Martin Luther and the Reformation of the Catholic Church
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“When the Ancient Roman Empire fell around 500 A.D., it created a power vacuum in Europe which left Europe in relative poverty and stagnation for 10 centuries, a time now referred to as the “Middle Ages”. During this period, the Roman Catholic Church held Europe together providing stability and uniting a fractured continent, offering continuity and comfort during a troubled era. Echoes of Ancient Rome however reverberated within the Catholic Church despite the fall of the empire. Roman senators became bishops within the church and the design of the Roman court of law referred to as a “basilica” became the template for the design of all catholic churches. The Roman emperor referred to as the “pontifex maximus” meaning “greatest priest” in Latin became the pope, a title which is also referred to as the “pontifex maximus” as the term fit for both the leader of the Roman state as well as the leader of the Catholic Church being that both leaders were seen as spiritual heads of state.
The term “Roman Catholic” was created because the Catholic Church was situated in Rome, Italy and because the term “Catholic” means “universal” from the Ancient Greek “katholikos” which is derived from the Ancient Greek terms “kata” meaning “with respect to” and “holos” meaning “whole” for a combined meaning of “with respect to the whole”.
During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church condoned institutionalized slavery referred to as “feudalism”. Feudal Europe was comprised of 3 parts, the nobility which had secular power and owned most of the land, the Catholic Church which had the educated elite who controlled the word of God, and the peasants who performed difficult manual labor. Life was dismal and bleak for 90% of the population who fell into the peasant classification of society but this hardship was viewed to be a prerequisite for obtaining eternal life in heaven.
Art was considered worthwhile and legitimate so long as it glorified God. Entire communities dedicated generations worth of effort to constructing the most massive artistic projects of the period which were places of worship. The Catholic Church commissioned societies greatest artwork, statues, pulpits, and altarpieces, all created anonymously. The legacy of this great faith can be observed all across Europe in cathedrals with soaring naves topped with elaborate gothic”