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Great Moments in Church History

Conquest of Granada
This event occurred in 1492. For many centuries, the Spanish Muslims, or Moors, had occupied chunks of the Iberian peninsula and particularly Spain. The Christians in Spain had been trying to drive them out for many centuries, and finally in the late 15th century, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella united Spain in a last offensive against the Moors. They were able to defeat them at their last stronghold in Granada and make Spain a completely Catholic country again. After this victory, they could concentrate on other projects, such as financing Christopher Columbus' journey which ended in the discovery of the Americas.

Pilgrimage of Grace
The pilgrimage of grace occurred in 1536. It was in response to the divorce of King Henry VIII in England and his separating the Church of England from the rest of the Catholic Church. The people in several areas, particularly Lincolnshire and York, were loyal Catholics. They were not pleased at the king's split from the Catholic Church or his confiscation of the monastery lands. Groups of peasants banded together to try to defeat the king's forces. Unfortunately they were pretty unorganized, so it was relatively easy for the king to defeat them. When there were too many groups, he pretended to bargain with them until they became complacent and he could easily defeat them. He killed many of the leaders of the movement. This was one of the few actual resistances to Henry's split from the Catholic Church.

Papal Infallibility
The First Vatican Council occurred around 1870, and it was the first council of the church that had occurred in about three-hundred years. It was not a very long council, and it did not put forth many documents, but its one main accomplishment was to define papal infallibility as a dogma. Papal infallibility is the idea that the pope cannot make a mistake when he teaches on a matter of faith and morals as the successor of St. Peter. This doctrine was formally defined as a matter of faith at this council. This idea had been believed since the earliest days of the church, but it had never been officially pronounced as a doctrine.

Baptism of St. Augustine
St. Augustine was one of the greatest theologians and philosophers in Christian history, but he was not always a follower of Christ. For many of his earlier years he lived a very sinful life. Eventually he converted through the prayers of his mother Monica and the teaching of the bishop Ambrose. His conversion and baptism marked a significant shift in his life. Previously he had been a marvelous philosopher and rhetorician, and he now put these skills to use in defending the Catholic faith. It was because of this baptism that we have such a great Christian thinker and saint.

Joan of Arc raises the Siege of Orleans
Joan of Arc was inspired by saints who spoke to her to go and help the French forces fight the English during the 100 years war. Her most decisive victory was at Orleans, a French city which was besieged by the English. She was able to end the siege, raising the morale of the French people. Although she was eventually captured and killed by the English, this victory led the way to the eventual French victory in the war. Because Catholic France was able to keep its independence, it remained Catholic when King Henry VIII of England split off from the Church.

Baptism of Clovis
Clovis was a ruler in France in the 5th century. He united many of the tribes there and so was the first ruler of what would eventually become the kingdom of France. His wife was Catholic, and she was able to convince him to convert to the faith. Because of his conversion, France became a Catholic country and one of, if not the oldest European country with a Catholic history and people.

Junipero Serra founds California Missions
Junipero Serra was a Franciscan friar from Spain who sailed to the new world, the Americas, to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. He eventually came to what we now know as California and started the mission system, founding nine of these missions himself. These California missions have become very famous. It was through his perseverance and ministry that many more people became followers of Christ.

St. Dominic battles the Albigensians
St. Dominic founded his order as a group of preachers to combat various heresies. They were to become learned men so as to intellectually defeat those who were teaching falsehood. When the order was started, their primary opponents were the Albigensians. The Dominicans were able to refute these heretics and many other groups as well.

John Sobieski raises the Siege of Vienna
The Ottoman Turks in the late 17th century were again trying to conquer Europe, as they had tried many times before. They were besieging Vienna and had almost defeated that crucial city when John Sobieski of Poland came to its rescue. He brought his army and defeated the Turks, sending them away from Europe for the final time. Because of this victory, Christianity in Europe was spared.

Victory at Lepanto
In 1571 the Turks were threatening to defeat Europe. The pope called on the leaders of Europe to oppose them in battle, and Don Juan of Austria responded to the call. He put together a fleet and went to meet the Turks in the Mediterranean. The pope asked all of Europe to pray the Rosary for a victory. In the battle, the Christians were able to prevail. This one of the last times that the Turks threatened to overtake Christian Europe. The pope credited the victory to Mary and established the feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7.

Confirmation of the Franciscan Rule
When he realized that he was supposed to found a new religious order, St. Francis went to Rome to have his rule of life approved by the pope. At first the pope was not inclined to listen to this poor-looking and radical person, but he had a vision in which he saw Francis holding up the Church. He realized that God wanted Francis and his way of life, so he gave his approval to the order. There have been many blessings bestowed on the church through Franciscans.

Coronation of Charlemagne
In 800 the pope crowned Charlemagne as the king of the Holy Roman Empire. The old Roman Empire had been defunct for several hundred years, and the pope hoped that through this crowning Europe could be more united under one ruler, just as it had been previously. This event clearly did mark the beginning of a more unified Europe, and the Holy Roman Empire lasted in various forms until the 19th century. Charlemagne viewed this crowning not just as an opportunity for more power, but also as the receiving of the responsibility of protecting the Church, and he and his empire carried out that responsibility well throughout the ages.