THE YEAR 600 A.D. - THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE WEST
Gregory of Tours gives us a depressing picture of the brutality and
immorality in the political life of his day.
who ruled all Gaul, restored peace. He made Bishop Arnulf of Metz
regent of his young son, Dagobert. Dagobert, the last strong
Merovingian king, sent Catholic missionaries into the Basque country
and into Flanders. While Pepin, mayor of the palace, supported the
missionary efforts of St. Willibrord to Frisia.
was in confusion; the ten Lombard kings, mostly Arian heretics,
ruled Italy. But their Catholic wives exerted considerable influence
wife of Agilulf, was Catholic. She built numerous churches, founded
monasteries and converted her heretic-husband to the Catholic Faith.
Spain, the Catholic Council of Toledo, held fourteen times, decided
on political and religious questions. It checked high-handed or
disorderly monarchs and nobles and molded the national life. The
Council, however, was headed by saints, like Sts. Leader, Isidore,
Ildephonsus, Fructuosus. The monastery of Agli at Toledo became a
training school of saints and scholars. But there was a brewing
storm -- the restlessness of the rich and the nobility because of
their refusal to live by the teachings of the Church.
that when the cooperation between emperor and pope or bishops is in
order, with each one keeping to their role, great benefits accrue to
the nation. Problems begin when one or the other oversteps his field
Ethelbert of England, a fervent convert, helped in the rapid spread
of Christianity and, with the help of Ireland, trained strong
religious leaders. Evangelization was hampered when a quarrel arose
between the Celtic bishops and the bishops from Rome on which
monastic rule to adopt in England -- St. Benedict's or the stricter
Wilfrid, a noble ordained archbishop, was the dominant figure in
England. He was deposed by Ecgfrid. Wilfrid appealed to the Pope and
the Pope declared the independence of the Church from the crown and
the right to appeal to the Holy See. For the next four centuries, no
English king ventured to depose a bishop.
this time, Ireland was the brightest area in Christendom.
Monasteries and schools multiplied. Irish missionaries went to
foreign lands. European students studied in Ireland. Though slightly
different, the Irish eventually accepted the Roman way of doing