A Stone through the Stained Glass Window

The slightest concession to evil leads to the greatest horrors in each person’s life, as well as in spiritual and temporal society.

Newsdesk (24/06/2024 10:40, Gaudium Press)Throughout the Middle Ages, the Church promoted an organic mixing of the various peoples of Europe.

“This synthesis constituted the global figure of the European in its most important psychological and cultural reality, and even temperamental, because the Church was creating a temperament that was more important than local particularities.

“It’s like looking at a stained glass window and seeing how the total polychromy, in a way, is worth more than each piece of glass.

“That’s how Christian Europe was in its entirety. The defects of the various races had no citizenship, because they were united by their qualities, forming the total European.” [1]

The King of France imprisoned in the Tower of London

This stained glass window was shattered by an immense sin – committed by a person of the highest calling – which, among other disasters, led to the Hundred Years’ War.

The King of England, Edward III, grandson of Philip the Fair, had inherited regions in the north and south-west of France; he was therefore a subject of the King of that nation, Philip VI of Valois.

Driven by pride, Edward III rebelled against his master and invaded France, seeking to annex it to his kingdom, giving rise to the Hundred Years’ War.

Although the English were outnumbered by the French, they suffered staggering defeats. In 1340, in a battle in the English Channel, 16,000 French soldiers and sailors were killed.

The seriousness of the situation of the ‘Firstborn Daughter of the Church’ reached such a point that, after the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, the King of France, John II, ‘the Good’, son of Philip VI, was taken to England and imprisoned in the Tower of London for three years. He was only released after paying a large ransom and ceding approximately a third of French territory to Edward III.

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Bertrand du Guesclin

But a heroic man, Bertrand du Guesclin, had brilliant victories against the English, whose power was reduced to a few ports in France. In 1370, King Charles V, ‘the Wise’, awarded him the very noble title of ‘Constable’, i.e. supreme leader of the army.

Ten years later, this great fighter died of a fever while organising the siege of a castle dominated by the English. He received the distinguished honour of being buried in the Basilica Saint-Denis, near Paris, where rest the remains of several Kings of France.

And Edward III, who in addition to pride had allowed himself to be enslaved by sensuality, died in 1377 with his concubine by his side; as soon as the King expired, she removed all the rings and other valuable items from the corpse and fled…[2].

But the Hundred Years’ War continued, at various intervals, until 1453.

Black Death and  the Jacquerie Revolt

It is no small wonder that Daniel-Rops wrote: The long crisis caused by that war was “evidently governed by historical determinism”[3].

Now, determinism here means fatalism, which denies God’s omnipotence as well as human freedom. In fact, all of this occurred as a punishment from the Creator for the sins committed.

Another terrible chastisement was the Black Death, which from 1347 to 1352 killed half the population of Europe.

Once the plague was over, the ‘Jacquerie’ broke out in France, a revolt of peasants led by agitators who, with the support of many bourgeois, invaded castles and murdered a large number of nobles. They also destroyed churches and monasteries.

In 1358, the Jacquerie, which had caused 20,000 deaths, was defeated by Royal forces.

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Wyclif defended pantheism

At this time, John Wyclif appeared in England, a priest who rebelled against the Church and was a precursor of Luther. From a family of minor nobility, he taught theology at Oxford University.

He wrote works in which he denied various Catholic dogmas, including Transubstantiation, i.e. “the conversion of the whole substance of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, with only the species of bread and wine remaining, which takes place in the Sacrifice of the Mass, at the moment when the priest, representing Jesus Christ, invested with the divine power received in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, pronounces the words of Consecration over the bread and wine: ‘This is My body, this is My blood’.”[4]

He affirmed that divine Revelation is contained only in the Bible, thus denying Tradition, which is the “unwritten word of God, but transmitted by the voice of the Church in her teaching, her prayers and her discipline.”[5]

He also declared that “no one who is in mortal sin can exercise ecclesiastical or civil authority”. In a work that contains the core of his doctrine, he defended pantheism and fatalism.

“All Creation is an emanation; everything that is and happens is and happens by necessity, even evil because God wills it. (…) God wills sin so that good may result from it. Some are destined for bliss and others for damnation.”[6]

Remains burnt and thrown into a river

In short, Wyclif’s errors “destroy every human liberty, every social hierarchy, every right to property and lead to disorder and moral dereliction.”[7]

In his sermons he went on to attack the faithful clergy, calling them antichrists. And he wanted to re-establish, like the Fraticelli, the church of the impoverished and communal property.

With the support of the King of England, he led a movement against the pope. Gregory XI summoned him to Rome, but he rebelled and started calling the pontiff the Antichrist.

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In 1382, the sister of Wenceslas IV, King of Bohemia – now Czechoslovakia – arrived in England to marry Edward III’s son. Members of her entourage learnt about Wyclif’s works and took copies of them back to their country, which influenced Jan Hus, another of Luther’s precursors.

In December 1384, Wyclif died and was buried in the church where he was parish priest. But in 1427, by order of Martin V, his remains were removed, burnt and thrown into the small river that runs close to the parish.

In 1378, the “Great Schism of the West” began, which deeply shook the papacy and was one of the causes of the Protestant Revolution.

May Our Lady obtain for us the grace to fight evil from its first symptoms, because the slightest concession leads to the greatest horrors in the life of each person, as well as in spiritual and temporal society.

By Paulo Francisco Martos

 Noções de História da Igreja

[1] CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, Plinio. Cristandade: manifestação do esplendor da Igreja na sociedade temporal.  In Dr. Plinio. São Paulo Ano 27, n. 311 (fevereiro 2024), p. 33.

[2] Cf. DARRAS, Joseph Epiphane. Histoire Génerale de l’Église. Paris: Louis Vivès. 1882, v. 30, p. 488.

[3] DANIEL-ROPS, Henri. A Igreja da Renascença e da Reforma (I). São Paulo: Quadrante. 1996, v. IV, p. 66.

[4] LOURENÇO, José. Dicionário da Doutrina Católica. Porto: Empresa Guedes. 1945, p. 233.

[5] Idem, ibidem, p, 232-233.

[6] WEISS, Johann Baptist. Historia Universal. Barcelona: La Educación. 1929, v. VII, p. 560.

[7] VACANT, A; MANGENOT, E. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique. Paris: Letouzey et Ané. v. 7-I, coluna 336.

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan

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