The Rise of the Papacy
As the military power of Rome began to falter against the never ending tide of invasion, the spiritual needs continued to grow resulting in a centralized control of Western Europe. As the fourth century drew to a close Rome had fallen from its height of controlling much of the western world to a collection of small, barbaric kingdoms with each desiring control over the former empire. These invaders, such as the Huns from the east, Vandals and Ostrogoths in the north, as well many others eventually led to the capture and ruin of Rome in 410 AD. In 476 AD the once powerful Western Roman Empire witnessed its last emperor, Romulus Augustulus.
While Rome, in the west continued her decline, Constantine had moved his capitol and center of power to his newly rebuilt city, Constantinople. During his reign Christianity discovered a newfound freedom. Previously Christians had to practice their beliefs in private, under Constantine they were allowed to more openly profess their faith. Constantine called one of the first ecumenical councils in 325 AD at Nicaea. during this time there was a continual struggle between the political rulers and the religious leaders of the Empire.
According to tradition both Peter and Paul were believed to have been killed in Rome. This, along with the words that Jesus spoke to Peter, led many to believe that the Church had been established by Christ, through the Apostles. The individual Bishops used this statement by Jesus to claim authority over those were part of the Christian faith though there was no evidence to show that Christians through the ages had been ruled by one person during the early church. So strongly did the bishops come to believe in Peter's founding of the church that at a Council in 1870 it was affirmed that, "Therefore, if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole Church militant; or that it was a primacy of honor only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema.”
As Christianity spread outward Rome became a natural, centralized location for the powers, religious or political to settle. With the waning of the empire and as the only apostolic seat in the Western Empire Rome would continue to consolidate its religious control.As the only patriarch in the western empire the power was controlled by one man and one result was what we know as the papacy. Originally, the term pope was used to refer to the bishops which ruled throughout the empire but eventually came to refer to the bishop of Rome. Bishops gathered more and more power eventually establishing a position of 'archbishop', which was a bishop over bishops, which added another layer of power and control over the Christian world. This continual grab for authority can be openly seen as far back as a statement made by Innocent I in 416 AD, who made the claim that all the churches of the Western empire should submit to his authority, in matters of faith, in consequence of his being the successor of Peter, the chief of the apostles” During the fourth century Damasus I was one of the first to call himself by the title once held by the Emperor, pontifex maximus, and refer to Rome as the 'Apostolic see'. The successor of Damasus, Siricius, and those that followed began to call themselves, 'Pope', and by the end of the fifth century the Pope was being considered the 'Vicar of Christ.' Future Archbishops continued to press this point and eventually convinced the Emperor to support the Church of Rome over the other religious seats and by doing so the Emperor elevated the Church in Rome above the others. The absolute belief that the "Catholic" Church was the one and only way of salvation is seen in a statement noted by Peter Stiansen, “[w]hen we come to Cyprian, the situation is changed. The Holy...
Bibliography: Hill, Jonathan Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity, (Oxford: Lion Publishing Plc, 2006).
Perry, Marvin et al, Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Eighth. Vol. 1., ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.)
Wesselschmidt, Quentin F.
The Fourth Session of Vatican Council I. “On the institution of the apostolic primacy in blessed Peter”, 1870. Ch. 1.
From Zeumer 's edition, published in Berlin in 1888, v. Brunner-Zeumer: "Die Constantinische Schenkungsurkunde") translated in Ernest F. Henderson, , Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages , (London: George Bell, 1910), pp. 319-329
[ 2 ]. Jonathan Hill, Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity, (Oxford: Lion Publishing Plc, 2006).
[ 4 ]. Marvin Perry, et al, Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Eighth. Vol. 1., ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.)
[ 5 ]
[ 6 ]. The Fourth Session of Vatican Council I. “On the institution of the apostolic primacy in blessed Peter”, 1870. Ch. 1.
[ 13 ]. From Zeumer 's edition, published in Berlin in 1888, v. Brunner-Zeumer: "Die Constantinische Schenkungsurkunde") translated in Ernest F. Henderson, , Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages , (London: George Bell, 1910), pp. 319-329
[ 14 ]
Please join StudyMode to read the full document