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Francis loved creation and considered it good, for Christ himself took on flesh in the Incarnation. He loved all living creatures. Francis originated the Christmas manger scene. He founded the Franciscan order, and received approval from Rome in The Poor Clare Nuns began when St. Clare joined the Franciscans in in Assisi. In St. Francis risked his life in the Fifth Crusade by calling directly upon the Sultan of Egypt in an effort to convert him and bring peace. He received the stigmata of Christ in , 2 years before his death in Dominic de Guzman was born in Calaruega, Spain.

On a journey through France he was confronted by the Albigensian heresy like Manichaeism and the Cathari.

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As he came with a Bishop in richly dressed clothes on horses, he realized the people would not be impressed with his message. This led him to a life of poverty. He spent several years preaching in France in an attempt to convert the Albigensians. In in Prouille, France, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and began to spread devotion to the Rosary. Dominic was a man of peace and converted many through prayer, preaching, and his example of poverty.

He founded the Order of Preachers in known as the Dominican Friars. The universities in Europe began as guilds of scholars, which first attracted members of the clergy and were supported financially by the Church. The first universities in Europe were founded in Bologna and Paris; Oxford and Cambridge soon followed.


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Theology, law, and medicine were fields of advanced study. The age was the time of Scholasticism - of the schools, a method of learning that placed emphasis on reasoning. Important writers at the time were Bonaventure, Duns Scotus, Albertus Magnus, and his student Thomas Aquinas, who became the greatest theologian and philosopher of the age. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican priest who lived from to Born in Roccasecca, Italy to the Aquino family, he joined the Dominicans at the age of He received his doctorate in theology and taught at the University of Paris during the height of Christendom.

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One of the greatest contributions by Thomas was his incorporation of the philosophy of Aristotle into the theology of the Catholic Church. Thomas saw reason and faith as one and mutually supportive, and combined the Bible and Church Fathers and the reasoning of Aristotle into one unified system of understanding Christian revelation through faith enlightened by reason. His most noted work was the Summa Theologica , a five-volume masterpiece.

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Thomas Aquinas presented the classical approach to Biblical Exegesis. Recalling the words of Gregory that Scripture transcends every science, " for in one and the same sentence, while it describes a fact, it reveals a mystery. His exposition on the Seven Sacraments remains a standard to our present day. The Renaissance , which means rebirth, was the period of phenomenal growth in Western culture in art, architecture, literature, and sculpture.

Christian humanism, a rejoicing in man's achievements and capabilities reflecting the greater glory of God, had its beginning with the Divine Comedy , published in by Dante Alighieri in Italy. The Renaissance continued through the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries until William Shakespeare. Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli led the way in art.

Brunelleschi revived the ancient Roman style of architecture and introduced linear perspective.


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  • The great sculptors were Donatello and Michelangelo. Thomas More and Erasmus were leading Christian humanists in literature. The Protestant Reformation resulted from the failure of the Catholic Church to reform itself in time.

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    The dark side of the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries witnessed the errant Fourth Crusade to Constantinople in , the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathari in , and the beginning of the Inquisition which became severely punitive. The Papacy suffered a great loss of respect during the Avignon Papacy and especially during the Papal Schism , when two and at one point three men declared themselves Pope and opposed each other.

    However, the Council also condemned John Hus , the Prague reformer who believed in the priesthood of all believers and the reception of Communion through bread and wine; he was burned at the stake on July 6, Another victim of the Inquisition was St. She was burned at the stake on May 30, in Rouen, France. The Spanish Inquisition in the fifteenth century was particularly ruthless. The lack of Church funds led to even further corruption, including simony and the selling of indulgences. For example, Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz had to pay Rome ten thousand ducats for the right to hold three dioceses at once, and agreed to a three-way split with the Roman Curia and the Fugger Banking firm from the proceeds of the selling of indulgences.

    These events led many to question the compassion and integrity of the Church. The unity of Tradition and Scripture went unchallenged through the Patristic Age and thirteenth century scholasticists such as St. Bonaventure and St.

    Thomas Aquinas. But the unity of Scripture and Tradition began to be questioned with the decline of the Church. The Belgian Henry of Ghent believed that one should first have the duty to follow Scripture rather than a Church that became one in name only. The English Franciscan William of Ockham or Occam was known for the principle of Occam's Razor , that one needs to reduce everything to its simplest cause. Ockham theorized on three possibilities of the relation of Scripture and the Church. First there was Sola Scriptura , that one could obtain salvation by following Scripture alone; second, that God does reveal truths to the universal Church, an ecclesiastical revelation supplemental to apostolic revelation; and third, the concept of orally transmitted apostolic revelation parallel to written Scripture.

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    Ockham believed that one could reach God only through faith and not by reason. He wrote that universals, such as truth, beauty, and goodness, were concepts of the mind and did not exist, a philosophy known as Nominalism. Thus began the division of the realm of faith from the secular world of reason. The rise of Nationalism led to the end of Christendom, for countries resented any effort to support Rome, especially in its dismal state.

    Dissemination of new ideas followed the invention of the movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany; his very first printing was the Latin Vulgate Bible in The stage was set for the reform-minded Martin Luther , the Augustinian monk of Wittenberg, Germany. He received his doctorate in theology in , and then taught biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg. His study of Scripture, particularly St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, led him to believe that salvation was obtained through justification by faith alone. At first, his only interest was one of reform when he posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church October 31, But the intransigence of the Church and poor handling of the situation by the Pope and Curia only worsened matters, such that a break was inevitable.

    In a July debate with the Catholic theologian Johann Eck, Luther stated that Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone - was the supreme authority in religion. He could no longer accept the authority of the Pope or the Councils, such as Constance. In Luther published three documents which laid down the fundamental principles of the Reformation. In Address To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation , Luther attacked the corruptions of the Church and the abuses of its authority, and asserted the right of the layman to spiritual independence.

    In the Babylonian Captivity of the Church , he defended the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Penance, but criticized the sacramental system of Rome, and set up the Scriptures as the supreme authority in religion. In The Freedom of the Christian Man , he expounded the doctrine of salvation through justification by faith alone. The Augsburg Confession of , written by Philip Melanchthon and approved by Martin Luther, was the most widely accepted Lutheran confession of faith. Once Sola Scriptura became the norm, it became a matter of personal interpretation.

    Huldrich Zwingli of Zurich, Switzerland was next, and he broke with Luther over the Eucharist, but his sect died out. The Anabaptists separated from Zwingli as they denied the validity of infant baptism; they survived as the Mennonites. While he agreed with Luther on the basic Protestant tenets of sola scriptura, salvation by faith alone, and the priesthood of all believers, he went even further on such issues as predestination and the sacraments. George Fox, the son of Puritan parents, founded the Quakers in England in Thomas More refused to attend the wedding, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and later beheaded in Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Two major sects that split off from the Anglicans were the Baptists , founded by John Smyth in , and later the Methodists , founded by John Wesley and his brother Charles.

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    There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. On December 12, , Juan Diego was obedient to the Blessed Virgin Mary's instruction to gather beautiful roses in his tilma and take them to the Franciscan Bishop Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga on his third visit to appeal for the building of a Church as requested by Our Lady.

    Then he put up both hands and untied the corners of crude cloth behind his neck. The looped-up fold of the tilma fell; the flowers he thought were the precious sign tumbled out on the floor. The Bishop fell on his knees in adoration, for on the tilma was the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, just as described by Juan Diego, and is still preserved today in original condition in Tepeyac on the outskirts of Mexico City.

    Spanish conquistadors may have conquered the Aztecs in , but their ruthless behavior antagonized the people and conversions were few. Our Lady of Guadalupe conveyed the beautiful message of Christianity: the true God sacrificed himself for mankind, instead of the horrendous life indians had endured sacrificing thousands of humans to appease the frightful gods! It is no wonder that over the next seven years, from to , eight million natives of Mexico converted to Catholicism.

    Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary entered the very soul of Central America and became a central figure to the history of Mexico itself.