The Catholic Church began around 1 AD in Rome after the death of Christ. Peter, along with the 12 disciples began to spread the message of Christianity across the globe and by the year 100 AD there was approximately 40 Christian colonies across many of the major roman cities. Christianity was dissimilar to most other religions found in Rome because of its strict adherence to one solitary deity. This new ideal sparked confusion and fear about the newly formed religion and many rumors began to spread about Christians such as the idea that they participated in incest or cannibalism.
These negative feelings towards Christians made it difficult for the young religion to flourish in its early stages. In several instances, Christians were prosecuted and some began to denounce their faith, but despite these harsh upbringings, the new religion was able to find a way to establish itself firmly and began its growth as an ideology.
It wasn’t until Constantine became Emperor of the Western Roman Empire that the religion began to make serious gains. This was because he accredited his victory in the west to the Christian God. As a result he passed a statute that gave more freedom and tolerance to all religions of the empire. Constantine gave special privileges to Christians such as tax exemptions and donations. The religion was gaining followers very quickly.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, the religion was forced to adapt in order to survive. Many religious figures headed into the west in order to convert and civilize the barbarian tribes of the now European Continent. This gave birth to the middle age version of Christianity. Religious monasteries became the centerpiece of every community and were institutions of cultural preservation and agricultural enhancers. It gave certain societies the leadership that they needed in order to strive.
The Cluniac Reforms were some of the earliest changes to the church. It was a change in the west based on the idea of the encouragement of art and care for the poor. It was founded in the early 900s and started within the Benedictine Order. This spread quickly through France, Italy, Spain, and England. The reason for the reform was too much corruption within the church due to the tight incorporation of the church in the feudal and manorial system. The reform hoped to establish a more independent abbot, separate from the state that would not bring about land or monetary disputes such as this. This placed abbots under direct control of the pope and became one of the largest religious forces in Europe.
The Renaissance was another period of importance for Christianity. This was due to a period of renewed interest for history and art. One of the major components of the Renaissance was the belief in the capabilities of the human race. This greatly affected the church, giving it the opportunity to sponsor certain great artists of the time such as Michelangelo and Leonardo do Vinci. As time progressed, the general population began to recognize corruption within the church which led to another reformation down the road.
The Protestant reform began with the posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. He had hoped to spark debates about perceived issues of corruption, such as the sale of indulgences and other Christian teachings of the time. These challenges were supported by several powerful political forces of the time who revolted and began the first 9-year war that ended in 1555. Tensions remained elevated at the conclusion of this war and shortly after, a 30-year war followed.
Another reformation was the English Reformation, which had its roots in the desire for King Henry VIII’s wish to end his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. This was more of a theological and political dispute. King Henry established the church of England in 1536. Catholic churches began to be dissolved in areas under English control. Colonies that did not wish to have Catholicism removed resisted.
The Baroque period was another expansion of artistic style that was supported by the Catholic Church. It began in the early 1600s in Rome, Italy, and began to spread quickly through Europe. The idea was that the church should express religious messages through artistic measures. The Baroque Era was the Catholic Church’s way of responding to the Protestant revolution. Christianity from the Baroque period until contemporary form has successfully integrated into one of the world’s major religions.
During the Industrial revolution, the religion was able to spread to far reaches of the world, including many Asian counties, establishing teachings in China, Taiwan, and Japan. With the modernization of technology and communication, the Church now has new abilities to spread its message across the globe even further.