The Roman Catholic Church in Medieval Society

The Roman Catholic Church was immensely important in medieval society. Many would argue that it was actually the most important factor in people’s lives. This could be seen even in the way that towns and cities were laid out, with the church at the center. Usually, the church steeple was also the highest building in the city, showing that nothing else was more important.

The Roman Catholic Church was immensely important in medieval society. Many would argue that it was actually the most important factor in people’s lives. This could be seen even in the way that towns and cities were laid out, with the church at the center. Usually, the church steeple was also the highest building in the city, showing that nothing else was more important.

In addition to being wealthy and powerful, the Church played an important role in preserving Greco-Roman culture (remember, Greco-Roman means the ancient cultures of classical Greece and Rome). The most important thing the Church did to preserve Greco-Roman culture was to preserve and copy ancient manuscripts of writing.

This was usually done by monks who lived in monasteries, and they copied out entire books by hand! Some of the writings preserved included important religious writings such as Scripture and the works of the Church Fathers, as well as secular writing such as works by Cicero and Aristotle. This work was especially important when life and learning were interrupted by the Barbarian Invasions.

But what was the role of the Church in ordinary people’s lives? Still very important. Most people didn’t interact with the upper levels of the Church (unless they were a King or noble). Instead, ordinary people interacted with their local priest. Priests were generally not wealthy (unlike the Pope) and lived humble lives taking care of the villages and communities where they lived. This meant that the priest and local church were often looked to as the source of education and spiritual guidance, and even things like taking care of the sick.

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Fun fact! Did you know that when referring to the Roman Catholic Church, the C in Church is uppercase, but when referring to the actual church building the C is lowercase? Now you know!

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