Converting Europe: Christendom after Rome

Sources: Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Doubleday, 1995); Henry Mayr-Harting, "Early Middle Ages," in Richard Harries and Henry Mayr-Harting, Christianity: Two Thousand Years (Oxford, 2001); G. Roland Murphy, trans., The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel (Oxford, 1992); F.L. Cross, ed., Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2d ed. (Oxford, 1983); David Knowles, "The Middle Ages 604-1350," in Hubert Cunliffe-Jones, ed., A History of Christian Doctrine (Fortress, 1980); Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (University of California, 1999).

Reading: from The Heliand.

Christendom after Rome
The Western Roman Empire falls before Germanic invaders in the fifth century
Massive missions make German tribes Christian — and western Christianity Germanic
Decentralized Constantinianism: Missions favor leaders; later, intertribal conquest
Major figures:

Patrick (390-460) converts Ireland
Born Christian, captured by Irish pirates, turns to God, escapes
Trains for ministry in Britain, sent as "bishop in Ireland"
Preaches, reconciles chieftains, educates, ordains, founds monasteries
Ireland accepts the good news peacefully and is spiritually transformed
Irish Christianity becomes pivotal in evangelizing Germanic Europe and preserving classical learning
Irish monks popularize auricular confession, penance, and penitential manuals
Columcille (Columba) takes Christianity back to Germanic Europe
Many other missionary efforts convert Europe from Ireland to Russia by 1000

Benedict (480-550) creates Western monasticism
Withdraws from Rome to be a hermit, leads the communities that grew up around him
At Monte Cassino he composes his Rule to reform and regulate monasticism
Benedict's rule draws on earlier rules (Basil, John Cassian, Desert Fathers, Augustine)
Chief responsibility is the Divine Office
The rule becomes ubiquitous in the west by Charlemagne, the order does so later
Benedictines reorganize Europe, maintain scholarship, restore artistry to worship

Gregory I (540-604) creates the medieval papacy
Early experiences in Constantinople convince him the east could not help the west
Brokers his own peace with Lombards in 592, triangulating against the Roman exarch
Restores Italy, appoints governors to Italian cities, manages papal lands, supplies materiel
"Collegiality": refuses to recognize Constantinople's bishop as "ecumenical patriarch"
Sends 40 missionaries under Augustine of Canterbury, converts England
Promotes monasticism (with more direct papal control)
Liber Regulae Pastoralis becomes the textbook for medieval bishops
(Most) bishops are examplars of holiness
Clericalism: clergy take over worship ("Kyrie is sung by the clergy, and the people answer")
Brings responsibility to civil and Church authorities as God's stewards
Adapts Augustine to develop penance, purgatory, relics; indulgences will follow later
Changes the liturgy, highlights plainsong (Gregorian chant)
Spirituality becomes "bipolar Augustinianism" effected sacramentally

Charles the Great (Charlemagne, 742-814) creates the Christian kingdom
Conquers Lombards, Saxons, northern Spain
Models (a rather Gregorian) royal humility and repentance before God
Synod of Frankfurt (794): "God can be adored and man listened to in every language if he asks just things"
The Church, says Mayr-Harting, tries "to nudge people gently on from the Old to the New Testament"
Pope Leo III crowns him first emperor of (Frankish) "Holy Roman Empire" (800)
Drives ecclesiastical reform, clarifies doctrine, and fosters learning (so "the Carolingian Renaissance")
The initiative is his (not the pope's), working through councils of clergy and rulers
His power and theological initiative strain relations with the Eastern Empire and Church
Opposition to iconodulia and adoption of the Filioque further alienate the Byzantines

End of the beginning: Gregory VII (1021-1085) creates the imperial papacy