The Renaissance from a Catholic view?

I do not know where to ask this question, but I am hoping those interested in World News would have a healthy knowledge of history and historical resources. I am homeschooling and covering the Renaissance this year. I cannot find any resources that do not malign the Catholic Church. Anyone familiar with texts, non-fiction works that show how the Catholic Church actually contributed to the Renaissance?

Thank you in advance!!

I know this won’t be much help, but…the world was changing from agriculturally based to commercially based during that time, it was very hard on the Church. The black plague taking about half of europe while the Church could do nothing and The great schism didn’t much help either. BUT the church did survive, intact and continues so today and will into the forseeable future.

This article seems fairly unbiased, simply stating the facts and not adding judgements:

Apologies if others think its not a good source…

The Church prays for the world and the people of God every day, since the coming of Christ. Thus, I don’t think it is acceptable to so the Church “could do nothing”. :wink:

We should distinguish between the Renaissance and the Reformation, which coincided to an extent, although the strengthening of the civil sphere as a result of the first led in part to the second.


My history teacher always explained that there was a difference between the Italian renaissance and the northern renaissance. The Italians were much more polemical with regards to the Church. Think of Lorenza Valla proving that the Donatio Constantini was a forgery. Ironically, he was a priest. The northern renaissance included men like Erasmus (Netherlands) and Thomas More (England). Erasmus, for example, wrote the pamplhet “Praise of the Folly” criticizing the behaviour of some bishops and the theological disputes about matters that were completely irrelevant to the laity. But he never attacked the doctrine of the Church or the position of the pope. He was also sure to keep some distance between himself and Luther. Some of his books were banned during the Catholic Counter-reformation though. It really depends on your own perspective whether you see Erasmus as a good or bad Catholic.

Sorry I couldn’t provide any books for you.

St. Catherine of Siena was running around in the middle of the Renaissance. And she was an ordinary laywoman, pushing ordinary laypeople to know God better and do more good, as well as telling the Pope to do his darned job and get back to Rome, and giving all sorts of advice letters to kings and queens, princes and princesses.

There were bad people who were buying their way to becoming priests, and foolish people who were taking church offices without doing it to serve Christ. St. Catherine spent a lot of time telling those people how deadly of sins they were committing. But at the same time there was all the simony and sinning, it was also a time of revival of Catholicism, especially among laypeople.

The Renaissance was also the time when there were whole towns and villages in Italy that were run as lay religious communities (“communes” is what the history books say, but it’s nothing like the hippies – it’s more like having your local church clubs become the government, and the Knights of Columbus becoming the local army). Cities like Siena tried all sorts of different governments, including various forms of republic and democracy. There was a lot going on.

It’s okay to tell kids a little bit about both sides. It’s good for kids to know that when things look dark and people are doing bad things, God calls His people to live the right way, and sends saints to help them do it.

The “Renaissance” is a very broad thing… covering about 3 centuries, and a whole continent. A ton is going on, both good and bad for the Church. You really can’t understand Europe at the time without getting into both sides. But after that comes the Enlightenment, which is ALL bad - but that should be studied too.

Remember that Wojtyla was reading the Communist Manifesto during the conclave that elected him!

If you’ve been raising your children to love and respect the Church, they won’t be carried away by some polemics in a textbook or two, but will probably get their Irish up, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Have confidence in your skills as a parent and teacher, you’re doing great! :thumbsup:

Mintaka - I am not referring to darkness and sin. I am referring to lies. I cannot find a single juvenile nonfiction on the life of Galileo that does not outright lie about his treatment. A book I got from the library on Michelangelo states and I quote, “the RULER of the Catholic Church, Pope Julius… forced” Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. Utterly frustrating.

I should have stated that these are younger elementary kids that I am teaching. There are so many beautifully illustrated and written books of misinformation on the subject. I would prefer accurate resources.

Any title suggestions would be a Godsend. (literally!) :smiley:

It’s tough to find kids’ resources that are fair on complex intellectual/religious questions, and that means that secular sources will tend to have an anti-religious and specifically anti-Catholic bias. Ignatius Press may have some resources from a pious Catholic perspective. (From my perspective those are also often problematic in the other direction.) My approach is to expose my daughter to a wide range of perspectives and teach her to think critically.

That is every decent teacher’s approach, Contarini. But truth doesn’t depend on critical thinking. Critical thinking is needed to discern truth. Truth just IS. Teaching is not just about developing skills - like critical thinking - but also imparting facts. That is what I am chiefly concerned about in this request.

Thank you for all your feedback, folks. If anyone has a good title to refer on persons or events of the period - the printing press, Galileo, Da Vinci, etc. that is what I am seeking. Blessings. :slight_smile:

Have you looked at what is offered at Seton? They are a comprehensive Catholic homeschool curriculum. I wonder if a Catholic homeschool group could offer you some good options. One of my friends who is Catholic also adapted her curriculum to teach her daughter a different history of the Protestant Reformation-era from what the curriculum she was using (Story of the World) taught. I don’t know exactly what she used, but I think it was from Seton.

Do you think that most all of the history books you are finding are wrong? Do you think they are purposely deceptive? Or that the authors are just unaware of the truth? I am just asking because I have honestly wondered at times why some people alter the “accepted” history to teach their children.

I will look into Seton, thank you for that suggestion… although I don’t think they write their one material, and I don’t think they teach this era at this age.

It is a good question about the errors in history texts. I do not think they are wrong, I know they are. And the reasons include all those you cite. I am running into classic, known issues that Medieval and Renaissance scholars have been fighting for many years. I could write a history for this age group myself but I do not have the time, unfortunately. History text books are appallingly inaccurate - they are not typically written by history scholars, but rather by educators.

I gave one example above, but another error is the idea that Galileo was tortured by the Inquisition and that he was arrested because the Church disagreed with his conclusions. In fact, the Church applauded Galileo’s work. Galileo’s trouble came from teaching a theory that he failed to prove. He was right about the heliocentric theory, but he really didn’t know that scientifically at the time. It is misleading to say that the Church opposed Galileo because he threatened their theology - but that is exactly what these books teach.

Thank you for the suggestion! I will poke around Seton’s site. :slight_smile:

I taught history for a Catholic middle school. We used the textbook Across the Centuries. It was very Catholic friendly.

The “Renaissance” is really only applied long after the event. The people at the time believed they were being “modern”. Of course you can’t call something modern if it is superseded by a later period of “modern” which is in turn replaced by a later period of “modern”.

When it comes down to it all history has shown is that every generation reinvents their thinking, their philosophy, calling their parents generation “old-fashioned” and ourselves a superior modern free-thinking generation, while nothing really changes except the reinvention of the wheel which looks different but is still functionally just a wheel, which is something that all generations seem to feel compelled to do.

The only thread seems to be the Catholic Church offering a stability throughout.

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