Rome 24: The Rise of Christianity

January 1, 2011

Before reading this chapter, STOP. Take a moment and think about what your perceptions are of the medieval Church. What came to mind? The Pope, corruption, scandal, power, controllers of Europe, manipulators of kings? These popular images of the medieval Church and the Papacy are not unfounded. But these images and notions are, for the most part, that of a Church developed. In the Early Middle Ages the Papacy was only a few hundred years old. Christianity was only made legal in the the early fourth century by Emperor Constantine and not made the official religion of the Roman Empire until 380 by Emperor Theodosius. What did the Church look like before this? How much power did it wield after? And how did it function after the "fall" of the Roman Empire in the West in the late fifth century? These questions shall frame this lecture.