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The Medieval Church

What is the Church in the Middle Ages?


stained glass windowThe medieval church is the name given to the Church from the 5th century to the 15th century. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Western Civilization went through major changes, and so did the Church. One major development was the eventual official split of the Eastern and Western Churches, which occurred in 1054 AD. This is called the Great Schism. This meant that the East and the West developed in different ways, which led to the current division that exists between Catholics and Orthodox in the 21st century. This is one unfortunate development that occurred in the medieval church.

While many scholars classify the medieval period as the "dark ages," others understand that many positive things happened during this period. The medieval church inspired such great saints as Thomas Aquinas, Dominic, Francis of Assisi, and Bede. Also many liturgical developments, such as Eucharistic Adoration, developed during the medieval period.

The Renaissance ushered in the end of the medieval church. During the Renaissance, which means rebirth, many Churchmen returned ad fontes, "to the sources." This led to a rediscovery of Greek, Roman, and Biblical documents, art, and science. Many of the Renaissance humanists viewed the medieval church with disdain, believing it to be an inferior period of Church history.


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