Christianity and Europe

Henry, Martin (2007) Christianity and Europe. The Furrow. pp. 56-58.

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At the present time, there are many voices, not least eminent clerical voices, being raised to remind us, as Europeans, of the danger of forgetting our Christian roots. This danger may have been less acute in a slightly earlier age. Forthright apologists for the Church, like Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953), would have no hesitation in identifying ‘The Faith’, by which they meant Catholic Christianity, unproblematically with ‘Europe’. And the expression ‘Christian Europe’ is indeed fairly standard in historical reference works: see, for instance, Hugh Trevor-Roper’s The Rise of Christian Europe (1966). In fact it is quite a constant theme in Western thought generally, since the German Romantics popularized it in such works as Novalis’s (1772–1801) ‘Christendom or Europe’. Yet notwithstanding this strong evidence for the Christian ‘soul’ of Europe – evidence powerfully supplemented by the virtually omnipresent, massive visibility of the influence of the Christian faith in the cities and landscapes of Europe, in cathedrals, monasteries, universities, churches, chapels and shrines – when one begins to look a little more closely at the history of ‘Europe’, some at least of the ‘roots of Europe’ may not appear as specifically Christian at all, at any rate not specifically Christian in any simplistic sense. And maybe more disquietingly, the specifically Christian ‘root’ of Europe is not itself without its ambiguities.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Christian Europe, Christian faith
Academic Unit: St Patrick's College, Maynooth > Faculty of Theology
Item ID: 692
Depositing User: Martin Henry
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2007
Journal or Publication Title: The Furrow
Publisher: St. Patrick's College, Maynooth
Refereed: Yes

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