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Dawsons Six Ages of the Church

The old answers dont work!

Equilibrium is achieved when crisis is
resolving/resolved (barbarians are
converted or schism ended)

Challenges could be from outside

(barbarians) or inside (schism)

Start with
intense spiritual
activity as the
Church faces a
new challenge;

Span a period of
achievement in
which a
culture arises in
a kind of

Enter a period
of retreat and
crisis as new
arise and old

CAUTION: THIS IS NOT SOCIOLOGICAL LAW! Because Church is in a perpetual warfare there will be stages of advancement and retreat.

Apostolic age (1 300 A.D.)

This age is unique for the very reason it is the beginning. Every one of the other ages has a Christian past
to refer to; this is the birth of Christian history and because of this is acts as an archetype of Christian

AGE of Great Christian Apologists

Defenders of the faith to the Greco-Roman world

AGE of Martyrs/Confessors
Christians were killed intermittently, persecutions common

AGE of Apostles and Popes

Formation of the Church begins in this age
KEY CHALLENGE of the early church is the universal attempt of the empire to destroy Christianity in the
great persecution of the Emperor Diocletian

Patristic Age (300 650 AD)

This age is marked by the triumph of Constantine in 312 AD and the beginnings of Christendom. It is
characterized by the new struggle of Christianity to remain vibrant as a sanctioned or official religion of
the Empire after existing as a persecuted, minority religion.

Source: Jonathon Reyes. History of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Augustine Institute Lecture, September 9, 2007.

Dawsons Six Ages of the Church

AGE of Great Church Fathers
Brilliant and holy synthesizers of Sacred Scripture, liturgy, Christian living, prayer, and theology

AGE of Augustine
Hes so great he gets his own age!

AGE of the Birth of Monasticism

Monastic life profoundly shapes Western culture in particular, gives new white martyrs
KEY CHALLENGE for the Patristic church is heresies about the nature of Christ and the political takeover of
the Roman Empire by the barbarians.

Carolingian Age (650 900 AD)

The Carolingian Age refers to the dynasty and empire begun by Charlemagne (from the family of the
Carolingians). Charlemagne, also known as the new Constantine, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in
800 AD by the pope. This furthered the distance of East and West already present.

AGE of the Conversion of Non-Christian Tribes

Most notably the Franks, known as the eldest daughter of the Church

AGE of Missionaries and Monasteries

Pope Saint Gregory the Great will begin a new missionary outreach and monastic centers thrive
KEY CHALLENGE for the age was the conversion of non-Christian tribes (not the reassembling of the Roman

High Middle Ages (900 1500 AD)

This age is known for its evangelization of eastern Europe even as the schism with the East will take place
in 1054. In this age the Church takes on the trappings of feudal society as she converts tribesand is
often in need of conversion herself as Saint Dominic and Saint Francis knew all too well.

AGE of Crusades
Christians continue to deal with the challenge of Islam

AGE of the Great University

The age of Thomas Aquinas and the first universities

AGE of the Mendicants

Renewed life and vigor brought by Franciscans, Dominicans

AGE of Saintly Kings and Heroic Monks

Age of profound evangelization, holy governance and heroic sacrifice on the part of many monks

Source: Jonathon Reyes. History of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Augustine Institute Lecture, September 9, 2007.

Dawsons Six Ages of the Church

KEY CHALLENGE for the age is theological division as Christendom splits during the Protestant

The Age of Baroque (1500 1800 AD)

This age is defined by the corruption and disunity that prompted the Tridentine reforms. It is also known
for the international missions that began as the world opened up, and the great work of Catholicizing
the Italian Renaissance.

AGE of International Missions

From India, China, the Philipines, and Japan to North America, Latin America & South America

AGE of Reforming Popes and Saintly Bishops

From Pope St. Pius V to St. Charles Borromeo and others

AGE of Founders and Reformers

New orders from the Ursilines to the Oratorians infused zeal into the Church with their charisms
KEY CHALLENGE for the age is the radical secularization of society posed by the Enlightenment.

The Modern Age (1800 AD Present)

What will history say about this age? What are the key challenges and defining characteristics?

AGE of Marian
At no other time in history did Mary
appear as frequently as in our own

AGE of the New

Youth play a defining role in the new
evangelization of
cultures in need of the Jesus Christ
but convinced they have already
heard the Good News
Taken from A. Schreck, The Compact History of the Catholic Church, 1987.

What role will you play in the great drama of Church History?

Source: Jonathon Reyes. History of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Augustine Institute Lecture, September 9, 2007.