When Rome fell, law and learning went down with it. A dark chaos ensued. Man descended into the barbarism of the Dark Age until the Enlightenment.
Nope. That’s a myth. The actual history reveals something very different.
Out of the rubble of Rome arose the Golden Age of the Church and, through her, a new and better and more beautiful civilization. This “Western Civilization” was built thanks to priests.
How did priests build Western Civilization?
They built it by nurturing truth, erudition, and faith. Let’s look at a few examples:
First, education. Most priests helped in this crucial work, among them Chrodegand of Metz, Alcuin, St. Bede, and Cassiodorus. Alcuin was a true champion of education. Noted for his brilliance from a young age, he ran York’s palace school when he was in his early thirties.
During a trip to Rome, Alcuin caught the attention of the great Emperor Charlemagne, who asked Alcuin to run his own palace school. Alcuin took charge of the school for many years, teaching the sons and daughters of great Christian men. When he retired to the monastery of St. Martin de Tours, he quickly formed a monastic school there.
As did many like him, Alcuin dedicated his life to teaching, a great pillar of civilization.
Another example is music. Pope Gregory the Great is best remembered for saving and copying down plainsong or chant (which is why traditional church music is known as “Gregorian Chant”). He loved music—beautiful music—and knew that it is important in any society. After Gregory’s death, the highest compliment a music-loving successor could receive was, “The Holy Father knows as much about music as Gregory the Great!”
Architecture is another important pillar of civilization. Carthusian, Augustinian, Cistercian, and Cluniac monks were among the forerunners of great Western architecture, desiring a fitting space in which to worship. Some of the more famous priests, however, come later—Fra Giovanni Giocondo of the 15th century, who made possible St. Peter’s Basilica; and Robert of Luzarches, 13th century, who designed Notre Dame Cathedral in Amiens.
These examples are just a scratch on the surface of Western Civilization and the great priests who toiled to build it. Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Built Western Civilization tells more about who they were, what they did, and how they did it. Fascinating, eye-opening, and even surprising, this will number among the most exciting histories you’ve ever read! Get your copy today!