Leonardo the Great

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The Pope in Rome is the literal and metaphorical head of the Roman Catholic Church. He is recognized by the followers of the Roman Catholic religion as such. He is not recognized as the head of the Catholic Church by the followers of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and yet he remains the figure which most people associate with Catholicism. But this was not always true. Before he was the figurehead of the Catholic Church the Pope was no more than the Bishop of Rome. Many large cities had there own bishops who presided over the church. How and why did this particular bishop come to be the Pope? The political and economical conditions in various points in the Roman Empire allowed this bishop to become prominent and eventually the sole head of the Church. At each point, it benefited the Emperor and the Bishop to have a mutually advantageous relationship, which most often resulted in the strengthening of the Bishop’s position. There are many factors which contributed to the Bishop of Rome becoming the Pope, but there are two factors which can be seen to have directly strengthened the position of the Bishop of Rome. These two factors are the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity and his subsequent need to prove his legitimacy as a ruler, and the quarrel between Pope Boniface VIII and the Frankish King Phillip the Fair. These two instances occurred in very different political situations, and yet they both had the effect of intensifying the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Papal primacy is an undisputed fact in the Western Catholic Church today. This power rests on the belief that St. Peter was martyred on what is today St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, along with the belief that Jesus asked Peter t... ... middle of paper ... ...of Early Modern Studies (The Sixteenth Century Journal) 9, no. No. 3 (Autumn 1978), 41. Mortimer Chambers, Barbara Hanawalt, Theodore K. Rabb, Isser Woloch and Lisa Tiersten, The Western Experience, Vols. One, Tenth Edition (New York, NY: Mcraw-Hill, 2010), 347. Robert B. Jr. Ekelund, Robert F. Hebert and Robert D. Tollison, "An Economic Analysis of the Protestant Reformation," Journal of Political Economy (The University of Chicago) 110, no. No. 3 (2002), 652. Ole Peter Grell, "The creation of a transnational, Calvinist network and its significance for Calvinist identity and interaction in early modern Europe," Eropean Review of History 16, no. 5 (October 2009): 619-633. Susanne Lachenicht, "Huguenot Immigrants and the Formation of National IDENTITIES, 1548–1787," The Historical Journal (Cambridge University Press) 50, no. 2 (2007): 309-331.

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