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History of the Church

Article Summaries:

Overview - By Period

Benedict XVI, the first Pope of the 21st century

The History of the Roman Catholic Church spans nearly two thousand years and covers the existence of one of the oldest religion institutions in history. As one of the oldest branches of Christianity, the history of the Roman Catholic Church plays an integral part of the History of Christianity as a whole.

Church history is vast and complex, with many different periods upon which the Church itself underwent radical and widespread changes. Indeed, the modern day Roman Catholic Church is claimed by some to be so far removed from the original church of the first century that the two can almost be viewed as completely separate entities.

Throughout the ages, the Church has also been the foundation for several other religious institutions, such as the movement of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church has also been the sponsoring agency for some of the most well known, and sometimes infamous, religious actions to history to include the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades.
continue...

History of the Roman Catholic Church

The History of the Roman Catholic Church spans nearly two thousand years and covers the existence of one of the oldest religion institutions in history. As one of the oldest branches of Christianity, the history of the Roman Catholic Church plays an integral part of the History of Christianity as a whole.

Church history is vast and complex, with many different periods upon which the Church itself underwent radical and widespread changes. Indeed, the modern day Roman Catholic Church is claimed by some to be so far removed from the original church of the first century that the two can almost be viewed as completely separate entities.

Throughout the ages, the Church has also been the foundation for several other religious institutions, such as the movement of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church has also been the sponsoring agency for some of the most well known, and sometimes infamous, religious actions to history to include the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades.

The various ages of the history of the Roman Catholic Church are as follows.

Formative years (4 BC - 33 AD)

Jesus of Nazareth The Roman Catholic Church was founded on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ. Jesus, himself, was a carpenter from the region of Galilee and practiced as a member of the Jewish faith. Roman Catholicism, therefore, considers itself to be a "successor religion" to Judaism with the Christian God and the God of the Jews seen as one and the same.

The development of the religion which would eventually become Christianity began for Jesus at a young age. Church tradition holds that, sometime in his early teens, Jesus experienced a revelation in the Temple in Jerusalem where he realized that he was the son of God. According to the Gospels, Jesus was found by his parents in the temple, after many hours of being missing, and stated that his parents had only to look for him "in his Father's house".

Sometimes in his late 20s or early 30s, Jesus declared himself a prophet and left the town of Nazareth to begin his ministry. After gaining a large following, he became known as a Rabbi and preached a practice of universal brotherhood, forgiveness of all sins, and love of one's enemy. Much of what Jesus preached went against traditional Jewish doctrine, and he soon became known as a somewhat radical figure.

The final days of Jesus occurred in Jerusalem when Jesus was approximately in his mid 30s. After several incidents in the Temple of Jerusalem, amongnthem overturning a moneylending table and declaring the Temple corrupt, Jesus was arrested by the Sanhedrin and charged with blasphemy. Jesus proclaimed himself the Messiah to the Sanhedrin, at which time he was handed over to authorities of the Roman Empire, who sentenced him to death after much persuasion from Jewish authorities. So began the Passion of Christ where Jesus was scourged, beaten, and crucified.

According to Church tradition, three days after Jesus died he rose from the dead and sought out his followers. To Saint Simon Peter, Jesus stated that he was entrusting unto him the keys to Heaven and that upon the rock of Peter, Jesus would found his Church. The Roman Catholic Church states its history begins at this point, with Saint Peter as the first Pope.

Key Dates

The Birth of Jesus
  • c.4 BC: Jesus of Nazareth is born in the town of Bethlehem. Church doctrine states that Jesus was the son of the Virgin Mary and that his father was the Holy Spirit, making Jesus the Son of God. Although Jesus is regarded as having been born on December 25th in the year 1 AD, Church history places a date of birth more likely sometime in the spring or early summer between 6 and 4 BC.
  • c.10 AD: According to Church tradition, Jesus experiances a revelation in the Temple of Jerusalem, where he realizes that he is the Son of God. When his parents find him after several hours of being missing, Jesus states that they had only to look for him "in his Father's house".
  • c.25 AD: Jesus declares himself a prophet and leaves Nazereth to begin his ministry. According to Church tradition, shortly thereafter Jesus wandered into the desert where he encountered the Devil. Satan attempted to tempt and corrupt Jesus, to which Jesus resisted and reaffirmed himself as the Son of God.
  • c.30 AD: Major preachings and prophecies of Jesus. The teachings of Jesus were recorded during this time period by several Apostles whose written works would later form the Gospel.
  • c.33 AD: Jesus of Nazerath is crucified by Roman Empire authorities after Jewish leaders in Jerusalem accuse Jesus of blasphemy. According to Church doctrine, three days after Jesus died he rose from the dead and instructed his followers to continue his teachings and work and establish a new church.

Early Catholic Church (34 AD - 249 AD)

Key dates

Jesus Christ dies on the cross
  • 150: First known versions of the Vetus Latina are circulated among Christian communities. These Latin translations of Greek and Hebrew scriptures will become the foundation for the later formation of the Bible.

Church of the Roman Empire (250 AD - 476 AD)

Key Dates

  • January 20, 250: Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian is martyred during this purge.
  • October 28, 312: Emperor Constantine I leads the forces of the Roman Empire to victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. According to Church tradition, the night before the battle Constantine had a vision that he would achieve victory if he fought under the Symbol of Christ. After winning the battle, under which his soldiers had bore the Christian Cross on their shields, Constantine converts to Christianity and becomes the first Christian Roman Emperor.
  • 313: The Edict of Milan declares the Roman Empire neutral towards religious views, in effect ending the persecution of early Christians.
  • 325: The First Council of Nicaea establishes the Nicene Creed, declaring the belief of Christians in the Holy Trinity. The form of the Nicene Creed has remained mostly unchanged throughout the ages and is still used by the Roman Catholic Church to this day.
  • November 24, 380: Emperor Theodosius I is baptised a Christian and declares Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
Religious vision of Constantine
  • 400: The first known versions of the Vulgate Bible are published. This is the first compilation of Old Testament and New Testament bible books that become the basis for the Bible which is known today.
  • 431: The Council of Ephesus declares that Jesus existed both as Man and God simultaneously, clarifying his status in the Holy Trinity. The meaning of the Nicene Creed is also declared a permanent holy text of the early church.
  • September 4, 476: Emperor Romulus Augustus is deposed in Rome, marked by many as the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The focus of the early Roman Catholic Church switches to expanding in the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. This focus will eventually lead to the formation of the Eastern Orthodox religion.

21st Century Catholic Church (2001 AD - PRESENT)

Benedict XVI, the first Pope of the 21st century The 21st century Roman Catholic Church faces the challenge of maintaining conservative religious doctrine in a typically liberal society. The modern day church has also come under heavy criticism for adherence to old doctrine regarding such issues as birth control, abortion, and women in the priesthood. The Roman Catholic Church, however, has adopted more lenient stances on certain issues, in particular the statement that one does not have to be a Catholic to receive God's grace; the intent being that other world religions such as Judaism, Islam, and the Eastern Religions all worship the same principal of morals advocated by Jesus and therefore such religions are indirectly accepting Christ as savior. The Roman Catholic Church began the 21st century by dealing with the question of the new millennium and the doctrine and precedence that the church would be setting for the centuries to come. The church also suffered a Roman Catholic Church major sex abuse scandal when, in 2002, widespread reports began to circulate of several priests who were involved in the molestation and child abuse of young boys. In the spring of 2005, the Roman Catholic Church was placed on world display following the death of Pope Pope John Paul II. In the age of modern media, the Pope's death and funeral was broadcast for the world to see while millions of Catholic pilgrims journeyed to Rome to pay final respects.

Key Dates

  • January 1, 2001: The 21st century and the new millennium begin. Church leaders announce the challenges and tasks which lie ahead and set the tone for a more liberal and modern Roman Catholic Church.
  • January 18, 2002: Former Priest John Geoghan is convicted of child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison. The Geoghan case was one of the worst scandals of the Roman Catholic Church in modern times.
  • April 2, 2005: Pope John Paul II dies at the age of 84. His funeral is broadcast to every corner of the globe through the means of modern media. Millions of Catholic pilgrims journey to Rome, Italy to pay final respects.
  • April 19, 2005: German born Joseph Ratzinger is elected by the College of Cardinals as Pope Benedict XVI, thus becoming the first Pope of the 21st century and the 3rd millennium.
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From The Renaissance To The French Revolution

The fifteenth century may be regarded as a period of transition from the ideals of the Middle Ages to those of modern times. The world was fast becoming more secular in its tendencies, and, as a necessary result, theories and principles that had met till then with almost universal acceptance in literature, in art, in education, and in government, were challenged by many as untenable.

It was, therefore, an age of unrest and of great intellectual activity, and at all such times the claims of the Church as the guardian and expounder of Divine Revelation are sure to be questioned. Not that the Church has need to fear inquiry, or that the claims of faith and reason are incompatible, but because some daring spirits are always to be reckoned with, who, by mistaking hypotheses for facts, succeed in convincing themselves and their followers that those in authority are unprogressive, and as such, to be despised.
continue...

Jesus Ecclesiology: A Study in Church History
In an era of rapid social change and of notable attitudinal shifts, the contemporary Catholic Church has been challenged to reflect upon, and to articulate its self-understanding in ways that are faithful to its tradition and, at the same time, comprehensible to people today, open to the insights of secular disciplines, and alert to needs for justice and compassion.

Sacred Text Archive
All ancient books which have once been called sacred by man, will have their lasting place in the history of mankind, and those who possess the courage, the perseverance, and the self-denial of the true miner, and of the true scholar, will find even in the darkest and dustiest shafts what they are seeking for,--real nuggets of thought, and precious jewels of faith and hope.
Max Muller, Introduction to the Upanishads Vol. II.

This site is a freely available archive of electronic texts about religion, mythology, legends and folklore, and occult and esoteric topics. Texts are presented in English translation and, in some cases, in the original language.
Sacred Texts

Overview - By Period

Benedict XVI, the first Pope of the 21st century

The History of the Roman Catholic Church spans nearly two thousand years and covers the existence of one of the oldest religion institutions in history. As one of the oldest branches of Christianity, the history of the Roman Catholic Church plays an integral part of the History of Christianity as a whole.

Church history is vast and complex, with many different periods upon which the Church itself underwent radical and widespread changes. Indeed, the modern day Roman Catholic Church is claimed by some to be so far removed from the original church of the first century that the two can almost be viewed as completely separate entities.

Throughout the ages, the Church has also been the foundation for several other religious institutions, such as the movement of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church has also been the sponsoring agency for some of the most well known, and sometimes infamous, religious actions to history to include the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades.
continue...

History of the Roman Catholic Church

The History of the Roman Catholic Church spans nearly two thousand years and covers the existence of one of the oldest religion institutions in history. As one of the oldest branches of Christianity, the history of the Roman Catholic Church plays an integral part of the History of Christianity as a whole.

Church history is vast and complex, with many different periods upon which the Church itself underwent radical and widespread changes. Indeed, the modern day Roman Catholic Church is claimed by some to be so far removed from the original church of the first century that the two can almost be viewed as completely separate entities.

Throughout the ages, the Church has also been the foundation for several other religious institutions, such as the movement of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church has also been the sponsoring agency for some of the most well known, and sometimes infamous, religious actions to history to include the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades.

The various ages of the history of the Roman Catholic Church are as follows.

Formative years (4 BC - 33 AD)

Jesus of Nazareth The Roman Catholic Church was founded on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ. Jesus, himself, was a carpenter from the region of Galilee and practiced as a member of the Jewish faith. Roman Catholicism, therefore, considers itself to be a "successor religion" to Judaism with the Christian God and the God of the Jews seen as one and the same.

The development of the religion which would eventually become Christianity began for Jesus at a young age. Church tradition holds that, sometime in his early teens, Jesus experienced a revelation in the Temple in Jerusalem where he realized that he was the son of God. According to the Gospels, Jesus was found by his parents in the temple, after many hours of being missing, and stated that his parents had only to look for him "in his Father's house".

Sometimes in his late 20s or early 30s, Jesus declared himself a prophet and left the town of Nazareth to begin his ministry. After gaining a large following, he became known as a Rabbi and preached a practice of universal brotherhood, forgiveness of all sins, and love of one's enemy. Much of what Jesus preached went against traditional Jewish doctrine, and he soon became known as a somewhat radical figure.

The final days of Jesus occurred in Jerusalem when Jesus was approximately in his mid 30s. After several incidents in the Temple of Jerusalem, amongnthem overturning a moneylending table and declaring the Temple corrupt, Jesus was arrested by the Sanhedrin and charged with blasphemy. Jesus proclaimed himself the Messiah to the Sanhedrin, at which time he was handed over to authorities of the Roman Empire, who sentenced him to death after much persuasion from Jewish authorities. So began the Passion of Christ where Jesus was scourged, beaten, and crucified.

According to Church tradition, three days after Jesus died he rose from the dead and sought out his followers. To Saint Simon Peter, Jesus stated that he was entrusting unto him the keys to Heaven and that upon the rock of Peter, Jesus would found his Church. The Roman Catholic Church states its history begins at this point, with Saint Peter as the first Pope.

Key Dates

The Birth of Jesus
  • c.4 BC: Jesus of Nazareth is born in the town of Bethlehem. Church doctrine states that Jesus was the son of the Virgin Mary and that his father was the Holy Spirit, making Jesus the Son of God. Although Jesus is regarded as having been born on December 25th in the year 1 AD, Church history places a date of birth more likely sometime in the spring or early summer between 6 and 4 BC.
  • c.10 AD: According to Church tradition, Jesus experiances a revelation in the Temple of Jerusalem, where he realizes that he is the Son of God. When his parents find him after several hours of being missing, Jesus states that they had only to look for him "in his Father's house".
  • c.25 AD: Jesus declares himself a prophet and leaves Nazereth to begin his ministry. According to Church tradition, shortly thereafter Jesus wandered into the desert where he encountered the Devil. Satan attempted to tempt and corrupt Jesus, to which Jesus resisted and reaffirmed himself as the Son of God.
  • c.30 AD: Major preachings and prophecies of Jesus. The teachings of Jesus were recorded during this time period by several Apostles whose written works would later form the Gospel.
  • c.33 AD: Jesus of Nazerath is crucified by Roman Empire authorities after Jewish leaders in Jerusalem accuse Jesus of blasphemy. According to Church doctrine, three days after Jesus died he rose from the dead and instructed his followers to continue his teachings and work and establish a new church.

Early Catholic Church (34 AD - 249 AD)

Key dates

Jesus Christ dies on the cross
  • 150: First known versions of the Vetus Latina are circulated among Christian communities. These Latin translations of Greek and Hebrew scriptures will become the foundation for the later formation of the Bible.

Church of the Roman Empire (250 AD - 476 AD)

Key Dates

  • January 20, 250: Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian is martyred during this purge.
  • October 28, 312: Emperor Constantine I leads the forces of the Roman Empire to victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. According to Church tradition, the night before the battle Constantine had a vision that he would achieve victory if he fought under the Symbol of Christ. After winning the battle, under which his soldiers had bore the Christian Cross on their shields, Constantine converts to Christianity and becomes the first Christian Roman Emperor.
  • 313: The Edict of Milan declares the Roman Empire neutral towards religious views, in effect ending the persecution of early Christians.
  • 325: The First Council of Nicaea establishes the Nicene Creed, declaring the belief of Christians in the Holy Trinity. The form of the Nicene Creed has remained mostly unchanged throughout the ages and is still used by the Roman Catholic Church to this day.
  • November 24, 380: Emperor Theodosius I is baptised a Christian and declares Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
Religious vision of Constantine
  • 400: The first known versions of the Vulgate Bible are published. This is the first compilation of Old Testament and New Testament bible books that become the basis for the Bible which is known today.
  • 431: The Council of Ephesus declares that Jesus existed both as Man and God simultaneously, clarifying his status in the Holy Trinity. The meaning of the Nicene Creed is also declared a permanent holy text of the early church.
  • September 4, 476: Emperor Romulus Augustus is deposed in Rome, marked by many as the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The focus of the early Roman Catholic Church switches to expanding in the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. This focus will eventually lead to the formation of the Eastern Orthodox religion.

21st Century Catholic Church (2001 AD - PRESENT)

Benedict XVI, the first Pope of the 21st century The 21st century Roman Catholic Church faces the challenge of maintaining conservative religious doctrine in a typically liberal society. The modern day church has also come under heavy criticism for adherence to old doctrine regarding such issues as birth control, abortion, and women in the priesthood. The Roman Catholic Church, however, has adopted more lenient stances on certain issues, in particular the statement that one does not have to be a Catholic to receive God's grace; the intent being that other world religions such as Judaism, Islam, and the Eastern Religions all worship the same principal of morals advocated by Jesus and therefore such religions are indirectly accepting Christ as savior. The Roman Catholic Church began the 21st century by dealing with the question of the new millennium and the doctrine and precedence that the church would be setting for the centuries to come. The church also suffered a Roman Catholic Church major sex abuse scandal when, in 2002, widespread reports began to circulate of several priests who were involved in the molestation and child abuse of young boys. In the spring of 2005, the Roman Catholic Church was placed on world display following the death of Pope Pope John Paul II. In the age of modern media, the Pope's death and funeral was broadcast for the world to see while millions of Catholic pilgrims journeyed to Rome to pay final respects.

Key Dates

  • January 1, 2001: The 21st century and the new millennium begin. Church leaders announce the challenges and tasks which lie ahead and set the tone for a more liberal and modern Roman Catholic Church.
  • January 18, 2002: Former Priest John Geoghan is convicted of child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison. The Geoghan case was one of the worst scandals of the Roman Catholic Church in modern times.
  • April 2, 2005: Pope John Paul II dies at the age of 84. His funeral is broadcast to every corner of the globe through the means of modern media. Millions of Catholic pilgrims journey to Rome, Italy to pay final respects.
  • April 19, 2005: German born Joseph Ratzinger is elected by the College of Cardinals as Pope Benedict XVI, thus becoming the first Pope of the 21st century and the 3rd millennium.
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