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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1622: Discovering the 'True Church'

Thursday 16 July 2009, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Anthony D. Wright, School of History, University of Leeds
Paper 1622-aThe Creed and Civic Identity in Renaissance Siena
(Language: English)
Andrea Campbell, Department of Art History, Randolph College, Virginia
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Lay Piety, Political Thought, Social History
Paper 1622-bWhere Was Your Church Before Christ?: Defending Church Antiquity in Late Medieval England
(Language: English)
Lora Walsh, Northwestern University
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Religious Life
Paper 1622-cBetween Pagans, Heretics, and Schismatics: The Difficult Rooting of Catholicism in Medieval Finland
(Language: English)
Kirsi Salonen, Department of History & Philosophy, University of Tampere
Index terms: Canon Law, Ecclesiastical History

This session discusses different debates about the nature and beliefs of the 'True Church', and the place of these definitions of various constructions of orthodoxy and faith communities, national and civic.

Paper -a:
Like many medieval Italian communes, Siena styled itself as a City of God where many civic values were essentially Christian values. This paper investigates the presence of the Creed in the decorative programs of the Palazzo Pubblico and Baptistery of Siena. It is argued that a heresy trial involving one of Siena's magistrates precipitated the first Creed commission. Subsequent representations of the Creed at Siena's major civic sites suggest that the Creed was reiterated not only as a statement of orthodoxy but had become an element in becoming Sienese.

Paper -b:
This paper explains why defences of pre-Christian 'church' history figured in the arguments of both Wycliffite reformers and their opponents. The church's ability to endure without a freestanding institution, as it allegedly did among the righteous Jews, could affirm either the presence of an elect minority within an anti-Christian host, or the need to maintain communion with an organisation that could trace its visible succession. By displacing their ecclesiastical conflicts onto ecclesiological debates about early Christianity, these writers laid the groundwork for a strategy common after the Reformation. Early Protestant churchmen often reached back to the pre-Incarnation church when giving an account of their church's precise whereabouts before Luther. Proving that the church could persist before Luther was much easier after proving it could exist before Christ, and the latter task had been accomplished already by their medieval forebears.

Paper -c:
Finland was one of the last points in the Western Europe to adopt Christianity. The first efforts to Christianizing the country ended when a pagan peasant murdered the missionary bishop, Henry, in 1155 - or at least this is what his later saint's legend tells us. Present research has, however, (erroneously?) questioned totally his existence.
Hostile and violent pagans were not the only problem for spreading the Catholic faith in North. The vicinity of schismatic Russians caused several problems for church administration after the Catholic faith had rooted in Finland, as we can learn from various medieval papal documents from the Vatican Archives.
Medieval documents also point out the existence of papal inquisitors in Finland referring to the fact that there might have been heretics in the country, but this fact has never been pronounced by the historians as an embarassing detail.
This paper will discuss, how the Catholic faith rooted in Finland despite the strong influence of the earlier paganism and the strong orthodox danger from east. It also tries to shed light into the question whether heresy was really a problem in Finland or not.