Savonarola II

Lead: At the height of the Renaissance in Florence, Fra Girolamo Savonarola thundered against corruption, ostentation, and vanity in civil affairs and in the life of the Roman Catholic Church. He paid for his meddling with his life.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Savonarola was born into privilege in 1452. Educated to follow his father as court physician in Ferrara, Italy, he turned to the Dominican priesthood, and served in various assignments with increasing scholarly reputation. It was in Florence, however, at the Monastery of San Marco after 1489, that he developed the passionate preaching style that compelled him into prominence and popularity.

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Savonarola I

Lead: In the Renaissance capital of Florence, Italy, the terrible and powerful voice of Fra Girolimo Savonarola was raised against corruption in both church and state. He also raised powerful enemies.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Having helped create and nurture European civilization in the long centuries since the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Church of Rome by 1500 was the single unifying institution on the continent. Millions, high and low, saw in the Church the path to eternal salvation, worshipped in her precincts, contributed to her their treasure, and sought solace from a life that Thomas Hobbes would later describe as solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. Despite the devotion of countless numbers, there was trouble in Zion. With clear justification, many considered the Church to be set at rot, absorbed by worldly obsessions, ensnared by political and military ambitions, hopelessly and morally bankrupt.

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Francis of Assisi II

Lead: Born into a prosperous commercial family Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone, Francis of Assisi, in 1208 answered a spiritual call to a life of poverty and service. His movement brought repentance and reform to a church in deep need of renewal.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Struggling to maintain its authority the face of a growing challenge from newly emerging nation states, the Roman Catholic Church was focused on institutional survival. Many ordinary believers, however, were convinced the Church had lost its way and were turning elsewhere for spiritual solace. Into such a environment came Francesco di Bernardone. A popular youth, he was raised in the central Italian town of Assisi, north of Rome in the Umbrian hills. In 1208 he had a spiritual crisis which, in turn, drew him into a life of pious service. Francis was a layman, whose spiritual journey included preaching and a life of consistent imitation of Christ. He celebrated poverty and stripped himself of all possessions and worldly encumbrances; he never insisted that personal poverty was the Christian ideal, but invited his followers to such a lifestyle. He considered that all nature reflected the divine and called all creatures his brothers and sisters.

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Francis of Assisi I

Lead: In 1210, responding to the prompting of a lay preacher, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (informally Francesco), Pope Innocent III established the Order of the Friars Minor. Francis of Assisi had the vehicle by which he could spread his message of sacrifice and salvation.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Religious institutions are social organisms. They go through periods of robust energetic growth and spiritual enthusiasm then decline into periods of corruption and stasis, when the ideals of the faith dim and require reformation. Having preserved what remained of civilization and order in Western Europe in the centuries following the collapse of the Roman Empire, by the 11th century the Roman Catholic Church was locked in a bitter struggle for pre-imminence with the newly re-emerging and secular national states of England, France and Germany. The focus of this struggle was the authority of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. It was a struggle the church would eventually lose, but this decline would take another three centuries and culminate in the rending of the unity of Christian Europe in the Protestant Reformation.

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