How important was the Church in the everyday lives of the people?


Importance of Catholicism in England

Catholicism was the main religion in Western Europe. You were defined by your membership of the Christian Church. Salvation could only be achieved through following the teachings of the church. People followed the 7 sacraments of which the eucharist was most important

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Mass and Eucharist

Mass was the central act of worship which took place every Sunday. It was said in Latin by the Priest. People believed they were witnessing the re-nactment of Christ's Sacrifice during the Eucharist where the bread and wine were transformed into the body and blood of christ. The priest was the central figure in the Eucharist; when he held the consecrated bread above his head the faithful believed they were gazing on Christ's return to Earth. This process was called Transubstantiation 

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This was the process of repenting for your sins through prayer, confession and fasting and good works. Catholics believed that one would enter purgatory if they died before repenting their sins. To shorten the time spent in purgatory people would perform Penance while on Earth and pay for Indulgences or masses for the dead to be said in their name. Many confraternities formed to say prayers for the dead

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The community

The curch was the focal point of the community. The religious calendar dictated people's lives

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There was strong belief in Saints and the intercessors between God and Man. Communities adopted various saints to protect against misfortune. There developed a Cult of Saints; people had statues and lit candles before them. People also went on Pilgrimages to Holy Shrines

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Common peple showed their devotion to the church through donations in wills and monetary donations for the upkeep of the churches. One historian has estimated in Suffolk 50% of Parish churches were remodelled with new wealth provided by citizens. Lay confraternities were also very popular as people gathered to pray for the souls of the dead to speed them through purgatory. There were 176 confraternities in London in the 15th century

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