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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The Black Plague and The Decameron II

Lead: In 1348 the “Black Death” swept through Florence, Italy, and out of this chaos emerged a literary masterpiece – The Decameron.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio witnessed firsthand the devastating effect of the Plague, which killed nearly half the population of Italy. With the collapse of the social and economic order, and some believed a collapse of morality, the Plague stimulated writers to record the event and consider the role of God, man’s free will, and health practices in causing such a magnitude of human suffering.

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The Black Plague and The Decameron I

Lead: In the summer of 1348 the “Black Death” swept through prosperous and beautiful Florence, Italy. The tragedy inspired one of the most important medieval literary works, Boccaccio’s The Decameron.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The fourteenth century European Plague or “Black Death” was actually two major bacterial epidemics which resulted in the death of more than 25,000,000 people or just short of a third of the population of Europe. It is believed the Plague originated in the eastern provinces of China and was carried by flea infected rats on board merchant ships sailing from the Black Sea westward to Mediterranean ports. It quickly spread through Western Europe.

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Thomas Aquinas

Lead: Italian priest and theologian, Thomas Aquinas, was one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages and a major influence on western thought.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Aquinas was born in southern Italy sometime around 1225 in Castle Roccasecca (‘roka seeka) near the small town of Aquino, between Rome and Naples. He was a bookish child, and at the age of fourteen began his studies at the University of Naples. Thomas was greatly influenced by the Dominican religious order, a mendicant society, which he joined in 1243, by taking his vow of poverty. His family was none too pleased with his decision to become a Dominican friar. His brothers even kidnapped him and held him in the castle tower for almost a year. Thomas, however, could not be persuaded otherwise and was later ordained.

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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 Assissi 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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