Saturday, June 16, 2018

Early christian pilgrimage and relics

"The fathers of the church were not altogether happy about this new fashion (of 4th century pilgrimage to the Holy Land, TN). Even Jerome, though he recommended a visit to Palestine to his friend Desiderius as an act of faith and declared that his sojourn there enabled him to understand the Scriptures more clearly, confessed that nothing really was missed by a failure to make the pilgrirnage. St. Augustine openly denounced pilgrimages as being irrelevant and even dangerous. (...) But the general public ignored such strictures, preferring to believe that the interesting journey brought spiritual merit as well.

To many of the pilgrims crowding to Palestine half the point of the journey was the possibility of buying some important relic with which to sanctify their churches at home. The greater number of the early saints and martyrs had lived in the east, and it was in the east that their relics could be found. It was now generally held that divine aid could be obtained at the graves of the saints, as the Spaniard Prudentius and the Italian Ennodius taught, while St. Ambrose himself believed in the efficacy of relics and sought to discover some. St. Basil of Caesarea was a little more cautious. He was prepared to believe that relics might have some divine power, but he wished to be absolutely certain of their authenticity. Here again popular enthusiasm was undeterred by the caution of the fathers.

The major Christian relics remained in the east, those of Christ being gradually moved from Jerusalem to Constantinople and those of the saints being preserved at their native homes. But it was often possible for a lucky pilgrirn to acquire some lesser relic, while others were brought to the west by enterprising merchants."

This blog quotes form Baldwin, M. W. (ed.): The first hundred years (1969); souce of illustration wikipedia, photo by
John Stephen Dwyer, showing a reliquary at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in the United States, with relics of St. James, St. Matthew, St. Philip, St. Simon, St. Thomas, St. Stephen and other saints.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

10th Centrury worldy dominance over the church

"During the ninth and tenth centuries the church had become deeply involved in secular affairs. The extensive lands of the bishops and abbots were held of lay lords by feudal services, and the prelates had to perform the (worldy, TN) functions of vassals either personally or by deputy.

Some doughty bishops led their troops in battle wielding a mace, which they insisted did not violate canon law as it drew no blood, but most had secular agents called advocates to head their levies. But the prelates were appointed by the secular lords and invested by them with the insignia of their holy office. They served the lords as counselors and administrators.

As we have seen, the Capetian (French, TN) monarchy owed what little power it had to the prelates it controlled and the German empire was based on an episcopacy devoted to the emperor. This situation was harmful to the spiritual functions of the church."

This blog quotes form Baldwin, M. W. (ed.): The first hundred years (1969); source illustration

Monday, May 21, 2018

Crusade on the 11th century Mediterranean Sea

"Long before pope Urban II made his ímpassioned plea at Clerrnont, the Italian cities were fighting the Saracens on land and sea. During the four centuries preceeding 1095 they suffered from seemingly endless raids and plunderings; sometimes they allied themselves with the enemy to attack other cities; on occasion they met him with force, and these occasions increased in number and gained in success,

Eventually, in 915 the southern cities, in alliance with Byzantine and papal forces, drove the Saracens from their last stronghold in the peninsula, and a century later the northern cities attacked the various Arab maritime bases nearby. Finally, in the eleventh century the Pisans and
Genoese raided the African coast itself, and forced terms of peace upon the Saracen leader, among them the promise to refrain from further piracy. With this victory and peace, made in 1087, control over the western Mediterranean passed from the Arabs to the Italian cities."

This blog quotes form Baldwin, M. W. (ed.): The first hundred years (1969); source illustration "Cramic Bowl from 1175 -1225 showing Mediterranean ship. From National Museum of San Matteo, Pisa. Source Wikipedia/Saiko"

Monday, May 14, 2018

Co-habitation of church and state in early 11th century France

"At the beginning of the eleventh century France was the only feudal state in Europe. (...) Actually France was not a single state but an alliance of feudal principalities bound together by the feeble suzerainty of the king. In real power the king was weaker than most of his great vassals. His demesne was small and he could not control the barons of the lle de France. The monarchy survived largely because of the support of the church, which was inclined to prefer one master to many, and the resources that could be drawn from church fiefs.

While some of the great lords such as the count of Flanders and the dukes of Normandy and Aquitaine had obtained control of the bishops within their lands, the prelates of Burgundy and Champagne depended on the king. The bishops had large, rich fiefs with many knightly vassals. Hence the man who appointed the bishops had the use of extensive resources. Nevertheless, the Capetian monarchy of the early eleventh century could do little more than survive. In the lle dc France it had little authority and outside none whatever."

This blog quotes form Baldwin, M. W. (ed.): The first hundred years (1969); source illustration