The Effect on Clergy and the Catholic Church during the Black Death

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Little was known about the clergy during the Black Death. For a long time people believed that the Catholic Church had fled from its duty to serve the people, but that could not be further from the truth. In recent discovery it was found that greater than 50 percent of clergy were killed during the Black Death. This was not because the clergy were running away; rather, the clergy stayed and helped the people in villages, knowing the likelihood they would survive would be slim throughout this epidemic. It is my goal in this paper to describe what was occurring during the Black Death and how the Catholic Church and its clergy reacted to the epidemic. The Black Death could most likely be considered the most severe epidemic in human history. The Black Death arrived in Europe in 1347 and was ravaging from 1347-1351. This plague killed entire families at a time and destroyed at least 1,000 villages. Greatly contributing to the Crisis of the Fourteenth Century, the Black Death had many effects beyond its immediate symptoms. Not only did the Black Death have a devastating toll on human life, but it also played a key role in shaping the Catholic Church’s life in the following years. The Black Death consisted mainly of one disease, the bubonic plague, but pneumonic plague was also present during the epidemic. The pneumonic plague was even more fatal, but it was not as predominant as the bubonic plague. Symptoms of the bubonic plague included high fever, aching limbs, and blood vomiting. Most characteristic of the disease were swollen lymph nodes, which grew until they finally burst. Death was almost guaranteed to follow soon after. The name "Black Death" not only referred to the sinister nature of the disease, but also to the bla... ... middle of paper ... ...w priests after the epidemic were often less educated and more inexperienced than their predecessors. Not all members of the church stayed truthful to their beliefs but those who did sure made an impact. The Catholic Church did many things to try to help people during the Black Death, but probably the most beneficial thing they gave to those suffering was their presence. No one wanted to be around the plague but those member of the church that reacted to the epidemic by helping their neighbors shows truly what that Catholic Church was really like in the 14th century. Works Cited Swenson, Robert. “Plagues, History, and AIDS.” American Scholar 57.2 (1988): 183-200. Academic Journal. Web. 2 Dec. 2013. Slack, Paul. “Responses to Plague in Early Modern Europe: The Implications of Public Health.” Social Research 55.3 (1988):433-453. Academic Journal. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.

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