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CHAPTER 6 The Conversion Of The Barbarian Tribes The great evangelizers of this period were fervent in their faith in Jesus and his Church and hoped for.

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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 6 The Conversion Of The Barbarian Tribes The great evangelizers of this period were fervent in their faith in Jesus and his Church and hoped for."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHAPTER 6 The Conversion Of The Barbarian Tribes The great evangelizers of this period were fervent in their faith in Jesus and his Church and hoped for everyone to share in the spiritual and moral treasure of Christianity.

2  After the Fall of the Roman Empire, the Church set about the task of converting the Germanic invaders and the different tribes surrounding the areas of the former Roman frontier.  This was a long process that began in the fourth century and didn’t end until the eleventh century, when the last European peoples, the Slavs, were converted.  These great evangelizers were fervent in their faith and hoped to share with all people the spiritual and moral treasures of the Church.  They worked not only for the salvation of all people, but also to share the benefits of a more civilized society and a higher human culture.  This section examines the unique role that monasticism played in creating a Christian culture. CHAPTER 6 The Conversion Of The Barbarian Tribes

3  Although most Germanic tribes did not understand the subtleties of theology, they were fervent promoters of the Arian heresy, and often attempted to destroy Catholicism.  During the fifth century, the bishops were gifted leaders who exhibited the roles of preacher, pastor, father, teacher, leader, administrator, liturgist, and sometimes military leader.  Because of the chaos of the times, and the vacuum created by the Fall of the Roman Empire, Church leaders often had to take on leadership positions in society, as they worked to preserve the safety of the people.  Monks and bishops had to build churches, monasteries, and Catholic institutions from scratch.  Two forces were soon at work in these lands: first, missionaries emerged from the peoples that were most recently evangelized; and second, Christian queens influenced their husbands to convert, with the general population soon following. The Church’s Work of Conversion

4 In time the Franks would be the Church’s greatest defender, and this relationship resulted in the formation of the Papal States. PART I Conversion of France, the “Church’s Eldest Daughter”

5  A bishop introduced the Burgundian princess, St. Clotilda, a Christian, to the Frankish chief, Clovis.  Although she worked tirelessly for his conversion, the death of their first child and the near death of a second convinced Clovis that the Christian God was ineffective.  However, when faced with certain defeat by the Alemanni, Clovis promised God that he would convert and be baptized, if he was given victory.  When the Franks emerged triumphant, Clovis kept his promise and was baptized, along with 3000 of his soldiers. CONVERSION OF THE FRANKS

6  By this act, the Franks became the first Germanic tribe to embrace the Catholic Faith, making France “the Church’s eldest daughter.”  By the middle of the sixth century, all of France was Christianized.  At this time, only France, Italy, Ireland, and a small part of England made up the Church’s faithful in the West. CONVERSION OF THE FRANKS

7  St. Gregory was elected Bishop of Tours AD 573.  He became one of the leading Churchmen following the collapse of the Roman Empire, and is responsible for writing the history of France. ST. GREGORY OF TOURS

8  According to tradition, Spain received Christianity from St. James the Greater and St. Paul, and from that time until the eighth century, Christianity flourished even in times of persecution.  In 589, Spain was invaded by the Visogoths who conquered most of the Iberian peninsula.  The Visogoths, who were nominally Arian, were intolerant of Christianity.  Eventually, the monarchy embraced Catholicism, and, in 589, the Third Council of Toledo condemned Arianism, and Catholicism became the religion of Spain.  However, this peace did not last long. The monarchies soon weakened, unity was dissolved, and the door was opened to a Muslim invasion in the eighth century. PART II Spain

9  In 711, the Muslim invaders swept through Spain. Within three years they had conquered the entire Iberian peninsula.  The Spaniards had to choose either to live under Muslim rule, or to retreat to the northern provinces of Spain, mainly Asturias, where they were protected by the Pyrenees Mountains.  Those who chose to live under Muslim rule were called Mozarabs. At first they were well treated, but later, persecutions came.  Years of struggle and slow re-conquest followed.  It wasn’t until 1492, more than 700 years later, that the Reconquista was completed and the Christians once again ruled Spain. The Muslim Invasion

10  Christianity in Ireland adapted itself to the Celtic culture. It soon spread throughout the entire island, and Ireland developed a strong monastic tradition that would serve the Church as a source of great missionaries. PART III The Conversion of the Celts

11  Patricius was a Roman Briton born in Southwest Britain in the fourth century.  When he was sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates who took him to the Northwest of Ireland. Working as a slave, his faith gave him great strength until he finally escaped six years later.  Back at home, he had a vision calling him to evangelize the Irish people.  In 430, St. Patrick, now a priest, was on his way back to Ireland with several clerics. He was sent by Pope St. Celestine I as an aid to the Bishop of Ireland. However, upon the death of the bishop, St. Patrick was immediately consecrated as the new bishop. ST. PATRICK: THE “APOSTLE OF IRELAND”

12  Within 15 years the entire island had heard the Word of God. Thousands were baptized and new religious communities were started. Within a generation, the entire island had converted to Christianity.  St. Patrick’s most important written work, his Confessions, tells about his conversion and his faith. ST. PATRICK: THE “APOSTLE OF IRELAND”

13  Irish monasticism was inspired by both the Rule of St. Benedict and by the austere Eastern monastic tradition.  Irish monks slept on cold stones, prayed in icy water, and slept in wet blankets. Anything that denied the body comfort was seen as a means of bringing the soul closer to God.  During the sixth century, the Irish monasteries were the most important centers of learning in Europe. The scriptoria and libraries in the Irish monasteries saved a great deal of the Greco-Roman learning. IRISH MONKS: PROTECTORS AND PROMOTERS OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

14  Celtic Christianity was unique in that it had no diocesan priests, only monastic priests. Abbots exercised most of the governing power in the Church of Ireland.  By the eighth century, the influence of the Irish Church was declining, partly due to a series of Viking attacks on Irish monasteries.  By the ninth century, the evangelizing mission of the Church was being led by the papacy. IRISH MONKS: PROTECTORS AND PROMOTERS OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

15  St. Columba was from a royal Irish family and had prepared for the monastic life from an early age.  Before arriving in Scotland, he had already founded several monasteries in Ireland. Being caught in a conflict between families, St. Columba left for Scotland. Some traditions report that he was exiled, while others say that leaving for Scotland was a penance imposed by his confessor. ST. COLUMBA: THE “APOSTLE OF SCOTLAND”

16  In any event, he arrived in Scotland in 563, founding a monastery on the Isle of Iona, where he set to work converting the Picts. Successful in converting the Picts, he set about his evangelizing work throughout all of Scotland.  A man of constant prayer and study he wrote some 300 books.  In 574, he anointed the new Scottish King, which led to the conversion of the Scottish population. ST. COLUMBA: THE “APOSTLE OF SCOTLAND”

17  St. Columbanus is the most famous among many Irish monks who helped to evangelize the northern coast of France as well as Switzerland.  When leaving by boat for his missionary activity it is said that he would go wherever his boat happened to take him.  The Celtic spirituality that St. Columbanus helped to spread around Europe bore many fruits. One was the practice of frequent confession, which quickly spread to the Universal Church. ST. COLUMBANUS AND THE IRISH ON THE CONTINENT

18  By the third century, the Church had developed a system of austere public penance. The Penitent was enrolled publicly with others, and after a rigorous and lengthy period of penance (depending on the severity of the sin), marked by prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, the penitent was forgiven his sins. This was seen as a second Baptism and could be received only once. Furthermore, the penitent had to make a lifelong promise of continence. For these reasons many people postponed Penance until death approached, and the system was in a state of decline.  For the Irish, the Penance remained lengthy, severe, and public, but the penitent was not enrolled with others, was not bound by a promise of lifelong continence, and penance could be received more than once.  Eventually, absolution was granted upon confession, with penance to be performed afterwards, and the Sacrament became a matter of private responsibility.  The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 officially taught that each individual was bound to make at least one Confession each year if they were conscious of having committed a mortal sin. FREQUENT CONFESSION

19  It is not known exactly how Christianity was first brought to England, but English bishops were already present at the Council of Arles (AD 314) in France.  However, with the invasion of the pagan Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, the Christian community was pushed back to the furtherest regions of England. PART IV The Conversion of England

20  By the time of Pope St. Gregory, the evangelization of Britain had already begun.  The Celts in the North had already converted due to the effort of the Irish missionaries, and St. Columba had already preached the gospel to the Picts in Scotland. However, the invading Saxons, Angles, and Jutes had nearly annihilated the Celts, and with them the Christian Faith.  Before becoming Pope, St. Gregory saw a group of blond, blue-eyed slaves. He was told that they were Angles. St. Gregory replied, “Non Angli, sed angeli” (“Not Angles, but angels”).  He never forget the Angles and when he became Pope he selected St. Augustine as a personal emissary and missionary to England. ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY: THE “APOSTLE OF ENGLAND”

21  In 596, St. Augustine left for England with forty other monks. In France they heard appalling stories about the brutality of the barbarians in England. St. Augustine wrote a frantic letter asking permission to return to Rome. Pope St. Gregory declined the request and St. Augustine went on to England.  Ethelbert, the king of Kent, had married Bertha, a Frankish princess, and the great-granddaughter of King Clovis. When St. Augustine arrived, he was received well by Ethelbert and was given permission to preach the Catholic Faith and to make converts. Ethelbert also gave them a dwelling in Canterbury, his capital. ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY: THE “APOSTLE OF ENGLAND”

22  On Christmas Day in 597, more than ten thousand Saxons were baptized. Ethelbert was baptized, and Christianity soon spread rapidly throughout England. Monasteries were quickly established and St. Augustine was presented with a palace in Canterbury, which became the Episcopal see.  St. Augustine was named Primate of England and was sent the pallium. He consecrated others as bishops and sent them to Rochester and London.  Upon St. Augustine’s death, Christianity had a strong foundation in England. ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY: THE “APOSTLE OF ENGLAND”

23  Christianity soon spread throughout all of the kingdoms in England. However, there were occasional setbacks as the successors of Christian kings sometimes reverted back to paganism.  Celtic Christianity, brought by the Irish monks, dominated the north of England, and Roman Christianity predominated south of the Thames. Soon these two traditions would clash, especially over the date for the observance of Easter.  Seeking to reconcile the two traditions, a synod was held in Northumbria (AD 644).  St. Wilfrid, later Bishop of York, led the party advocating the Roman tradition. THE MISSION IN ENGLAND CONTINUES

24  The synod decided that England would follow the Roman tradition for the observance of Easter, and that the monks would follow the Benedictine form of monasticism.  The Celtic monks eventually withdrew to a Celtic monastery on the island of Iona and to other monasteries in Ireland.  From this point on, of all the countries that had converted to Christianity, England was most closely identified with Rome, and became the strongest supporter of Benedictine monasticism. THE MISSION IN ENGLAND CONTINUES

25  St. Bede ( ) was the most important Anglo-Saxon scholar of his time, and much of his work became the standard for the Medieval curriculum.  His works included Latin grammar and poetry, astronomy and the tides, chronology, a biography of St. Cuthbert, commentaries on Scripture, and history. His Ecclesiastical History of the English People places the Catholic Church at the foundation of the development of English culture.  His spirituality and scholarship was based on the biblical-patristic tradition, and he developed the BC / AD system of dating the years.  Although England produced many great Saints and evangelizers, such as St. Boniface, the disunity of its kings, coupled with the invasion of the Vikings, caused an eventual spiritual decline, making England a “backward” country, and it eventually lost its momentum in deepening and spreading Catholic culture. ST. BEDE: THE “FATHER OF ENGLISH HISTORY”

26 Although some Roman cities, such as Cologne, were evangelized during the time of the Roman Empire, it wasn’t until the seventh century, and the arrival of English missionaries, that northwest and central Germany was converted. Some Germanic tribes were still being converted as late as the second millennium, when the German church began to focus its energies on converting the Slavs. PART V The Conversion of Germany and the Low Countries.

27  St. Willibrord was one of the first Anglo-Saxon missionaries to evangelize Germanic lands.  With papal support for his mission, he succeeded in converting the people of Frisia (Northwestern Germany and parts of the Netherlands). His work suffered a temporary setback when a pagan king re-conquered the territory, and St. Willibrord had to flee to Luxembourg.  From there he continued his work in Denmark and central Germany. ST. WILLIBRORD: THE “APOSTLE OF FRISIA”

28  St. Boniface was born with the name Winfrid in Wessex, England, and entered a monastery at age seven. He felt that God was calling him to leave England and to evangelize the German peoples.  Before the arrival of St. Boniface, all of the conversion efforts in Germany had failed. Not only did St. Boniface succeed in converting the Germans, but he laid the foundation of a church based on the monastic model that would flourish for three centuries.  In 716, he left to bring the Frisians fully into the Church, but met formidable obstacles. Feeling discouraged, he researched the lives of the early Christians and found that no Saint was exempt from suffering, so he struggled to be courageous and look upon barbarians as his brothers. ST. BONIFACE: THE “APOSTLE OF GERMANY”

29  Believing that he had failed in Frisia, he consulted the Pope as to whether he should continue. The Pope was so impressed with his sanctity that he gave Winfrid the name “Boniface”, meaning “doer of good.”  Returning to Germany he sought the conversion of the Hessians, and the Pope consecrated him as a bishop.  After cutting down the Oak of Thor, the sacred tree of the pagans of Hesse, he gained so much moral authority among the people that he was able to establish several monasteries.  He spent much time building the ecclesiastic structure of the Church by establishing new dioceses, and reforming the clergy who had become corrupt.  At 76 years of age, he returned to Frisia where he was martyred along with his companions. ST. BONIFACE: THE “APOSTLE OF GERMANY”

30 PART VI Conversion of Scandinavia Just as England had supplied missionaries for the conversion of the German people, the German missionaries in turn led the evangelization of Scandinavia and of the Slavs.

31  St. Ansgar was born in France where he became a monk. He soon moved on to Denmark and Sweden where he built the first Christian church.  The Pope made him Bishop of Hamburg and later of Bremen.  He successfully converted Erik, king of Jutland. However, his missionary work crumbled when the converted Scandinavians returned to paganism. ST. ANSGAR: THE “APOSTLE OF THE NORTH”

32  St. Ansgar was invited to Denmark by a defeated Danish chieftain, Harold, who sought the help of Louis the pious, son of Charlemagne, to regain his position.  Louis the Pious and St. Ansgar agreed to help him on the condition that he was baptized. Harold was soon baptized and set off for Denmark to recover his kingdom, but was decisively defeated in battle.  St. Ansgar had to move on to other missionary fields.  A century later the Danish ruler Cnut the Great ( ) declared Christianity the official religion of Denmark. DENMARK

33  Christianity’s progress in Sweden was as difficult as it had been in Denmark.  St. Ansgar’s initial efforts failed as did later attempts.  Finally, in about the year 1000, King Olaf III was baptized.  In 1078, the Christian chieftain, Inge, defeated the pagan chieftain and destroyed the pagan temple.  It wasn’t until the twelfth century that the Christianization of Sweden was complete. SWEDEN

34  The evangelization of Norway began in the tenth century.  Several kings favorable to Christianity, along with Anglo-Saxon monks, brought Christianity to the people.  Pagan successors to the king left Christianity vulnerable.  The establishment of Christianity seemed certain, but the reigning king used many inhumane methods in establishing the religion.  In contrast, St. Olaf (king ) used stern, but civil methods to spread Christianity. He invited missionaries to his land. He destroyed pagan temples and built Christian churches on their sites.  Wars between the clans led to his exile, and he was killed in a battle against Canute the Great of Denmark. Within a year he was proclaimed a Saint. ST. OLAF: PATRON SAINT OF NORWAY

35  Missionaries reached Iceland from Norway around AD 980. Twenty years later the ruling tribal council accepted Christianity.  The groundwork had been laid years earlier by Irish Christian slaves, and some of the native aristocracy had already accepted Christianity.  In the year 1000 the ruling tribal council gave the Law Giver, Thorgeir of Ljosvatn, the authorization to decide which religion the island would follow. Thorgeir, a pagan, after spending a night in prayer, decided for Christianity.  The island was united, and by 1056 had received its own bishop. ICELAND

36  The origin of Christianity in Finland is not clear. It arrived in the twelfth century, later than in the other Scandinavian countries.  St. Henry of Uppsala, a bishop and an Englishman, was the major evangelizer.  By 1220, the Church was firmly established. FINLAND AND ST. HENRY OF UPPSALA

37 PART VII The Conversion of the Slavs Central and Eastern Europe were the scenes of competing missionary interests. German missionaries converted the rest of Germany and Poland, while Greek missionaries evangelized much of Eastern Europe. The conversion of the Bohemians, Moravians, Slovenes, Croates, and Poles was directed from Rome, while the Serbs, Bulgarians, Ruthenians (Ukrainians), and Russians received Christianity from Constantinople.

38  Two brothers, Sts. Cyril and Methodius were the first missionaries among the Slavs. Coming from a senatorial Greek family, both decided to enter the priesthood.  St. Cyril, after becoming a priest, became part of the philosophy faculty in Constantinople, but gave up a promising career to evangelize southern Russia.  Later, the emperor commissioned them both as missionaries to Slovakia. Before leaving, they developed the Glagolithic script for use with the Slavs. STS. CYRIL AND METHODIUS: THE “APOSTLES OF THE SLAVS”

39  The brothers used the vernacular Slavonic language for the liturgy, and translated the Bible into Slavonic. Although this was a vital tool for the conversion of Slovakia, German missionaries denounced them as heretics for not using Latin.  The brothers went to Rome for guidance from the Pope, who granted them permission to use Slavonic in the liturgy. St. Cyril died while in Rome, but the Pope made St. Methodius Bishop of the Moravians and he continued his missionary activity.  Arrested by German missionaries and held in captivity for three years, Pope John VIII eventually gained his release and reaffirmed the use of Slavonic in the liturgy.  Later Popes who refused to recognize the use of Slavonic turned many of the Slovakians away from Rome to Constantinople. STS. CYRIL AND METHODIUS: THE “APOSTLES OF THE SLAVS”

40  In 871, St. Methodius baptized St. Ludmilla and her husband, Duke Borzwoi, the first Christian Duke of Bohemia. St. Ludmilla worked to spread the Faith among the Bohemian people.  She replicated the model often used in Europe; the conversion of the ruling family through the influence of a Christian woman, and the subsequent conversion of the subjects. STS. LUDMILA AND WENCESLAUS: PATRON SAINTS OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC

41  She had two grandsons St. Wenceslaus and Boleslaus. When St. Wenceslaus turned to Germany for political and religious support, it caused resentment among many Bohemians. In the atmosphere of political unrest, Boleslaus killed his brother while he was on his way to Mass.  Boleslaus later repented and converted to Christianity, bringing his brother’s relics to Prague where they became an object of veneration.  Otto the Great of the Holy Roman Empire compelled him to reinstate Christianity, and his son, Boleslaus II, made Christianity the religion of the Bohemians. STS. LUDMILA AND WENCESLAUS: PATRON SAINTS OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC

42  St. Adalbert worked among the Bohemians, the Hungarians, and the Poles.  Born of a noble Bohemian family, he studied in Germany and was later made Bishop of Prague.  Twice he had to flee Prague due to hostility caused by his attempts to reform the clergy. Both times he went to Rome to seek counsel.  While away from Prague, he became the confessor for the teenage Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, making a deep impact on the emperor by his example and teaching. ST. ADALBERT OF PRAGUE: THE “APOSTLE OF THE PRUSSIANS”

43  Fleeing Prague the second time he went to Hungary, where he baptized the Hungarian leader and his son, and later to Poland and Prussia.  The pagan Prussians martyred him AD 997.  When Otto III visited his grave, he granted ecclesiastical independence to the Polish church from the Germans. ST. ADALBERT OF PRAGUE: THE “APOSTLE OF THE PRUSSIANS”

44  Christianity arrived in Poland in the tenth century through Moravian refugees who fled to Poland from the Hungarian invasion. German monks also assisted in the conversion. Although there was no organized Church, the transition to a Christian nation was smooth and peaceful.  Duke Mieszko, a Polish noble, was the first to encourage his subjects to become Christian.  The duke placed his son under the care of Otto II for his education, and sent a locket of his son’s hair to the Pope to show that he considered his son to be under the special protection of the Pope.  In AD 992, the duke placed all of Poland at the service of the Holy See, making Poland a vassal land of the popes, thus beginning a unique relationship between the Polish people and the papacy. POLAND

45  The Hungarians were an Asian nomadic people defeated by Otto I. Afterwards they were a sedentary and peasant people who became open to the gospel.  German missionaries obtained permission to evangelize the people, and St. Adalbert was instrumental in their conversion.  Having been baptized with his father by St. Adalbert, St. Stephen became the ruler of Hungary and its first King.  Opposed by pagans, St. Stephen successfully put down a rebellion and set about building up the Church in Hungary.  He placed Hungary in the hands of the papacy and received a royal crown from the Pope, which was also recognized by the Holy Roman Emperor. ST. STEPHEN THE GREAT, KING OF HUNGARY

46  St. Olga, the wife of the pagan Prince Igor of Russia, converted to Christianity in Constantinople. However, she was not able to convert her husband, nor her children.  Her grandson, St. Vladimir, became ruler of all Russia after defeating his brothers in battle. He lived a typical pagan life, having five wives and twelve children, and erecting many idols and shrines to pagan gods. He was also known as a ruthless ruler. ST. VLADIMIR: THE “APOSTLE OF THE RUSSIANS AND UKRAINIANS”

47  In order to solidify his rule, he looked to the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  His emissaries found Judaism and Islam unedifying, and while they found Latin rite Christianity acceptable, they were amazed at the Byzantine liturgy. While in the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople they reported that they “knew not whether they were in Heaven or on earth.”  St. Vladimir struck a deal with the Byzantine emperor, who was in need of military aid. He would help the emperor, if he could have the hand of his sister in marriage. The emperor agreed on the condition that Vladimir became Christian.  St. Vladimir agreed. He dismissed his former wives, tore down all of the pagan idols and shrines that he had built, and erected churches in their place. He established monasteries and Christian schools. He threw banquets for the poor and focused on converting his people. By the time of his death, he had firmly established the Christian Faith throughout Russia. ST. VLADIMIR: THE “APOSTLE OF THE RUSSIANS AND UKRAINIANS”

48  The faith reached Bulgaria when King Boris was baptized AD 864/5.  He was oriented toward Constantinople but feared political and religious domination from the Byzantine emperors, and for some time both German and Byzantine missionaries worked in the land.  He turned to the Pope to seek advice on the transition of his country from paganism to Christianity, and the Pope gave him counsel. Pagan customs that conflicted with Christian beliefs had to be abolished, while those not in conflict with Christianity could be kept as part of the Bulgarian culture.  When Boris asked that Bulgaria be made a separate patriarchate, the Pope refused, and Boris turned to Constantinople. The relationship between the two was strained as Bulgaria asserted religious and political independence. Constantinople finally recognized the independence of the Bulgarian Church in the twentieth century. BULGARIA: A DIFFERENT PATH

49 The Church remained focused on its mission of preaching and spreading the Gospel. Not until the evangelization of the Americas would the Church experience such a growth among new peoples. At the same time, tensions began to mount between Christianity in the East and the West. Seemingly irreconcilable differences drove the two traditions further apart, which would later lead to a great Schism. CONCLUSION

50 The End


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