The Church in the Dark Ages, Volume 1
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By Henri-Daniel Rops
The Church in the Dark Ages is the second installment in Henri Daniel-Rops’ monumental History of the Church of Christ. This volume includes the first five chapters of that work, studying St. Augustine of Hippo, whose genius governed Christendom for centuries; the “Great Invasions” of the Barbarians and their conversion under the great popes, Gregory and Leo; the sanctifying influence of such saints as John Chrysostom, Patrick, and Boniface, and the scholars and missionaries of East and West (especially in Ireland); the grandiosity of Byzantium and its most illustrious leaders, Justinian and Theodora; and Christianity’s descent into the “night of barbarism” and the heroic efforts of St. Benedict and the monastic expansion which sought to draw it from those dark depths.
When we look at the power for action which the Church displayed in the Dark Ages, we must not forget that this capacity rested on supernatural graces, on a deep spiritual life, and a permanent contact with God. ( Henri-Daniel Rops)
A magnificent presentation of six centuries of Church history, The Church in the Dark Ages proves the aptness of the term les temps barbares. From 400 a.d. to 1050 a.d., the world endured—in Rops’ eloquent phrasing—“a night in which humanity seemed to be groping blindly amid the bloody confusion of today and the anguish of the morrow. Only the Church, guided by a transcendent ambition, pursued her course unwaveringly, and in working to her own supernatural ends she became the most effective means of ensuring the salvation of civilization.”
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Henri Daniel-Rops (1901–1965), the nom de plume of Henri Petiot, was a French Catholic historian. His bibliography comprises seventy books—written over a span of just thirty years—and includes Sacred History, Jesus and His Times, and the monumental, ten-volume History of the Church of Christ. He also served as editor for the Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, which consisted of one hundred and fifty volumes. Phenomenally successful in his own time, Daniel-Rops made religious history accessible and popular; in 1955, he was elected to the Académie française and in 1956 he received the Order of St. Gregory from Pope Pius XII.
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