Month: March 2015

82-The Long Road to Reform 07 file | Play in new windowThis is the 7th & Last episode in our series The Long Road to Reform. In Italy, the Renaissance was a time of both prosperity & upheaval. We moderns of the 21st C are so accustomed to thinking of Italy as one large unified nation it’s difficult to conceive of it as it was throughout MOST of its history; a patchwork of various regions at odds with each other. During the Middle Ages & a good part of the Renaissance, Italy was composed to powerful city states like Florence & Venice who endlessly vied with each other. Exacerbating the turmoil was the interference of France and Germany who sought to influence affairs in Italy to their advantage. It was within this mix of prosperity, intrigue, and emerging Renaissance ideals the papacy carried on during the last decades before the Reformation. During his reign in the mid-15th C, Pope Eugene IV sought to decorate Rome with some of the new artistic styles of the early Renaissance. He recruited Fra Angelico & Donatello. This began a trend among the Popes of this period to imbibe the ideas of the Renaissance, especially in regard to art. They sought to adorn the city with palaces, churches, and monuments worthy of its place as the capital of Christendom. Some of the popes moved to greatly enlarge the pal...

Read More

81-The Long Road to Reform 06 file | Play in new windowThis is the 6th episode in our series The Long Road to Reform. Much of the reform energy in the European Church of the Late Middle Ages was among the poor, and being poor meant being illiterate. The poor and illiterate don’t, as a rule, write books about their hopes & dreams.  So it’s often from sources hostile to the reforming movements of this era we learn of them. That hostility colors the picture of them much of history since has regarded them by. Wycliffe’s ideas lived on, not among scholars at Oxford or the few nobles who initial endorsed them, as among the poverty-committed Lollards who went from village to village, carrying his reforms like torches that continually set new places ablaze with reforming zeal. The Lollards preached a simple Gospel that contradicted a great deal of what commoners heard from their local priests. In Bohemia, the ideas of Jan Hus, at first so popular among the gentry, ended up being embodied by an Apocalyptic sect called the Taborites, made up mostly of the poor & illiterate. Another movement took place in the late Middle Ages & into the Renaissance that doesn’t get much coverage. à We’ve already talked about how some women were drawn to the monastic life and lived in sequestered communities affiliated with a men’s compound. There were orders...

Read More

80-The Long Road to Reform 05 file | Play in new windowThis is the 5th episode in a series we’re calling “The Long Road to Reform.” What do you think of when I say “The Inquisition”? Many shudder. Some get a slightly queasy feeling in their stomach because of the way the Inquisition has been cast in novels & movies. There’s a bit of truth in that portrayal, one-sided & stereo-typed as it may be. We’re backing up yet again in our timeline as we take a closer look at this sad chapter of Church History. The 4th Lateran Council of 1215 was the high-water mark of the medieval papacy under Innocent III. The Council was really little more than a rubber stamp committee for Innocent’s reforms. Those reforms both brought much needed change to the morals of the clergy, but also installed structures that worked against later reform. The 4th Lateran Council established the doctrine of transubstantiation and the sacrament of penance. And the Inquisition, which had begun as a commission of inquiry under Pope Alexander III a generation before, became a permanent feature of Church life. The major challenge Innocent III faced was from the Albigensians, AKA the Cathars, who inhabited Southern France.  Since we covered this heretical group in an earlier episode, we’ll just say they were a dualistic pseudo-Christian cult turned movement that possessed a lot of energy during its...

Read More

UPDATE: The 2015 Podcast Awards

I just checked the standings on The 2015 Podcast Awards and Communio Sanctorum – History of the Christian Church is at #10 in the Education category! I’m so excited. There’s a week yet to go, so if you haven’t voted yet, please add your voice. Go to, scoll down to “Education” and select “History of the Christian Church” Then scroll down further and enter your name &...

Read More

79-The Long Road to Reform 04 file | Play in new windowThis is the 4th episode in a series we’re calling “The Long Road to Reform.” A few weeks back I mentioned the Podcast awards coming up in April. I’ll have another announcement about that at the end of this episode. It was late Spring of 1490 when a Dominican friar stood at the gates of Florence. This was not the first time the 33 year old Girolamo had made the 160 KM / 100 miles trip from his native Ferrara to the city of the Medici’s. He’d lived for a spell in the city. The Florentines admired his scholarship but were put off by the vehemence of his preaching. They also had a hard time adapting to his accent. But now he returned at the invitation of Lorenzo de Medici; Lorenzo the Magnificent, who virtually owned Florence, and to whom he’d been recommended by the famous philosopher Mirandola. Girolamo joined the monastery of St. Mark & began a series of lectures for his fellow friars. Soon others joined the sessions & they had to relocate from into the main hall. The lectures turned into sermons . By the Lenten Season of 1491, Savonarola’s fame had grown so that he was invited to preach at the main church in Florence. Not known for tact, Savonarola lambasted the decadence of the city’s rich, of which...

Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Subscribe To

Communio Sanctorum



Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates providing insights into the history of the Christian Church.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest