In the 1300's the Western World began transitioning from the Dark to the Middle Ages. By far the most significant event
of the age was the "black death." This great plague arrived in 1347 from a trading ship that docked in
Sicily. Before it was over, the disease would devastate the Continent — killing one-third of the
population of Europe! This was also the time when the first sparks of the Protestant Reformation could be seen.
By the end of the Century, England had her first English Bible and the Catholic Church began going after the
reformers that made that possible. It was a prelude to what was to come in the 15th and 16th Centuries.
Pope Clement V moves the papal capital from Rome to France. When Clement, a Frenchman, was elected Pope 4 years earlier, it was not a popular decision in Rome. As a result some of the Catholic hierarchy made Clement's life as pope pretty stressful. To escape the oppressive atmosphere, Clement chose to move the papal capital to Avignon, France. The next 6 Popes ruled from there until 1377 when Pope Gregory XI moved the Holy See back to Rome. This absence from Rome is sometimes referred to as the "Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy". (See 1378) [Read more ...]
John Wycliffe — "Morningstar of the Reformation" — is born. Wycliffe was a theologian and an early proponent of reform in the Roman Catholic Church. He believed that the Bible should be the common possession of all Christians, and ought to be available in the language of the people. When met with opposition to this idea, he replied "Christ and his apostles taught the people in the tongue that was best known to them. Why should men not do so now?" Toward the end of his life, he gave England her first English Bible. (See 1380) [Read more ...]
The Shroud of Turin is mentioned in historical records for the first time. This controversial relic is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have been crucified. It was immediately revered as the burial cloth of Jesus. The accounts seem to indicate that the shroud was well known in the small town of Lirey, France. It was in the possession of a French Knight, Geoffroi de Charny, who died in battle 2 years later. Today the shroud is normally kept in the royal chapel at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. Yet there is still no consensus yet on exactly how the image was created, or whether it is genuine. [Read more ...]
Early reformer John Huss is born in Bohemia. Huss is considered the first Church reformer, pre-dating Luther, Calvin and the other big names of the Reformation. Being a follower of Wycliffe, Huss believed that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and that they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church. When the Catholic Church had enough of his ideas, they burned him at the stake. (See 1415) [Read more ...]
By moving the papal capital back to Rome, Pope Gregory XI causes the "Great Western Schism". When the cardinals of the papal court, now based back in Rome, elected Italian Urban VI as Pope, the cardinals in the French interest refused to accept him and declared his election void. They had their own election and elected Clement VII as pope. So at this point the Catholic Church had 2 popes — Clement ruling from France, and Urban remaining in Rome. For the next 40 years there were 2 independent branches of the Catholic Church and 2 opposing Popes. Not a good situation. (See 1417) [Read more ...]
John Wycliffe completes his English translation of the New Testament. When the Old Testament was released 2 years later, it was the first time a complete Bible was available in English. Wycliffe used the Latin Vulgate as the basis for his translation, which made his Bible rather hard to read because he kept much of the original Latin sentence structure. Nonetheless, England now had an English Bible. [Read Genesis 1 from Wycliffe's Bible] Today more than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffe Bible still survive. SAMPLE VERSE: "And God said, Be made light; and made was light." [Gen 1:3] [Read more ...]