Missions and Expansion
Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka
Missionaries from the Western Church traveled north and west from Rome. King Clovis of the Franks (a northern European tribal group) was baptized in 498 at the urging of his Christian wife Clotilde, thus solidifying the influence of the Church in western Europe. While some people groups, like the Celts and the English, converted through marriage and missionary contact, others succumbed to forced conversion. Between 772 and 804, the Frankish King Charlemagne pursued a policy of military conquest followed by the execution of all Saxons (another Germanic tribal group) who refused baptism. The Roman Church's mission to the Germans, Franks, Saxons, Celts, and English provided the foundation for Western Europe's sense of cultural unity.
|Eastern Church||Western Church|
|Part of Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire||Roman church speaks Latin|
|Bible and liturgy tend to be in indigenous languages||Bible and liturgy are read in Latin|
|Local autonomy in church affairs||Local clergy is subject to the pope in Rome|
|Not involved in functioning politics and focuses instead on theological concerns||Heavily involved in politics|
There were important cultural differences between the eastern and western churches. The Byzantine Empire was Greek-speaking, while the Church in Rome spoke Latin. Missionaries from the Eastern Church tended to translate the Bible and the liturgy into indigenous languages. They also encouraged locals to enter the clergy and nurtured local autonomy in the running of church affairs. Missionaries from the Western Church commonly required that converts use a Latin Bible and liturgy, mandated the local clergy's hierarchical subjugation to the pope, and required the clergy to be celibate.