine can be summed up thus: “man does nothing good which God does hot enable him to do” c. 20.


Priscillian a Spanish priest, began about 370-75 to spread an extreme form asceticism. His programme resembled encratism (an early christian heretical sect abstaining from meat, wine and marriage) and smacked (taste of Gnosticism. It derogated everything concerning the human body and exalted the spirit. He forbade marriage. He was condemned at the council of Saragosa in 380 and was banned by the edict of Gratian. Thereafter he went to Rome and thence to Milan, but both pope Damasus and St. Ambrose repulsed him.

Priscillain then turned for help to civil authorities. He appealed to the usurper Maximus who appeared in Gaul, but his opponents, bishop Itacius and Hydacius persuaded Maximus to have Priscillian tried. Priscillian and six of his companions were condemned to death.

            The Priscillians had gatherings of men and women. The fast on Sundays and stay away from the church during Lent for super stitious reasons. They had the custom of taking Eucharist to home. They shun church during twenty-one days precedine Epiphany and stay at home or in the mountains and go about with bare foot. They claimed to be electi Dei.

Early Monasticism

Monasticism is one of the signs of church’s vitality. It should not be identified with virginity. During the persecution martyrdom was valued as the supreme example of devotion to God and was held to be the final stage in the spiritual ascent of a christian soul called to perfection.

The late third and early fourth centuries saw the beginnings of monastic asceticism in christianity. As a result of general toleration of christianity in the Roman empire, martyrdom became less and less frequent. There was a relaxation in the spiritual life of the church. In this new situation the flight from the world appeared to be the most favourable condition for attaining perfection. Thus in the 6th century there arose curious distinction among the Irish monks between red martyrdom and white or green martyrdom (life of renunciation and mortification).

There is considerable debate as to where monasticism began. The first monks were individuals who retreated to the desert in Egypt and Syria. Sometimes these retreats were only temporary, and then became permanent.

St. Antony of Egypt 251 356

St. Antony, a Coptic peasant from Egypt is usually called the first monk or the father of monks. Antony was converted to a life of perfection at 18 or 20 on the day when he entered a church and heard a  reading of the passage where the Lord says to the rich young man “if you want to be perfect, go and sell all you possess, give to the poor and come and follow

Antony gave himself up to a solitary life. His long carrier can be divided into three stages:

1. First he established himself in the immediate neighbourhood of his village. There he profited from the advice of an old and experienced man.

2. Then he lived in a small abandoned Roman fort for nearly 20 years.

3. Finally he settled even deeper in the desert. In the desert Antony spent his life, writing, keeping vigil and praying. Twice he left the desert and went to Alexandria, one during the persecution of Diocletian to give courage to the christians, second to defend orthodoxy at the time of Arianism. Many visited him in the desert to ask for the help of his prayers, the curing of diseases, for advice etc.  Antony composed no rule he was simply supervising the activities of his disciples.  He died at the age of 105 in 356.

Anchorite Monasticism

Anchorite means hermit or person who lived in solitude. This is the oldest and most rudimentary form of monastic organization. Hermits lived in separate cells but close to each other, meeting regularly for prayer or mutual support, yet retaining their essential autonomy. Some preferred no contact at all with others.

Anchorite monasticism sometimes led to eccentricities, because each monk set his own standards. Sometimes a spirit of rivalry replaced genuine asceticism. Some had severe penances and self-inflicted bodily punishment. In the 5th century in Syria some hermits ate nothing but grass, others hobbled their legs with iron chains, still others took to living atop pillars reaching up to fifty feet in height, whence their name “pillar saints or stylites. St. Simon the Stylite (395-461) achieved the record of 36 years on his tiny platform.

Cenobetic monasticism or Pachomean cenobetism

Communal monasticism was begun about 320 by Pachomeue (290-345). It put accent on life in common and known as cenobetism( koinos bios). He was a converted soldier. He founded his first community at Tab- ennisi in Upper Egypt.

Pachomeus was against extremism. He insisted on regular meals and worship and aimed to make his communities self-supporting through such industries as the weaving of palm-mats or growing fruits and vegetables for sale. Entrants to his community had to hand over their personal wealth to a common fund, and were only admitted as full members after a period of probation. To prove their initial earnestness they were required to stand outside the monastery door for several days. Part of qualification for full membership was to memorize parts of the Bible. The illiterate were taught to read and write.

The Pachomean monastic rule contained 194 articles defining precisely the rhythm of the monks’ daily life, work, and prayer in common and discipline. Surrounded by an enclosure, the Pachomian monastery comprised a chapel and outbuildings and a series of houses grouping a score of monks (20) under the authority of provost (head of a religious community) assisted by a deputy. Three or four houses made up a tribe, the whole owing obedience to the superior, who, with his assistant, looked after the spiritual direction of the community and the smooth working of the general services. These included a bakery, kitchen, infirmary etc.  The different houses delegated every week the requisite number of monks to staff them.

Pachomeus established a second monastery at Pboou and at his death there were nine convents for men and two for women. The first women’s convent was established about 340 near Tabennisi by his sister Mary. These convents were formed a congregation under the authority of a superior general installed at Tabennisi and later at Pboou. It was Pachomeus who appointed the heads of each monastery. They gathered round him at a chapter general twice a year, at Easter and on 13 August. There was a chief bursar who helped the superior in the handling of business affecting the congregation as a whole.

The Basilian Community (330-379)

Basil, one of the Cappadocian fathers was born in 330. His father was the son of St. Macrina, and his mother was the daughter of of a martyr. Out of 10 children three sons were bishops: Basil, Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste. One daughter, Macrina, was the model of ascetical life. He fought against Arianism. He could be called the founder of Eastern monasticism and one of the pillars of the Oriental Church (St. John Chrysostom).

            From Egypt monasticism spread quickly over the Near East. It appeared in Palestine with St. Hilarion of Gaza in 307. About 335 St.Epiphanius founded a monastery. In Asia Minor the pioneer of monasticism was Eustathius who became bishop of Sebaste in 356. In Asia Minor the most important Greek promoter was St. Basil. About 357, soon after his baptism Basil embraced monasticism. His attention was turned to monasticism by his sister Macrina who fostered the monastic life on family estates at Annesi in Pontus. Basil visited the disciples of Eustathius and then journeyed to Egypt, Syria and Mesapotamia to observe the monks there. Returning home he formed a community for which he composed his longer rules and shorter rules, consisting of ascetical and moral precepts on various aspects of monastic life. Basilian rule stressed the community element: meals, work and prayer in common within the same house. The number of the monks in a house was reduced. Obedience was considered as a cardinal virtue alongside poverty and chastity. He emphasized charitable service to others as part of the monk’s routine. For this he introduced the practice of monks labouring in hospitals. A system of regular prayer seven times daily was prescribed.  Basil became bishop of Caesarea in 365.  He died in 379.

Monasticism in the West

Monasticism first appeared in the East. It was brought to the West by St.Athanasius. While he was in exile in the West between 340 and 346 he was accompanied by two Egyptian monks. During his exile he wrote the life of St. Antony. This helped to spread the ideals of monasticism. It was translated into Latin which influenced St. Augustine. In the West monasticism had the support of great church leaders such as St. Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, etc.

The name of St. Jerome (347-419) deserves special mention. After three years training in the desert of Chalcis near Antioch (375-377) he came to Rome. His propaganda for asceticism met with great success. But due to opposition and criticism he had to leave Rome in 385 with his disciples. He settled at Bethlehem and a monastery for women was founded by St. Paula. Another one was founded at Jerusalem by St. Melania.

In the West monasticism was stimulated by St. Martin of Tours, who died in 379. Martin took up the hermit’s life after military service and lived in a solitary cell near Liguge, in France. Many others joined him and he set up a community. In 372 he became the bishop of Tours against his will. The distraction of his visitors compelled him to retreat to a monastery which was also a nursery for bishops. Sulpicius Severus wrote the biography of Martin. After the death of Martin many churches were dedicated to him. Probably he is the first non martyr to be venerated as a saint.

Episcopal Monasticism

            St. Augustine introduced a. new aspect of monasticism; the arrangement whereby a group of celibate clergy lived together and served the local church. In 388 he gathered a group of his friends to live together in an ascetic community devoting themselves mainly to study. They continued after Augustine was made bishop of Hippo in 395. It has the root of the cathedral chapters..

Many bishops like Augustine turned their episcopal residence into monastery imposing on all his clergy monastic renunciation and the vow of poverty. Eg. St. Eusebius of Vercelli, St. Martin of Tours (patron saint of Gallican monasticism), St. Ambrose, etc.

            Monastic communities took part in the warfare. Organized and armed crowds of monks took sides in theological disputes and overawed the councils by their presence eg. Ephesus (449). Monks also destroyed pagan temples and harassed and murdered pagans and the heretics.

St. Patrick (389-461) and Celtic Monasticism

Patrick, the great missionary of Ireland, was born in Roman Brittan, as a son of a deacon and magistrate, Calparnius. The details of his life are disputed and overlaid with many pious legends. His writings, The Confession and A letter to the soldiers of Coroticus give a few information about him. At the age of 16 he was sold by raiders as a slave in Ireland. After six years of service as a shepherd he escaped and eventually reached home again. During his captivity, he was deeply convinced of his faith and decided to evangelize Ireland. Once in dream he heard the voice of Irish calling: “we beseech you to come and walk among us once more”.

Patrick returned to Ireland as bishop in 432 and spent the next 30 years ministering there. He encouraged learning and began to emphasize ascetic life and monasticism. As a result, the basic unit of the church became the monastery led by the abbot rather than the bishop’s diocese. Priority was given to the Celtic mission which produced great numbers of monks who evangelized Western Europe during the 6th and 7th centuries.

St. Benedict of Nursia (+547)

            Very little is known of the life of Benedict apart from the information provided in a biography by Gregory the Great. This book made Benedict’s rule widely known and followed. Benedict was born at Nursia, in Umbria (North-central Italy) and studied at Rome before withdrawing to live as a hermit. He founded several small monasteries, but had little success until he moved to the monastery at Monte Cassino. He died at Monte Cassino about 547. When the Lombards destroyed the monastery, the monks fled to Rome and brought his rule to Pope Gregory.

The rule of Benedict is based on two activities: prayer and work. He insisted that the monk should remain in the same monastery where he had taken his vows. The abbot was the spiritual head of the monastery and exercised all the normal discipline. These monasteries were centers of spirituality and learning. The same rule with enlargement is still used today. It is said that Benedict’s rule owes a great deal to another monastic rule of similar date, known as the ‘Regula Magistri’- Rule of the Master.

Pope Gregory the Great (590-604)

Gregory may be the most influential pope in the period between Constantine and the Reformation. He comes from a Roman aristocratic family and began his carrier in public administration. Then he turned away from public life and became a monk. He was the first Pope who had been a monk.

As pope he claimed the universal jurisdiction over Christendom.  He criticized the patriarch of Constantinople for using the term “Ecumenical Patriarch“, asserting that such a title belonged to the bishop of Rome. When the patriarch refused to agree, Gregory dropped the dispute and began to call himself “servant of the servants of God”.

Gregory sought to develop ties with the pagan and Arian and christian Germanic kingdoms. He sent a team of monks to the kingdom of Kent in Brittan. The christianization of the Anglo-Saxons and. the victory of Roman church over the Celtic church were the long term result of Gregory’s missionary policy.

The pope had come to enjoy great power in Rome and Italy as result of the decline and eventual disappearance of the Western Roman Empire and through extensive landholdings in and around Rome. The origin of the papal state goes back to this period, though legally it was established in the 8th century.

Gregory also was the pioneer to look West and not East for protection. During the Lombards’ invasion the governor at Ravenna was unable to help the pope, Gregory found protector in the Lombard queen Theodelinda, who was a catholic christian. Eventually the Lombards became catholics. He also had influence among the Visigoths in Spain, who had accepted Catholicism.

The Franks were not christians. About 500, Clovis, the first ruler of the Franks decided to accept catholic baptism, following his marriage to a catholic princess. Clovis agreed to accept Christ if the christian God gave him victory over another tribe with whom he was at war. Clovis won the battle against Alemanni, and then with 3000 warriors, he was baptized. This points up the general pattern of early mediaeval conversions. The change  to Christianity was essentially a matter of royal policy. The ruler’s conversion decided the religion of his subjects. Catholic queens and princesses did much for the conversion of their husbands and their kingdoms. Clove’s conversion laid foundation for an important alliance between the papacy and the Franks.

Gregory wanted to reform the church, but the Merovingian rulers of Gaul thwarted him by appointing laymen as bishops and selling church appointments. They assumed that the church was freely at their disposal.

The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons was a great achievement of Pope Gregory. There is a story about it. Gregory while a monk in Rome, one day saw some attractive young children in the slave market. On inquiring who they were, Gregory learned that they were Angli from England, and they were pagans. He replied that these young lads were not Angles, but “angels”. In 595 he ordered to purchase Anglo-Saxon slaves to be brought to Rome for training as clerics. In 596 he sent a team of 40 monks to England who arrived there before Easter 597. The Jutish king Ethelbert, whose wife was a catholic, accepted catholicism. His own kingdom Kent and other two of Essex and East Anglia – belonged to him – became christian. In 597, pope appointed Augustine, leader of the team, as archbishop of the church of England. Ethelbert gave the archbishop his own palace in Cantebury, which became the first episcopal centre in England.

Archbishop Augustine tried to unite the Celtic church with Rome, but failed on three basic issues: i. his requirement that the Celtic church adopt Roman method of arriving at the date of Easter. ii. Adopt the Roman tradition of baptism, iii. and joins his mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons. There were reasons for the tension between them. The celtic bishops took offence when Archbishop Augustine refused to stand to greet them. They refused to accept him as their archbishop. Even before the arrival of Augustine, the celts were christians, their bishops attended the council of Arles in 314. Because of the foreign invasion the celtic christian population retreated to the South West. The long period of isolation and the hatred of the foreign invaders were the major barriers to unity between Augustine and the British church. The British church finally fused with Roman christianity during the course of the following century

Preaching and piety in the early church

            It is not very clear how the clergy carried out the pastoral duty in the early church. There were 3000 sermons and catechesis between Nicea and Chalcedon; they come from 30 authors and aore than half of them belong to John Chrysostom and Augustine.

            There was no catechism for children before the end of 6th c., although the practice of infant baptism was steadily growing. In families there was domestic catechesis by the parents on which Chrysostom and Augustine much insisted. Later it was considered an episcopal task. The official catecheis was more and more reserved to the clergy; only in the East are isolated lay catechists mentioned, and special aptitude was demanded in them. At Antioch it was mostly imparted by priests; At Carthage a deacon was entrusted with the introductory catechesis at the admission into the catechumeanate; priests probably likewise shared in the baptismal catechesis for the competences in North Africa, since they had the right to preach. In the majority of other localities in East and West the bishop was regarded as the teacher of the catechumens.

In De catechizandis rudibus, St. Augustine gives a systematic guidance to the catechists. The kernel of all catechesis had to be the history of salvation. It must be made known to the hearer in its most striking events, in the creation of Adam, the deluge, the covenant of God with Abraham, the priestly kingship of David, the deliverance from the Babylonian captivity, and the all decisive Christ event. This should show not only the inner connection of OT and NT, but impart a universal view of all history, as it was framed in God’s plan of salvation. The catechesist must represent the love of God for mankind. It should lead to the Christ event = which especially was to be made known with such warmth and forcefulness that the catechumen came to the faith by hearing, achieved hope by infound love by hoping. The hearer should be admonished to guard faith, hope and love. The Augustinian catechism was entirely oriented to the positive expositions of salvation history and renounced polemic and rhetorical ornament. There exist also explanations of the baptismal creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

            Logos catechetikos of Gregory of Nyssa- deals with methodical questions, such as the adaptation to the individual situation of the hearers, but he preferred philosophical justification of the truths of faith.

            Cyril of Jerusalem – to make salvation history the center of the instructions in the preparation of the candidates for baptism. The dogmatic exposition was carefully joined to the moral catechesis.  The simple language, informative, etc.

Johh Chrysostom preferred moral catechesis

Theodore of Mopsuetia -preferred sacramental catechesis. He emphasized on the eschatological character of baptism and Eucharist: with baptism the new life begins, and the Eucharist nourishes it.

            Ambrose of Milan -mystagogic. He placed great importance on the understanding of the symbolic content of the sacramental rites, which he tried to explain by means of the typological interpretation of the OT events, figures, and individual books, especially Song of Songs and Psalms.

Slowly the catechumanate was restricted to the lent and there needed a follow up afterwards. The Trinitarian and Christological controversies also occasioned the need of dogmatic sermons. Then there were also sermons on occasions of ordination funerals, church dedications, etc.

From the 4th c. the right to preach was more and more attached to the office of priest or bishop. Asterius (+341) may be the last ‘lay preacher’.

Basil preached on Scripture in a lively language, explained the account of creation.

Gregory Nazianzon- model of christian eloquence

Gregory of Nyssa.

Jerome – his homilies on Scripture.

Christocentric piety

Devotion of Christ was the center of all piety. Christocentric baptismal piety- Eucharistic piety- devotion to the passion of Christ- veneration of cross-popular pilgrimage to Jerusalem. the visit to the Holy Sepulcher and Mount Calvary became a part of the religious celebration of the Holy Week in Jerusalem in the 4th c. -later way of the cross. The christocentric piety was also manifested in prayer to Christ

Forms of Asceticism

Universal call to holiness was the theme of the preaching of the pastors. Both monks and lay persons are called upon to strive for the same perfection since there is only a single ideal of perfection for all christians, which must be realized everywhere. Hence aloofness from the world is for all christians the basic ascetical disposition. Fasting was especially recommended as one possibility of its realization. Almsgiving was another one which was presented as the way to interior freedom vis- a -vis wealth and property. Some people renounced totally the wealth and life of luxury and led a specific ascetical life remaining in their family. Then they joined an ascetic group or a community of nuns or monks or were admitted into the clergy. The Fathers of the church praised this kind of life and virginity.

Cult of Martyrs and saints

After the liberation of the church the cult of martyrs became very significant. The martyrs were regarded as the perfect imitators of Christ, who had given witness to the Lord by their blood and now crowned. Their dignity and nearness to the Lord made them the advocates of the faithful on earth and the protectors of the individual as well as of the community, which chose them as patrons. Out of this esteem grew the strong interest in the grave (tomb) and relies of the martyrs. Their graves were distinguished from other graves by a special cult building, erected as martyrion or memoria respectively or as a basilica over the grave, which were different from the churches within the walls. The community assembled in these cemetery churches on dies natalis martyris to celebrate the Eucharist. Along this there were efforts to rediscover the tombs of those martyrs who had fallen into oblivion in the shadow of an especially vivid martyr-figure, or concerning whose martyrdom tradition often supplied only a summary account. The invention of such tombs was often due to a vision or information provided in a dream.

A new phase of the cult of martyrs began with the translation of the remains of martyrs to the churches within the city walls. The Roman law prohibited the burial in the city. The first transfer of a martyr’s body was that of, St. Babylas to Antioch in 354. In Milan Ambrose did it without dispensation, but other bishops had to ask a dispensation. In home greatest care on the martyr’s tombs and the buildings belonging to them was given.  The place of the new burial in the city church was close to the altar because the most faithful followers of Christ, who had offered their life in a total sacrifice, should be in closest touch with the spot on which the memorial of Christ’s sacrificial death was celebrated. Hence altar and martyr’s tomb were at the time brought together, both in theory and practice, into that intimate connection which would later be the rule everywhere according to liturgical law where there was a christian altar.

But this aim could be realized only if relics of martyrs were supplied to those churches which did not have it. So it was necessary to multiply the relics by division into small and minute parts. The transfer, the placing of the relics in the altar was celebrated solemnly. Since there numerous demands, a substitute was established in the so-called “second class relics”- things which were brought into contact with the martyr’s tomb or the place where the relics were disposed. There were parallel collections of relics in private circles which often led to the doubtful abuse and church could not eliminate it completely.

The conviction of the intercessory power of the martyrs led many christians to want to be themselves buried as close as possible to a martyr’s grave. From this burial ad sanctos people expected aid for themselves at the hour of resurrection. Augustine’s statement that the place of burial of itself guaranteed no help for a dead person, but only the prayer of the living who commended him to the intercession of the martyrs, did not satisfy the people. So the church had to regulate by law burial inside the church and reserve it for a small circle of persons -bishops, priests, and a few lay persons of high rank.

The cult of martyrs as an early christian form of piety was not promoted by laity or monastic circles but by the church and its theologians.  There are numerous sermons in honour of martyrs, which extol their dignity, power of intercession, the example of their love of Christ and miracle working efficacy of their relics. The church not only allowed the interment of their body inside the church, their memorial days were listed in the liturgical calendar and admitted their names into the text of the Eucharistic prayer.

The cult of saints began in the first half of the fourth century and reached full development in its last two decades. It was an extension of the cult of martyrs to a group of dead whose life and actions enabled them to be compared to the martyrs in some degree, because it likewise represented an outstanding profession and witness for Christ. They included first of all, those who in time of persecution had suffered for the faith in prison, under torture, or in exile, but the desired confirmation by a bodily death was denied them.   With such confessors were soon associated individual ascetics and monks, whose life was willingly ranked as unbloody martyrium, and finally also those who especially proved themselves in the Arian troubles or in the missions as courageous adherents and zealous preachers of the orthodox faith. Martyrium sine cruore was granted to them. Their feasts were admitted into the calendar and liturgical celebration of the day of their death was accorded to them. Eg. Ambrose, Basil, Antony, Athanasius, the Stylites, etc. Memorial chapels and churches were built over their graves even by individuals; their relics were at times fought over. Their life and activities were spread out with colourful details and appealing popular fantasies. Some lives of saints are mere collections of miracles.

In the christian cult of saints were also included some outstanding persons of the OT, Moses, Abraham, David, etc. Here there are two difficulties; first there is recognition of Judaism, second in their lives the inner relationship to witnessing for Christ seemed to be lacking. Christian preaching theoretically countered this difficulty with the argument that they were christians before the appearance of Christ, because their life served the ultimate goal of his coming and thus the violent death of some of the prophets could be understood as anticipated martyrdom and hence a christian celebration in their memory was justified.

The cult of Mary had spread long before theology had clarified the questions regarding her sanctity and virginity. People besought the protection of the Theotokos at least at the beginning of the fourth century. Bishop Severian of Gabala says that Mary should be invoked, before the Apostles and the martyrs.  In the West her cult was theologically clarified and justified especially by Ambrose and Augustine. The oldest Marian feast was celebrated in Constantinople even before the council of Ephesus on 26 December. Churches were dedicated to her from this time onwards. Ephesus opened the way for the complete development of the cult of Mary.

Early christian pilgrimage

Another field of christian popular devotion is found in the pilgrimage system- 1 pilgrimage to holy places specially in the Holy Land and to the tombs and relies of saints. In the pre­Constantine period individual christians undertook pilgrimage, motivated by theological and exegetical interests or by the desire to pray at the holy shrines. During the time of Constantine and Helena the visit to the Holy places was encouraged. The sites of the pilgrimage were the placed related to the events from Christ’s life. The cult of christian saints began only with the discovery of Stephen’s grave in 415, and the cult of Mary was discernible in Jerusalem still later. The real pilgrimage guide was the Bible. The pilgrim reports, the liturgical observances of the Holy Week and the finding of the Cross etc produced tasting effects on the devotion of the pilgrims.

The second type of pilgrimage was the visit to the grave and relics of the saints. In the fourth century in the East there developed great pilgrim centers: shrine of Babylas in Antioch,, shrine of Simon the Stylite, grave of Thecla in Seleucia, of St. John at Ephesus. In West there were a number of places -the tombs of the martyrs, two apostles Peter and Paul etc.

The basic attitude for the pilgrimage should be a disposition to follow Christ and imitate the saints. The desire to have healing or a favour can not be excluded.

Pagan customs in christian popular piety

It was difficult to supplant deep rooted pagan practice in the newly converted. At times they were mixed with christian practices and compromised the purity of devotion. People were much attracted to the pagan magics and superstitions. The church warned against such practices. In rural districts there were cults of trees, springs, rocks etc. Again and again the synods attacked such practices often without success. The attractions of the pagan feasts could not be dispelled.  Christians participated in feasts in the pagan temples.

Refrigerium was a pagan cult of the dead. It was a meal to which came the relatives of a deceased person on the third. seventh, and ninth days after the burial, on the anniversary of the death, and on the great memorial of the dead, the Parentalia in February.  The christians retained this meal of the dead in a simple form without opposition from the church and added to it, a christian feature when they had a part of the foods brought turned over to the poor. But in the fourth century this meal at the graves often assumed again, even among the christians, the noisy and unbridled form of pagan celebrations for the deceased. Chrysostom not only blamed the loud lamentation of the relatives and wailers at a christian funeral as pagan behaviour, which contradicted the belief in the resurrection. He also disapproved the pomp which some christians displayed there. The meals were finally transferred into churches on the memorials of the martyrs and in some places, especially in Italy and North Africa, degenerated into great revels with dancing and song. At Milan St. Ambrose abolished them. Other bishops of North Italy followed him, whereas they continued at Rome, even in St. Peter’s. In Africa at the synod of 393 in Hippo forbade the custom. Augustine enforced the synodal decrees and recommended that the foods hitherto destined for the memorial meal in the church be used fir an agape at the graves of the dead in the cemetery and that gifts be given to the poor and the needy at the same time, for that was the christian way, in addition to the liturgical celebration for the dead, to recall the deceased.

Despite the directions and exhortations of the bishops the traditional feeling of paganism was carried like a subtle poison in the blood of the christians: the desires of the world, the pride in one’s own virtues, the instinctive shrinking back from a crucified God, the strong protest against the basic attitude of humilitas. Adherence to these made many christians remain semichritians for years.  Augustine often spoke of this basic danger to the christian.

The laity in the church

The divisions of the christians into laity, clergy and monks existed at the turn of the fourth century. It became more precise in the course of the century and gradually became a law. In this process a clear change in the previous importance and position of the laity within the church became perceptible. After the persecution the glory of martyrdom passed ever more to asceticism and monasticism and this unintentionally created a clear distance between itself and the mass of the believers. Further, because of the differentiation of functions and expansion of its tasks and authority in the care of souls and administration, the clergy gained such power in authority and public respect.  And monasticism promoted the idea that effort to work out its salvation directly in this world was doubtful in principle. Finally the lifestyle of some lay persons in the fourth and fifth centuries caused a rather skeptical evaluation of the lay element. The change was not same everywhere, but there was a shifting within its previous spheres of duty. In the basilica the place of the people was now clearly distinct from the place of the clergy. In procession there developed a certain order of precedence, whereby the clergy, the monks, the virgins, and widows went ahead of the people. In the pastoral spheres, lay persons still took part in the preparation of the catechumens for baptism, especially widows in the instruction of the women. In the case of necessity lay persons could baptize, but women should not administer baptism, any more than they might instruct men.

            The right of the laity in choosing of their clergy continued in principle and was still, especially exercised in the election of the bishop. The form of their collaboration was not precisely fixed. For the most part it consisted of an acclamation of the candidate proposed. The people were supposed to be consulted in the transfer and deposition of a bishop. Sometimes the emperors intervened in the election of bishops without regard for this right of the laity.

Gradually the right to teach was reserved to the clergy. Thus the lay preaching virtually ceased. Pope Leo I expressly forbade it and extended the prohibition to monks also. Parallel to this limitation of an official teaching activity of the laity there developed, however, a growing share of the laity in the theological literary work of the time. Eg. Lactantius, Arnobius, etc. Well to do and influenced lay persons played considerable role in ecclesiastical life. They promoted ecclesiastical construction and founded charitable institutions and supported the church’s care of the poor. In certain churches lay persons were called upon for the administration of church property. In North Africa seniors laici were elected by the community as a sort of ecclesiastical council

Lay apostolate was justified in the always recognized general priesthood of the laity. Augustine and Chrysostom speak of the field of duties of it- the exemplary day-to-day christian life, help for the fellow christian religious and moral danger, missionary work among the pagans or heretics of his circles of acquaintances. The lay apostolate should be exercised in close collaboration with the clergy-payer, advice, and criticism of the laity- says Chrysostom.

The fell of the Western Roman Empire 476  It was a great change.

The factors and events that contributed to it are the following:

1. Internal factors

i. depopulation. In the middle of 2nd c. its population was 80 mi1lion and by the 7th c. it was down to about 10 million. Its causes are: a. plague. In 166 there was dreadful plague and it wiped out almost half of the population. This plague returned from time to time. b) Slavery. The neighbouring tribes beyond the Rhine-Dhanube frontier, carried off thousands of people to use them as slaves. c) The deplorable low standard of morals. Divorce was so common and people no longer bothered of marriage. Children were unwanted. Abortion and abandoning of new born were widely practiced. Slaves who were majority were not allowed to marry or to have family.

ii. Financial situation. The financial situation was not better. The gold and silver were coined. Since there was a shortage of these metals, baser metals had to be mixed with it and this led to a devaluation of money. The increase of bureaucracy and the defense of empire demanded heavy taxes from ever-decreasing number of the tax payers. The rich got exemption and the poor suffered a lot on account of heavy taxes. The magistrates had to collect the taxes. If they could not collect the required amount they had to pay themselves. Therefore all shunned the honourable and responsible positions in the society. No public work had been done.

I. External forces: the migration of Nations

Beyond the Rhine-Danube frontiers in the North there were tribes of the Germanic or Teutonic race. The Romans called them barbarians because of their primitiveness. These people were strong and warlike. They fought among themselves and. against the Romans. They frequently changed their abode. The chief tribes were: the Goths, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Germans, the Lombards, the Franks, and the Huns.  By migration we mean that these tribes left their own places completely and transferred themselves and all they had t their new territory.

The Goths.  There are two groups of Goths: the Visigoths (West) and Ostrogoths (East).  The Visigoths lived on the north side of Black sea.  In 375 the Huns attacked them.  The Visigoths wanted to settle in the empire north of the capital.  Since they were not allowed they wanted to settle by force.  Theodosius permitted them to settle in Thrace and enrolled 40,000 of them in the imperial army.  Emperor Arcadius was against them.  But they fought and founded a visigothic kingdom that covered Liberian peninsula and half of France.  On their way they plundered Rome for three days.

The post apostolic age

The development of the church’s organization

In the post-apostolic period there was progress in ecclesiastical organization and it was observable everywhere. Individual congregation is clearly defined as regards its significance and function as part of the Church’s organism. The christians of a city were now everywhere joined together in separate congregations or leval churches. Among them Rome stood first.

            All christians belonged to the local congregations. They joined with all his brethren in the Eucharistic celebration, at which the unity of christians in meet clearly apparent. Ignatius of Antioch explains of this unity by various images and comparisons: the congregation is like a choir whose singers praise the Lord with one voice, or like a company of travelers following the directions of its Lord. In the first letter of Clement the unity of the congregation is symbolized by the harmony of universe or by time arrangement of the human body, in which each member has its appropriate function.  Hermas sees it in the image of a tower built upon the cornerstone that is Christ.

There was constant warning to safeguard the unity since there were tendencies to dispute and petty jealousy which sometimes led to divisions in the community. Schism and heresy were therefore considered as the great enemies of unity in the early church.

Leaders of the Congregation

According to the letter of Clement to Corinth, the leaders of the Congregation were divided into two groups: one bore the double designation of elders (presbyters) and overseers (episcopi) the other was represented by the deacons.

In the Shepherd of Hermas there found the two names overseers or elders for the holders of leading offices in the Church, deacons and teachers being mentioned as well.

The Didache names only overseers and deacons

Polycarp names only elders and deacons.

The letters of’ Ignatius distinguishes clearly between the three offices of overseers, elders and deacons. Every congregation had only one overseer or bishop, to whom the college of elders (priests) and deacons was subordinated. This shows that in Antioch and in a number of congregations in Asia Minor there existed in the second decade of the second century a monarchical episcopate: the government of the church was assigned to one bishop, but this was not the case everywhere.   The one office, which in apostolic times bore the double designation of episcope or presbyter, was divided into two and the term overseer or bishop reserved exclusively for the holder of the highest office, in the congregation.

The Apostolic Fathers partly worked out the theology of ecclesiastical offices of the authority of which is ultimately derived from God. He sent Christ who gave the apostles the commission to proclaim gospel. The apostles in their turn appointed overseers and deacons whose places were to be taken at their death by other approved men who would continue their work among the faithful. Thus Clement of Rome regarded the authority of heads of congregations as based upon Christ’s commission to the apostles, from whom all power of government in christian communities must be derived by uninterrupted succession.

Theology of episcopate according to St. Ignatius. He speaks about the complete and unconditional bond between the bishop and congregation. The latter was one with its bishop in thought and prayer; only with his did it celebrate agape and Eucharist. All should obey his as Christ did to his father. Nothing should take place in the congregation without the bishop. Even baptism and marriage were reserved to him. The presbyters and the deacons had a share in his authority. The bishop represented Christ.

Two factors worked together in order in that the bishops and his assistants might fulfill their official duty: i. apostolic – God given origin of their authority, ii. Guidance through the divine Spirit.

The working of the Holy Spirit was not limited to the leaders only, it could be felt everywhere among the faithful. There were tensions between these of laity who were favoured by the Spirit and the leaders of Congregation.

The individual congregations did not exist in isolation and self sufficiency. They formed a new people and were united under the banner of Christ, as one body -the Church of Christ. Ignatius of Antioch was the first to call this international community of tie faithful “Catholic Church”, whose visible bishop was Christ


            The first christian community was formed in Jerusalem. Christ was the centre of this community. It was Christ and His events that united the early christians together. Though they accepted christianity, they did not completely left their old Jewish traditions and customs. So too the other christians. The early christians formed their own communities cular customs of the place. Thus there formed communities with special features of the place. Those are called particular churches. Each particular church had its own liturgy, disciplinary laws, etc. We find a development in the worship, sacraments and spiritual life of these communities.

1. Holy Eucharist

Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper (Mt.26, 26­29; Nk.14, 22-25; Lk.22, 15-20; I Cor.11, 23-26). It was on the Passover of the Jews.

The present mass has developed from two originally separate services, one Jewish, the other christian. The first part- the liturgy of the catechumens- is based on the procedure used in the synagogues. The second part – the mass of the faithful-comes from specifically christian community as ceremony of the Breaking of the Bread. The Jewish christians first attended the prayer in the synagogues and then they participated in the Breaking of the bread, which was usually conducted in the private houses. As the christians separated from the Jews, the two services came to form one. St. Paul did so in Troas (Acts. 20.7-11).

Description of St. Justine the Martyr

Justine was born around 100/110 in Nablus (Palestine) and was beheaded with six companions in 163/167 (165). He gives a detailed description of the Eucharist about the year 150. The christians gathered on Sunday (on the day named after the sun”). Then the “memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read aloud”. The reading in followed by the homily of the president and then come the prayers in common “for ourselves, for the newly baptized and for all others wherever they may be”. After this the catechumens left. The service of prayers and readings was terminated by the kiss of peace. The second part of the ceremony began with the bringing in of the sacrificial gifts though it is not clear who brought the broad and chalice with wine and water to the president. The essential element of this part is the prayer the president, which is called Eucharistia and in which he sends up praise and honour to the Father through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit and gives thanks that the faithful had been given those gifts. The whole congregation confirmed and ratified the “Eucharistia” of the president with the Hebrew word “Amen”. The consecrated Eucharistic gifts were given by the deacons to all present, to be consumed, and portions were also taken to those who were absent. Justin emphasizes that only the baptized could receive this food, which was itself called Eucharist.

Two features stand out in an especially clear manner in this Eucharistic liturgy: i. the social character, it draws all the participants into the actual liturgical action and they ratify expressly the thanksgiving uttered by the leader and also share as a whole in the Eucharistic meal. Moreover, the Eucharistic prayer is primarily one of thanksgiving. Hence the word eucharietia became a technical term for the christian celebration of Mass. ii. The idea of sacrifice. Though there is no explicit mention of this idea in Justin’s Apology, it was by no means unknown to him and Eucharistia could certainly include for him the idea of sacrifice. Ireneus speaks more clearly on this point, emphasizing especially that the gifts of bread and wine, which by God’s word have become Christ’s flesh and blood, represent the pure sacrifice of the Now Covenant.

Hippolitus of Rome, the first anti-pope, accused pope Calistus (217-222) declared himself pope in 217 and remained so till his death in 235. (Urban 222-230). Pontianus (230-235). He met pope Pontianus in the prison and got martyrdom together with him in.235.

            Hippolitus in his Church Order, gives a double description of the celebration of Mass, explaining firstly how it is carried out in connection with the consecration of a bishop and secondly how the christian community celebrates Mass with its new1y baptized members. He gives a text of the Eucharistic prayer in full. In it only the beginning, end and the words of consecration are fixed, the rest depends on the inspiration and favour of the celebrant.

Hippolitus’s liturgy was intended as a guide and model formulary, the structure and fundamental ideas of which could be retained, but which might be varied and developed in detail. The bishop could therefore still on occasion freely create and shape the text, so that various types of Eucharistic prayers of thanksgiving were possible for the celebration of Mass in the 3rd c. Hippolitus does not mention Trishagion. But the form of Mass presented by Hippolitus can be regarded as a basic outline of the Eucharistic liturgy as it was generally celebrated in the Church in those days.

Tertullian (153-220) says that the faithful provided bread and wine for the sacrifice. The Eucharistic great prayer was addressed to the Father “Per Christum Jesum“‘. He explicitly stresses that Christ, with the words “hoc est corpus meum” makes the broad his body; but he does not clarify the position of Our Father and the place of kiss of peace in the Mass. The Eucharist was received under both kinds. The faithful could take consecrated, bread to home in order to receive it privately when they were prevented from attending divine worship. He does not name Sunday as the day preferred for celebrating the Eucharist, but he does mention Wednesday and Friday as days of the Stations, together with Mass. The Mass was also celebrated at the funeral and on the anniversary of the death. Since the second century the time for Mass had been in the early morning before sunrise. St. Cyprian celebrated Mass daily. If there were several churches in a town Eucharistic celebration was conducted only in the bishop’s church and sacred bread was taken to other churches by the deacons.

In the early church Eucharistic celebration was in the Private houses. Towards the end of the second century were constructed for the purpose. Music, incense, vestments, candles, bells etc were unknown in the first three centuries.

2. The discipline of the secret (disciplina arcane)

            This is a modern term for the early christian custom of keeping secret from the urinated (catechumens) the most important actions and texts of liturgical worship, especially baptism, the Eucharist, the Our Father, and the creed, or referring to them in the presence of unauthorized persons in veiled terms only. It began probably in the second century. Justin, Tertullian and Hippolitue speak about it. After the fifth century this practice died with that of the catechumanate.

3. Agape

Agape was one of the earliest forms of charitable activity. It was a meal in the Christian community intended to strengthen community spirit among their members of different social rank. It also provided material help to the poor and the needy within the community. They were held either in the private house of a well to do member of the congregation or in promises belonging to the church with the bishop presiding. The bishop could be represented by a priest or s deacon. The president inaugurates the meal with a payer said over the gifts that had been brought. The absent, sick and the widows were given their share of gifts. Abuse crept into it and it was forbidden. Finally the council of Trullo (692) forbade it conducting in the church.

4. Baptism

The baptism instituted by Christ was entirely different from those Jews and John the Baptist. It is a new birth (Jh.3, 5) and it demanded a metanoia. Christ entrusted his apostles the administering of baptism (Mt.28, 19). In the time of apostles baptism was conferred in a simple manner. It was enough to represent of ones own sins and to profess the christian faith. Baptism was preceded by the exhortation on the redemptive work of Christ and was followed by the imposition of hand with a prayer to receive the Holy Spirit.

Didache (2 c.) gives a detailed description of baptism. Immersion in living (flowing) water is desirable, but in exceptional cases it suffices to pour water thrice over the head of the person to be baptized. The Trinitarian formula is essential.

            In the early church a preparatory fast was prescribed to the baptized and the minister and also to the congregation, since a new member is incorporated into the community. Ignatius of Antioch qualifies baptism as a suit of armour. For him the healing power of the baptismal water is founded upon the sufferings of Christ. The epistle of Barnabas connects Cross and Baptism. According to Shepherd of Herman (140) baptism in the foundation of the christian’s life.

            In the second century there was a period preparation for baptism. Tertullian called it catechumanate. In the third century this period became long and strict. It could last two years.

            Hippolitus of Rome in his Apostolic Tradition speaks about the practice of baptism in the third century. The catechumanate was for three years. During this period they should prove themselves worthy of receiving baptism. Baptism was given by immersion of the head three times in the water. Confirmation was followed. Usually baptism was administered twice a year, at Easter and Pentecost. The baptized received while garment and they wore it   for a week. Later a lighter candle was given to the baptized to show Christ is exemplar.

Godparents can be seen from the time of Tertullian (2 c.). Symbolic acts like blessings, renunciation of Satan, exorcistic anointing, receiving of baptismal name are of later origin, probably in the third century. During the persecution the children of christian parents received baptism. Later baptism was postponed because the sinners were given severe punishments and baptism required only simple penance. There is evidence about infant baptism in the second century. Justin the martyr and Hippolitus speak about it.

5. The Penitential discipline of the early church

Christ instituted the sacrament of penance by giving the power to forgive sins to the apostles (Jo.20,22-23). The Fathers of the Church qualified the penance as the second baptism

In the apostolic period the view prevailed was that every sinner can obtain forgiveness again if he does penance. This conviction of the possibility of penance and reconciliation of the sinner with God and with the community also persisted in the sub-apostolic period. The conversion of the sinner is expressed in prayer of repentance,, fasting and almsgiving and an integral part of it consisted in confession of sinfulness before God and the community of the brethren. In the sub-apostolic period, too, penance was always something that concerned the community. The authorities attended to ecclesiastical discipline and excommunicated the obstinate sinner, that is, they excluded him from participation in religious life and broke off all association with him until he did penance. During the sinner’s time of excommunication the community tried to help him by its impetrative prayers.

Shepherd of Hermas (140) describes penance as the last chance to receive God’s mercy. It blots out post-baptismal sins. Among the penitential practices for the sinner, Hermas reckons confession of sins, payer, fasting, almsgiving and the humility with which he takes all these exercises upon himself. Hermas says that penance is not only a matter at between God and the sinner, but involves the church. The sinner is excluded from the church.

According to Ireneus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria Penance is the second means to obtain salvation. Ireneus (140/160-200). Clement of Alexandria (150-215), Tertullian says that one can reconcile with God even at the death bed.

Sacraments of penance was administered differently in different places. In the African church a severe discipline was prevalent (St. Cyprian). Rome followed a mild form and Hippolitus accused pope Calixtus of his laxity. (St. Cyprian 200/10-258)

In the fourth century there arose the problem of lapsi. Synods in Rome and Carthage had decreed that lapsi could be reconciled after a long period of penance. Novatian was against it.

Those who committed capital sins (heresy, adultery, murder) had to undergo a long period of penance. They had to wear rough clothes and fast. They had to confess publicly before the bishop. The bishop or the priest forgives sins by imposing hands on the penitent.

In the third and fourth centuries in the Eastern Churches penitents were divided into groups, St. Basil (330-379) speaks about it:

1. Flentes (those who weep) they had to stand at the entrance of the church for four years begging the prayers of those who enter the church.

2. Audientes (those who hear) for five years, they could participate the first part of the Mass and then they had to leave.

3. Prostrati (those who kneel) for seven years. It is not clear whether this group remained in the church for the whole Mass or went out before the communion.

4. Consistentes (those who stand) for four years. They stood with the faithful for the whole time, but did not receive Holy Communion. cf. Gregory Thaumaturgus.

Thus a murderer was excluded from receiving sacraments for twenty years. And only after this period of penance he was admitted to the church and to receive Holy Communion.

            In the West there was no such division, but the penitents were given separate place in the church. The Ash Wednesday is a remnant of the penitential discipline of the Western church.  In the beginning the bishop used to give penance, but when the number increased he appointed one priest each in each diocese to give penance. He could hear confession and give penance.

In the Greek Church in the fourth and fifth centuries monks were giving absolution. The newly converted Anglo-Saxons were against the public confession and public penance. The Irish monks who did missionary work among these people had the practice of private confession and private penance. It could be repeated.

There is no much evidence to prove the practice of private penance in the first centuries. St. Augustine favoured it and he proposed private penance for private sine. Pope Gregory (590-604) followed St. Augustine.

Public penitents had to wear rough clothes and they had to leave their job. If he is a bachelor, he is not allowed to marry; if married, is not allowed to live with his wife. So the consent of the other party was required. In the Roman church the penitents were received to the church on Maundy Thursday. In the East it could be in any three days after Thursday.

In the first centuries the priests who did capital sine were asked to do public penance. In the fourth century they were sent out of their office, but not from the church, and they were not included among the penitents. They could receive Holy Communion as laymen.

The reason for the strict discipline in the early church was the moral laxity prevalent in the Roman Empire. There was the possibility that the faithful of going back to their old ways of life in the face of persecution. It was necessary to have a strict discipline to persist in true faith.

6. The religious and moral life

The early christians had a high moral standard which was praised by all. Their religious and moral life was quite different from others. St. Justin says that the christians led a life of truthfulness and chastity, they loved their enemies and went courageously to death for their beliefs. Bishop Theophilus of Antioch says: “among the christians is to be found prudence, self-control, sobriety is practiced, monogamy observed, chastity preserved, injustice abolished, sin with its root destroyed, justice is practiced, the law is kept and piety is in evidence all the day long. God is recognized and truth is considered the greatest good”. The letter to Diognetus has a hymnic chapter on the Christian’s daily life: “every foreign place is their home, and their home is a foreign place to them;… they dwell on earth, but their conversation is in heaven; they love all men and are persecuted by all; they are poor and enrich many. They are despised and are thereby glorified. They are insulted and they bless; they are mocked and show honour to those that mock them; punished with death, they rejoice as if they were awakened unto life. In brief, what the soul is to the body, the christians are to the world (ch.5.6).


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