Christianity Under Threat

Christianity Under Threat in Medieval Europe

(Return to previous section on the Marian Psalter & beginnings of the 'Hail Mary' prayer.)

The Moors Invade Europe

Beginning in the 8th century, followers of Mohammed known as the 'Moors' set out northward from Africa, eventually overtaking Spain, Portugal and part of France. They ultimately became an important part of the fabric of society, making significant contributions in areas such as language, art, architecture and science that have lasted to the present day. While some Moors converted to Christianity, many of these Muslim invaders massacred those in their path and transformed Christian places of worship into mosques. After almost a thousand years, the last of the Moors were driven from Europe at the turn of the 17th century.

The Fast-spreading Cathar/Albigensian Heresy Undermines the True Faith

Also putting Christianity under threat in early 13th century France, was the heretical, gnostic Christian sect best known as the Cathars or Albigenses (among other names). Like the Manichaeians whom St. Augustine had first embraced then denounced a thousand years before, the Cathars/Albigenses believed the human soul to be a creation of the one true God of love, but trapped in a corrupt material realm created and ruled by Satan - an usurper who posed as the God of the orthodox Christian Church.

The ultimate end to which they strived was the liberation of the soul from the fetters of a corrupt material world, including social institutions. Since they looked on human procreation as a perpetuation of the 'slavery' of souls to the imposter-god's material world, they favoured celibacy over sexual intercourse (even in marriage), and same-sex relationships & informal sexual encounters over the social institution and sacrament of marriage.

The Cathars/Albigenses recognized the person of Jesus and tried to emmulate his zeal, humility and purity of spirit (which they believed allowed him to transcend the limitations of the material world), but rejected His Divine Sonship. They also rejected all belief in the Trinity, the Sacrament of the Eucharist and Purgatory (due to their belief in re-incarnation).

The Cathar/Albigensian heresy spread quickly amidst a certain worldliness and moral weakness in the clergy of the day, and was even fostered by European nobility wishing to take over Church land and goods.

With Christianity under threat in Medieval Europe, what turned things around? Continue here with the History of the Rosary.