This was the age when the great Roman Empire realized that it would never again see its former glory. There were no
longer enough generals and armies to protect such a vast area. And when the barbarians who lived all around
the Empire realized that, it was 'game on'. There were the Visigoths, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the
Burgundians — each came and took a piece of the crumbling Empire. Some were even able to sack Rome itself!
Under the impact of these Germanic invaders, when the last Roman emperor was killed in 476, the control of the
Roman Empire in Western Europe disappeared.
In contrast, the Church was doing well. It had great success in converting the pagans that seemed to
be sweeping in from all over — thus holding Western Civilization together through the soon-to-come Dark Ages.
St. Patrick begins his missionary work in Ireland. He had great success in converting the Gaelic Irish who were then mostly Pagans. He journeyed far and wide throughout the island, baptizing and confirming with untiring zeal. And, being a true diplomat, he would bring gifts to a kinglet here and a lawgiver there, but never accepted any gifts for himself. Legend has it that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity, and that he put the curse of God on the venomous snakes in Ireland and drove them all into the sea. It is of no surprise that St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland (and of those who don't like snakes [Just kidding]). [Read more ...]
St. Jerome completes his work on the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Catholic Church defended this translation of the Bible for the next 1,200 years! It was this defense that was one of the "sticky points" for later Protestant reformers. [See 382]
Augustine of Hippo writes his book "The City of God". Barbarians were encroaching on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, and the Visigoths had even sacked Rome. These events left many Romans wondering if it was punishment for abandoning the former Roman religion for Catholic Christianity. This was Augustine's answer to these critics. The book presents human history as being a conflict between what Augustine calls the "City of Man" and the "City of God" — a conflict that is destined to end in victory for the latter. [Read more ...]
The Council of Ephasus debates the precise nature of Jesus. This council was held at the Church of Mary in Ephesus. Christendom went through many centuries trying to fully understand how Jesus could be both God and man. One of the purposes of the council was to come to a consensus regarding Jesus' divinity and humanity. In another matter, the council elevated the Virgin Mary's status from the "mother of Jesus" to the "Mother of God". [Read more ...]
Pope Leo I meets with Attila the Hun. Leo was an Italian aristocrat, one of the Doctors of the Catholic Church, and the first Pope to have been called "the Great" — St. Leo the Great. During the time of Leo's reign, various barbarian tribes took turns attacking the remains of the Roman Empire. When Attila marched toward Rome, Leo met him outside the city and actually persuaded him to turn back from his invasion of Italy. This event made the people love their Pope even more. (However, there'd be other barbarians, so this time of peace was brief.) [Read more ...]
The Vandals, a Germanic tribe, sacks Rome. Barbarians from all directions had previously invaded Rome and destroyed much of the Roman Empire. Meanwhile, the church centered in Rome successfully converted these invaders to Christianity. Authority within the church was centered around the Bishop of Rome in the west and the Patriarch of Constantinople in the east. Divisions between the two power centers in the Christian church would continue to intensify. [Read more ...]
St. Benedict is born in Italy. Benedict's main achievement was his "Rule of Saint Benedict", containing moral guidelines for his monks. He managed to persuade most religious communities of the day to adopt it, and his "Rule" continued to shape Christian monasteries well into the Middle Ages. As a result, the Rule of St. Benedict became one of the most influential religious guides in Western Christendom. St. Benedict has become the patron saint of Europe and students. [Read more ...]
Clovis, King of the Franks, is baptised. He was the first king to unite all of the Frankish tribes (modern-day France) under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to rule by a single king and ensuring that the kingship was passed down to his heirs. His conversion to Catholicism and subsequent baptism were at the instigation of his wife, who had been a Catholic most of her life. His conversion was important in the history of Europe, as Clovis is considered "the first king of what would become France". [Read more ...]